A Step by Step Guide for Beginners on How to clean a gun

When you decide to purchase and own a gun, it is essential to follow all the firearm's usage and maintenance guide rules. Having a clean gun is considered the number one step of preventing accidental damages. As a rifle owner, your top priority after training should be to clean your rifle to remove all the build-up residues on the barrel. Other internal components, including the spring, accumulate debris which is an aftermath of the powder and primer igniting. Negligent gun discharges can be avoided by following all the safety procedures. These procedures include: performing a safety check more than once to guarantee a safe and clear gun and ensuring that a firearm is unloaded before carrying out disassembly work. All protocols must be observed during gun cleaning to avoid accidental injuries or any legal implications that may arise if a third party gets injured. The law dictates that all firearm owners should be held liable for any negligent discharge from their firearm. Therefore, it is essential to note that the art of gun cleaning is beyond having an attractive-looking gun. Read on and find out tips on how to clean a gun the right way.

Steps on how to clean a gun the right way

As a responsible firearm owner, there is no way around maintaining a clean firearm other than to carry out routine cleaning. However, from experience and feedback from several gun owners, everyone has varying opinions on how gun cleaning routines are carried out. If you are a new gun owner, you do not have to complicate things. It is advisable to follow the simple routine that has been time-tested to ensure that excellent results are achieved. There are also basic supplies that you need to pick up before commencing the gun cleaning process. A gun cleaning kit is vital for this process as it contains a solvent, lubricant, dry cloth or rag, cleaning rods, swabbing patches, cotton swabs, boring brush suitable for your barrel and a pair of nitrile gloves. Having a firearm cleaning kit with all the tools you need will save you a lot of time shopping for single items separately and is also cost-effective. Therefore, let us look at some of the steps on how to clean a gun the right way. This is our basic everyday guide, but occasional deep cleaning is highly advisable.

Step 1: Disassemble the firearm

Before you commence the cleaning process, put on a pair of latex or nitrile gloves to avoid getting toxins or chemicals on your skin. Lead exposure is rampant when dealing with your weapon, thus ensure you minimize your exposure to it. Proceed to unload the gun, then double-check to ensure that no round has been left in your gun after removing the magazine. Before disassembling the gun, look through its barrel from the back to front as no gun is considered unloaded unless you have looked through its barrel. Begin to disassemble the gun if it is empty by following the manufacturer's manual. Carefully remove the guide rod, slide, barrel, and spring. This will allow you to see the buildup inside the weapon so you can clean them out. Lay your towel on a flat surface, then place all the components on it to ensure that none of the parts disappears from your sight. Rifles and semi-automatic pistols are generally stripped into major components, while revolvers and shotguns do not require stripping to clean.

Step 2: Use the cleaning rod to clean the barrel

The barrel is considered the most critical gun component that requires extra attention during cleaning. The residue that builds up inside the barrel can significantly affect your firearm's accuracy and cause some serious accidents. Take out your patches and cleaning rod and begin to clean out your gun’s barrel. Apply some solvent to the bore brush, then run it in one direction through your barrel. It is advisable to work from the back to the front of the bore. You can also use a muzzle guard as it prevents the cleaning rod from bruising and banging against the gun’s muzzle, which may lead to malfunctioning of your firearm. To ensure that the barrel is thoroughly cleaned out, avoid pulling the gun brush backwards as it will redeposit the gunk that you had cleaned off. Use a clean cloth or patch to ensure that all the deposited gunk is gone. You can run the patch or cloth with your rod through the barrel. Once done, look through the chamber to ascertain that the barrel is shiny and clean, and if you spot any traces of the gunk, you can repeat the process. Lastly, pay keen attention to components such as the feed ramp that are prone to gunk build-up.

Step 3: Debris removal using a bore brush

When cleaning the crannies, recesses and nooks of your firearm, it is essential to use a microfiber cloth or a mechanics rag before applying any solvent. It would be best if you are keen on the spring, the trigger assembly and other small parts while addressing the surface debris with your dry brush. This step helps eliminate any loose fouling that may cause your solvent soaked cotton patches to work extra hard. There are high chances that a normal dry rub- down will not effectively get rid of all the build-up fouling within your weapon. Therefore, any stubborn residues should be removed by spraying a little bit of the cleaning solvent onto some cotton swabs and using them to clean out such areas. Using compressed air has, over time, become an alternative to removing debris and stuck dirt from the small compartments. When using compressed air, ensure that you take caution by keeping the air pressure low. It is advisable to periodically carry out a deep cleaning on your holster, magazine and magwell. Even though these areas do not require too much attention as the other parts of your firearm, cleaning them will aid in retaining the gun’s value and prevent fast wear and tear. Also, avoid using a lubricant on your magwell or magazine; all you need to do is wipe them with a piece of dry cloth.

Step 4: Lubricate the gun with a gun oil

Apply some drops of gun lubricant or conditioner on a cotton mop and attach it to the cleaning rod. Run it through the inside of the barrel to leave some light coating of the gun oil. Proceed to apply some solvent to the nylon brush and brush out the gun. Also, lubricate the gun moving parts lightly with the gun brush as a light coating aids in rust prevention. If you apply a thick coat of gun oil, it will increase debris attraction due to its gummy state. Excess oil can also run into the gun holster, making your hand slippery when handling the gun. Lubrication of your firearm makes it look shiny and clean and helps the gun parts interact with minimal friction. Without the gun oil, the gun parts will rub on each other, increasing wear and tear. Once you have done lubricating the gun and the barrel, you can tightly close the gun oil tube and store it away in the firearm cleaning kit.

Step 5: Reassemble the gun

Once you are done with the cleaning, reassemble the pieces. Test your unloaded firearm to ensure that everything is in place and that nothing was knocked off during the cleaning process. Carrying out a dry fire will enable you to ascertain if all the parts are functioning correctly. Once you are done, use a dry rag to ensure that all the cleaning supplies have been whipped off the firearm before storing it away.

Step 6: Store the gun away after the cleaning process

Storing guns properly  is crucial in keeping them safe and clean. Purchase a gun case that suits the style and size of the gun. This means that a pistol should be stored in a pistol case and a rifle in its case. To prevent your gun from becoming rusty, dirty, or damaged, find a case that is hard on its outside surface and fitted with foam on the inside. The foam inside a gun case interior is vital in providing your firearm with a layer of protection against scratches and damages. The foam aspect is best for both the storage and transit of firearms. On the other hand, the hard exterior aids in keeping your weapons safe from impacts and rough weather environments. A good case should also be watertight to prevent your gun from rusting. Therefore, it is important to dry your gun thoroughly before storing it in a gun safe, as the case will aid seal off the moisture. A gun case with a pressure-equalizing valve will also go a long way in sealing out water, dust and dirt. It lets in the air that keeps your weapon dry while protecting it from other harmful substances. Finally, put your gun back into its crushproof casing so that in case it accidentally falls, your firearm will not get damaged.

Factors to consider when buying a Pistol cleaning kit 

There are several gun cleaning kits that you can find in the market today that various manufacturers in the firearm industry have manufactured. This can pose a significant challenge to new gun owners as they try to make an educated decision when purchasing a caliber-specific cleaning kit for their pistols. There are several factors that you should take into consideration when purchasing these kits. Some of these factors include personal preferences, gun compatibility, number of items in the kit, cost, and overall quality of the gun kit. If you own a pistol, it is essential to purchase a pistol cleaning kit as some kits are specifically made for shotguns, handguns, and rifles. How you plan to utilize your pistol kit will determine whether you need the large, fully accessorized kits or the small portable ones which can easily be used while in the field. Each pistol kit comes with an owner's manual that is a must-read as it will enable you to determine whether the kit is the right one for your caliber. Therefore, lets us delve into some of the factors to consider when buying a pistol cleaning kit.

Number of cleaning supplies

Pistol cleaning kits vary depending on the number of items that they contain. Some kits come fully equipped with more than 60 items with bore brushes and rods of various sizes suitable for barrels of different widths and lengths. Kits that have more items cost more; therefore, you should consider what your specific firearm will require. 

Gun compatibility

Different guns are manufactured in different sizes; therefore, each gun has a different barrel width and length. A good example is a 12mm semi-automatic pistol which has a small barrel compared to a .45 Magnum. This means that the cleaning equipment for each gun will vary, and thus it is advisable to purchase a kit that suits your gun’s needs.

Personal preference 

When purchasing a pistol kit, most gun owners tend to allow their personal preference to steal the show. Some firearm owners find it therapeutic to spend several hours cleaning one firearm, while others will wish to get it done as soon as possible. If you are one of those rifle owners who love spending time cleaning your gun, then purchasing a fully equipped cleaning kit will make it more relaxing for you as you clean your gun.


The cost of any item in the market is always an important factor to consider when making purchases to avoid going beyond your budget. Therefore, when purchasing a gun cleaning kit, you need to spend within your requirements and only purchase those cleaning items suitable for your pistol. You can invest and buy high-quality cleaning kits as they tend to last longer as much as they may be expensive.

Overall quality

Always choose a cleaning kit with an overall good quality to achieve the best results when cleaning your firearms.

Essential tools needed for Gun Maintenance

When you decide to invest in a gun for target practice, ensure that you also invest in the essential tools needed for gun maintenance. Safety is vital. Once you have taken all the necessary precautions before field stripping your gun, you can proceed to utilize the tools discussed below. We shall explain the functions of each tool needed for your gun maintenance. Regularly cleaning your firearm will enable you to interact with these tools, making the whole process easier as time goes by. Unless you intend to store your gun for an extended period of time, it is advisable to utilize these tools more often for better gun performance. 

Cleaning rod

This is a gun maintenance tool used to clean the bore of a gun barrel. Cleaning rods come in different sizes to be used on different calibers, barrel lengths, and gauges. Thus, you can use it on the other guns you may own.

Bore brush/ Bore snake 

A bore brush is usually made for specific calibers, while a bore snake has integrated brushes that help remove a stubborn metal fouling or powder residue. The bore brush should be moved towards the gun’s muzzle direction. You can also use the bore snake to apply a light lubricant inside the gun barrel. 

Cleaning swab/ Cotton Swab

A cotton swab is vital in gun maintenance as it provides an effective and gentle clean to the inner parts of your weapon. 

Cotton Mop

A cotton mop is the best bore cleaner as it is densely packed with cotton that is used to apply the cleaning solvent or oils to the gun bore. A cotton mop is made of non-brass threads and cores to prevent false indications of copper fouling when using the copper chemical removers when cleaning a gun.

Double-ended brushes

They are essential when cleaning a gun whose hard-to-reach areas are full of copper, carbon, and oil residues.

Cleaning jags/ cleaning patches

Jags are used to hold a clean patch at the end of a rod. Their primary purpose is to keep cotton patches in place as the rod moves down the bore. These cleaning patches ensure that the inside of the bore is thoroughly cleaned..

Luster cloth/Reel Cloth and Silicone Gun 

Their purpose is to leave a lustrous, protective, and long-lasting film on all the surfaces of the gun, such as on the feed ramp, barrel lug, barrel hood, etc.  You can use a dry patch to eliminate the remaining residues before using the luster cloth for the final shine.

Cleaning solvent

There are several kinds of solvents sold in the market today. For you to select the best one, you need to familiarize yourself with their quality and functionality. These solvents are essential for cleaning, lubricating, and protecting firearms. They have been designed to be used with a gun scrubber to clean cylinders and barrels by removing fouling and debris from the gun.

 How to use a gun cleaning kit 

As a new gun owner, you may be wondering how to use a gun cleaning kit and the purpose of the essential tools that it comes with. Your number one priority when using a firearm cleaning kit should be to make the owner's manual your friend.  Read through each instruction to avoid making any ignorant mistakes during the cleaning process. A guide to Firearms assembly has both written and visual instructions on the step-by-step process of taking apart most shotguns, handguns, and rifles before you can commence the cleaning process. When using your gun kit, you should identify a cleaning area or a work surface where you will clean your gun. Having a specific cleaning area is vital as it ensures that the mishandling of the cleaning kit and the firearm is reduced to minimal. Cleaning chemicals such as action cleaners, lubricants, and bore cleaners should be placed on top of a rubber mat to avoid damaging your workspace or gun components that may be lying in your work area.

 Before cleaning, ensure that you put the gun safety on and that the gun action is empty and open. This action should be carried out mostly when cleaning a slide action gun or an autoloader. Taking down the gun into its parts, such as a break-action gun with the barrel, buttstock/action, and the forend, will ease up your cleaning process.  Please take out a dry rag from your firearm cleaning kit and use it to wipe all these pieces thoroughly if the firearm got wet during its use. Allow the pieces to dry in a well-ventilated and warm space. Always keep in mind that the gun should never be exposed to any form of direct heat, be it heat from a hair driver or a wood stove, as too much heat can damage your gun. Your gun cleaning kit comes with a cotton swab, toothbrush, and sometimes toothpick, which allows you to clean debris and carbon fouling or any lead fouling that are stuck in the hard-to-reach areas of your firearm. 

The recesses of the gun action, rib areas, inside the gun's trigger guard, and the ejectors are the places that need particular attention. When cleaning, focus on removing the pine needles, clotted grease, and dirt as they form the large chunks of debris. Pick up the cleaning rod from the gun cleaning kit once the outside surface is clean and use it to push a scrap or patch of paper towel through the bores. Use the high-quality bore solvent that comes with the gun kit and soak your paper towels in it. If your gun cleaning kit does not have a cleaning rod, you can use a bronze bore brush that should be wrapped in a solvent-soaked patch to scrub off the gun's barrel. 

The advantage of using the bronze brushes is that their bristles can securely hold the cleaning patch, making it easy to achieve optimal bore contact while scrubbing the surfaces. Silicone lubricant can be used at this point. If there is any stubborn debris, you can dip a soft cloth into the silicone lubricant and use its acidic properties to eliminate the remaining fouling. Once the firearm is sufficiently cleaned, you can use dry patches to swab through it then pass through each bore an oil-soaked cleaning patch. Bore cleaners are essential in making the gun perfectly cleaned and oiled to reduce the friction of the metal parts during use. Use an oily rug to wipe on the action and barrels to protect the metal surface. The manufacturer's instructions often emphasize that no oil or lubricant should be sprayed on the gun components as it can affect the wood components of the gun. In an event where the stock wood of the gun loses its luster, you can rejuvenate it by rubbing a high-quality shoe polish or a small drop of linseed oil into the non-checkered areas of the firearm.

What is the first step in cleaning a firearm?

Most new users often ask, “What is the first step in cleaning a firearm?” Well, depending on whether you are a professional or a novice in operating guns, the first step of cleaning a firearm will vary with your level of experience in cleaning guns.  For some, they can choose to put on the proper cleaning gear such as gloves, safety glasses, and so forth, while for others, they will delve right into disassembling the gun. Before you commence cleaning your gun, consider choosing a clean area with plenty of workspaces. Space should have good ventilation so that you do not choke from the cleaning chemicals. If you are a gun enthusiast and often clean your guns regularly, you should know that the outdoors or a garage is the best place to work. The other step in cleaning a gun is to remove ammunition from the working area and empty the gun magazines. You can secure them in a gun safe for your safety as you may inadvertently introduce live ammo in your gun. 


Therefore, we can conclude that to clean a gun; you will need to purchase a caliber-specific gun cleaning kit that will include the essential cleaning supplies discussed in this article. Following the steps provided will ensure that you achieve optimal cleaning results. If you own long guns, it is advisable to use a cleaning cradle that often comes in handy when securing your weapon in a hands-free mode as you focus on working on the loose parts while controlling your tools at the same time.

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