How to Properly Clean Your Handgun

How to Properly Clean Your Handgun

Posted by Birchwood Casey on Mar 16th 2020

Clean Your Handgun the Right Way With These Tips and Tools

What would happen if you never maintained or cleaned your vehicle? Over time, things would start to malfunction, rust, and eventually fall apart, right? It’s the same with firearms. Handguns, shotguns, and rifles are all precise instruments. Without some regular TLC, a gun will not perform the way you want (or need) it to, eventually causing you to get rid of it long before its actual service life. In this article, we’ll show you how to properly clean your handgun so that you keep it in the best shape and can continue using it for many years down the road.

Gun Cleaning Products and Process

As mentioned, cleaning firearms promptly after using them will help them last longer and perform better in the field and on the range. More importantly for this topic, most handguns are used in a concealed carry situation for personal protection. That means the only time you need to use your handgun, it had better be working well – otherwise, your life or others could be on the line.When you clean your gun, it helps ensure it’s ready to go when you need it most. So let’s jump in.

Step 1: After a day at the shooting range, you should definitely and thoroughly clean your handgun. Always start your gun cleaning process by ensuring your handgun is on safe and the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction. Remove the magazine and place on the table or workbench. Then visually and physically check the chamber to make sure it is empty. At that point, you can disassemble your handgun for better cleaning. This will vary a bit depending on what model you have (see some popular options below), but the general process is similar. Lay everything out on a gun cleaning mat to keep everything organized. Also, take some time to organize your various gun cleaning chemicals, brushes, patches, and rags before you start.

Step 2: The cleaning process starts with using a gun cleaning solvent, such as our aerosol Gun Scrubber®. You can directly spray it on and into the various disassembled pieces, but especially get it within the barrel to remove any dirt or carbon fouling. For really dirty bores, you can use the Birchwood Casey Handgun Cleaning Kit or Universal Handgun Cleaning Kit, which both contain bronze brushes and patch pullers to thoroughly remove whatever’s inside. Once the patches come out clean, you should be good to move on. Also, if you know you will be busy when you get home, try using the Handgun Range Cleaning Kit to quickly clean your handgun with some bronze brushes before you leave. Realistically, something is better than nothing!

Step 3: You might have finished cleaning your handgun, but you’re not completely done yet. Now it’s time to apply some lubricant to the internal pieces. Using the well-oiled machine analogy again, the moving parts of your handgun also need lubrication to keep functioning well. Apply a spray of synthetic gun oil to any place that metal contacts metal (especially the barrel, slide rails, etc.). This will help keep your handgun from jamming and just keep it in generally better shape over time. You don’t want the lubricant dripping off by any means or it will just collect dust and other fouling to create a residue, so use a patch to wipe off any excess oil before you move on.

Step 4: The last step to clean your handgun is to provide some protection from the elements or from long-term storage to your external pieces too. Putting a firearm away slightly wet is a recipe for rust, but in addition to drying it thoroughly, there’s one other step you can take. An aerosol can of Hopper Spit® firearm protectant is ideal for this purpose. You can spray it onto a rag first or directly to the handgun, and then wipe it clean with a soft, lint-free rag. Like the lubricant, you don’t want a lot of excess protectant sitting on the surface – rub it in well. This coating will protect your firearm from corrosion and other issues down the road.

Additionally, our Barricade® rust protection dauber pen is another great way to seal your firearm metal and protect it from the harmful effects of water over time. It’s way cooler than carrying around a laundry pen, and it can protect your handgun from corrosion very easily. Simply press the pen tip against the metal and drag it across to protect your finish from rust. The no-mess applicator tip makes it easy to reach small spaces too where rust might gain a foothold. It’s also safe if you accidentally apply it to your wood or plastic finish.

How to Clean Handguns

Now that you know the basic gun cleaning process, here are some of the more popular handguns out there, as well as specific instructions for how to clean your handgun based on which model you have. As mentioned, there is some overlap between different handguns as far as how to disassemble and clean the pieces. But where possible, rely on instructions for your specific gun.

How to Clean a Sig Sauer P365

The P365 is a great concealed carry pistol option for most people, and offers higher capacity than other options. As long as you clean your handgun well after using it, this one should last you a long time.

How to Clean a Glock

The Glock 26 is a subcompact option that fires the 9mm cartridge. Here’s how to disassemble, clean, protect, and re-assemble it.

How to Clean a 1911 Pistol

Various models of the 1911 pistol were used heavily by the military in the past, and several law enforcement agencies still use it. Here’s how to clean it properly.

How to Clean a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

The Shield incorporates all the pros of the full size M&P pistol, but offers them in a smaller handgun option for easy and comfortable concealed carry. The video below will show you how to disassemble and clean it.

Now you know how to clean your handgun thoroughly so you can get the longest service life and best performance out of your investment. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it is. Handguns aren’t generally cheap, so the better care you take of them, the longer they will last and the more your money will stretch.