How to Clean, Lubricate, & Maintain a Gun

MDCreekmoreCleaning & MaintenanceLeave a Comment

Cleaning, Lubricating, & Maintenance of Firearms 

Cleaning, Lubricating, & Maintenance of Firearms by Mike Reith

If you want to start a long-winded discussion or stir up a group of ten gun owners bring up the topic of cleaning and lubrication. You will get ten different personal opinions as to how to do it, when to do it, and what to use. What you won’t get is how to do it simply, adequately, and cheaply. And all three are possible.

I haven’t written this for the competitive shooter with match-grade weapons. If that is you, you know what you need to do and how you want to do it. This article covers the essentials for the practical gun owner to maintain proper function easily and frugally in good times and creatively in survival situations.

Preparing for survival keeps me out of money and out of time, but it has got to get done. If there is a cheap and simple method, I am going to use it. My youth, time in the military, and decades of loving to shoot have brought me in touch with military gun experts, gunsmiths, and enthusiasts. Some years ago I started questioning the ideas behind cleaning, lubricating, and protecting firearms. The veil of mystery went away and I was able to refine what I’ve been doing for 15 years at bargain basement prices. I’d like to share this with you.

There is a hidden benefit to simple and inexpensive gun care–it is more likely to get done. No more dreading hours of work as you drive back from the shooting range.  That gun that is out of sight and out of mind won’t be as hard to get around to cleaning. More frequent care will also make you more familiar with your guns. You may become confident enough to even learn how to totally disassemble and reassemble one or more of your guns and be able to do some minor repairs or change out parts that you want to replace with something better.


The old maxim is true–“rust is the enemy of your gun.”  Rust is the corrosion of iron or of ferrous steel. The oxygen and moisture in the air react with the surface layer of the metal in the process of oxidation. Other gun metals and even composites are affected by exposure to the environment and time, although modern plastics are relatively impervious to many of the things that harm metals. But until there is a common and popular gun that is entirely made of plastics, the plastic parts will be interfaced with metal parts and some parts of the gun are still at risk of corrosion and malfunction.

Manufacturers use “passivation”  to modify the molecular structure of the surface layers of metals to resist corrosion, increase its hardness, and improve the appearance. The surface becomes “passive” to the harmful environment. The molecular structure of the topmost molecular layers of metal is actually modified. Blueing is an older and common method still used on steel today. Newer techniques produce coatings such as a parkerized finish or apply a micro-coating of a resistive material.

Aluminum and other alloys can be anodized for better hardness and protection.  Steel can be coated with nickel and fluoride. Stainless steel naturally is resistant to the environment but can still corrode and is, therefore, best passivized. And there are many more methods and materials. Regardless of the method used, none perfectly protect the gun. The minute the gun leaves the factory corrosion begins to attack it. It will need your care.

Long ago men learned that slapping some beef suet or mutton fat on steel or iron helped to hold off corrosion. It also helped the moving parts that rubbed against each other move more easily and not wear down as quickly. Lubrication and protection with oils is no rocket science.  Keep this foremost in our mind both now and in a survival situation–all that is necessary is to make the metal more slippery and protect it from the environment. We will cover some of the things that you can use in a pinch, later.

Lubrication and protection are usually provided by the same product–oil. Nothing fancy here. Oil and grease are basically the same thing. One is thicker than the other at room temperature. Chill oil enough and it becomes as thick as grease. Heat up oil enough and it begins to flow like oil. With the exception of special situations when a gun has been manufactured to function properly with a specific lubricant only, what you use is generally not an issue.

An example is the M1 Garand rifle; it was designed in a way that requires grease for sliding parts and oil for the others. Some firearms are used in extremely cold environments or are operated at high temperature for prolonged periods, as with a heavy machine gun. They may require specialized lubricants to function properly and to protect their metal surfaces. For the rest of us, many things will work just fine.

Greases and oils do have limits and issues. They all dry out to some degree through evaporation and they undergo other physical changes. They all stop doing what they are suppose to do–lubricate and protect. Next time you are at the range and firing with a hot barrel, wipe the top of the barrel with some lubricant.

You will literally see the protective lubricant go up in smoke as it evaporates. Lubricants and protectants also attract and hold crud. Gunpowder residue, broken down components of the lubricant, metal dust, and dirt are attracted to it like a magnet, making parts stick and jam. Your semi-automatic pistol suddenly stovepipes a partially ejected round in a firefight. Not good.

It’s hard to protect metal that is dirty. Even modern smokeless gunpowders leave residue. Lead and copper are deposited on the metal of the barrel when a bullet slides against it faster than the speed of sound. The dirt and gunk need to be removed so that they gun can be re-lubricated and protected from corrosion. Solvents are substances that are used to make removal easier.

Water is perhaps the most common and best solvent in the world. Soaps and detergents, when added to water, decrease the surface tension of the water molecules to let it sneak in between the molecules of dirt to make water even more effective as a solvent.

This is enough for most of the gunpowder residue. Lead and copper need more than soap and water. Petroleum distillates and ammonia are typically added to solvent solutions to clean these. High-dollar solvents are not necessary to remove any unwanted deposit in a gun. There are common household items that will help remove them, perhaps not as quickly or easily, but effectively.


Are there superior chemical solutions and better lubricants out there? Surely. But I would challenge the notion that any are superior in all areas or that any of them are even needed by the average gun owner.

Beware the snake oil salesman . . .

A popular site for gun parts and accessories currently stocks 42 different manufacturers of gun lubrication products and 37 manufacturers of solvents. There is everything from the Hoppes solvent and gun oil that you have been using since you were a kid to alphabet soup names like RX-377. Some come in simple packaging and sell by product familiarity and loyalty (a proven track record?).

Some are packaged in absolutely cool things like syringes and tiny spray bottles. And many claim to be the best. There is obviously money to be made. Grab a good lube or solvent, throw it in a fancy container in tiny quantities, give it a cool name like “Gun Slime” and price it high. There’s gold in them thar hills.

Prepping is not cheap and you have enough things to buy. There is always one more item that you can’t afford but would really like to have in your storage. Spending excess money on hyped-up solvents and lubricants leaves less money for those desired things. That expensive lube that is the choice of competitive shooters is not likely to be around in an SHTF world nor is it going to change your life. You are more likely to find the old regulars or none at all. For now, you need to have products that are cheap and easily stored and simply get the job done.

Regular cleaning of guns requires no more than soap, water and oil/grease. In a SHTF situation, a few drops of oil off the end of a dipstick of your car engine will lubricate and protect a gun just fine. A bar of soap, hot water, and your toothbrush will take care of crud removal. Synthetic motor oil is actually becoming a popular topic with many gun owners. $5 a quart oil is a cheap lubricant and protectant.

I avoid commercial solvents. Skin becomes sensitized to the strong chemicals and breaks out with continued use.  They often contain synthetic distillates and ammonia, making them both flammable and require good ventilation during use. If you really have to have them, make sure you use disposable or other latex gloves.

Choose your poison, but you can probably get by with the main gun cleaning solvent offered by any manufacturer. Multiple solvents for removing copper versus lead versus power residue are overkill for the majority of users. Please tell me why 5,000+ rounds through my .22’s barrel is not creating copper issues that cause a problem? It shoots as well as it always did for what I use it for.

My favorite cleaner/solvent won’t be found in a gun shop. Simple Green is non-toxic, non-flammable, and leaves no breakdown products that harm the environment. It stores well and can be obtained in large quantities cheaply. I just stocked a gallon for $9 in my stores and it even included a spray bottle. As a gun solvent, use it without diluting it.  Add a stiff dollar store toothbrush and a toothpick for hard to reach places and you are good to go.

You may be told never to use Simple Green with aluminum. This is only partly true. Aluminum is a real issue, as it does not do well in the presence of many chemicals and will react even when in the presence of water. Most commercial gun solvents contain ammonia, which is not good for aluminum, either. I remember as a boy being given a new cleaning kit that had a break-down aluminum cleaning rod, brushes, swabs, lubricant, and oil.

When I used it the first time I thought my gun was really dirty because the cleaning clothes kept coming out black no matter how many clean patches with solvent I used. What was occurring was a reaction of the aluminum to the ammonia in the solvent.  Simple Green is safe for aluminum as long as you limit the contact time. Not leaving it on the aluminum gun part for more time than it takes to scrub and rinse is perfectly safe.

My favorite lubrication and protection product is BreakFree CLP–ounce-for-ounce it is cheaper than other similar product I have found, and it is ubiquitous in the gun world; almost everyone likes it. A recent survey done by a large California gun group found that it was the product used by the majority. It was the first product to surpass the high military specifications that were set as a desired goal by the Department of Defense. CLP stands for Clean-Lube-Protect.

It’s not a traditional solvent but it is formulated to keep its viscosity for a longer period than simple gun oil. In simple terms, it is less likely to dry out quickly, so it keeps the crud loose to keep parts operational. It takes very little to lubricate due to the presence of teflon and other ingredients. It protects by lingering on the metal longer than gun oils and therefore resists corrosion better.  It’s only drawback is that the teflon ingredient tends to settle to the bottom of the bottle.

So, it needs to be shaken before and during use for best results. As I was taught in the military, CLP and some sort of soap or detergent and water are all that is all that I ever need to clean my weapon. Are their other good or even more technically-advanced products? Sure. But you don’t need to spend the money that they cost to protect or lubricate your guns properly.

Here are some alternatives for solvents in a survival situation or to save money:  If you really have to have a specialized copper solvent consider ammonia. The standard household ammonia is only a 3% solution and would take extensive time to clean. Pick up a jug of janitorial ammonia. It is a 10% solution. Now to make it act on the gunpowder residue, add about 1/2 teaspoon of liquid dish soap per quart.  Use it undiluted, with gloves and eye protection, and outdoors. Pennies per use. Give it a fancy name and tell your friends you paid $50 a pint for the stuff.

In a pinch, lubricants can be found all around. Gasoline engines are usually full of oil. Wheel bearings are packed in grease. Transmission fluid is in every car. Gear oil is as well and you will find it in motorcycles and motorized farm equipment. You likely have petroleum jelly in your medical kits as itself or in the form of a petroleum jelly-based ointment. I’ll deny it if you tell some I said it, but vegetable oil, lard or suet would work if that is all you can find. They provide the essentials–lubrication and protection, albeit less well than petroleum products. Canola oil is produced by a hybrid of the rapeseed plant, which is grown for industrial lubricants. The plant has been modified to not produce the normal toxic element in rapeseed oil.

Whatever you use, use it very sparingly. Too much lubricant and protectant will gather dust and dirt and may actually create problems. Like children, each of your guns has a different personality. That 1911 will get up and quit if you don’t lube frequently. Your Glock could probably fire thousands of rounds at a sitting and probably not have a lubrication-related jam.


Cleaning and lubrication are never done too frequently if lubrication is used sparingly. Guns are a lot like cars–frequency of maintenance depends on time, mileage, and more than typical driving or use. Shoot a lot, clean a lot. Drive it harder than normal? Up the maintenance frequency.

With modern gunpowders, you can easily put thousands of rounds through most barrels without thinking of putting a brush down them or doing a thorough cleaning. You do need to lubricate and protect, however. The gun surface will tell you if it needs help to prevent corrosion. Is it bone dry? Time to take care of that. Did that session of shooting leave much protection on the bore of the barrel? Time to run a bit of lubricant/protectant through the barrel.

This is especially important with any gun you leave in a safe or store for long periods or keep in a vehicle. Safes may be in a controlled environment but vehicles get hot and guns in vehicles are forgotten, as guns in storage are.  They dry out and corrode, and worse, may not function when you reach for it. These guns need monthly checks and appropriate refreshing of the protection. If you have got it in a hot vehicle, check the condition and cycle the action weekly.

If your gun is exposed to the elements or you use it in a marine or coastal environment, you will want to keep up the protective barrier by frequent cleaning and applications. Water is potent stuff. I once went shooting in the fog. When I got home the gun seemed dry so I wiped it down with lube and coated the bore. Little did I know that some moisture had gathered on the underside of barrel between the barrel and stock. By the time I found the problem, there was a spot of significant rust.

Some ammunition is “dirtier” than others. This has to do with the type and amount of gunpowder and primers, type of gun,  length of the barrel, and other factors beyond our control. Additives like calcium carbonate, lead, and other substances are added to gunpowder to increase storage life, control the rate of burn, or enhance the quality of the burn. Primers are similar. So cleaning frequency will vary. Cheap ammo is cheap for a reason. It often has dirtier powder. No problem for the frugal!  Cheap ammo +  K.I.S.S cleaning = bargain.

You may hear the term “corrosive” ammunition. Unless you are using surplus military ammo from 40 to 50 years ago, the chances are that you don’t have corrosive ammunition. The corrosiveness is due to the addition of salts to the primer explosive to improve long-term ammo storage.

When the primer is fired, some of this salt ends up as residue in the bore and gun. Salt attracts water, accelerating corrosion. If you use such ammo you are wise to clean your gun as soon as possible after firing. This is also why marine environments ruthlessly attack metals. Salt dries on the surface and it attracts moisture.


There are two levels of gun cleaning–field stripping and complete disassembly. For many of us, field stripping will be all we need.  A few occasionally take their guns in for a full disassembly and cleaning to a gunsmith. The enthusiast learns how to do it himself.

There are great resources to help and I have listed some at the end of this article. Full videos of field stripping and complete disassembly for the very popular firearms can be found on YouTube. Search for your gun model and “field strip” and you will be pleasantly surprised.

The American Gunsmithing Institute has outstanding and thorough videos on DVD for most common models. For the price of two boxes of ammunition, you can purchase a video that will show you how to take it apart, clean it, lube it, and put it back together easily and safely. A master gunsmith will also share a lot of his tips and experience with that model over the years.

I have found that with practice and the Institute’s step-by-step instructions and demonstrations, I have been able to learn to take down all of my guns to the last screw and spring. I am not a mechanic. I have very basic knowledge of and skill will hand tools. But I don’t have a backup for each gun. They have to work. I have to learn.

One caveat. If you have doubts, you probably shouldn’t try it without a friend who will guide you as the video may not be enough. It does not mean that you cannot set out to learn. And you will still be able to do the most important disassembly–the field stripping.

You don’t need a gun shop to work in. A shop bench or kitchen table is enough. You will want good lighting, comfortable seating and an old terry cloth towel or two to cover the table. I have found that terry cloth is wonderful for catching the little parts that I drop or fumble. It keeps me from having to crawl all over the floor looking for that little spring or screw.

Or you can use any other material or surface you don’t mind getting dirty. Avoid working around sinks so that your parts don’t decide to go down the drain.

For a simple field stripping, your gun may not require any tools.  Some can be field stripped with a round of ammo as the tool. A multi-tool or Swiss Army knife, already in your survival preparations should be enough.

As for cleaning tools, these can vary greatly depending upon your gun and your preference. They will include something to scrub with, something to wipe with, and something to push or pull your scrubbers and wipers through the bore of the barrel. Some of these bore cleaners are rigid cleaning rods that may have one or multiple parts that fold, screw or snap together. Your bore cleaner may be a spring that can be rolled up for storage.

My favorite is a bore “snake”, a combination of a string with a weight attached to a cloth component sized for the caliber or gauge of the barrel. A little bit of solvent or CLP is applied to the first section to be pulled through the bore. It is followed by a section with brass bristles. The last second is long and tight and can be used for a little bit of lubricant. You drop the weight and string into the breech and let it drop through the bore and exit the muzzle.

You then pull the whole thing through, badda-bing badda-boom. Bore snakes are very light, and they can be compressed and stuffed into a very small space. Even better, you can wash them. I throw mine in a pillowcase to wash them in the washing machine to avoid snagging any rags or other things in the wash.

In a survival situation, you could do the same thing with a fishing weight tied to a bit of parachute cord, which is tied to a rag that is large enough that it must be pulled with some force.

If you have a rod that pushes or pulls a tool or patch through, you will need a “loop” attachment, or a jag attachment to push or pull a cleaning swatch through, and  a brush attachment. You can also procure “mops” of felt or material that are helpful for running a bit of oil through a through the barrel.  Most parts come in kits from cheap to expensive. Use your head and avoid the snake oil guy.  Brushes and jags are made of nylon or brass, usually, and fit the caliber of the barrel that you wanting to clean. This is true of bore snakes–a different one for different calibers.

Bore snake or a bunch of parts? If you are as lazy as me, buy the bore snake, pick up a cheap stiff toothbrush, and a cheap nylon or brass bristle brush and cleaning rod if you just don’t feel safe without one. Once case can be made for rod and attachments–they are more durable. That can be a quality in a survival situation. Or, you might buy an extra bore snake in each caliber or gauge of gun that you own.

If you don’t rely primarily on bore snake, you with need cloth or paper patches or swatches to run through the bore of the barrel. Paper patches are cheap and not very good. They just don’t absorb much. Cotton is excellent but beware the bag of cotton gun patches at the gun store! It cost’s a fortune. One old cotton shirt cut up in 1 inch or larger squares will go a long way. It doesn’t have to be pure cotton. If you like paper, or are in a survival situation, coffee filters can be cut up in appropriate-sized squares (yeah, you can cut them in circles, too).

Finally, there is an item that I use on some of my guns but many don’t–a bore guide or as it is sometimes called a muzzle guide. It is a metal or plastic fitting that is placed onto the muzzle during cleaning. It guides a cleaning rod, not allowing it to damage the rifling at the muzzle. I’m a bit of a klutz; the bore guide allows me to preserve that part of the barrel that I could wear or damage and cause the gun to lose accuracy. I’m not a competitive shooter and I need all the accuracy I can get in a survival situation. If you are careful, however, a bore guide is not necessary.

There is much of the gun that is easily cleaned or lubed without breaking down anything–the exterior. Your carry gun is subject to salt and moisture in your sweat and can corrode. A regular wipe down with a tiny bit of lubricant will take care of that.  Otherwise, the gun has to be disassembled to some degree, either field stripped or with a lot of use or due to an internal issue, it must be totally disassembled.


SAFETY: Do not proceed without a good tutorial that will guide you through and make you aware of any parts that may be under spring pressure. Be sure to use safety glasses and if you are using a gunpowder or other type of solvent, you will need rubber gloves and should must avoid smoking. If you are using Simple Green, light up a cigar.

Field stripping is common for maintenance at firing ranges or in foul weather. Military men learn to do it blindfolded. Being deployed in a hostile zone makes your gun your best friend and protector. Everyone else may leave you or turn away, but not your gun.

And it has to work when it is supposed to. After a while the soldier becomes not only proficient at a fast field strip, clean and lube, he actually find it relaxing.  It keeps him fluent with the action. The method is the same each time and it is methodical. And when he snaps the last piece in place there is a firm assurance that his weapon is there for him.

Field stripping takes care of that part of the gun which receives the bulk of hot gasses and residue from gunpowder. These parts are prone to dry out, exposing them to corrosion and malfunction. Guns are designed to allow relatively easy access to those areas.

The method of field stripping a gun depends on the action of the gun. Let’s look at the most common–the break action, the bolt action, the semiautomatic rifle or shotgun, the semiautomatic pistol, and the revolver.

Break action:  The barrel is released from the receiver/action mechanically.

Bolt action: Generally the bolt can be released and removed from the breech and then disassembled into multiple parts to include the firing pin. There may or may not be an external magazine that can be removed and broken down.

Semi-automatic Rifles or Shotguns:  This is where things will vary by model. The AR-15 models can be broken down to top, bottom, the bolt, and components, to include firing pin. Your rifle may vary depending upon make and model. For most, there is an external magazine. Semi-automatics can seem difficult or intimidating. YouTube to the rescue! Gun enthusiasts have loaded YouTube with tutorials and demonstrations of disassembly of common guns to the field strip level or totally. Many cover cleaning and lubrication.

Semi-automatic Pistols:  Generally the slide can be removed from the frame, barrel removed from the slide, and the spring and connective parts removed.  There is an internal magazine that is removable for loading which can be cared for.

Revolvers:  The cylinder will drop out from the frame by removal of a base pin. and the extractor mechanism can be removed.

Once field stripped you can start to clean and lube your gun.


  1. It is good practice to clean in the same direction the bullet travels but not. You will avoid pushing the dirt and crud into the gun breech, allowing it to drip into the action. This applies to guns that can be cleaned from breech to muzzle. Without a flexible tool, you won’t be able to clean from breech to bore. If you have to clean toward the breach, don’t use an excessive amount of solvent or CLP that could drip into the breach and then action.
  2. You CAN clean with a brush in both directions because you are using a brass or nylon brush. (Close your eyes or look away, match-grade shooters.)
  3. It is good practice to run a patch with solvent or CLP through the bore first, before using a brush. This will not only make the job easier, and it will reduce abrasion.
  4. Do remember to use the bore guide/muzzle guide if you are unable to ensure that you are not damaging the rifling at the muzzle.

Traditional Barrel Cleaning:

  1. If not cleaning the barrel separated from the gun, make the breech into the bore as much as possible by field stripping
  2. Run a rod/tool with a loop or jag and patch moistened in CLP or solvent breech to muzzle as the bullet travels. If not possible you will have to clean from muzzle to breech. Try to prevent dripping of the dirty solvent into the action.
  3. If the barrel is very dirty or you are very anal, remove the loop or jag from the cleaning rod and attach a brass or nylon brush. Run it through the barrel as you prefer as you did the patch. You need not go in only one direction but I have found that brass brushes last longer if I use the same direction during each session.
  4. Change out brush to loop or jag and run a dry patch through to absorb the junk you just loosened. Run a swatch with CLP or solvent through. Follow with dry patch and repeat this loop until you are satisfied. You can also go back to step 3 and use the brush again if the gun is still filthy.
  5. When you have a clean dry patch coming out, run a patch with your oil or CLP through. Go sparingly with the oil or CLP. A drop or two and several passes with the swatch will coat everything and not attract dirt.

The Bore Snake Method by Me (I have found this to minimize any deeper cleaning of the bore that ever needs to be done if I do this after firing sessions or hunting)

  1. Run drop weight from breech to bore. Apply a little CLP on the sections before and after the bristle brush area.
  2. Pull through several times. If there is a lot of dirt on the snake, good going!
  3. Wash the snake with soap and water and dry.
  4. Have a beer while your buddy is now still attaching his brush to his rod.


  1. I don’t use any commercial gun product but Break Free CLP so follow the instructions
  2. Don’t smoke and do have plenty of ventilation and use eye protection.
  3. If using janitorial 10% ammonia, clean the barrel first and run a moist swatch of your ammonia/soap solution. If very dirty already, repeat. When there is only a small amount of dirt coming out on your swatch, go to dry swatches and lubricant. Generally, the presence of copper will turn the patch green or blue.  Keeping cleaning until satisfied.


  1. If you have an AR style of rifle, there are cleaning tools that are shaped to fit part of the breach, but they are not necessary.
  2. Field strip your gun and clean the barrel.
  3. Take a rag and moisten the breech and bolt components or the the slide and spring if there is one, or the cylinder and extractor with CLP. IF you absolutely must use gunpowder solvent use it sparingly so it does not flow into the action. Clean the surfaces exposed by the field stripping as well as grooves.
  4. Use your dollar store stiff toothbrush and toothpick and a rag to remove fouling that has gathered there and doesn’t come out with the rag. Clean individual components such as parts of the breech bolt.
  5. Sparingly coat the components of the bolt/breech bolt/slide components/cylinder and accessible areas with CLP.
  6. Reassemble and cycle the action to ensure that you have done it right.

TIP: Soldiers and Marines from the Middle East wars recommend the use of a shaving brush, sometimes called a barber brush. $3 on eBay. The brush is used to brush out sand and dry dirt from the breech and bolt area and other areas accessible with a field strip.


SAFETY: Do not proceed without a good tutorial that will guide you through and make you aware of any parts that may be under spring pressure. Be sure to use safety glasses and if you are using a gunpowder or other type of solvent, you will need rubber gloves and should must avoid smoking. If you are using Simple Green, light up a cigar.

SCOPES: Remove any optics. You may find yourself in a survival environment where you are needing to disassemble further than a field strip to fix a malfunction and will not be able to re-sight the scope. With some guns it is possible to remove the scope and the receiver, slide or frame that it is mounted to without affecting the alignment of the scope. gun

Tools in addition to the tools you used for field stripping and cleaning: pin punches that will fit any roll pins on your gun ($17 for made in USA set at Ace), a small hammer or mallet, appropriate screwdrivers, and appropriate hex or star wrenches/keys. You will also need one spray bottle of full-strength Simple Green solution or a bottle of solvent and your bottle or can of BreakFree CLP or other solvent and lube.  Finally, you will need a container large enough to soak all the small parts in hot water.

1) Disassemble your gun completely. If not able to recognize each part, try to keep them in groups, e.g, trigger group assembly, etc.

2) Spray every part well with Simple Green and place them down on your towel or surface to soak. Take a bathroom break.

3) Take each part and scrub it well with your toothbrush and use pointed tools if needed (toothpick, a small punch, or any pointed tool small enough to get into the crevices.) You may need some more cleaner and scrubbing on really dirty pieces.

4) After you have scrubbed a piece simply drop it in your hot water to rinse. You may choose to wait until all are scrubbed and put them all in, at once, if you prefer.

5) Take out the pieces and let them dry on a clean towel and blot them dry with paper or cloth towel.  All water be removed. There will be areas you can’t reach. So after drying place your parts into a metal pan or pot and put them into an oven with the lowest heat setting.

This will speed the drying. I have also used the drying cycle on a dishwasher. You can instead use compressed air, and I have found that I can blow out a lot of water with my own lungs. On a hot summer day, place your pan full of parts in the sun to dry.

6) After you are sure all parts have dried, place them back on your towel and squirt each one with a bit of BreakFree. Follow with a soft cloth to remove the excess.

Reassemble your 100% clean as a new, lubed gun.

Links to get a few folks started:

How Field Strip a AR 15 Upper and Lower

How to Reassemble a Field-Stripped AR 15

How to Field Strip a Springfield XD Subcompact

The American Gunsmithing Institute


  1. Cleaning and lubricating a firearm involves handling the firearm. Accidental discharges of a gun during cleaning can maim or kill the person cleaning the firearm or another person. It is important that every gun be considered to be loaded. Always unload a gun before cleaning and keep the barrel pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Some semi-automatic firearms contain springs or other parts that are loaded with pressure and they may be accidentally released during the disassembly or assembly of the firearm. It is possible that a gun part could fly from the gun and cause injury. It is strongly recommended that eye protection be used. Better yet, visit and watch a video pertaining to your gun model. If not available, check the the American Gunsmithing Institute or visit your local gun shop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.