Cleaning – The Complete Story

It may be boring but it’s always necessary. Some gunsmiths find gun cleaning a component of their service. Here’s how to establish standards for your shop.

by RK Campbell

I made an offhand comment to a gunsmith friend not long ago, saying I was surprised to find he was so busy cleaning guns. Folks should be able to clean their own guns! But then, I don’t do the pet’s hair and nails myself and I sometimes have the car detailed. I let the experienced in the field do their job. My friend has considerable investment in ultrasonic cleaners and makes money every week cleaning guns. Not to mention all the dirty guns that come in for repair and really need to be thoroughly cleaned before repair work can begin.

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A good cleaning is an ideal first step for every repair and it may be the fix. Sometimes a good cleaning frees a stuck sear and reduces other malfunctions. A fast rule I’ve used for many years has been to clean it first. From the typical gummed up .22 caliber rifle to a stuck sear in a High Standard revolver, a simple cleaning often cures complaints. Within the week I cleaned and lubed a Glock and the result was a much better trigger action. I also carefully cleaned a Savage 29B rifle, which I admit was a joy and a privilege.

Folks buy guns to shoot, not to clean. Some firearms do better than others without cleaning. A Ruger 10/22 will function far longer than a 1950s era self-loading .22 rimfire without cleaning but it is really abuse to fail to clean the firearm until it malfunctions.

All of us have different standards of clean. I have no military experience. My son is a Major in the National Guard and his idea of clean is way above most – I would not wish to endure one of his inspections! Although, I have when he opened my gun safe…

Read more in the October 2022 issue.

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