Friday, September 16, 2016

Gun Cleaning, Part 2: How to Clean a Pistol

You have a dirty firearm that needs attention. You've got your cleaning materials assembled, and you've got a clear space on a table to do it, with something to catch drips, splashes, and dirty patches. Now it's time to actually clean your gun.

I shall use my S&W pistol to demonstrate how I would clean a firearm.

I have no control over what you're doing, how you're doing it, or how careful you are. This is the process I use, and it works for me, but this is not the only way to do it. Be careful, pay attention to what you're doing, and observe proper gun safety.

First, make sure the gun is unloaded. In the case of a semi-auto pistol like this, that means the magazine is out, and the chamber is empty. CHECK BOTH OF THEM. And it won't hurt to check them again, just to be sure, before you do anything else.

The pistol field-stripped for cleaning, with the parts labeled. 

Put the proper jag on the rod.
Wet a patch with whatever cleaner you're using
and place it over the jag.

Insert jag and patch into the chamber end of the barrel...

... and push through.*
That first patch both wets the bore, and pushes a lot of the loose fouling out. I like to let it sit a few minutes while the cleaner soaks the fouling, then push another wet patch through, then a dry patch. Depending on how smooth the bore is, and just how dirty it was, that may be all it takes. If you have stubborn fouling in the rifling, it's time for a brush.

A new brush can be dipped into the bottle, but don't do it again after that first pass; you'll contaminate the cleaner with what the brush cleans out. Either carefully drip some on the brush, or use a eyedropper or pipette to do it. 

 Push the brush all the way through, then pull it back; do NOT try to push it partway through and then pull it back, the thing can actually get stuck when that kinks the bristles. Do that several times, and if you're not in a hurry, let it sit and soak a few.

While it's soaking, get a piece of cloth or a large patch,
wet it with cleaner and wipe the outside of the barrel off, 
then let it sit.
Take your cloth, and wipe out the inside of the slide,
including the breech face.

I like to take a craft stick (popsicle stick if you prefer),
cut one end at an angle, fold the patch over that,
and use it to clean out the slide rails.

If it's pretty cruddy inside, let the cleaner work a few minutes and take care of the frame while you wait. The frame is generally fast & simple: take the cloth (or a clean one if needed) and wipe the rails off, top and bottom, and any other place that looks like it needs it. If you've got a lot of loose fouling in there, you might take it outside, or over a trash can, and use a soft toothbrush to get all the loose stuff off before you start wiping.

When the frame is done, go back to the slide with a clean patch and wipe everything out. If you find an area that needs it, give a little extra scrubbing. Then use a dry cloth to wipe out all the cleaner and fouling you can.

Look the recoil spring assembly over. If it's cruddy,
use the toothbrush first, wipe out as well as you can,
then add a drop of oil onto the rod itself.

When done, go back to the barrel. Put the jag back on the rod and push a dry patch through and then take a look through. Chances are it will need maybe one more dry patch. Then wipe the outside clean.

If you live in a humid area, you might want to take a clean patch, put a light amount of your favorite lube/protectant on, and wipe it through the bore.

If you haven't already, check the manual for where it recommends you lubricate the barrel and slide, and do that. Remember, you don't need much, just a bit in the proper places.

Then you can put the barrel, slide, and recoil assembly back together.

Time for the frame. Lube where the manual says,
then put the slide assembly into place.

That's it. Barring a really dirty pistol (lots of dust, steel-case ammo residue, dirt or mud from being dropped), that'll take care of it, and it's ready to be function-tested and then put back into service.

Next time, I'll demonstrate with a rifle.

*Whenever possible, clean any firearm, from the breech end; there is much less chance of damaging the rifling at the crown (where it ends, at the muzzle) that way. 

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