Spending time at the range is part a big part of our family weekend plans, so guess what needs to be done once all the shooting is over and the last piece of brass has hit the floor. Cleaning up all those weapons generally falls on my shoulders and even though my wife will take care of her own, I get the rest. An AR, two pistols, and one revolver can take a bit of time and a good amount of cleaning materials but it has to be done if we want the guns to perform every time we pull the trigger.
Being a little obsessive compulsive can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to cleaning guns but everyone reaches a point during the job when they have to say enough is enough. My father kept his hunting guns spotless when they were put away in the cabinet and I've tried to live up to his expectations after all these years. Even today, all of our guns get a thorough cleaning ever time they hit the range or the field and get a complete wipe down after being handled.
Watch any military film that includes scenes from Marine Corps or Army boot camp and you'll surely see drill instructors reinforcing (in not so friendly terms) the need for keeping the recruit's weapon spotless, and it's not just idle talk intended to degrade a young person's family lineage. It could ultimately be a matter of life and death for that young soldier or Marine during a time of intense battle because dirty weapons are more prone to failure than those that have been faithfully maintained. It's no less important for those of us that carry on a daily basis for personal protection or folks that have firearms for home protection. Here are a couple more reasons for keeping your favorite firearm clean:
- Clean and properly lubricated weapons function efficiently and as designed. Conversely, dirty and/or dry working mechanisms slow down and work harder because of added friction. Firearm springs and other mechanical parts are designed to work within a certain set of tolerances, sometimes with very little room for error, so excessive dirt or grime may cause malfunctions like failures to extract, eject, go into battery, or even worse.
- Well cleaned and preserved weapons endure harsh environmental conditions better. Extreme cold, heat, or humidity can cause dirty mechanisms to become gummy and sticky which could potentially cause them to lock up.
- Clean and properly lubricated weapons maintain their appearance better and hold more resale value. Human finger prints and perspiration can cause unprotected steel to rust with exceptional speed, marring the visual appearance and decreasing the guns value.
- It's easier to spot broken or damaged parts when the gun and its mechanisms are clean and clear of carbon, lead, brass, or copper deposits.
So, as you can see, there are multiple reasons why you should include a cleaning kit, solvent, lubricants, and rags to your range bag or bugout bag along with your favorite firearm. Every gun manufacturer has it's own "Best Practices" and you should follow them to the greatest extent possible but you'll soon find out that they're all about the same. A clean gun will function properly for many years to come and you shouldn't have to worry about preventable malfunctions.
Get out there and shoot as much as possible and enjoy yourself. Just be sure to take care of your investment once you get home, and remember that a clean gun is a gun that will perform when you need it whether in a defensive situation or I the field.
Brian "Beastman" Eastman
White River Fly Shop