Cleaning a Pistol

by April Reinhardt
(last updated April 8, 2019)

Gun ownership comes with responsibilities. Three of the most important things you need to learn if you own a pistol are how to safely unload it, how to dismantle it, and how to clean it. The purpose of this article is to discuss how to clean a pistol, commonly referred to as a handgun. Refer to your owner's manual for proper unloading and dismantling techniques.

After unloading your handgun, always remove all ammunition to another room before field stripping, or dismantling, the pistol. There are four major pieces on every handgun; the frame, slide, barrel, and guide rod. All four pieces need to be cleaned. The frame is the stock of the gun, the slide is the piece of metal on top of the firearm, the barrel is the chamber through which the projectile propels, and the guide rod guides the recoil of the slide. Once you've dismantled the handgun, follow these steps to clean it:

  1. Using a soft cloth, wipe down all of the components. You will notice a buildup of carbon and powder, and you may need several rags to completely rid the components of residue.
  2. Apply solvent to the dirt. You can purchase handgun solvent at your local sporting goods store. Allow the solvent to soak into the components for at least ten minutes.
  3. Use a toothbrush to scrub all of the components to work the solvent into the gun and loosen the buildup. Take care to scrub the entire surface of each piece.
  4. Wipe the components clean with a soft cloth. There should be no traces of solvent left after you've finished wiping down the pieces.
  5. If your cloth has black residue, that means that the pieces are still dirty. Continue to apply solvent and wipe down until your cloth fails to turn black.
  6. The chamber may have large chunks of powder buildup. Use a pick to pry them loose, apply solvent, and wipe clean.
  7. Use a bore brush to clean the barrel, running it the full length of the barrel at least four times. Do not reverse the direction of the brush inside the barrel.
  8. Soak a cloth with solvent and then swab the barrel. Repeat that process until the cloth comes out clean.
  9. Oil all of the components with gun oil. Swab the inside of the barrel with an oil-soaked cloth.
  10. Reassemble the pistol according to the manufacturer's directions, and test for functionality.

To prevent rust, apply an almost invisible coal of oil to the exterior of the components. To remove cooper particles left behind by jacketed bullets, use copper solvent inside of the barrel. To remove lead particles left behind from lead bullets, submerge the barrel and soak it in solvent. To remove powder and residue completely from the barrel, rotate the brush inside the barrel about forty-five degrees to completely clean the barrel grooves.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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