How Often Should You Clean Your Gun?

how often should a firearm be cleaned?

Hard work is an essential part of a rewarding life. As Grunts, we operate on the frontlines not because it is easy, but because it’s hard. Cleaning your firearm is an essential part of being prepared. At the very least, keeping a clean gun improves reliability and accuracy at the range. In other situations, it might save your life.

Range preparedness means taking care of various pieces of gear and their maintenance. Weapons, ammo, glasses, range bag, cleaning gear, and every other detail needs to be purposefully taken care of in advance. Only then will you be able to have a safe and rewarding shooting experience.

All guns are not created equal and should not be treated as such. Depending upon your purpose, i.e., hunting, practicing, EDC, or competition, there are specific cleaning practices that we as shooters need to take into account.

Cleaning your Gun!

Guy cleaning a revolver

Cleaning your firearm is very important to get the best performance out of your weapon. Some owners don’t consider regular maintenance essential and sadly end up ruining their weapons. The internet has an overabundance of information about the topic, so let’s take a look at some common questions and answers.

How often should I clean my firearm?

How deeply do I need to clean my firearm?

These questions are essential and need to be addressed for your situation and firearm usage. You just need to know the right techniques and have the right tools to clean them.

But why is it important to clean your gun?

No prizes for guessing it!

For the simple reason that like any other tool you use, your firearm gets dirty, can rust or corrode, or buildup can cause inconsistencies. Every time you shoot, residue piles up on the surfaces of your weapon. Not only from the discharge of the cartage but also contaminants, moisture, and dirt from the air.

If you don’t spend the time cleaning, chances are your weapon will start showing signs of poor performance. Every shot you fire results in burning of propellant. The explosion leaves a tiny amount of carbon behind that begins to accumulate. Also, microscopic fragments of metal from the bullet and casing add to the buildup.

This can prevent your gun from cycling efficiently. If unchecked, it could change the bullet trajectory and lead to corrosion or rust.

Besides, your weapon, just like anything metal, is affected by moisture. We all know moisture condenses on metal surfaces. If you are out hunting for a duck in a swampy area, moisture penetrates every crack and rail of your gun.

If you do not clean it often, the moisture settles, and your firearm begins to rust or corrode. Obviously, this is not something you want.

Even in arid or dry environments, some amount of moisture and dust particles are in the air, which can lead to buildup and rusting. Again, even in arid conditions, it is essential to clean your firearm.

How often should a firearm be cleaned?

Now, if you have a personal firearm, the frequency of cleaning depends on the type of usage and shooting frequency.

You should clean your gun after each trip to the range, and this should be obvious. The type of usage is the second variable in determining cleaning cycles.

Lets examen the types of usage in more detail –

For Competition Firearms

women competitively shooting

If you are a competition shooter, you should ideally clean the firearm after every match. Poor maintenance can cost you lower rankings.

In competition, a sparkling clean gun means one less variable to consider. For this, you need to have your firearm in perfect working order. Spend some time after the match cleaning your gun. Less dedicated shooters might curse their luck or external factors for not performing well.

The key to keep in mind here is consistency. Build yourself a gun cleaning ritual so after each match or practice session, the gun is cleaned in exactly the same way. If possible, break it down in the same location or create a space with the same setup. for example, use a gun mat with and a toolbox to create a space or have a permanent cleaning station at your home. Once disassembled, clean the same parts, in the same order, the same way every time. This process will ensure not only a cleaner firearm it will ensure consistency. 

Keeping a clean gun allows you to focus on other factors to improve your score.

Hunting Firearms

Man duck hunting

Hunting firearms are not shot many times. However, the environment that you hunt in can impact the performance of your gun. Keeping the action closed and proper storage while on the move makes a big difference in keeping contaminants from making their way into your gun.

Even with these precautions, your weapon is constantly exposed to dust particles and moisture in the environment. Hunting in snow and rain also requires extra cleaning. If your gun gets wet or damp, you should immediately clean it during downtime or after each hunt.


Man shooting for recreation

If you use your firearm just to shoot at the range, your gun is less exposed to particles in the atmosphere. This reduces the chances of rust and corrosion, making their way into your gun. In such cases, we recommended you give your gun a general cleaning every 250 – 300 rounds, and a more thorough deep clean after 3,000 rounds.

When it comes to shotgun and rifles, this number is less. If it is difficult to keep track, you should develop a habit to deep clean your gun at least once a quarter.

Every-day-carry firearms

Women with an inside the belt EDC holster

The use of such handguns is to ensure your safety. These firearms are licensed and used as defensive tools. They are rarely fired in the field, and if you are lucky it will stay that way.

However, your luck can change in an instant and we have no control over luck. We rely on our training and being prepared. Holding an EDC permit and concealed carrying comes with a heavy responsibility. It means you have the ability to protect yourself, your loved ones, and those around you during a worst-case scenario. It also means you have a responsibility to those same people. 

Similar to competition shooting, a consistent schedule is necessary to maintain these responsibilities. Scheduling range time, consistent cleanings, and keeping up to date on changes in the law are essential. Also, keep in mind that every gear change or gun addon will change the dynamics of your personal system. So in addition to your local indoor range,  make regular time to practice draw and shoot drills to keep your muscle memory sharp and work out the nuances of any new gear or upgrades.

Like all firearms, they should be thoroughly cleaned after a trip to the range. The main difference here being that they should be cleaned down to the firing pin after each practice session, and before the next carry. Regular cleaning and maintenance should be done at least every 2 weeks and you should never go more than a month without a full breakdown, clean, and inspection even if you don’t carry often

Check out the US Concealed Carry Association’s concealed carry and firearms training courses for classes in your local area.

What about those who do not use their guns?

Image of a collectable firearm being cleaned

This is a valid question. Let me tell you, even if you are not using your gun, you still need to clean it! The consolation is that you won’t have to clean it as often.

Make sense?

Question, a car that sits in the garage still needs to be cleaned every once in a while, right? Same with your collectible firearms.

No matter where you keep your firearm, some amount of dust and contaminants accumulate on its surface. In addition to household dust, any residuals from past firings are amplified with time, leading to rust or corrosion spots.

So, for those who are not using their firearm, clean it once per quarter or twice a year. Regular cleaning ensures your investment stays in the best possible condition well into the future

How to Clean Your Gun?

Now that you have understood the benefits of cleaning your gun, it is time to learn about the best tools to do so.

We recommend buying specific products for cleaning firearms. Household cleaners and lubricants are made for different purposes and can be corrosive or damaging to your gun.

Widely used products to clean firearms are lubricants, bore snakes, and patches. You could also buy a complete gun cleaning kit to clean your gun.

Here is how these can help –

Cleaning Your Guns with a Lubricant

Basic maintenance involves a disposable cloth and the use of lubricants to break up buildup and displace humidity.

If you used generic cleaners in the past, the chances are that it didn’t give you any concrete results. You are still experiencing minor frictions in the bolt action and during rechambering. In such a scenario applying lubricant all the finely machined parts work together with ease

You simply need to break apart your firearm and apply the lubricant. You could use a brush or cloth to do this. Using specialized gun lubricant ensures there is less friction between the different parts of the gun. Lubricants help to prevent the metal from rusting and corrosion. Ensure you apply the lubricant evenly to the bolt and bore, then wipe it off. An excess of lubricant can attract dust and contaminants.

How often should a firearm be cleaned using a lubricant?

Well it depends on how many rounds you fire the weapon and your uses discussed above.

GruntX Choice:

Break-Free CLP-4 Cleaner Lubricant Preservative

Rating 4.8 out of 5 stars
$9.95 – 4oz bottle

Using Patches to Clean Your Guns

From cleaning your car to cleaning the screen of your phone, you need a fine cloth to keep them working like new. When it comes to firearms, the story is no different. You need a cleaning cloth or patch to apply oil on the surface of the gun and remove buildup from the weapon. The patch needs to pull double duty. It both removes and holds on to discharge buildup, and also lays down an even coat of gun oil or lubrication.

Many users feel that any type of cloth would do this task. Well, the answer is yes, but it won’t give you optimal results. Using patches made from specific material can do wonders when it comes to cleaning your cloth. Essentially there are two types of materials that are most effective – cotton and microfibre.

Both of these are widely used materials for cleaning cloths. You can use them to clean the surface, bolt, or to wipe the barrel. When choosing to buy a patch, ensure that it is a high quality, absorbent, and lint-free. Patches are a cheap and easy way to clean your firearms.

GruntX Choice:

HOPPE’S No. 9 Gun Cleaning Patch.38-.45 Caliber/.410-20-Guage

Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars
$6.99 – 500 pack

Using Bore Snakes to Clean Your Guns

Now if shooting is just a pastime for you, you do not want to spend countless hours disassembling the gun and then cleaning it with different tools. Bore snakes complete the task in minutes. A bore snake is a tapered cloth with a weight attached to one end.

You just insert the bore snake inside the barrel. Use the bronze weighted end to drop the snake into the barrel. Tilt the gun and keep pushing the rope till the time bronze part comes out of the other end of the firearm. Now slowly pull the bronze head until the entire bore snake comes out. Repeat this process a few times to ensure you break up and remove all the residue. For a complete barrel cleaning, pull a patch or cloth with a small amount of gun oil through the barrel. After this quick cleaning, your barrel is ready for the next shot!

3 thoughts on “How Often Should You Clean Your Gun?”

  1. I know it sounds terrible but I dont do a full clean until the gun literally stinks. You know that acrid propellant smell. Takes about 250 to 300 rounds. Seems reasonable to me as the barrel isnt fowled yet but there is alot of residue inside the slide.

  2. I’ve come to the routine of cleaning actions after every use and making sure bolts, carriers, locking lugs and trigger groups are clean and well lubricated, but I’ve started holding off bore cleaning until a given round count. I’m getting better accuracy and better velocity following this program than ever before! Most of my rifle use is varmint/ predator and target shooting. Prior to ging this cleaning routine, my best groups were ~.75″ (from 100 yds in my .308) and now they are down to .5″ groups.

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