Cleaning - Handgun
by preparing your handgun for cleaning. With the number of handguns
using scopes or electro-optical sights these days, we should mention
that this includes protecting your scope with some form of lens
cover. Brushes soaked with solvent create a fine spray or mist of
solvent upon exiting the muzzle. Some of it will invariably be blown
back onto the scope. Modern bore-cleaning solvents are quite strong
and can severely damage the lens coatings of a fine scope. This
can easily be avoided by simply covering the lenses before you break
out the solvent, brushes or other cleaning materials.
by wiping the rod thoroughly with a clean, solvent-dampened rag.
Make this a habit every time you run a rod through the bore! Standard
cleaning techniques usually call for swabbing the bore with a patch
soaked with one of the milder solvents, such as Hoppes #9
or Shooters Choice MC-7. This is best done with a loop-type patch
holder rather than a jag; the patch will hold more solvent and allow
better saturation of the bore. The solvent should loosen any powder
or metal fouling that may be in the bore, enough that a second patch
on a tight-fitting jag will allow its easy removal. If a jag is
used to apply the solvent, make sure that it is not too tight a
fit. Remember, the solvent provides the cleaning action chemically
and does not require scrubbing. A jag that is too tight will merely
serve to wring out the patch, actually decreasing the amount of
solvent you are applying to the fouling. Leave the solvent to soak
in the bore for a few minutes, then swab the barrel out with a dry
patch. Repeat this process a second time, noting the condition of
the last patch. If there are traces or streaks of blue or green
(depending on the type of solvent and its ammonia content) present,
this shows copper fouling. You may wish to repeat this process until
the fouling has disappeared. At this point, we are ready to move
on to brushes. Thread a bronze brush onto the rod and apply a few
drops of solvent. In doing this, never dip the brush directly into
the bottle, or you will contaminate and weaken the remainder of
the solvent. We have found that the small plastic bottles available
at drug stores are ideal for this. Equipped with a closeable spout,
they will allow solvent to be dribbled directly onto the brush,
avoiding the temptation to dip the brush directly into the solvent.
Guide the rod into the bore and run it back and forth all the way
through the bore for several strokes. When doing this, NEVER try
to reverse directions while the brush is in the barrel; instead,
run it completely out the bore and then reverse the direction. Repeat
this procedure 10 to 12 times or until the fouling is removed. Once
you have finished with the brush, flush it thoroughly with Gun Scrubber,
MEK, or a similar cleaner/degreaser. Fitting a jag tip to the rod,
run a wet patch or two through the bore, followed by several dry
patches. Inspect the bore for any signs of fouling still in the
barrel and watch the patch for a blue or green discoloration caused
by metal fouling. If there is none, the barrel is clean. If this
discoloration and/or copper fouling is still present, we have more
work to do.
method of using the milder solvents on badly fouled bores is to
use a chamber plug and soak the bore. In practice, a cartridge-shaped
chamber plug fitted with a rubber or silicone O ring
is chambered in the pistol. With the O ring sealing
the chamber, the bore is filled with solvent and left standing upright
(muzzle up) for eight to 10 hours or more if the fouling is severe.
After this has been done, follow it up with a normal cleaning as
outlined in the previous paragraph. Before using this method, make
sure you check with the manufacturers instructions, since
some solvents need oxygen to work and are obviously not suited to
option for stubborn copper fouling is to use one of the stronger
solvents, such as Sweets 7.62 or Shooters Choice Copper
Remover, which are specially formulated to dissolve copper. These
solvents are used with a jag tip and patches only, not a brush.
Saturate a patch with the solvent and run it through the bore, discarding
it after one pass. Allow the solvent to soak in the bore for 10
to 15 minutes and run a second solvent soaked patch through the
bore. If the patch comes out blue, you still have traces of copper
fouling present. When the second patch comes out with no blue streaking,
the bore is clean. Bear in mind that these solvents are extremely
strong and cannot be left in the bore for more than about 20 minutes.
We have seen bores etched when ammonia-based solvents were left
in too long, so use them with appropriate discretion and follow
the manufacturers instructions to the letter. Rubber gloves
are strongly recommended with these solvents, as they can irritate
the skin during prolonged contact. Proper ventilation is essential
when using any solvent.
you want to avoid the harsh ammonia solvents, you may wish to consider
a mild abrasive cleaner, such as JB Bore Compound or Rem-Clean.
We have had excellent results with both cleaners here in the Sierra
ballistic lab. In use, the cleaning compound is applied to a tightly
fitted patch (most manufacturers recommend a patch wrapped around
a worn-out bore brush), and run through the bore eight to 10 strokes.
In doing this, make sure the patch does not fully exit the bore,
or it will be wadded up or stripped off when the brush re-enters
the muzzle. Rods equipped with a stop collar or marked with a simple
wrap of masking tape will provide a reference point to stop before
running the rod entirely out the bore. If the process needs to be
repeated, a fresh application of the compound should be made since
it breaks down very quickly, rendering it ineffective. As when using
the various copper solvents, read the manufacturers directions
and follow them to the letter.
review, there are some chores that are essential in order to keep
a handgun functioning reliably. Barrel care techniques are more
or less universal, regardless of the type of firearm being discussed.
However, there are some specific areas that require some extra attention,
depending on whether we are talking about a revolver or an autoloader.
cleaning the rest of the revolver, there are certain areas that
require added attention for peak performance.
cylinder face and forcing cone area must be kept as clean as possible.
This is done to prevent the accumulation of powder fouling from
causing a binding problem during cylinder rotation.
recoil shield should be checked for any burrs, powder residue or
brass shavings. Any type of foreign debris in this area can cause
binding as the cylinder rotates.
bolt/cylinder stop, and interior areas of the frame window.
double-action revolvers, the area at the rear of the cylinder beneath
the extractor star must be kept completely clean! This is yet another
point that deserves meticulous attention in order to keep a revolver
or grit in the bolt cuts on the cylinder will cause timing problems
in DA revolvers and may cause lock-up problems in SA revolvers.
a magnum revolver, pay close attention to the individual chambers.
If the gun is frequently used with Special cartridges
(i.e. 38 Specials in a 357 Magnum, etc.), there is likely to be
a buildup of powder residue where the case mouth of the shorter
cartridges stop. Unless this buildup is removed, it can prevent
a magnum cartridge from chambering properly. After you have the
chambers clean of any residue, the chambers should be patched out
thoroughly and left dry.
exterior surfaces must be wiped clean and given a very light coating
of a rust preventative or light oil. A silicon impregnated cloth
works very well for this. In selecting an oil, we suggest something
like Break Free or military LSA. Avoid penetrating oils, such as
WD-40, as they will become gummy and cause buildup problems.
all interior surfaces, such as the inside of the slide, magazine
well and cowling. Foreign matter in these areas can create reliability
scrub the feed ramp area of the frame/barrel. The feed ramp must
be kept clean for reliable feeding, yet its close proximity to the
chamber allows for the accumulation of a great deal of powder residue.
Keep it clean!
carefully for burrs around the lugs, both on the slide and the barrel.
In some makes, a small dab of grease might be called for here. For
your particular pistol, check with the manufacturers instructions.
breech face, extractor and ejector should all be scrubbed thoroughly
to remove any powder fouling, residue and foreign matter.
magazine(s) should also receive special attention. Far too many
shooters do not pay enough attention to their magazines, despite
the fact that magazines are probably the most frequent cause of
stoppages in any autoloader. If the magazines are equipped with
a removable floor plate, strip it down and clean it inside and out.
The follower and feed lips should receive some extra attention as
they are critical to reliable operation.
rails of both the slide and frame must be kept clean and well lubricated.
This is another area that may benefit from a small amount of grease.
Check with the owners manual regarding the specific type of
pistol you are using before applying grease.
the exterior surfaces with a light oil, such as Break Free or LSA.
Again, a silicon impregnated cloth is ideal for this purpose.