Safe Firearm Maintenance
Maintaining your rifle, shotgun and/or pistol is a critical survival skill. The proper care of these, as well as all your survival tools, assures their workable availability when you really need them.
This post is not a gun cleaning/safety tutorial. There are links below that cover that. Also check out the Source reference at the bottom of this article.
It’s more of a “Safe Tips” and “What to Do … and Not Do”. Again the “Source” material below also covers:
- why you should never use gasoline or kerosene to clean guns,
- cleaning cosmoline from new or surplus weapons,
- using WD-40 and mineral spirits,
- using a heat gun to remove cosmoline from firearms,
- using plastic bags to remove cosmoline off all the wooden parts, and
- using an oven to bake off the cosmoline (Whoa!)
And, as always, Learn, Act and Share.
10 Tips for a Safe Gun Cleaning
- 1) Always treat a firearm as if it is loaded. It seems like every few weeks there is an article in the paper, or a story on the news about an accidental death from a firearm.
Many times this occurs when the weapon is being cleaned, when the person did not realize it was loaded, and it went off. To avoid this happening to you while cleaning your gun, always treat the gun as if it is loaded.
- 2) Never point at anything you wouldn’t shoot at to begin with. Even if you have removed the magazine and emptied the chamber, only point your gun at things you are okay with shooting at.
- 3) Disassemble your gun in a safe place. Interior walls don’t stop bullets, so know what lies behind them. Safely cleaning a gun means making sure that if an accidental firing were to happen, nothing you value would be damaged.
- 4) Slow down. Cleaning your gun is not something you rush. When you rush, mistakes can happen. Clean your gun when you can give it your full focus and attention.
Be methodical. It is best to clean your gun when you can be alone, without interruption or distraction from others.
- 5) If you don’t want to kill, injure, or maim, don’t let the muzzle of the gun point at a living thing even if in your mind you only think you are in the process of cleaning your gun.
The gun is like any other machine, it will do exactly what you make it do within the limits of its mechanical tolerances and condition: if you pull the trigger and there is a bullet, then the gun will fire at whatever the muzzle is pointing at.
This seems like common sense, yet many gun owners point the gun in irresponsible direction while cleaning; and then spend the rest of their lives wishing they could take that bullet back.
- 6) Keep the muzzle pointed at the ground during any kind of transport, and pay attention to what would be hit if the gun were to fire.
- 7) When cleaning your gun, keep your hand away from the trigger. Once you are ready to clean that area, deliberately pick a target (even though the gun is empty), and keep your gun aimed there while cleaning.
In other words, if the firearm was to fire, where would an acceptable place be for a bullet to go? Aim it there before you ever allow your finger near a trigger.
- 8) Reassemble with care. Keep ammunition away from the gun while reassembling, and reassemble with the same care and precision used to disassemble. Again, only point the gun at something you are okay with destroying.
- 9) Return to safe or case immediately. Do not leave a gun out after it has been cleaned. The sooner it is returned to a locked case or safe after cleaning, the lower the risk of accident and injury.
- 10) Sometimes when people are cleaning 22 caliber rifles or pistols with a multi-section cleaning rod they push the cleaning rod too far out the front of the muzzle of the rifle or pistol.
This could cause the crown at the end of the barrel to be slowly chipped and damaged over time in such a way that it can cause loss of accuracy.
The spot that actually does the damage to the crown is where the jag on the cleaning rod is screwed in. Push the cleaning rod to the end of the barrel crown, and then make sure that only the jag (but not the area where the jag is screwed in) exits the rifle barrel.
The 8 Golden Rules of Gun Cleaning
Definitely, the first golden rules of gun cleaning is safety.
- 1) Always handle any firearm as if it were loaded.
- 2) Always make sure your firearms are not loaded before cleaning, storing or traveling.
- 3) Always be sure that the gun is unloaded with the action open and a magazine out. Remove all live ammunition from the cleaning area. This includes any ammunition that might be in the magazines.
- 4) Be sure you know how to disassemble the firearm you are working on. If you do not, review the manufacturer’s manual for the weapon you are working on before you start to disassemble the weapon.
- 5) Before loading any firearms be sure that the barrel bore, chamber, and action are clean and clear of obstructions.
- 6) Always wear safety glasses when cleaning firearms.
- 7) Always keep and store your firearms and ammunition in locked receptacles out of reach and sight of children and untrained people.
- 8) Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable. Regular cleaning and proper storage are a part of the gun’s general upkeep.
If there is any question concerning a gun’s ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it. Taking proper care of it will also maintain its value and extend its life.
Your gun should be cleaned every time that it is used or by the number of rounds that the manufacturer suggests.
A gun brought out of prolonged storage should also be cleaned before shooting. Accumulated moisture and dirt, or solidified grease and oil, can prevent the gun from operating properly.
Remember to only lubricate those parts of your firearms that require it.