Do I Have to Clean My Firearm Every Time?

Do I Have to Clean My Firearm Every Time?

Avid shooters and hobbyists already know that gun maintenance can be a very detail-oriented process from proper gun cleaning to proper storage. For those new to the shooting sports and firearm ownership, there can be a lot to remember and it can seem intimidating. Having a quick reference guide on hand can help.

There are few hard and fast rules to follow when it comes to proper firearm cleaning. It’s widely accepted that to preserve the firearm itself and keep it safe for firing, it should be lightly cleaned after each use and deep cleaned periodically and/or before storage.

Do you need to completely disassemble your gun whenever you clean it? Does it need regular application of lubricant? What cleaners work best? Read on for some tips and tricks to taking care of your firearms.


Always unload your firearm and keep the ammunition separately stored during cleaning and maintenance. Do it the first time and every time before you start any other cleaning process.

Always have your firearm’s instruction manual available. Read the manual carefully and if anything is unclear, utilize a professional vs. trying it yourself. Pay close attention to nickel-plated or other specialty finishes for compatibility with your chosen cleaners or lubricants.

Always work on a durable oil and solvent resistant surface (HINT: NOT your heirloom wood dining room table). A cleaning kit that includes a cleaning mat is a solid choice along with a cleaning cradle or gun vise to place your firearm in during the cleaning process, leaving both hands available.

Proper gun cleaning is split into two categories:

  • Field Stripping – This method involves lightly cleaning your firearm in between uses and does require some minor disassembly to ensure that it’s clean of any debris or residue that can clog it up and result in possible malfunctions.
  • Complete Disassembly – This involves the disassembling of a firearm so you can do a proper deep cleaning to preserve it and ensure it remains safe and accurate. Due to the variety of firearms out there, complete disassembly is outside the scope of this article – though many of the steps are similar.

A field stripping is best suited after each use of your firearm, while a complete disassembly can be necessary every month or so – depending on how often it is fired. Another factor worth considering is its use and storage environment.

A good rule of thumb to follow is that if it’s used or carried regularly, then it needs to be field stripped daily with a complete disassembly weekly. For firearms that aren’t used as often, a weekly field stripping and a monthly complete disassembly are highly recommended to ensure the firearm remains in working order. Any firearm that has been subjected to immersion in water, mud or dust should be completely disassembled and cleaned.

Proper Gun Cleaning Resources

Handgun Cleaning

Rifle Cleaning

Shotgun Cleaning

Proper gun cleaning can be a daunting task for new firearm owners. However, having the right resources on hand is the best way to prepare yourself and stay fully informed. Not only do we have an extensive video tutorial library for you to review, but we also have a simple, downloadable gun care guide for quick referencing.