Cleaning (and Maintenance) Schedules; When Do You Do It?

    Another topic wreathed in myth and lore among firearms enthusiasts is the cleaning of their toys and tools. Some say never clean it, some clean every X number of rounds, some clean after every trip. Some swear by Hoppes #9 (and I’ll admit there is something deeply nostalgic about the scent), some by motor oil or crisco, some by lubricant pens, some by dry lube… We can use bore snakes, cotton patches, ginormous cotton swabs, and brushes made of metal and synthetics. Maybe we dip the parts in brake cleaner or autoclave them. Maybe you just take the slide off and bang it on a hard surface until chunks of carbonized filth fly off, reassemble and keep running it.

    Honestly I run my guns dirty… Should I? Probably not–but then again who is to say. I run them until they start feeling “dry” or “gritty” (and if I ever had one that started malfunctioning, I’d do it then). But until that point, I drop in a little lube and keep going. I’ve been running SLP2000 for a while now, and just haven’t really needed to focus much on the cleaning side (nor maintenance). I feel like I should have some sort of maintenance schedule, but am also curious to see how long they will run before failure (I keep a pretty accurate log of the round count on all of my weapons). If I ever kept one in storage and pulled it out, I’d give it a once over, but most of my hardware stays in pretty constant usage. Also if I shot corrosive ammo I’d clean after ever trip.

    How often do you clean? And why? It is the way you were taught? A routine you have developed? Am I flat wrong (and if so, why, in your opinion, am I)? Do you think pistols need a different cleaning schedule than do carbines? Shotguns? Precision rifles?

    Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he teaches wilderness medicine and runs an on-demand medical staffing business. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.

    You can reach him at tom.r AT or at