Given the common maladies of aging, such as arthritis, which affect hand strength and dexterity, old geezers like myself who carry a handgun everyday for self-defense want something reliable, that’s easy to operate and simple to maintain. Amongst big bore, defensive, semi-automatic pistols, that spells G-L-O-C-K.
The Glock is user-friendly, durable, reliable, low maintenance, and eminently shootable. Recoil in every Glock is very manageable for its caliber. The Glock slide is easy to grasp and doesn’t require extraordinary strength to work. There aren’t a lot of buttons and levers to operate, so extraordinary dexterity is not required. Glocks are built to take a lot of neglect and abuse, and to continue functioning under the most adverse of conditions. A new, out-of-the-box Glock will have an expected service life of well over 200,000 rounds. That means it should outlast you!
Nevertheless, despite the Glock’s remarkable durability and dependability, cleaning your Glock is still necessary. If you make time for cleaning your Glock, or whatever your defensive firearm is, it will stay in shape to take care of you. The good news is that you don’t have to be an armorer or gunsmith to learn how to field strip (disassemble) your Glock for routine inspection and cleaning. Just read your Glock owner’s manual (Instructions for Use) and this article.
…for each and every handgun you own, you should read the owner’s manual for specific disassembly, reassembly, lubrication and cleaning instructions.
Glock Maintenance Schedule
Unlike many other auto-loading pistols with tightly machined tolerances, the Glock does not need to be over-cleaned. If you are one of those types who likes to clean your gun a lot (right before and after every shooting session), exercise your need with another gun! Your Glock also doesn’t like to be over-lubricated. New Glocks come with a copper-colored lubricant on portions of the slide’s interior for long-term lubrication. This lapping compound should not be removed, and shouldn’t be mixed with gun oils, which can create a gluey, gooey mess! With that said, cleaning your Glock pistol should be done regularly.
My routine is to field strip and clean my gun after every two to three trips to the gun range, or if I have run more than 400 rounds through it since its last cleaning. However, if you carry your gun a lot, even if you haven’t shot it much, it should be cleaned, lubricated, and function-checked at least once every three months. Carrying a gun exposes it to body oils, sweat, dirt, dust, lint, moisture, etc. Once a year, you also might want to consider taking your Glock handgun to a Certified Glock Armorer or qualified gunsmith (who works on Glocks regularly) to have it detail stripped and detail cleaned.
What follows are ten easy steps for cleaning your Glock and keeping it up and running. Please note that the basic cleaning steps described below apply to most other semi-automatic pistols. However, for each and every handgun you own, you should read the owner’s manual for specific disassembly, reassembly, lubrication and cleaning instructions.
Step One: Make sure the pistol is unloaded.
It is vital for your own safety and the safety of others that (a) you make sure your pistol is unloaded before commencing to field strip it and (b) that there be no live ammunition whatsoever in the cleaning area. To prepare to field strip your Glock:
1) With your pistol facing in a safe direction, remove the magazine, and then rack the slide to eject a round from the chamber if the chamber is loaded. Always remove the magazine first before ejecting a round from the chamber. Otherwise you will just chamber another round!
2) With no magazine in the magazine well, lock the slide back and visually and with your little finger check the chamber, bolt face and magazine well (through the ejection port) to make the sure the gun has been cleared and made safe.
Note: When cleaning your Glock, this first step is super crucial because the pistol must be dry fired in order to initiate disassembly. Even after you have visually and physically checked clear, you still want to hold the weapon pointed in a safe direction.
Step Two: Dry fire the pistol.
1) Pointing the gun away from any person or objects of value (i.e., a safe direction), rack the slide to return the slide into battery and close the action. Check that the chamber is clear one more time.
2) With the slide in battery, point the pistol in a safe direction and then press the trigger rearward. You’ll hear and feel the click of the firing pin moving forward. The trigger must be in its rearward position to remove the slide.
Note. Apply your total attention to complete steps one and two above. Do not allow yourself to get distracted! Most unintentional discharges with the Glock occur at this point when the operator gets distracted.
Step Three: Disassemble the pistol into its four main component parts.
Follow the Glock owner’s manual instructions for disassembling your pistol into its four main component parts: slide, barrel, guide rod/recoil spring assembly, and frame/receiver. No further disassembly is required for routine maintenance and cleaning of your Glock. You are now ready to clean.
You will need the following materials for properly cleaning your Glock: appropriately sized cleaning patches; Q-tips; a good quality cleaning rod; a screw-on, brass, bore brush of the appropriate caliber for your gun; a screw-on, slotted tip for threading cleaning patches onto your cleaning rod; a two-ended, nylon, gun cleaning toothbrush; a quality gun cleaner/solvent; a quality lubricant/gun oil; and a lint-free cleaning rag.
Step Four: Clean the firearm barrel.
1) Wet a cleaning patch with your quality gun cleaner/solvent. I like to use Break Free Cleaner Lubricant Protector (CLP). Thread the wet patch through the slotted tip on your cleaning rod. Insert the cleaning rod into the breech end of the barrel and swab out the chamber and bore. Work the wet patch back and forth through the entire length of the barrel at least five or six times. Don’t bottle brush inside the bore. This will just keep the debris inside the barrel. Rotate the cleaning rod clockwise, as you push the patch all the way forward from the breech, out through the muzzle, and continue to rotate the rod clockwise, as you pull the patch all the way back through the barrel and out of the chamber and breech. Five or six full-length passes should do it.
2) Remove the patch from the cleaning rod and replace it with a brass bore brush. [Note: If the bore is heavily fouled, you can squirt some cleaning solvent onto the bore brush. Alternatively, you can dry brush the bore, as described here, and wet patch again afterward.] Insert the rod into the barrel from the breech/chamber end and vigorously scrub the entire bore, following the same principle as with the patch (full–length, rotating passes). Scrub until the bore is shiny and clean when inspected under a bright light.
3) If the bore is heavily fouled and you used a dry bore brush, swab the bore again five to six times with another wet patch.
4) Dampen the large end of your two-ended cleaning toothbrush with some solvent and vigorously scrub carbon deposits off of the barrel hood and feed ramp.
5) Wipe the exterior of the barrel down with a solvent dampened rag or patch.
6) Dry out the bore by swabbing with clean, dry patches until the patches come out clean and dry.
7) With a dry patch, wipe down the exterior of the barrel. Put the barrel aside for now.
Step Five: Clean the firearm slide.
1) Holding the slide vertically, muzzle down, use the toothbrush to brush clean the breech face, the extractor, and the area around the extractor. Keep in mind that you want to avoid getting solvent into the firing pin channel. Solvent and lubricants collect dirt and grime and you don’t want to cake or grease up your firing pin and firing pin channel! This could cause your gun to fail to function.
2) Swab the slide rail cuts and the inside of the slide with a clean, cotton Q-tip. Notice all the dirt that collects on the Q-tip!
3) Using a slightly solvent dampened rag or patch, clean the underside/inside of the slide. You can also use the wide end of the toothbrush to scrub the inside of the slide. Dampen the small end of the toothbrush (single row of bristles) with solvent and vigorously scrub the slide rail cuts.
4) Use a clean, dry patch to wipe down the interior of the slide and slide rails.
Step Six: Clean the receiver.
1) Using the wide end of your nylon cleaning toothbrush, brush off carbon deposits on the metal contact points and the locking block on the receiver. Use some solvent if necessary, and if so, then use dry patches or a dry rag to wipe off excess solvent.
2) Using the wide end of your toothbrush, brush out any unburned gunpowder and debris from the interior of the receiver.
3) Make sure to wipe clean the locking block, the trigger bar, the connector, the cruciform, and the ejector. (See the Glock owner’s manual for a list of parts.)
Step Seven: Inspect the pistol’s main components and function check.
Note: If your Glock fails any of the following inspection tests, have it inspected by an experienced, factory trained and certified Glock armorer, or send it back to Glock.
1) Barrel: Inspect your barrel for dirt, lead deposits, bulges, obstructions, and cracks.
2) Firing pin and firing pin safety: There are four parts to this test:
(a) With the barrel and the recoil spring assembly removed, hold the slide with the interior facing upwards. Pull the firing pin lug all the way rearward and then ease it forward until it stops, as it contacts the firing pin safety. Do not allow the firing pin to snap forward! Then, press the firing pin lug forward with your forefinger (toward the muzzle). It should not slip forward, past the firing pin safety and it shouldn’t protrude through the firing pin hole on the breech face of the slide.
(b) Hold the slide muzzle down and press in on the firing pin safety button in the slide’s interior. The firing pin should move downward and its tip should slip through the firing pin hole on the breech face.
(c) Retract the firing pin back into the slide. Now shake the slide vigorously with the muzzle facing downward. The firing pin safety should prevent the firing pin from protruding through the breech face.
(d) Depress the firing pin safety button with your fingertips while you vigorously shake the slide from end to end. You should hear the firing pin moving freely inside the firing pin channel. If you do not hear and feel the firing pin movement, the firing pin and its channel could be caked with dirt and blocked, or the firing pin could be broken. See a Glock armorer.
3) Extractor: Inspect the extractor on the breech face of the slide for cleanliness and to make sure the extractor claw is not broken or chipped.
4) Ejector: The ejector is a piece of metal that protrudes forward from the left rear of the receiver or frame. Make sure it is clean and not chipped or broken.
5) Slide stop lever test: Grip the receiver in your strong hand and with the thumb and index fingers of your other hand, pull upward on the slide stop lever and let it go. It should snap down sharply into the frame. If it doesn’t, there’s a problem. See a Glock armorer.
Step Eight: Lubricate the pistol.
You just need six drops of oil. Use a quality gun lubricant/rust protective oil.
Note: If you’re using a binary compound such as Break Free CLP, make sure to shake the bottle vigorously to mix the ingredients before applying it. Lubricate the following areas in the following order:
1) Slide: Hold the slide such that the slide rail cuts face upward and the muzzle end is canted slightly downward. Using a lubricant applicator, drag one drop of lubricant down the entire length of each slide rail cut. That’s two drops of oil. Apply one drop of lubricant to the front inside of the slide which rubs against the upper portion of the barrel. That’s three drops of oil. (See Photo 12.)
2) Barrel: Wipe down your barrel’s exterior with one of the oil dampened patches or the oil dampened rag that you’ve used for cleaning. With your lubricant applicator, apply one drop of oil on the rear side of the barrel lug and one drop on the outside front of the barrel. That’s five drops so far.
3) Frame/Receiver: Hold the receiver in your strong hand, left side facing down. Apply one drop of oil to the curved, upper extension of the connector, at the right rear corner of the receiver/frame where the rear end of the trigger bar touches the connector. Hint: In this position, this upper rear extension of the connector looks like the palm of a hand. (See Photo 13.) And that is six drops of oil. Done.
Step Nine: Reassemble the pistol and function check the reassembled Glock.
1) Reassemble your gun. To reassemble your Glock, reverse the disassembly steps.
2) Function test and inspect your reassembled gun. First, make sure your reassembled gun is unloaded and keep it pointed in a safe direction!
(a) Slide cycling: Rack the slide several times and make sure the slide moves and cycles freely and smoothly.
(b) Trigger function: With the pistol facing in a safe direction, press the trigger rearward. Make sure the trigger works.
(c) Trigger Reset: Rack the slide again to return it into battery and reset the trigger. Make sure that the trigger resets into its forward, cocked position. Next, with your pistol still pointed in a safe direction, press the trigger rearward and hold it to the rear. You should hear and feel the firing pin fall. Now, pull the slide to its most rearward position and release it. After the slide has snapped into its forward, in-battery position, release the trigger. The trigger should reset to its forward, cocked position. Repeat several times to be sure.
(d) Trigger safety: With your pistol pointing in a safe direction, grasp the sides of the trigger without touching or depressing the trigger safety, which is the trigger in front of and within the trigger. The trigger safety should remain engaged and as such, prevent the trigger from moving rearward and releasing the firing pin.
(e) Inspection: Make sure the outside of your pistol is clean and free of dirt, rust, corrosion or other damage. Make sure your sights are fixed in place and not cracked. Inspect your magazines. Make sure that they’re not dirty or damaged. Check the magazine followers and feed lips to be sure the followers are not chipped and are set in the magazine properly, and that the feed lips are not bent or crushed. When you press down on the follower and release it, it should spring back all the way up and not stick inside the magazine tube.
(f) Slide lock open test: Insert an empty magazine into your in-battery pistol. Firmly pull the slide all the way rearward and it should lock open. Repeat with each of your empty magazines. A defective magazine can prevent the slide from locking open.
Step Ten: Decide what condition you want the gun in and put it in that condition.
Wipe your gun down with a lightly oiled rag or gun cloth. At this point, decide how you want your pistol. The two sensible choices are: (a) unloaded for storage (no magazine in the magazine well, slide in battery and the gun decocked with the trigger pressed rearward), or (b) loaded and safely secured in a lockbox or holster. Now you have a gun that you can rely on.
|“Glock Cleaning FAQ”
The Glock Papers
|Glock Instructions for Use (User’s Manual)
6000 Highlands Parkway, Smyrna, GA 30082
|“Speed-Clean Your Glock!” by Gila Hayes.
In Glock Autopistols. Vol. 9. No. 1. 2003. pp. 62-65.
The author wishes to thank Classic Pistol Indoor Range and Training Institute in Southampton, PA (www.ClassicPistol.com) and Pistol People Indoor Range and Training Institute in Bensalem, PA (www.PistolPeople.com) for use of their excellent facilities and their generous assistance in different phases of this author’s education about Glocks.
[ Bruce N. Eimer, Ph.D. is a board-certified, licensed, clinical and forensic psychologist, NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, NRA Life Member, Glock Certified Armorer, a Utah Dept. of Public Safety Concealed Firearms Instructor and an Author in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As the co-owner of Personal Defense Solutions, LLC, Bruce teaches concealed carry classes and NRA Basic Pistol and Personal Protection courses, as well as offering individual shooting instruction. He also teaches CCW classes that prepare people to apply for a Florida Non-Resident Concealed Carry Weapons Permit which is honored by 28 states. For more information, he can be reached by phone at 215-938-7283 (938-SAVE) and by e-mail at Dr.Bruce@PersonalDefenseSolutions.net or CCWInstructor@PersonalDefenseSolutions.net. For a schedule of upcoming classes, you can log on to the PDS website: PersonalDefenseSolutions.net. Bruce is also the co-author, with Stephen Rementer of the Pennsylvania Lethal Weapons Institute, of the Essential Guide to Handguns: Firearm Instruction for Personal Defense and Protection, which is published by: Looseleaf Law Publications – LooseLeafLaw.com, 800-647-5347 ]
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