Taking Care of Your Guns Is Vital … and Easy

I was recently reminded of how important it is to be a conscientious gun owner. This covers a lot of ground, but it starts with simple, common-sense maintenance.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had people show up for one of my firearms classes with guns so poorly maintained that it gave me chills.

The most common problem? Guns that haven’t been cleaned. They’ve run from moderately dirty to downright filthy. And a number of these were firearms that people carry every day for personal protection! Seriously?

I’m not going to get into some arcane discussion about which cleaners or lubricants are best. Most of you are smart enough to figure out the difference between quality products and over-hyped “magic” offerings.

And you don’t need to spend hours on end scouring the internet to find good products. Check around. See what professional “trigger pullers” use. Remember, old standbys like Hoppes #9 are still around for a reason: They work. The more important thing is to actually use them.

There is simply no excuse for carrying a dirty gun. Field-stripping any modern auto-loader takes mere seconds; revolvers are even simpler since they don’t need to be disassembled for normal maintenance. Then, with the right accessories handy, you can do a decent cleaning job in minutes.

What are the right accessories? Here’s an example: I keep my solvent/cleaner in a spray bottle (less than $1 in the toiletries aisle at Target or Walmart). This makes spritzing the barrel and the rest of the gun components quick and easy.

Barrel brushes can have metal or polymer bristles — it’s your choice. Many newer guns come with cleaning brushes. You’ll need cloth patches (lots of them) and brass jags (rods) in the right sizes to run patches down the barrels of your different caliber guns.

Q-tips or similar swabs can get into tight areas such as guide rails; keep a couple of old toothbrushes around to scrub oddly shaped surfaces. Ditto with rags — cotton is OK, but microfiber cloth is less likely to leave lint.

The second problem I’ve encountered is with guns that may be clean but are practically bone dry. I have had students whose guns malfunctioned because they were so lacking in lubrication that they actually squeaked when I tried to rack the slides!

News flash: Even the best lubricants can eventually evaporate or drain away. This is especially true of carry guns, which absorb body heat — even in colder climates. In areas like Florida, where I live, humidity adds to the problem. Humidity can sometimes cause rust to form on magazines that are not stainless steel or nickel-plated. Check your gun weekly.

Here again, common sense should apply. Any oil designated as suitable for firearms will do the job. You might even be surprised to find out that any of the name-brand automotive motor oils (especially the new synthetics) are more than adequate to use in a pinch. After all, such oils are engineered to withstand temperatures that no firearm ever sees (other than perhaps a full-auto running through hundreds of rounds non-stop).

The bottom line is that a firearm you carry for self-defense is not just a piece of sporting equipment; it is a tool intended to save your life. It only makes sense to keep it in the best operating condition possible.

Be smart. Be sure. Be safe.

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