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I just got a new handgun – honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve purchased a new one. Most of my guns were used when I picked them up.
After a long, drawn-out search I settled on a Smith and Wesson M&P 9 M2.0. I picked it up from the range on my way home from work. I was going to stay and shoot a few rounds, but a buddy of mine told me I should clean it first. I didn’t understand why. I likened cleaning a brand new gun to getting an oil change for a brand new car right after driving it off the lot.
But, I didn’t want to do any damage, so I took it home and looked online for some cleaning tips and I found some differing opinions on whether you should clean your brand new gun or not. Here is what the pros said:
It is not necessary to clean your gun when you first get it, you can shoot it right out of the box. It is probably the cleanest it will ever be. But, it’s not going to hurt anything if you do clean it. A lot of folks like to take their new weapon apart and examine each part, just to make sure there is no debris leftover from the manufacturing before taking their first shot. Some will clean the factory lube off and add their favorite at this point, others wait until after their first trip to the range. Some wait much longer than that.
However, the owner’s manual of my brand new Smith and Wesson clearly states:
“Before using your firearm for the first time, it should be cleaned.”
If that is not reason enough, I don’t know what you are looking for. The reason a gun should be cleaned is that the factory treats the gun to protect against corrosion during shipping. This treatment should be removed before firing the gun.
I want to make sure my gun lasts as long as it can, so I continued my research on how to extend the life of my gun. I came up with a list of questions, and I will share the answers with you.
- How often should you clean your gun?
- How long does it take to clean your gun?
- What supplies do you need to clean your gun?
- How do you clean a gun?
- How do you break-in a new gun?
- What can shorten a gun’s life?
How often should you clean your gun?
This is a question that is not clearly answered in the owner’s manual. Smith and Wesson encourage you to “routinely” clean your gun. Being new to this, I don’t know what routinely means, so I asked my buddy who told me to clean it before I used it. After all, he was right about that.
He says that you are not going to injure your gun by cleaning it too much, unless while disassembling it you break some of the moving parts, or if you use the wrong cleaning supplies.
But he stresses that you do not have to clean it after every trip to the range. He knows guys who will do just that and he also knows guys who won’t clean their guns until they start misbehaving. He suggests somewhere in the middle. His personal preference is to clean his guns once a month unless he is shooting a lot, in which case he will clean it more often.
As for deep cleaning, my friend will completely disassemble the weapon, clean and soak in hot water, lube, the whole works (more details below) after about every 2000-2500 rounds.
How long does it take to clean your gun?
This can vary. You can do a quick field strip, wipe down, snake, and lube in about 15-30 minutes, depending on how much much the gun has been used and how meticulous you want to be.
When you deep clean a gun, you have to add in the time for drying and you will want to be extra careful to clean each part thoroughly. This can take up to 2 hours or more.
What supplies do you need to clean your gun?
To properly clean your gun you will want to you will need the following
- Gun cleaning solvent
- Gun oil/lubricant
- Brass bore brush
- Cleaning jag
- Cotton cleaning patches
- Cotton swabs
- Cleaning rod
- Luster cloth for polishing
How do you clean a gun?
- Unload your gun!
- Field Strip your gun (Disassemble into component parts)
- Soak the barrel by using a cleaning rod and a solvent-soaked patch
- Continue cleaning the barrel by scrubbing with a barrel brush
- Repeat 3 and 4
- Lubricate the barrel by using a cotton-tipped rod with lubricant on it.
- Clean and lubricate the action the same way as the barrel
- Wipe down the outside of the gun with a luster cloth.
- Reassemble your gun
How do you break-in a new gun?
The first step as we now know is to clean and lubricate your new gun before it’s first use. Next, we shoot. To start you want to take just 1 shot and clean the barrel, then increase to 3 shots and clean the barrel, then 5 shots, and then clean again. Do this several more times at 5 shot intervals and at that point you should have broken your gun in.
The purpose of this is to help get rid of any tiny imperfections. The first couple of times cleaning your barrel, your bore and patch will be dirtier than cleanings later in the process. So don’t be surprised.
In addition to getting rid of the imperfections, breaking in a gun is a good way to dial in the sights and targeting. Take note while shooting your break-in shots of where the hits are on the target. Is it high? Low? Do all the shots hit left? As you break in your gun, you can also dial in your sights.
What will shorten a gun’s life?
Alright, We have cleaned and lubricated our new gun. We have broken it in and adjusted the sights. Now we are all set to shoot. So the last questions we have are what do we need to avoid so our gun lasts as long as possible? Here are some tips…
Longterm moisture is the enemy of a metal gun and it’s parts. While most guns will fire when wet, and sometimes even submerged, It is important to thoroughly dry and grease a gun after it has gotten wet. It is also important to store a gun in a way that does not allow moisture to collect on the gun.
Also, after shooting and during your routine cleanings you want to look for any foreign objects in the gun. These can include small metal shavings have been broken off during shooting. Finally, the springs on your handgun will wear out with use and will need to be replaced periodically.
Holding a gun in your hand for the first time is a wonderful thing. Make sure that you clean that brand new gun before you hit the range. Keep it clean and well maintained and it will serve you well for many years or decades to come.
Thanks for reading and Good Shooting!