To clean or not to clean

I was reading the February 2011 issue of The Blue Press. Someone had written in that was up in hackles about people not cleaning their guns. He couldn’t understand why someone would want to brag about never (or hardly ever) cleaning their guns. He asserted that if you don’t clean your guns your lazy or don’t care.

I beg to differ.

It’s good to know your gun can run despite being very dirty; that you can give it that level of abuse and it still runs. If your gun craps out after 50 rounds, would you trust your life to that gun? If you know you’ve put 2000+ rounds through it without a cleaning and it doesn’t hiccup, at least to me that instills a level of confidence in the gun that it can run even in less than ideal conditions. Life isn’t full of ideal situations, and I like to know my gear will run regardless.

Is it that we’re lazy or don’t care? Perhaps for some. For me, I’m not religious about cleaning my guns because I have only so much time in a day and too many other things taking priority. I know my gun will run dirty, so do I really need to agonize over ensuring it’s sparkling clean after every range trip? How about when I take a weekend-long shooting class where we’ll put 1000-2000 rounds down range? When the days are that long, it’s nice to know I can reholster my carry gun and know it will still work for me while I travel home, sleep, and drive back the next day. Sorry, but in a case like that, spending a little time with my family, taking care of chores around the house, and tending to other matters (like sleep) tend to win out over cleaning my gun before the next day’s class. I know the gun will run. And honestly, if I can discover it won’t run, if I can discover its limits, I’d rather know that when things are calm than when the fur is flying.

I’m not saying to never clean your guns. After hunting season I clean my hunting rifle and prep it for storage, figuring it probably won’t be pulled out again until next Fall. After a good training session I will give my handguns at least a quick boresnake, wipedown, and oiling. I don’t think it’s wise to never clean your gun, because a dry gun is going to wear, a dirty gun is going to have build-up that will eventually cause a problem. But I just don’t feel a need to worship at the altar of the spotless and shiny gun. I buy guns that are rugged and dependable, so if I miss a cleaning, I don’t sweat it. To me, it’s about finding a reasonable balance.

To each their own tho. And hey… if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, you’re welcome to come clean my guns. 🙂

2 thoughts on “To clean or not to clean

  1. For the first 3/4 of my life, a trip to the range was followed by cleaning my gun. Period. Rule set down by my dad that you never put a gun away dirty. But that was back in the days before CCW, and my one, chosen gun was a revolver. So “cleaning” often meant a couple of patches down the barrel and the cylinder, and wiping down everything external… took a few minutes. Then I met TXGunGeek. I started shooting semi-autos. I picked up a shotgun. TGG built me a rifle. And a trip to the range started involving multiple guns… that took a lot more time and effort to clean.

    Eventually, I started hearing about folks who only cleaned their guns every so-many-hundred rounds. Or almost never. And under TGG’s influence and my own laziness, I stopped cleaning my guns after every range trip. So far, I haven’t had any problems with functionality, and the guns haven’t magically rusted/turned to grime in the safe.

    But I still feel like I’m shirking my responsibilities every time I bring a gun home and put it in the safe without applying Hoppe’s to it. *sigh*

    • Dad trained you well. 🙂

      But that’s the thing. It’s a tool, it’s not a museum piece. If a tool can’t work with a little grime on it, what good is that tool?

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