Signs it's time to clean your gun

Some people have hard and fast rules about when they clean their guns; after every range trip, after 1000 rounds, every 6 months. And to make it confusing for those who are newer to guns or have a new gun, not all gun manufacturers have the same suggestions for when to clean your firearm.

What are some signs that it’s time to clean your gun?


Every range trip.


Every range trip and every 6 months if not fired! I believe in light lubrication but keep it fresh!


Every time I shoot. Clean, lubed, inspected, and good to go. I’ve been known to clean all of my guns over a weekend about once a year, whether they’ve been fired or not. Clean, lubed, inspected and good to go.


Always clean after shooting, just habit I guess. Just cleaned all of em this weekend, had to try out my new cleaning kit I just got from Otis Technology :+1:. But usually get a good cleaning few times a year whether fired or not.


Gun cleaning has multiple purposes. First off, it is to clean the gun. Secondly, it is to check the parts on wear and location of where your grime is collecting the most grunge… Look and see where your wear points are and lubricate properly. Thirdly, gun familiarization. Get to know your parts and how they operate. As for timed cleanings, it variates to different times with different depth of cleanings. If I shot 50 rounds at the range I expedite my cleaning to a simple breakdown and wiping and check for proper lubrication… If I shot around 1000 rounds I break it down and run it through the sonic cleaner, wipe then lube.
If your wondering if you should clean it, dip a Q-tip in CPL then run it around your chamber and if it is black, clean it! Clean it like you you mean it. Like it was a surgical tool used by a surgeon. That way the next time you use it there will not be any excessive build up of grunge on it and you will not have any failures.


First sign is a dirt on my support hand’s thumb… which appears every time I live fire my handgun.

Rest has been perfectly explained by @Todd30 :clap:


Each and every time what firearms I shoot I make time to clean them and the ones I did not shoot every 6 months I clean and lube them so they will be ready if needed, remember in a back issue of a USCCA Magazine was a article about lubing unused firearms that sit there that lube could dry out so a refresh lube and wipe down is one of those responsibilities of being a gun owner.


Depends on what level of cleaning. A range trip might just field strip, wipe it down, lubricate and reassemble.

After a hard training course I break it down and really clean and inspect it. If it’s a multi-day class I tend to not clean it between days only because during training I’m trying to push to failure. Both myself and the firearm

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Starts to jam or misfeed. Then I take out another and enjoy the rest of the day, cleaning when I get home. :slight_smile:

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EDC gets cleaned every wash day, mostly weekly sometimes more often. Any trip to the range requires a good cleaning. Inspect & lube other firearms at least once a year before putting them away again. & Something I never thought about is shotgun ammo being deformed in the tube due to pressure of the spring. ( Being fully loaded ) need to watch that.


I clean mine after every range trip.

I tend to be very picky, but after learning about some peoples practices it makes me wonder if I could at least cut down on the cleaning time.


I was surprised once (and embarrassed) when; after not shooting my pistol for a few months, I pulled it out to show someone and found that it was rusted. The rust was bad enough the magazine did not want to drop out of the grip. At that point, I knew that a field strip, clean, and lube does not have to wait until after time at the range.

I field strip every few weeks, wipe down and lube as needed. Full cleaning every few months or after 500 or so rounds.

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When you release the bolt carrier and it slooooowly slides down to the chamber.

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I generally clean every time I shoot. The few times I haven’t, I’ll get an occasional FTE.


Todd is right, It’s good to inspect the parts regularly. I do it because I like it. I just bought a cheap ultrasonic cleaner big enough for a pistols. I think I’m going to try it on my suppressors and glocks first.
I took a class with a guy who was with the teams and is now an independent contractor–he was putting his G 19 through a personal toture test–it was over 25,000 rounds and going strong.

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In general I am not a heavy cleaner. I will put several hundred rounds through a pistol before I even consider a cleaning. That being said I HAVE torture tested all my pistols and I know their limitations. The only one that I have yet to find failure point is my XD Tactical. I have put somewhere north of 4K rounds through it and it is still running strong, can’t explain it except it’s the first “plastic” pistol I have owned.

On my EDC, when there is so much lint over the firing pin block that I can’t tell if there is a firing pin I may blow it out. That is kind of true but in general when I notice the slide slowing down.

I would say 80% of my guns never see the light of day other than an annual inspection as they are collectable, they were cleaned as recently as the last time they were shot or before they were put into the safe the first time. Yes I own more guns than I like to admit that I have never shot.

On rifles I will not clean the bore until accuracy falls off. I may clean the bolt face, rails and such and may go so far as to drag a dry bore snake down the tube, because dust bunnies. In the mid 90’s after I discovered the magic of NOT cleaning the bore after every range trip I zero’d every rifle I owned (with certain unfired exceptions) with 25 - 50 rounds following a good cleaning with bore brushes, solvent and the like. Once they were shooting acceptable groups I cleaned the bolts, lubed the lugs and mopped the chamber with a dry mop. They went into the safe with the ammo they fired last.

Last hunting season I was feeling a bit nostalgic and took my very first rifle (a 1903A3 Smith & Corona) out and fired the 5 rounds that were in the magazine following the dry bore snake thing (because dust bunnies) the result was a 4.5" group at 200 yards with iron sights and my old eyes from a gun and ammo that hadn’t seen day light in 25 years. More proof that my methodology works even after decades of storage and that my reloads are still good.

The notion that you must clean your gun after every trip to the range was founded when black powder was in use and perpetuated by Sergeants who had to keep the troops occupied when smokeless powder was common and after mercuric primers went away. Current technology and chemistry has rendered this “Wives Tail” irrelevant. Your gun (pistol or rifle) will shoot to the same POA/POI as your last range trip if you DON’T clean it. Whereas if you clean it there is no telling where the first and subsequent rounds will go until it settles down.

The first shot you take is ALWAYS the most important one. Wouldn’t it be nice to know where that round will go as opposed to chalking up a near miss as a “cold shooter/cold gun”?




Rubbermaid makes great firearms. :slight_smile:


I clean mine after every range trip. Since I live in Arizona where it is always windy and dusty and it is my duty weapon, I clean and lube it once a month. I carry a 1911 commander for duty cocked and locked so it attracts sand constantly. A firearm can never be too clean or lubed. My life and others depends on it!