Safety. As any hunter, marksman, or firearm enthusiast knows, safety is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when discussing anything firearm-related. Whether you have a shotgun, bolt-action rifle, or semi-automatic rifle, firearms are carefully-crafted, precision instruments.
Over time and with use, unburnt powder, dirt, and small bullet fragments begin to build up, not just in the action, but the barrel. It doesn’t take much to cause a jam, a misfire, or even a bullet stuck in the barrel. Any one of these can create unsafe scenarios and could potentially render the firearm a hazard to the operator.
Performance. In addition to safety concerns, a firearm that is not properly maintained can cause performance issues. A dirty firing pin may cause a light striking, preventing the primer from igniting the powder within the bullet.
The rifling within the barrel of a firearm is precisely crafted to put a stabilizing spin on the projectile, which greatly increases accuracy. Having dirt and grime in your barrel can potentially throw off your marksmanship, which can have all sorts of negative consequences downrange.
Of course, the more complex the firearm is, the more opportunities it has to fail. For example, a semi-automatic firearm has a far greater number of moving parts when compared to something more simple like a breech-loaded gun. A buildup of dirt, old lubricant, or burnt gunpowder can cause your action to malfunction, resulting in frequent jams.
Protecting your investment. Whether you are a collector, hunter, or simply a firearm enthusiast, firearms of all kinds are an expensive investment. When properly maintained, they hold their value fairly well, and don’t depreciate as a vehicle might.
Replacing a broken firearm can be costly. That’s why maintaining and cleaning your firearm is a key part of getting the most out of your investment.
Are you supposed to clean your gun after every use?
Now that we’ve established why cleaning is an important part of maintenance, how often should you clean your gun? As you can imagine, the answer depends on what you use it for, and how frequently you use it.
In general, it is recommended that you give your gun a basic cleaning after about 300 rounds have been fired through it, and a thorough, deep clean after around 3,000.
After target practice and range time. If you frequent the range for practice or recreation, you’re provbably going to put a larger number of rounds through your firearm than you would if you were hunting. For this reason, it’s usually a good idea to clean your gun after each session at the range.
After hunting. Even if you have an extremely successful hunt, you are unlikely to go through anywhere near the same amount of ammunition as you would at the range. On a more moderate, or possibly unsuccessful hunting trip, you may only fire your gun 5-10 times, or possibly fewer.
However, hunting expeditions often expose your firearms to other environmental sources of dirt and possibly corrosion. Outdoor humidity, grass, dust, mud, and rain can all quickly impact your firearm, which means it may be a good idea to clean it after each outing whether you are successful or not.
Of course, you can mitigate much of this by properly storing your firearm while on the move. For example, when you’re hiking out to the deer blind, or setting up to wait for some wild pigs, you can reduce the contaminates your gun is exposed to by keeping the action closed, or possibly storing it in a protective carrying case.
Cleaning a rarely used firearm. Sometimes, we have firearms that haven’t been used in a while – perhaps they are part of a collection you don’t want to use frequently, or maybe you haven’t had the time to visit the range. In any case, some occasional cleaning is still a good idea. Oil ages into a “varnish-like” substance which can impede the action. Dust, moisture, and other contaminants can collect over time, even if you have it stored in a safe. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to your firearm out for cleaning at least twice a year, or once a quarter.
Whatever your situation you can put peace and comfort in knowing that we are here to help you learn about and care for your firearms.
If you would like to schedule a regular maintenance program with us call Finks Custom Gunsmithing and allow us to oversee the maintenance of your firearms. In God We Trust!