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Dukes Up Dan

Good Practice or Waste of Time and Resources

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Not sure if this has come up before and I know I post on here a lot, but I have many questions and appreciate the community's feedback. How often do you gents and ladies clean your firearms? I am mainly inquiring about mainmatch/competition guns, but I am also curious about your other firearms as well. Generally, I like to completely strip and clean my guns the night before and right after matches (monthly and annual). When it comes to shooting outside of the sport, for fun (wait... I thought I did this cowboy thing for fun?), I generally will only snake the barrel and wipe-down the bolt-head if I only shoot one box (20 rounds), but if I shoot 2+ boxes of rifle or shotgun or a full box of handgun (about 50), I will do like I do with competition guns and pull them apart for full cleaning. I am wondering if I am forming a good habit or giving unnecessary attention to my babies?

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You do whatever your guns need to keep running their best. In general, I don't take down the guns for cleaning more than once a month. Sometimes less. That's shooting every weekend. It's a balancing act when you shoot them constantly. Too much maintenance will wear things out as surely as not enough. Carry plenty of your favorite spray cleaner/lubricant to hose out dirty areas before it dries out and cakes on. You won't need to tear down the guns as often.

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Actually "clean" my competition guns 2x a year. Wipe them down every so often if I happen to think about it.

And I will NEVER shoot a major match with a clean gun.

 

I am a firm believer that more guns are damaged by "cleaning" than have ever been harmed by lack thereof.

 

I don't change the oil in my car every time I drive it; I'm certainly not cleaning my guns every time I shoot them.

 

My opinion only and many others think otherwise.

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For stainless pistols I take off the grips, remove the cylinders and drop all metal into a 50 cal. ammo can filled with Ed's Red. After a few days I blow dry with compressed air and run a dry patch through the bores. Blued guns, I clean the bores and wipe down.

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I've been shooting black or BlackMZ all through 2016. I have gone through whole 6 stage match with no maintenance. But had a few feeding problems with Marlin in later stages and hulls hanging in shotgun. So I've got into the habit of pouring some water through the bore on rifle and shotgun and pulling a snake through. Seems like the Marlin needs a drop of oil on breech bolt and cut to slide easy.

 

When I get home or next day, I detach barrels and flood them with really hot water, brush, more water, push paper towel through until clean. Then while still hot, run patch with Thompson Bore Butter through the barrels. I brush up breach face and water table and coat with BB. I'll put a drop of oil on latch bolt. Then I wipe down intire gun with a patch that I used on the bores. The wipe down with cloth rag.

 

The Marlin gets a similar process of hot water and BB. I inspect the action to judge if I need to gut it for cleaning. Usually I don't.

 

Pistols, roll out the cylinder, hot water through bore and chambers, brush, wads, BB. I've gotten in the habit of taking chucking a brush in a cordless drill and speeding up the chamber brushing chore.

 

Sawmill Mary shoots smokeless so I don't always clean her guns. But when I do, I generally just run a patch through the bores and coat with BB and wipe down. On handguns, I'll roll out cylinders and brush inside of frame and front face of cylinder and chambers. I clean and oil up base pin.

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Every few hundred rounds or when I can feel rifle getting a little less smooth. Have always cleaned B4 a major match and then shot a few rounds to be sure all is well in the rifle. I shoot a Marlin and Ruger revolvers.

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Generally I clean the bore and chambers of my revolvers and the bore and chamber of my rifles after every match or target shooting session. Nothing major. I will run a swab with CLP through the bores / chambers and let them be over night and then the next day or 2 later I do a traditional cleaning with a rod, brush and patches on a jag. Once every 6 - 12 months, depending on use, I do a full tear down clean and lube.

 

I will no longer rely on bore snakes for a majority of my cleaning but will run one if shooting dirty factory ammo. Bore snakes do not cut it for long term maintenance in my book but they are good for a quick touch up if you keep them clean.

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What is this cleaning you speak of? I started out treating my guns the way my military training dictated: obsessive cleaning. Now I'm with Creeker, a minimalist.

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Actually "clean" my competition guns 2x a year. Wipe them down every so often if I happen to think about it.

And I will NEVER shoot a major match with a clean gun.

 

I am a firm believer that more guns are damaged by "cleaning" than have ever been harmed by lack thereof.

 

I don't change the oil in my car every time I drive it; I'm certainly not cleaning my guns every time I shoot them.

 

My opinion only and many others think otherwise.

+1 Having been in the firearms industry for a long time, i can back up his statement that more guns are damaged by cleaning than by shooting. If I could count the number of guns I have seen damaged in one way or another by taking apart and breaking or losing parts in the last 20 years, you'd be shocked. I use the same analogy as Creeker but a little more in depth. You got a $50,000 truck you drove to the range. Did you remove the engine and take it all apart, rebuild it and the same with the trans and differentials?

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I'm in the 'Minimalist' posse also.

 

Ruger pistols: about once a year.

SG 97: I swab the bore with an oily patch every 75-100 rounds

Marlin rifle: whenever it starts to feel sluggish, or a couple times a year.

 

In my opinion, the type of powder residue and your lubricants can create hardened crud OR prevent it.

Try to use relatively clean burning powder and good lubes and you may discover a lot of your cleaning methods can be reduced to just a good wiping off of your guns.

 

 

..........Widder

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I spray the rifle carrier with one shot if I have it, and cycle the carrier up and down a bunch of times. Then wipe all the crud plus the lube off it and shoot the 4 to 6 stages running it dry as possible. Ill repeat every 4 to 6 stages all the time, because it keeps my rifle feeling exactly the same, and running fast. Total break down and cleaning 2 to 3 times per yr unless I got it wet some place at a shoot. Pistols get the cylinder pins cleaned and oiled every time they feel a little stiffer. Total cleaning once per yr. Shotgun gets the chambers cleaned once per day at a shoot. Rest of the gun wiped down with oil. I never really clean the barrels. Oh, i'm running with the chambers clean, but stone dry, and that's about it. Lunger

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I shoot no smokeless powder. I clean my Ruger Old Armys, 73 and Baikal after a shoot. Maybe 2 weeks after. Complete tear down once or twice a year.

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What Creeker & Boggus said. Unless shooting BP or subs, of course.

 

Non-CAS/competition guns less than that.

 

A clean, oiled bore is going to give you a different POI. Enough that it matters when your target is way out yonder.

Edited by Stump Water

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I shoot nothing but BP & subs for CAS. I shoot SS NM Vaqueros, Uberti 73s and SKBs. All are cleaned after every shoot. Everyone needs to define "clean". All of my guns get wiped down using a 50% Balistol/water mixture. The Rugers barrels are cleaned, cylinders cleaned and lubed. 73 get disassembled (sideplates & innerds) cleaned ...especially the brass carrier, barrel cleaned. I also clean the mag tube several times a year. SKBs get barrel cleaned.

 

I have been shooting my Rugers for 7 or 8 years and they have never been totally disassembled, same with 73s and SKBs. I use nothing but the Ballistol mixture for cleaning and a moly grease for lubing. That's it.....Never have had a broken part or gun failure except when I did something wrong. I shoot monthly shoots at 2 clubs and 3 to 5 annuals every year.

 

My Bulls Eye pistols (S&S K38 Target Masterpiece & High Standard Supermatic Tournament) get cleaned Yearly after each years season is over.

Edited by Big Sage, SASS #49891 Life

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That reminds me.

 

I still have to clean my pistols from the last match in October.

 

Thanks for the reminder.

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Actually "clean" my competition guns 2x a year. Wipe them down every so often if I happen to think about it.

And I will NEVER shoot a major match with a clean gun.

 

I am a firm believer that more guns are damaged by "cleaning" than have ever been harmed by lack thereof.

 

I don't change the oil in my car every time I drive it; I'm certainly not cleaning my guns every time I shoot them.

 

My opinion only and many others think otherwise.

 

 

WOW! I work twice as hard as Creeker. I clean my guns once a year.

 

Question for the O.P.

 

After you clean your guns do you test fire them before a match or are you just hoping that you put them back together correctly and they will work?

 

Think about it. Everytime you disassemble a mechanical object with a lot of finely fitted close tolerance parts you are increasing the risk of not reassembling it right or parts breakage.

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I've been shooting black or BlackMZ all through 2016.

When I get home or next day, I detach barrels and flood them with really hot water, brush, more water, push paper towel through until clean. Then while still hot, run patch with Thompson Bore Butter through the barrels. I brush up breach face and water table and coat with BB. I'll put a drop of oil on latch bolt. Then I wipe down intire gun with a patch that I used on the bores. The wipe down with cloth rag.

 

The Marlin gets a similar process of hot water and BB. I inspect the action to judge if I need to gut it for cleaning. Usually I don't.

 

Pistols, roll out the cylinder, hot water through bore and chambers, brush, wads, BB. I've gotten in the habit of taking chucking a brush in a cordless drill and speeding up the chamber brushing chore.

 

 

 

 

You are waaaay overdoing the cleaning of blackpowder.

 

BP revolvers barrels get three wet patches followed by two dry ones.

 

Cylinder soaks in hot water while I clean the barrel. Then it gets the wet patch followed by dry patches.

 

Frame of revolvers gets wiped down with wet patches.

 

I then spray Ballistol on the barrel, cylinder and frame and wipe everything down with a wet patch sprayed with Ballistol. I cock the hammer of the gun and give a shot of Ballistol inside the action.

 

There is no reason for using a brush. If you are getting lead deposits you are using too hard of lead bullet. If you are getting hard caking you are not using enough lube.

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Cleaning guns is SO dependent upon what your GUN needs for it to be able to run well. We can make generalizations in the gun types and what they need. But listen and feel your guns and you will develop a cleaning schedule that works for you.

 

Here's some important points I've learned.

 

* Some smokeless powders burn more cleanly and require less cleaning.

* Plastic-Coated lead slugs require less cleaning than lubed slugs

* Once you get your loads tuned, if you HAVE to clean a rifle or pistol barrel to keep it running or maintain it's accuracy, there is something wrong with the load! You should NOT be leading or fouling the barrel of a smokeless gun with cowboy loads!

* Some gun actions are tighter and more prone to jamming and malfunctioning if they get dirty.

* Bottleneck cartridges keep rifle actions very clean. 38 specials let actions get dirty a little faster and .45 Colt guns get fouling in the action very fast.

* Cartridge selection makes little difference to revolver actions - they all get dirty.

* SxS shotguns shuck fired shells much better with clean and dry chambers

* Pump shotguns need action cleaning much more than they need chamber or barrel cleaning

* Any tube magazine needs to be cleaned and dry lubed at least once a year or more often in rainy weather and dusty conditions

 

So what have my guns told me?

 

Pistols - clean when they start feeling a little sticky or draggy (maybe every 10 matches)

Rifle - since I shoot .45 Colt, clean it (especially lifter, bolt, extractor) when sticky - about every other match

SxS shotgun - clean chambers every match

Pump shotgun - clean action every match or two

 

Long range rifles - clean after every match (and practice session) - because precision is very important

 

None of the cleaning above requires more than a "field" disassembly"

 

All the guns get thorough cleaning about once a year, well before a major match.

 

 

 

more guns are damaged by "cleaning" than have ever been harmed by lack thereof.

 

Lack of cleaning doesn't damage/harm guns. But it sure can damage your scoresheet. Just sticking one round in a magazine or a chamber often kills a match. One sticky hull in a shotgun. One extra "go-around" or "cylinder boost" on a revolver can do the same - For top competitors.

 

Now, if you can't clean using field disassembly any of your cowboy guns without doing damage (such that it is detectable at cowboy distances) - there is something wrong with your abilities to work with firearms!

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708

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Are you shooting smokeless?

Full tear-down into iddy bitty parts, is not a good idea as it leads to unnecessary wear and tear.

The only time I do a full tear down is to replace worn/broken parts.

OLG

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I would give my main match guns a good cleaning when any one of them had problems having cartridges dropping in.

 

I know my Vaqueros have gone 11 months without cleaning but they were shot every weekend.

Some times twice each weekend.

 

I do clean before and after each time I shoot black powder.

 

I also give a good cleaning when I know I am not going to shoot that gun for a while.

 

This is one of those things that fits in to "What you think is best for you."

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Actually "clean" my competition guns 2x a year. Wipe them down every so often if I happen to think about it.

And I will NEVER shoot a major match with a clean gun.

 

I am a firm believer that more guns are damaged by "cleaning" than have ever been harmed by lack thereof.

 

I don't change the oil in my car every time I drive it; I'm certainly not cleaning my guns every time I shoot them.

 

My opinion only and many others think otherwise.

 

 

^ This X 1,000. After cleaning it's imperative you function fire all your guns. Not just dry fire, but actual loaded ammo. And that function fire is best done under match conditions. You need to be 100% sure your guns are going to perform the way you want before going into any major match. For this reason I detail strip and clean my guns twice a year. A couple matches before our state championship in October and a couple of matches before Winter Range in February.

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I swab the bores lightly and wipe the outside after each match. Usually about once a year I clean the cylinders and frames of my vaqueros. I never disassemble a firearm to clean it, I disassemble when repairs are needed.(I can't remember how long that has been) About once a year I clean the magazine tube, follower and spring on my lever rifles. On 1911s I take the slide off and clean up the mess after a few hundred rounds.

 

Blackfoot (if it ain't broke, don't fix it)

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^ This X 1,000. After cleaning it's imperative you function fire all your guns. Not just dry fire, but actual loaded ammo. And that function fire is best done under match conditions. You need to be 100% sure your guns are going to perform the way you want before going into any major match. For this reason I detail strip and clean my guns twice a year. A couple matches before our state championship in October and a couple of matches before Winter Range in February.

 

Man, I'm glad I don't take this sport that seriously.

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Not sure if this has come up before and I know I post on here a lot, but I have many questions and appreciate the community's feedback. How often do you gents and ladies clean your firearms? I am mainly inquiring about mainmatch/competition guns, but I am also curious about your other firearms as well. Generally, I like to completely strip and clean my guns the night before and right after matches (monthly and annual). When it comes to shooting outside of the sport, for fun (wait... I thought I did this cowboy thing for fun?), I generally will only snake the barrel and wipe-down the bolt-head if I only shoot one box (20 rounds), but if I shoot 2+ boxes of rifle or shotgun or a full box of handgun (about 50), I will do like I do with competition guns and pull them apart for full cleaning. I am wondering if I am forming a good habit or giving unnecessary attention to my babies?

I clean my cowboy guns once a year whether needed or not.

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If you shoot it .

You clean it .

This has served me well.

 

Works for me.

Just saying .

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I don't know why everyone is afraid to take their rifles apart to clean, and inspect them. I've not worn my rifle by disassembly, or hurt it's performance. Some people claim their rifle won't run right unless its dirty, and if taken apart the demons will attack it, and it won't run in the following match! You can actually see wear, and prevent a breakdown by taking it apart and inspecting it. If your rifle won't run right cleaned and lubed, it needs to be worked on anyway.

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I shoot real black powder in CAS. My Rugers get wiped down outside, on cylinders, pin and swab barrel, swab with Q tips

and squirt ballistol and water in the innards. First barrel cleaning is with Windex with vinegar followed by Ballistol.

 

My .45 Colt Big Boy gets the barrel swabbed with Windex with vinegar followed by Ballistol, wiped down, Q tips in action

with Ballistol.

 

The double gets the barrels swabbed with Windex followed by Ballistol. The extractor and frame get swabbed.

 

Before cleaning, I take the guns into the shower and run super hot water through the barrels. That's how we did it in the

Marine Corps in the fifties!

 

My bullseye guns get swabbed and barrels swabbed.

 

MY BPCR Sharps .50-140 3-1/4" gets the barrel swabbed, the action wiped and the sights cleaned after every match. The

barrel is swabbed after every round or two.

 

I NEVER deep clean any gun just before an important match.

i

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What is this cleaning you speak of? I started out treating my guns the way my military training dictated: obsessive cleaning. Now I'm with Creeker, a minimalist.

I am the obsessive cleaner that you speak of!! But I do test fire before a match just like I did in the Army before a patrol.

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Are you shooting smokeless?

Full tear-down into iddy bitty parts, is not a good idea as it leads to unnecessary wear and tear.

The only time I do a full tear down is to replace worn/broken parts.

OLG

 

What the heck are you guys cleaning with? Steel wool? I break down and clean my guns quite frequently and have never worn a small part or broken something from cleaning it. It's a machine, and all machines need to be checked and friction surfaces lubed. That will wear out a part faster than any cleaning will.

I don't know why everyone is afraid to take their rifles apart to clean, and inspect them. I've not worn my rifle by disassembly, or hurt it's performance. Some people claim their rifle won't run right unless its dirty, and if taken apart the demons will attack it, and it won't run in the following match! You can actually see wear, and prevent a breakdown by taking it apart and inspecting it. If your rifle won't run right cleaned and lubed, it needs to be worked on anyway.

Exactly. At one of the clubs I shoot at, there was an email sent out recently requesting folks to attend a 73 clinic since so many had gone down the previous match from lack of maintenance.

 

 

Man, I'm glad I don't take this sport that seriously.

Wise words indeed. The minute this game I play stops becoming fun and becomes work, it's time for me to change to a different game.

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I remove wood and such and flush with carb or brake cleaner.

Dry it out with compressed air and spray whatever lube is handy.

Blow out the excess with compressed air. Wipe down-DONE.

OLG

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I don't know why everyone is afraid to take their rifles apart to clean, and inspect them. I've not worn my rifle by disassembly, or hurt it's performance.

It's not that we are afraid to.

There's no need to and I have better things to do.

 

And I own a gun shop...

I have seen a whole lot more guns walk thru the door in boxes because of (attempted) cleaning; than I have for lack of cleaning.

As for the demons attacking the clean gun and it not running; if YOU have never reassembled something incorrectly or forgot to tighten a screw... Good for you.

 

For the rest of us mistake prone mortals; we like to ensure things function properly under match conditions before failures are reflected on a major match scoresheet.

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When I started shooting CAS I was amazed to note how many shooters had so little knowledge of their guns. I've overheard, "Well, we'll have to send it back to Ruger to get it cleaned.".

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What is this cleaning thing of which you speak? I use so much Balistol I should own stock in the company.

My $.02

Imis

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Creeker, I sure didn't mean to upset you, or anyone else for that matter. Maybe my choice of words could have been better. The point was these rifles run far better clean, with parts timed properly, and low wear. Its not too difficult to take a 73 or 66 apart and see how it operates and clean and maintain them. Yes, I too have seen things fly apart, and things go bad. Some of it self inflicted. I'm a farmer, and understand all that, and i'm mortal too. Lunger

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Rifle: Clean the chamber, run a pull through cleaner down the bore, clean fouling off bolt face and lifter, lightly lube lifter with ballistol before each match. After about 5 or 6 matches I take it completely down, clean everything, inspect each part, lube everything and do that before a big match.

 

Pistols: Do a quick clean like on the rifle after about every 4 matches or practice sessions, complete tear down, inspection and cleaning before a big match or if the pistol starts to feel sluggish in function.

 

Shotgun: Lube lugs and cocking pieces about every 3 or 4 matches, clean bore before big match, complete tear down every 6 months, check stock tightness (SKB) every 3 months.

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