The cleaning and maintenance of a gun preserve its value and functionality, keeping it safe and accurate. Good maintenance habits will let an owner know the gun better, granting more confidence in its performance in the field or at the range. The time, effort, and attention put into firearm maintenance pay off in peace of mind.


Preparing to work is an integral part of the job. Select an area to work in that is ventilated well, lit well, and is clean and organized. Outdoors or within the garage is best. If working indoors is a must, choose a large room. The work table should not move or rock when leaned on, but be a sturdy piece of furniture. Because of food contamination by chemical solvents, the dining room table and kitchen counter are not ideal. For the same reason, do not drink or eat while working.

Remove Ammunition

Take all ammunition from the area. Gather up both boxed and loose ammunition and place it in its proper storage area. Only once this is complete should the gun be brought out. Double-check that the gun is empty. Empty extra magazines.

Get the Owner’s Manual and Supplies

If it is available, get out the owner’s manual for the gun. If it is lost, or the weapon was bought secondhand without it, the two-volume NRA’s guide to assembling firearms contains visual and written instructions on disassembling a wide variety of guns. A cleaning kit is next, but some essential supplies are not to be found in cleaning kits. A rubber mat that has a non-slip surface helps protect the workbench and the parts from damage. A cleaning cradle will keep the gun under control.


Once the gun is disassembled, begin with the bore. The muzzle’s rifling is critical to the gun’s accuracy. Do not bang the cleaning rod against the muzzle’s opening. Over time, the opening can widen or be left misshapen, so clean starting from the breech toward the muzzle whenever possible. Old toothbrushes, cotton swabs, and rags are all helpful aids for cleaning the rest of the gun. A carbon solvent will help. Reassemble the firearm promptly, so parts are not broken or lost.