How to Clean Your Handgun Quickly

3 min read

Cleaning a pistol is probably the least fun part of owning a gun, but it's a necessary task for several reasons. Buildup can cause serious damage and accuracy issues, and all that gunk inside your pistol will degrade your gun over time. Cleaning your gun regularly won't just make your gun look nicer, it will also make your gun last longer!

You're likely familiar with the process of field stripping your handgun as part of a complete cleaning, but did you know there are a few ways to quickly clean your pistol without the hassle of almost completely disassembling it? Here are some tips you can use in between deep cleanings to keep your gun running smoothly.

The Cleaning Equipment You'll Need

In order to do a quick cleaning, you'll need a few tools and supplies. It's a good idea to have a stash of these items in your range bag (or a separate bag you can grab if needed) in case you're experiencing issues a quick cleaning can solve. Here's what you need:

  • A cleaning mat or range towel to lay your handgun on - don't put your gun directly on a shooting bench, the dirt can cause more issues than you're trying to solve.
  • A boresnake - this is handy and inexpensive piece of equipment that can temporarily solve a lot of issues when you're on the range. Keep one in your range bag at all times. 
  • A bore rod and brush - you don't need to carry the whole set with you, just grab the right size for your barrel.
  • Cleaning patches and a jag - use cleaning patches designed for use with firearms to avoid lint or fibers you won't want inside your handgun.
  • Another small towel or washcloth - this will come in handy for lots of reasons.
  • A pair of gloves (nitrile is good) - that gunk in your gun probably has lead in it, and you don't want that absorbed into your skin.
  • Gun cleaner or a can of CLP, oil, and grease - the trifecta for both quick and thorough cleanings
  • Safety Glasses - leave them on when you're cleaning. Pieces of buildup and parts like springs can jump off your gun when you're taking it apart, so better safe then sorry
  • Optional: Cotton swabs and/or a toothbrush - these are helpful for getting into crevices

Fast Ways to Clean Your Handgun

Now that you have your gun cleaning stuff together, here are some ways to give you gun a quick cleaning:

1. Take off the slide, decouple the barrel and spring, and spray CLP inside your slide and gun, and on the spring (remember to put your towel down first). Use that other towel you have and give your handgun a good wipe down. CLP stands for "clean, lubricate, and protect and it's designed to do all 3, and it's good enough to help you loosen up most of the grime so you can wipe it off, and it will leave a thin protective coating for a short time. Since it doesn't get 

If you don't have a towel you don't mind getting dirty, you can use paper towels to wipe the grime away, but if you do that, make sure you give your handgun a more thorough cleaning as soon as you can.

2. Take off the slide, remove the barrel, and grab your boresnake. Pass the boresnake through your barrel several times and see if that clears up any accuracy issues that are being caused by a dirty barrel. If you'd like, you can add a bit of cleaner on the boresnake to help break down the gunk a little faster and you can do the same with oil.

A boresnake is super handy and easy to carry with you - it's basically a rope sized to the caliber of your gun with a brass brush imbedded it, which helps scrub the problematic grime out of your barrel. When you use a boresnake, make sure you're passing it through your handgun from breech to muzzle end (just like how a bullet comes out) to make sure you don't damage your rifling or the barrel itself. When you're done, use a tiny bit of oil on a patch and push the patch through your barrel with a rod.

3.  When you're really in a hurry, you can remove your slide and barrel, add a couple of drops to a few patches and quickly wipe everything down. Sometimes, that's all you need to get your gun running if you're experiencing malfunctions. This is a quick and very temporary fix, so make sure you give your pistol a solid cleaning as soon as you get back from the range.

These are fast techniques to keep you shooting in the short term (like when you're in the middle of a match or having fun at the range), but none of these methods are a substitute for a thorough cleaning. Make sure you're still giving your handgun a good scrub on a regular schedule to extend its life and ensure it will function properly for many years to come.

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