On Target Special Commentary–How often should you clean your gun?

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Let’s face it.

Cleaning up a piston driven Sig upper. This one sure didn’t get too dirty.

Cleaning your gun is not the most scintillating activity in the world. It takes time and effort. It’s easier to simply put it off. When I started shooting 1911s with the Chinese Gun Club, my friends insisted that it’s not even a good idea to field strip the gun and clean it on a regular basis. Better just to shoot it and clean out the barrel every once in a while.


If you need further justification not to take the time to clean your gun there are plenty of people on forums who will agree with you.

What’s a thoughtful gun owner to do?

To settle things, I contacted Bill Rogers, a competitive shooter and founder of the Bill Rogers Shooting School in Ellijay, GA.

Here’s his response:

Q: So Bill, is it necessary to clean our guns every time we go to the range? 

A: Firearms used professionally (Law Enforcement/ Military) and carried for self-defense should be cleaned and test fired afterward at every range session. Firearms used for plinking, practice, or sporting use can be cleaned at the option of the owner. It is an individual preference. Some people drive their cars around with enough dirt on them that you can write slogans on them while others clean their cars every week

Q: What happens when you don’t clean your firearms? 

Look at all that gunk emerging from my 1911 on the Rogers Squeegee

A: Accuracy is degraded by lead and copper fouling but that is dependent on many variables. At our school, we see some of our S&W M&P .22s began to shoot 10″ off of center due to leading in the bore. Depending on the type of ammo we have seen this take place in 500 rounds. As for rifles, much depends on the individual bore and the ammo being shot. We see groups shot from our M4s go from 1.5″ at 100 yards to 4″ in 1000 rounds.

We have had students, many of whom were military who had only run a patch with Breakfree through their bores for thousands of rounds. Their rifles were lucky to group 8″ at 100 yards. And the cleaning process to restore accuracy was laborious. To keep semi-autos running when they are extremely dirty means that they have to be practically dripping with lube. Not something that we would like to carry concealed with nice clothing.

Q: What about frequency in cleaning revolvers?

A: Revolvers need more care if they are shot a lot, especially if you are using lead ammo. The forcing cone and cylinder face build up lead quickly and begin to interfere with smooth cylinder rotation. Leading of the bore will begin to affect accuracy sometimes in less than 1000 rounds of shooting. The charge ports, or chambers, build up carbon so that ejection of fired cases is difficult and loading with speed loaders is more difficult.  

Q: You have recently introduced new set of agents for your cleaning kits. Do they

The Rogers Cleaning system includes an oversized nylon brush. This one is set to go through my old Winchester 30-30

come packed with the kit?

A: Do not confuse the Squeeg-e cleaning kits with the new water based chemical kits. They are two separate products. The Squeeg-e kits are a stand-alone product that can be used with practically any gun cleaning chemical products.

The kit comes with a bore compound and a premium lubricant but these products are designed to be used with conventional chlorinated or petrol based solvents. The water based chemical kit should be used by themselves with the brushes and Squeeg-es included in the cleaning kit or with any other competitors brushes and patches. They should not be used or mixed with other chemicals. We will sell the water based chemicals by themselves but we have done a lot of experiments to make the ratios come out even if the directions are followed. Unfortunately we see most users using way more of the rinse agent then is necessary.

If a little detergent and water is used to break up the “Action Cleaning Jell” and flush it clean then it only takes a couple high pressure squirts of the rinse agent to flush any soap or water from the action. People think that if two squirts are good, 10 more are better. It is just a waste of the product.

As postscript to this interview I spoke to Ed Masaki, the fabled Honolulu gunsmith and Camp Perry regular. He agreed with Rogers all the way…best to clean ’em after every outing.


All photos by On-Target Hawaii Staff. 

Questions?  Comments?  Contact us at ontargethawaii@gmail.com