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Bulletpoints: Gun Care 101

It’s that time of the year when love is in the air, and you can’t help but want to spend all your time with your special someone. Here in Bulletpoints though, we’re going to take a little time to remember to take care of what is likely the second most important thing in your life: your gun. Just like any other machine, your firearm requires a little TLC if you hope to have it last as long as it possibly can. There’s a lot of advice floating around—some of it solid, but a lot of it also ill-conceived or even downright dangerous. So grab your bore brush, and fins a low table and comfy weat. We’re going to give your guns some TLC.

Stay safe

Before taking the time to clean your piece, make sure the gun is clear, the ammo is well away (preferably in another room altogether), and there is ample ventilation. Should you get interrupted for any significant amount of time, take the time to clear the fin ahead. Rounds have a funny way of making their way back into chambers so make sure you follow all the safety rules all the time (which is how you’re supposed to do anyway.

Don’t overdo the lubricant

Sure, there’s a saying that tells us you can’t have too much lube, but that’s for a different scenario altogether. Too much lubrication on your firearm will attract gunk and fouling, as well as help keep it there. Continued use, heating and evaporation will then dry the gun out, leaving behind a well-packed mess that’s going to take some doing to remove. Enough lube to see contact surfaces shine, but not run, should be enough, and will help you save on maintenance consumables to boot.

Clean your barrel right

There are a lot of ways people say you should clean your barrels, and some of them are a terrible idea. Right along the top of that list is “shoot the lead out of the rifling with some hardball.” I know, it was common practice back in the day, but really, stop and think about it. A little extra fouling you hadn’t expected might be present, and once the hardball goes through, you’ve got a bulged barrel. It hardly seems safe, and if it does take some lead with it, the round is also going to help burnish the existing lead where it is.

Other people have suggested using a combination of acetic acid (vinegar) and hydrogen peroxide. This concoction, known as “The Dip” does work spectacularly well, however, the substance produced by the chemical reaction is highly toxic, and builds up in the human body quietly over time. Lead acetate is easily absorbed through the skin, and stays in your body. There’s nothing pleasant about the stuff—vapors, the sludge, the effects—they’re all pretty terrible. Once you’ve got your nice, clean barrel, you’ll then have a nice pool of toxic waste you’ll have to dispose of properly. If you do have a deathwish, and a responsible way of dealing with the waste, go right ahead. Just please stay well away from us.

Commercially-available products do an excellent job of cleaning barrels, with much less to worry about. One of the best methods I have found was a coper scouring pad, cut into appropriately sized pieces, and a little elbow grease. This scrubs away large chunks of lead, and since copper is softer than the steel your barrel is made of, you’ll have no problems with wearing it out.

Pick your gun lube

There are roughly as many gun lubricants available as there are guns in the market. Should you be on the lookout for something to keep your gun running smoothly, you are most definitely spoilt for choice. Bear in mind though, that there’s a lot of snake oil out there; just take a look at the recent FIREClean-Canola Oil fiasco. I do wish I could say that one product is clearly superior to all the rest, but I can’t. The good news is that practically all of them work to a satisfactory level, so you’re not likely to go wrong. You might spend a little more buying one thing over another, but it’s likely going to do a fine job anyway. I will say, however, that I’ve used WD-40 to help work carbon buildup away, but it’s not a very good lube, as it dries too quickly. It will work if that’s all you’ve got, but there are better options.

If, however, the question is “What would I use to lube my guns if I couldn’t find any gun lube/the apocalypse happens/I’m too lady to go to a gun store?” I would probably say automatic transmission fluid. I’ve used that stuff for a fairly long time, and I’ve found that my 1911 actually likes the stuff. It’s smooth, inexpensive, and readily available. It’ stays on, works ok in high temperatures, and isn’t particularly toxic. I’ve stuck by it because it works, and it’s what I’ve got handy most of the time.


Storage concerns are a little different depending on your case. A bachelor living in a studio apartment can store his firearm in a different way compared to a family with toddlers, but this is a whole different can of worms. We’re here to talk about how to put your gun away and keep it in good shape.

If you have a leather holster, you might want to keep it in a different case. Leather will attract moisture that will cause the gun to rust. Some leather is also treated with substances that can harm the weapon. A waterproof case lined with closed-cell foam (to keep the lining from sucking the lubricant from the gun) might be your best option. It would still be a good idea to keep the gun ready to go should you need it, just in case.

There are other things to consider when we talk about gun care, but this is a good primer. We’ll get to other important tips, such as feeding your firearm a little down the line.

Also published in February Issue 2016

Reviewed by Ren Alcantara