A while ago I said that I wanted to write up tutorials for doing things. Something about how manual skills are on the decline. Well guess what, lucky readers, today you get the first installment. Aren’t you excited?
Well start with firearms. Why? Well, mostly because I’m going target shooting on the Fourth and I needed to prep the plinkers anyway. Plinkers are low caliber guns that shoot inexpensive ammunition, great for practicing or blowing up soda cans.
As a note, if your one of those people that hates guns and refuses to ever use one, then I excuse you from reading this. I know nothing I can ever say will convince you otherwise.
Firearms are something I take really seriously. I mean, yes, I get as much childish delight out of making a gourd pop as the next person, but in all truth I understand that a firearm is a weapon, a tool that has many uses. You may be put in a situation where you need to use a firearm. Perhaps your out in the woods, hiking around Alaska and surprise, Mrs. Angry Bear decides you look pretty good. Man, a good large caliber gun would be pretty nice right now. Maybe it’s not a bear, but a crazy person intent on taking your life. Maybe it’s someone intent on taking the life of your friend or family member. Maybe some small rebellion group is holed up in your home town and you need to take it back. Aliens, I don’t know.
Chances are you’l never have to use a gun on someone, but there are people every day that do. And if you ever have to, you’ll be really glad when the thing works as intended, rather than jamming. Even if all you own is a little snub nose that you keep by the bed, hell, even if you don’t own a firearm you ought to know enough about them to keep them safe. Like it or not, there are a few of them out there. Lets begin.
To start, I think it would be a good time to review the four cardinal rules of gun safety.
A. Treat all firearms as if they are loaded. No exceptions. If someone hands you a gun and says it’s empty, check or have them prove it.
B. Never point a firearm at something you don’t intend to shoot. You will kill/destroy anything you shoot, so by extension if you don’t want to destroy something, don’t point a gun at it.
C. Keep your finger off the trigger. Unless you are actively firing the gun, there’s no reason for your finger to be anywhere near the trigger.
D. Know what your shooting at, and what is behind what you are shooting at. It’s all good and well to shoot plastic bottles, but remember that a plastic bottle will not stop the bullet. Rocks and Metal can cause the bullet to ricochet and come back at you. Fragile things like water tanks might be in the distance. Always be aware.
Okay, cleaning time. Your going to need some things.
1. You might start by getting some firearms to clean. I know it might not seem necessary, but having a gun is an important step in cleaning a gun.
2. A surface to work on. I love folding tables. A work bench, or fold out gun stand, whatever. You just don’t want to be working in a place that it’s awkward to work on, or a place that is really dirty.
3. Rags and towels for general cleanliness. Gun cleaner will destroy furniture finish and is in general not healthy stuff to leave around. I use a Puppy Training Pad as a tablecloth when I do things, because I’m clumsy and they are made to absorb liquid.
4. A good decent cleaning kit. This one came from a discount store, and has everything you need. It should have a brush and swab for whatever caliber firearm you own, a cleaning rod (the brass tubing at the top) and a way to push cleaning patches through the barrel.
5. In addition to the kit you need Oil and Cleaner. The cleaning agent breaks down harmful caustics that emit from fired round, and helps break down gunk inside the barrel and on the gun. The oil is lubricant for the moving parts.
6. Red Bull is like fuel for my soul (I ran out of monster) Also, notice that awesome bottle. I shopped around and found some great bottles for the beer, which may even be ready by the end of this month (the wait is still more than I can bear)
7. Portable media device, for listening to tunes.
Right, all set? Good. First things first, make sure the safety is on and that the gun is empty. When checking to make sure the gun is empty, don’t look down the barrel. Use your eyes then your fingers to make sure there is no chambered round and that the clip (cylinder, breech plug, et) is removed.
Gun is empty? Good. Now break it down into components. If you have a revolver or pistol like mine, this only requires exposing the internal parts and the barrel. Every gun is different, so refer to your owners manual, or call the manufacturer. Or ask the internet, really, that’d be a fast way to find out. Search for “stripping ‘your gun’” or just ask on related forums. The idea is to isolate parts that get dirty (like bolts) and exposing the barrel.
Now, you have a few different avenues you can travel, but they all pretty much fallow the same process. Different firearms will require different setups, but for the most part everything is strait forward. This is the order I do things in, and the methods I use.
Always take time to visually inspect everything as you go along. If it looks broken, stop. Don’t use the firearm at all.
First your going to want to apply cleaner to things that need cleaning, so it can break down the grime.
Find the swab holder.
Load it with a chunk of cotton (or the swabs that come in a cleaning kit, or special tear resistant fabric kits. Whatever your cup of tea is. My father would cut up old socks. I buy microfiber pads)
Get some solvent cleaner on the swab, and build up the cleaning rod to be more than the length of the barrel. Then press the swab and rod through the barrel. When possible, make sure to always start at the breech end and end at the muzzle end (that is, push the rod through the same way a bullet would travel through it.) Make sure to coat the barrel in solution, and then remove the patch from the end. You don’t want to pull the patch through again, because it will displace the cleaner you just worked so hard to put in there. Pull the rod through and wait a bit.
Ok, so bad example since i’m running the rod through backwards (there isn’t any room to do it the other way, hence my when possible clause) but it illustrates what were going for.
Once the solvent sits there for a bit, get out your barrel brush.
Again, if possible, start from the breech side of the gun, and push the barrel brush through the barrel. Don’t switch direction while the brush is inside the barrel. Push it all the way through, and then pull it all the way out. This is the heavy cleaning. Pretend your a chimney sweep. You can sing campy British songs if you wish.
Did that? Good. Now run another patch full of solvent down the barrel. Then run a couple of dry patches down the barrel. You’ll do this cycle a few more times, until the dry patches aren’t collecting any more dirt. After that, your done with the barrel.
But the barrel isn’t all, you should also clean the chamber, the bolt, really anything that comes in contact with a round. Just dip or spray some cleaner on the part, and use an old tooth brush (or rag, or cleaning pad) to remove the black soot and buildup on the parts.
Nice and clean.
I use the fluffy swabs to clean hard to get to areas.
You can also wipe down the outside of the gun (as long as it’s metal) Remember to spend a little extra time and really clean moving parts, as they will suffer the most from being dirty.
Now it’s all clean. Which is good. But there are a few final steps.
You need to oil moving parts. This is fairly strait forward, if it moves or if it’s a rail to guide something that moves, put a small amount of gun oil on it.
Remember I said small amount. That drop in the last picture is more than enough. Wipe up any excess with a soft rag.
While your at it, if you have optics make sure they are clean. Usually you polish the lenses with a soft microfiber cloth:
To finish up, you can wipe down the whole gun with a clean, soft rag. A little bit of wood conditioner if you have wood furniture on the firearm. A small amount of various cleaners for different surfaces will take off rust, if there is any, or polish plastic.
Place in a place where they can’t get dirty (I suggest a gun case, but you may have reasons not too) and where there is low moisture.
There you go. Hope it wasn’t to terrible, and now you can say you know at least one manual skill. Until Next Time.