1. Understand how to safely take apart your gun. Today’s pistols are rather easy to disassemble, but if you’ve got any questions make sure and read the manual. The last thing you want to do is bend a part because you’re forcing something when the gun should come apart easily. Keep the manual in the case where you store your gun for quick reference, or get on the Internet and search for the manual if you’ve lost yours.
2. Never, ever have any ammunition in the room where you clean your gun. If your ammo is stored in the same workspace where you are going to clean your gun, then you need to find a new gun cleaning location. Not a month goes by where I don’t read a newspaper article about someone cleaning their firearm and accidentally shooting themself, even though they were sure the gun was unloaded.
3. Use the right cleaning products. Don’t just grab whatever cleaning solution is under your sink. Use proper gun cleaning formulas. Hoppe’s is one of the most popular and has been around forever. Ballistol is another gun cleaner that many shooters swear by. I happen to like the Slip 2000 brand of gun cleaners.
4. Stay in a well-ventilated place. The last place you want to be is locked in a little workroom with all of the fumes from these cleaners. You could clean your gun in your garage with a window open, or on a back deck. As long as no ammunition is around, either of these places work.
5. In addition to the gun cleaner, there are a few other items you need to properly clean your gun. These include Q-tips (or pipe cleaners) for the hard to reach places, a towel or rag to wipe the gun off when you’re done with it, the rod and brushes to clean the barrel, and patches to run down the barrel. You can visit most sporting goods stores to buy an inexpensive cleaning kit that contains all of these items.
6. Take your time. I clean my gun about every 500 rounds. If you own a modern firearm built buy a quality company, every 500 rounds or so is a good frequency to clean your gun. But when you do, don’t be in a rush. For a handgun, it should take you no longer than 30 minutes to clean the gun, but you want this to be a well-spent 30 minutes. Clean every nook and crevice of your firearm. Remember, this gun could save your life one day, so take good care of it.
7. Don’t forget about the magazines. When you clean your gun, you should also clean all of the magazines you’ve used in the last 500 rounds. Most pistol magazines quickly disassemble for easy cleaning.
8. Always wear eye protection. A spring may pop out of a gun or a chemical could splash into your eye. Before you even start taking your gun apart for cleaning, put on your safety glasses first.
9. Use a tray. There are many guns that have small parts such as pins and springs. If you use a tray when cleaning your gun, it may help you to not lose these small parts in the carpet or floor.
10. Don’t forget to function test your gun. After you’ve cleaned your gun and put it back together, you need to make sure it works. With a safe and empty gun, and a safe backstop, pull the trigger to see if it properly “fires.” Also, make sure the trigger resets properly when you rack the slide.