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September 27, 2017

As a law enforcement officer, your service weapon is without doubt your most important piece of equipment. Not only can you use it to protect the lives of others, but also your own life. Maintaining and cleaning your firearm is priority number one when it comes to your equipment; it is critically important in making sure your gun is accurate and reliable.

Why maintain and clean your service weapon?

Over time and with use, guns accumulate residue, grit, grease, and grime. This is called fouling and it’s detrimental to the function of the gun.

Firearms are composed of different parts, and like any device composed of parts, they can break, become loose and damaged, and render your firearm unfit and unsafe for use; therefore firearm maintenance is the most critical part of maintaining your service weapon.

Inspecting and cleaning your service weapon

As mentioned, your service weapon is your most important piece of equipment. It’s at your side every day and becomes a part of you, so you must be familiar enough with it to know when something doesn’t look or feel right.

The time you choose to clean your firearm is also the perfect time to inspect it and ensure everything is in working order and that it will fire when needed. So when should you clean your weapon?

Firearm expert, A.J. George, says you should clean your gun anytime the weapon is fired, anytime it’s exposed to the elements, or at least a minimum of once per month.

In order to really clean your service weapon, you’ll want to disassemble the parts. It’s a good idea to refer to the gun’s owner’s manual if you still have it to ensure you know how to disassemble and reassemble the weapon properly.

What do I clean my gun with?

You’ll find a variety of gun-cleaning products on the market, but there are a few things you should pay attention to. Look for a product that won’t damage the metal or polymer on your gun. The best options include water-based cleaners and high-grade lubricants. Many articles and recommendations call for using a solvent, but you may want to think twice about this. A solvent can prematurely degrade a gun, and some experts feel they aren’t really necessary. It’s all about personal choice, so it may be wise to develop a cleaning routine without a solvent and see if how that works first.

You want a cleaning product that’s good at dissolving grease and oil, which comes from your hands and builds up over time. Most cleaners allow you to simply spray it on, let it sit a minute or two, and wipe it off with a cloth.

Cleaning tool sets designed specifically for guns are available now, and a good one includes the following:

  • Water-based cleaner
  • Lubricant (gun oil)
  • Bore brush
  • Patch holder and patches
  • Cleaning rod
  • Soft cloth


The process of inspecting and cleaning your service weapon

Today’s firearms are designed and built to be sturdy and withstand harsh use, therefore they can still reliably fire even when dirty. However, you want to clean and maintain it so that when you absolutely must fire and rely on it, it will come through for you no matter what. This process also helps prevent long-term damage and prolongs the life of your weapon – hey, they aren’t cheap!

Many service weapons can be broken down into four parts:

  • Frame
  • Slide
  • Barrel
  • Recoil spring

Disassemble your firearm and inspect the recoil spring. If it isn’t broken, simply wipe it down. Next, inspect the barrel. Look for cracks or any other damage that could affect how the gun fires.

Cleaning the barrel is perhaps the most labor-intensive aspect of cleaning your gun, but also the most important. After shooting the gun, a layer of material builds up in the barrel and can cause corrosion and reduce its accuracy. Attach a bore brush to a cleaning rod and push it back and forth through the bore several times. If you have chosen to use a solvent, apply it to the brush before cleaning the barrel.

The frame and slide generally don’t accumulate much fouling, so using a nylon brush and rag to wipe away any residual carbon and grit should get the job done.

Remember to clean your firearm in a well-ventilated area, as the chemicals, cleaners, and compounds you’ll be exposed to as well as residue from the gun can be overwhelming and may possibly lead to breathing issues. You may also want to wear safety goggles and protective gloves to protect yourself from toxic compounds.

And although this may be obvious to most, the number one rule when cleaning and inspecting your firearm is to make sure your weapon is unloaded and free of ammunition.

Maintenance completion

Once you’ve reassembled your gun, perform a function check to ensure everything is in proper working order.

Not only is cleaning and maintaining your weapon critical for safety purposes, it also helps you take pride in your equipment, your appearance, and your profession.

Cleaning your service weapon is a relatively easy process. If you take the time to do it on a routine schedule, it will make things easier and you won’t have as much work to do as you would if you neglect it for longer periods of time. There is more than one way to do it, so find a way that’s best for you and helps ensure you do it regularly.

CHIEF Supply proudly carries a variety of gun cleaning kits for your convenience.