Cleaning (and Sometimes NOT Cleaning) Self Defense Guns Is Important

Published by the Author on September 20, 2008 at 12:40 am > How-To Guides and Other Info > Cleaning (and Sometimes NOT Cleaning) Self Defense Guns Is Important

Cleaning one’s firearms is important to ensure that they will function safely and reliably for years to come.  Strange as it may sound, however, it is sometimes important NOT to clean a gun:

Cleaning guns
Cleaning firearms removes gun powder residue, metallic residue from projectiles, water, and other contaminates.  Cleaning guns with a combination cleaner/protectant/lubricant also prevents a lack of lubrication from wearing out the weapon’s moving parts.  Failure to clean a gun can cause it to wear prematurely, jam, or even to fail in a way that could injure the user (such as if a barrel becomes so clogged with lead that the projectile cannot properly exit the gun; causing the barrel to explode).  In short, cleaning guns is important, and should be a regular part of a gun owner’s shooting practice routine.

When NOT to clean a gun
Having just advocated the proper cleaning of guns, I would also like to note that sometimes it is a good idea not to clean guns; especially semi automatic self defense guns.  This is because a gun that has been dismantled, cleaned, and reassembled might have been reassembled improperly by the user in such a way as to prevent it from firing or cycling properly.  For example, if a semi automatic shotgun‘s gas piston system is not put back together properly, it will not properly eject the spent shell and load a fresh one, which is a major problem for someone using a gun for self defense.  Similar problems can occur with semi automatic pistols, effectively making these guns into one-shot weapons at the worst possible time.  This is less of a problem with pump action guns but it is still possible for user error to render such a gun unreliable.
Accordingly, I would certainly recommend that people clean their self defense guns, but that they fire the gun a few times after each cleaning to ensure that it is still firing and feeding reliably.  For people such as myself, who do not live out in the country and can only fire their guns at the shooting range, here is one option: Fully clean your gun, then take it to the range and practice with it, then clean only the barrel before storing it for self defense (in other words, fully clean your gun before you fire it at the range, rather than after).  It is true that this approach will leave some powder residue and other contaminants in the gun, but this should not be an issue as long as the gun is still cleaned regularly.  Most importantly, you will know that your self defense gun is fully functional and ready to fire.

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  • Self Defense Product

    Good thing to remind people on how important it is to clean your gun! And, how important it is to know when NOT to clean your gun! Good points!

  • Bill

    The advice to not clean a self-defense gun based on a fear of it working improperly is not the best way to look at the issue. While I understand the worry, it is misplaced. Advocating training for the weapon owner is more appropriate. If a person wants to own a firearm and carry it, they should know how to reassemble it after cleaning it. If they follow your advice (even the partial cleaning method – cleaning only the bbl after shooting) they can also have problems. When there is powder residue in the action, extra lint, dust, and grit can stick to the parts which could cause a malfunction. It’s better to keep the whole thing clean.


    I certainly see where you’re coming from, however I must still disagree. In a perfect world, everyone would disassemble, clean, and properly reassemble their firearms after every firing session. However not every gun owners is as skilled as an expert gunsmith, and may therefore make as mistake during reassembly. Wishing that such gun owners were more skillful or less error prone won’t change the facts, however (although I certainly agree that everyone should become as skillful as possible when it comes to their firearms). Balancing those risks, I think that the risk of having the gun reassembled improperly is greater than the risk of having the gun malfunction due to being somewhat dirty from 1 firing session.

  • skorciotherrio


  • Skip Mooney

    Good point