Gun Maintenance | Tips for Cleaning Your DIY Firearm

The benefits of building your own gun from scratch are enormous. Even beyond the privacy it gives you, you gain a sense of accomplishment and a detailed working knowledge of your firearm when you put it together yourself.

This detailed knowledge comes in handy when it’s time to clean your gun. Check out these steps for proper DIY gun maintenance and cleaning.

Step 1: Unload the Gun

What’s the first step in cleaning a firearm? First and most importantly, make sure it’s unloaded. Yes, that should be a no-brainer, but it is the most essential first step any time you handle your gun.

Unload your gun and check the chamber. Thoroughly. Then check it again. We’re not kidding. We can’t emphasize this step enough. Proper gun safety practices help ensure you avoid accidents with your DIY firearm, so don’t brush this off. For the love of Clint Eastwood, check it again.

Step 2: Prepare Your Workspace

Once you’re 110% sure your firearm is unloaded, the next step in proper gun maintenance and cleaning is to prepare your workspace. Move all ammunition out of the area and lay a protective tarp or covering down to catch solvent and lubricant spills.

two black pistols with slides pulled back

Make sure the area is well ventilated. Get your eye protective equipment, gloves, and any other personal protection you usually wear when handling chemicals. You don’t want to flick solvent in your eye on accident. It’s not a fun experience.

Gather your favorite gun tool kit, cleaning kit, or supplies—including solvent, cleaner, and lubricant—and you’re ready to start.

Step 3: Field Strip Your Firearm and Clean It

You shouldn’t need to completely disassemble your gun to clean it; a field stripping is sufficient for this part of gun maintenance. Every gun will be different, but the basic steps are:

  1. If you need to pull the trigger to release the sear, do so. If not, simply remove the slide.
  2. Use a toothbrush or gun-specific cleaning brush to dust off large bits of dirt and debris if necessary.
  3. Using patches or your preferred piece of cloth, wipe down all surfaces to remove the bigger oil stains or moist dust. We don’t recommend paper towels as they leave bits behind.
  4. Grab your solvent. Soak a cloth or patch with solvent and dab it throughout the interior of the slide and the inside of the fire control group and/or frame.
  5. Soak a cloth in solvent and push it once through the barrel with your cleaning rod.
  6. Leave the solvent on for a few minutes to dissolve powder residue.
  7. Once it’s done its thing, use your brush to scrub any areas that need extra attention. Be careful which direction you’re scrubbing during this part of gun maintenance—remember what we said about solvent in your eyes.
  8. You can either wipe off your solvent or leave it on. Then, using new pieces of cloth or patches, soak each with cleaner. Push them through the barrel until your desired level of cleanliness is reached. You can push a few dry pieces through at the end if you want.
  9. Wet new patches with cleaner and wipe down the slide and fire control group.
  10. Use your preferred lubricant, whether oil or gun grease, and apply it to the correct spots with a cotton swab. This will depend on your gun, but basically anywhere metal is sliding against metal.
  11. When you’re done with this gun maintenance step, reassemble your firearm. Then function test to make sure you assembled it correctly.

Again, the exact steps and process will vary from gun to gun. So will the preferred tools and chemicals. For example, cleaning cords are useful but they are caliber-specific, so be careful when using them to clean your gun. Cleaning rods are a little more forgiving because you can change out the cleaning tips.

Now it’s time to celebrate your clean gun. Take it to the range and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Shop JSD Supply’s Inventory

JSD Supply has been the home of quality gun kits and parts since 2013. Thousands of gunsmiths have trusted us with their firearm needs, because all our products are guaranteed. We provide you with only the best kits so you can practice gun maintenance, assembly, and usage responsibly and legally. Contact us with your questions or use our Live Chat feature today.