The ABC’s of Gun Cleaning

The ABC's of Gun Cleaning

The ABC’s of Gun Cleaning

About a month ago I had a very good friend of mine have a negligent discharge of his firearm just as he was preparing to clean it. He shot himself. Thankfully his injury was only a flesh wound in the palm of his hand. After making sure he was alright and after poking fun at his pain (as any good friend would do) I thought about all the potential pitfalls involved with cleaning your firearm. Certainly we try to be as cautious as possible when cleaning but there are times when we get complacent or hurried. It is those times when we are most vulnerable to have a negligent discharge.

There are a few things we should always do when it comes to cleaning your gun. I’m not going to try and reinvent the wheel here but maybe just give you, the reader, some food for thought.
I would refer to these reminders as the ABC of weapons cleaning.

Always, without exception, clean your firearm in a separate room from the one where you have your ammunition. Most everyone removes the magazine from a semi-automatic and then racks the slide to eject the round if you have a round chambered. In the case of revolvers when you eject the rounds from the wheel make sure you hold the empty wheel up to a light source and you are able to see light through every chamber in the wheel. Do either of these in the very same room where you have the rest of your ammunition. By doing this you will know you have emptied your firearm of ammunition prior to going into another room to clean it.

Be sure your firearm is empty before doing anything to it. I mean anything. Check and recheck to make sure there is no round chambered or pop out the wheel and carefully examine each chamber to make sure no round escaped notice. Only after making sure there are no rounds in your firearm should you begin disassembly. This step is especially important with those firearms that require a trigger pull as part of disassembly (as was the case with my friend’s negligent discharge).

Come up with a routine. Routines are good and when it comes to cleaning your firearm a routine is crucial. One definition for routine is an unvarying, habitual, and imaginative procedure. Having a routine means a set of steps done in a specific sequence. This is of the utmost important when it comes to cleaning your firearm. When you have a specific routine and follow that routine you feel a certain uneasiness when those steps are done out of order. It’s like going on a trip. You have a mental checklist. But if you forget something on that list you have a sense of it. You find yourself feeling like you forgot something. This is the same feeling you’ll experience if you stick to a routine. When you do something out of order or forget a step you’ll have that feeling of “I forgot something” and that feeling could prevent a negligent discharge. And potentially serious injury to one’s self or loved one.

There can be several factors involved with a negligent discharge. These can be complacency, fatigue, distractions of various types (dog, wife, television, or even children), or even just rushing through it. Remember it is a process. You must be “fully involved” when cleaning your firearm. Negligent discharges are 100% preventable. Take the necessary steps to assure this does not happen. The Liberals out there are always seeking a way to show firearms in a dangerous and negative light. Don’t give them any more ammunition by having a negligent discharge where someone is injured or someone’s life is taken.

Also I would like to mention I heard recently there was a recall on Smith and Wesson Shield firearms. There is supposedly a defect in the trigger safety that could result in an accidental discharge should the weapon be dropped. Please visit www.smith-wesson.com for more information. And as always, God Bless!

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  • the real diehl

    We often get complacent and even disrespectful of things we are familiar with.
    As a kid I noticed that the children of church staff and it’s leaders were the most unruly. To that he would say, ” familiarity breeds contempt .”
    The disrespect or carelessness with which we handle our firearms may bring immediate regret.

  • James Van Valkenburg

    A couple of things first. At the range I use, you can not leave the line without the weapon locked open or cylinder open. Otherwise, I leave only my carry weapon with a round in the chamber.
    Regarding cleaning, the military taught me the proper way to clean a weapon; examine, field strip, clean, examine, reassemble, examine. The emphases on examining is to 1) make sure it is empty 2) make sure it is clean 3) is it ready for inspection.

    While negligent discharges can never be eradicated, they can be reduced with a little more brain and a little less hurry.

    • Sig_Sauer

      Good advise. At our range there is a very bright yellow line on the floor. Once you enter the booth you and your firearm can not cross that yellow line. At the point your firearm can come out of the case or your holster.

      Last week, I had a “come to Jesus” meeting with my oldest son. He had finished firing my AR and placed it on the bench. As I checked it a round comes out of the chamber. So me being dad and big on safety we had a very heated one-sided meeting about clearing the chamber when finished. I am OC when comes to shooting and cleaning our of firearms.

      • Tom_EE

        I had a similar experience with a 22 rimfire semi-auto rifle my wife handed me! Fortunately I checked it in a safe manner before putting it in its bag as we were preparing to leave. The lesson learned is always, ALWAYS, treat firearms as if they are loaded!

  • Torontogunguy

    I have a cousin who did exactly the same thing. Put a big hole in the palm of his hand and made quit a mess of it to say the least. Not fun and very lucky it was not much worse. We keep guns locked in a gunsafe that weighs 2,000 pounds; ammo is kept in a separate floor safe. Each firearm has a trigger lock on it when it is not in our possession or on us. Period. And we check to ensure the gun is safe every time it is picked up or handed to another person. When one has seen the damage that a .45 hollowpoint round can do to human flesh one is NEVER too careful. And anyone that makes fun of someone taking super super caution in handling and storing firearms is themselves either a fool or an idiot.

  • Jimrod1

    there is also a recall on the XDS 45acp.
    contact Springfield for more info.

    • jimrod1

      This Safety Recall applies only to:

      Springfield 3.3 XD-S™ 9mm pistols – serial numbers between XS900000 and XS938700

      Springfield 3.3 XD-S™ .45ACP pistols – serial numbers between XS500000 and XS686300.

  • Lucky

    I moved into a house The night I got there was after a long drive, I thru a mattress down and Was going to gety some sleep as I was to drive back with my wife the next day to gt another Vehicle Not sure of my new neighborhood, I racked a round ino the chamber of my 1911A1 left the safety, unlocked so if half asleep I could just pick it up and fire. Yep, I know. The next morning I came into the bedroom With my shoes in one hand and reached down to pick up the pistol, By Putting my thumb in the trigger guard and my middle and index fingers on the grip safety and picked it up with the barrel pointing at my legs. Yep, I know. The hollow point gold dot missed the shin bone but it blew my calf muscle in half and was hanging out the back of my leg It also missed the femoral artery I was very lucky the Surgeon told me. He didnt take the opportunity to tell me what a complete ass I was and what an unbelievably stupid thing a Complacent set of events COULD have caused. It was bad but could have been fatal. The police chief found the bullet two rooms away behind the stove in the kitchen. I have it where I clean my sidearm Right there in front of me, Beautifully flowered out just like it was supposed to do. I keep it there as a reminder. I wrote this and bared my shame to you, Also as a reminder. If you treat your pistol like it was a rattle snake you have a need to pick up, you (Should) be ok. If you`re thinking about something else, keep your hands off of it. I WAS lucky once, I wont Test it again. They were able to save my leg. STAY SAFE! C.Cotton,

    • TexasJester

      As a newbie to gun owning and cleaning, I will remember this story. I try to always pick up a weapon with the barrel pointed away from everyone, but at times I forget. This tale of near death disaster will help me pay more attention!

      Thanks for your story – and I’m glad you survived!

    • Forever Man

      Thank you for telling your story. I’m sure many people learned a great lesson from this.

  • Summerville Shooter

    This story sounds just like one that I heard one morning at the local gun shop and range. I even got to see a picture of the poor guy’s hand with the hole and powder burns before the Dr stitched it up. What a mess!!!
    A picture is worth a thousand words and that is certainly true in this case, I think of it everytime that I clean my guns.

  • heyrakes

    first rule of safety; all guns are loaded all the time. that is the reason to get in the habit of racking a gun several times and visually inspecting the chamber each and every time you touch it. then obey all the other rules of safety too

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    Awareness, Focus, Always Loaded, so check it again, it cannot hurt.
    But NOT checking it, putting your finger on the trigger might be the last thing you do.
    I wouldn’t be surprised, if more gun owners than not, seem to have experienced a negligent discharge at some point in their lives. Fortunately most seem to end with an awakening, rather than severe or deadly injury.

  • Wallace Crawford

    Never place a concealed weapon in the same pocket with a set of keys.
    I have two holes in my thigh and did not have my hand on the weapon, simply rubbed up against the steering wheel while exiting the vehicle……………Ouch…….fortunately it was a .32 fmj.

  • Christy B.

    Thank you for sharing this unfortunate incident as a safety reminder. When cleaning my pistols I drop the mag and rack the slide to remove the cambered round. I place the +1 next to the mag and lock the slide back for a visual check and I insert my pinky into the chamber and then into the empty grip. I end with another visual check. It takes less than 15 seconds and I follow the same protocol every time. I’m happy you lived to tell the tale!

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  • Newgun

    Thank you for the informative article. As a new handgun owner i am trying to learn the safe ways to own a handgun. A quick question: how often do you completely disassemble a handgun to clean it?

    • dlcra

      I am also a new gun owner. I was told, by a range instructor, that I should disassemble and clean my gun at every two weeks OR asap after a session at the range. An auto accident has kept me from the range since January, 2013. Will be back this Sunday, October 6th, FINALLY!

  • Tom_EE

    Thanks for the reminders!

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  • Sylvia Ortiz

    Great rules to keep in mind; especially about setting a “routine” – which will help keep you to be repetitious in the steps taken so that it gets cleaned properly.

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