The Basics of Cleaning Your Revolver

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Several years ago my dad gave me my first handgun- a Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver. It didn’t come as a surprise. I had grown up around guns and had hoped that one day my dad would pass a few on to me. Because of the value of this gift, both sentimental and monetary, I felt a real responsibility to take care of it so that it would last for many years to come. I learned how to clean it well and have done so ever since.

Any gun owner knows that properly cleaning and maintaining your equipment is not only key in increasing a weapon’s lifespan, but is necessary to ensure safe operation. Just like shining your shoes there are as many ways to clean a gun as there are stars in the sky. The following is a guide to cleaning a standard revolver.

*Quick disclaimer: I am just a gun owner, not an expert or instructor. Read your gun’s owner’s manual for specific cleaning instructions and if in doubt, consult a certified arms dealer. And ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR GUN ISN’T LOADED BEFORE CLEANING.

Cleaning a Revolver:

Step 1: Make sure your gun is not loaded.

Making Sure Gun is Unloaded

Step 2: Get your cleaning supplies together in the same place. Below is a typical universal gun cleaning kit that you can buy at most outdoor stores OR here for around $50. Besides this, you need some gun cleaning solvent and gun oil. There are many different kinds and most work for all types of guns. Here I am using Hoppe’s No. 9 Solvent and Remington Oil.

Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Step 3: Tie an old sock or rag around the rear cylinder opening. This will protect the revolver from damage when the bore brush gets pushed through the barrel.

Tying Sock to  Rear Cylinder Opening

Step 4: Dip your bore brush in the cleaning solvent. There are different sizes of bore brush that correspond with the barrel size, so make sure you match the size accordingly. It should be imprinted somewhere at the base of the bore brush.

Dipping Bore Brush in Solvent

Step 5: Feed the bore brush through the barrel of the gun. The bore brush handle will naturally twist in your hand as it follows the rifling inside the barrel, don’t try to stop this. Make sure the bore brush goes all the way through the barrel, exiting at the other end. Then come back through the barrel in the opposite direction.

Bore Brush Through Barrel

Step 6: Take a cleaning patch and dip it in cleaning solvent then feed it all the way through the barrel of the gun. There are many different opinions on how many times to do this, but I have always used 1 solvent covered patch followed by 2 dry cleaning patches. If your barrel is especially dirty you may need to do this a few more times.

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