Some of us enjoy it, some of us don’t. As a Marine I cleaned my gun 10 times more than I shot it. The weapon had to be totally spotless before we could turn it into the armory and go home. I no longer clean weapons to that extent. This is one of the things that no one except Marines understand. Even the other military branches are not half as bad as the Marines. It’s the one thing most Marines hate about the Corps.
Now when I clean a gun I use tricks I learned while a Marine, but only clean it so it continues to function. I took pictures while I was cleaning my friend’s Colt Mustang. The Mustang is a mini 1911 style pistol chambered in .380. Last month I did a review on the Colt Mustang. I really liked this pistol and would buy one as a pocket pistol if I still shot a 1911. I’m a big believer in carrying weapons that function the same way. Right now my primary carry pistol is a Glock, so I want something that functions the same way.
To clean a weapon, first, clear the weapon and make sure it’s safe, then check it again. Once you know it is totally clear of ammo and there is none around, then field strip it according to the manual. Yes you can read a manual, just remember it’s a book about your gun, and read it.
Start with the barrel. It’s the hardest to clean. I use Break Free CLP for everything. CLP stands for Cleaner, Lubricant, and Preservative. It is a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. I like it because other products I’ve used only work as one, so I would have to have three tubes of stuff. Have extra tubes is annoying, but the biggest problem is that you have to clean each product totally off or it starts turning to a jell after a couple months and even faster during the summer heat of South Texas. I also remember the old rule don’t mix chemicals so I would have to buy a lubricant and preservative that work together. That’s just too much like work.
I put a little CLP on a patch and push it through, starting at the back. If you push the stuff out the way it’s designed, and only push it one way, it will go out easier. After pushing a patch through a couple times I can see the inside shiny with CLP. Once the bore is totally coated with CLP I just leave it soak. I also work on the feed ramp starting with a nylon brush and moving up to a bronze bore brush if necessary, don’t use steal or anything else that will leave a mark.
You can see that this feed ramp needs some work. Those marks and discoloration is from almost 10 years of not being cleaned. The feed ramp is the part that pushes the round into the chamber so it can be fired, dirt can slow it down and cause a malfunction especially in a 1911 style pistol. It needs to be totally clean. A bronze brush, CLP, and some elbow grease took care of it.
The rest of the gun I take a rag and wipe everything off inside and out. Then I take a nylon brush and put a drop of CLP on the brush. Then scrub any part that touches another part and everything that looks a darker color. Especially pay attention to the slide rails on the slide and frame. I let it sit for a couple minutes and clean the magazine. On this weapon it doesn’t look like the magazines comes apart and I don’t have a manual, so I just cleaned off the surface rust that was on the outside. Someone had handled the magazine and left it without any preservative on it and I could see where the fingerprints had turned to rust.
I then go back to the slide. I take the rag and wipe everything off again. Then take a couple patches and wipe off the rails and any part that touches anything else. I also clean the breach with the brush. The breach has the firing pin come out and the extractor on it. You should be cleaning this part every time you clean your gun. When you clean the breach make sure you hold the breach pointing down. That way when you scrub the dirt off it doesn’t fall into the hole the firing pin comes out of.
Wipe the entire slide off. I use long cotton swabs to clean the inside of the rails and scrub until it is clean. I also use the cotton swabs to make sure the extractor is clean. Just don’t shove the cotton swab inside any holes, it may not come out (I learned that the hard way).
Do the same thing with the frame. Same rule, don’t push the cotton swab inside holes (again I learned this the hard way). To get into small holes use a pipe cleaner. To get into small spots wrap the rag (old cotton t-shirts work the best) around the small end of the brush and wipe the inside of the mag well down. You can also wrap patches around the back of the brush to help you clean out small areas.
After everything else is done, go back and finish up the barrel. Keep pushing patches through until they come out clean. As you put the gun back together add a little CLP on the parts that rub. On an older gun it’s really easy to see the parts that are discolored from wear. If you have a new gun, look close when you put it back together, you’ll see them. To get lubricant inside the slide rails, hold the rail with the muzzle down and put a little bit in at the top, just enough to run down, and no more then a drop on each side. Wipe off any extra. You can also use your finger to smear a little drop along the flat parts.
Once the gun is back together, put a drop on a patch and wipe down all the medal surfaces you can get to, don’t forget your magazines. This is to protect the gun. If you live in a humid climate like Texas, make it two drops. In Japan it was so humid that we couldn’t keep enough CLP on our weapons. In a really dry and dirty environment, like Iraq or southern Arizona, use half a drop and then wipe the gun off again with a dry patch.
With a little observation you will be able to see how much CLP is enough. If dirt is starting to stick to your gun you have too much, wipe some off. If you start getting rust or the weapon starts looking different colors from dry and wet spots, put another drop on a patch and wipe down the entire gun again. Looking at the outside of the gun is a good indication of what is going on inside. If you need less oil, wipe some off the inside too. If you need more, add some to the rails and other parts. You don’t have to take apart the gun, just lock the slide to rear and add or wipe off what you need to.
Keep your gun clean, rust free, and the correct amount of lubricant and the gun will continue to run longer then you can.