How Often Should You Clean Your Gun?

Updated July 24, 2022.

To achieve the highest level of performance, regular maintenance of firearms is essential. Every time you fire your gun, propellant carbon residues are left on the muzzle and barrel. Over time, these materials build up in your gun and cause inconsistency in use. Therefore, you should clean your gun regularly. But how often should you clean your gun?

Since most components of the guns are metallic, it is always susceptible to corrosion. This is through the rust caused by moisture in the humid environment or even through the dirt and sweat in your body. The metal components will oxidize and wear out. To avoid this problem, you should clean your gun with a gun cleaning solvent after every time of use.

Lead and copper in bullets cause fouling in your barrel. Shot shells can easily damage your gun over time. Therefore, it is essential to remove dirt and clean your gun more frequently using gun cleaning oil.


How often should you clean your gun?

The Gun cleaning routine is depended on several factors. These are the items to consider when selecting your gun cleaning schedule.

Level of usage

If you use guns daily, it is recommended that you clean it frequently. You should clean your gun immediately after heavy usage or an extensive shooting session. This will increase the performance, trajectory, and boost the lifespan of your gun.

However, if you use your gun once in a while, you might not need to clean it regularly. Whether you use it frequently or not, it is advisable to disassemble your gun and clean each component thoroughly.

Type of your gun

Handguns should be cleaned daily. When you conceal your gun in your body, it will get dirt and sweat. Therefore, daily cleaning is recommended. If you are using a revolver, you should clean it based on the frequency of usages to get rid of the buildup of carbon in the cylinders. There’s so many top-quality gun cleaning kit for 9mm, shotguns and rifles currently available on the market you can use any of them.

Owing to the proximity of dust and dirt buildup, semi-automatic guns should be cleaned regularly. However, when using bolt action guns, frequent cleaning is not required. Once stored, you can clean it for 3 months interval.

Purposes of usage

Gun cleaning schedule changes with each type of use. You might be using your gun for practice, hunting, or for defense purposes.

When using your gun for recreational activities, regular thorough cleaning is not required. However, you will need to keep the surface of your gun clean at all times.

You ought to clean a gun on a daily basis that used for defense and shooting range. Since your gun is prone to corrosion, you need to thoroughly clean your gun with a good gun cleaning oil to maximize its performance.

During a hunting expedition, your gun might get in contact with mud or other debris. The build-up materials on the barrel obstruct the movement of bullets. This can pose a great danger to you. Hence, you should clean your gun immediately!

Type of ammunition

Dirt from the copper coats in your bullets could affect the trajectory of the barrel. Lead metal in the bullets could cause fouling in the muzzle. Therefore, constant cleaning is required to avoid corrosion and wearing out of your gun. Some military ammunition contains corrosive primers. Corrosive ammunition will lead to gun rusting and the damage of vital parts of your gun.

Ammunition made of stainless steel reduces the damage in your gun and the cleaning frequency. However, you should clean your gun regularly since it is susceptible to corrosion due to rust. You should consider cleaning your weapon with a gun cleaning solvent that can remove every corrosive element in your gun.

What happens if you don’t clean your gun?

Your gun will foul

After firing a bullet, residues are left in your gun’s chamber, barrel, and action. When you engage in heavy shooting or many rounds, there will be a lot of residue build-up. This will result in fouling as a result of and powder buildup.

The four types of fouling


This is caused by the residue of the burning powder as it propels bullets in the chamber through the barrel.


When you fire a bullet, the residues from the bullet coat are left on the barrel.


This results from the residues from lead bullets as they leave the barrel.


Shot shells leave plastic wads which cause fouling in the barrel.

Your gun will rust and corrode

Moisture and dirt can cause rust in your gun chamber and barrel. The rust will eat up the metal components of your gun. When firing ammunition with primers, salt residues will be left in the barrel. Almost all types of ammunition are corrosive.

Fouling and corrosion can cause malfunctioning in your gun’s components. Your gun might fail to load or fail to fire. A second type of malfunctioning is flight path inconsistency. This is because the bullet spins inconsistently while inside the barrel, thus affecting the accuracy. Even if you’re aiming center mass.

How long can a gun go without cleaning?

For the efficient and proper functioning of your gun, you should keep it clean at all times. However, factors such as usage and climatic conditions determine the frequency of your gun cleaning intervals.

If you use your gun daily, you should consider performing a daily gun treatment. After heavy usage such as an extended shooting expedition, you should thoroughly clean your gun. This will allow you to get rid of debris and residues in the barrel.

When working in a humid area, you should clean your gun frequently to avoid rust.

If you are using a handgun, you should consider a thorough cleaning of your weapon after every two weeks of usage. This helps in removing the acidic sweat which may corrode the metal parts of your gun.

You could also set up a service interval. The recommended service interval is between 3000 – 5000 rounds fired. This is the time to disassemble your gun to the last piece. If you are not familiar with disassembling your gun, you should consider taking it to a qualified gunsmith or the manufacturer.

Taking your gun for cleaning by the manufacturer is important when your gun’s warranty is still in place. You are also sure to get genuine replacements of parts that have worn out such as extractors.

Final Thoughts

As responsible gun owners, we should seek keep our weapons in mint condition. We recommend regular inspection and cleaning. We advise to create a schedule for thorough cleaning. This depends on frequency of use, the types of rounds and amount of rounds fired, and the type of your gun.

We recommend using certified gun cleaning oil to remove dirt, rust, and corrosive elements. Keeping your components clean increases both the likelihood of proper functionality and accuracy. Added bonus: more guns in mint condition when you look back in a decade or so.

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