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How Often Should You Clean Your Concealed Carry Firearm?

how often to clean handgun or pistol

A concealed carrier has his or her weapon stuffed into an inside the waistband concealed carry holster on almost a daily basis. For comparison, look at a wallet. It holds the signs of extended exposure to perspiration, dirt and grime, wear and tear. Thankfully, most firearms are made of metal and polymer – not leather. But that doesn't alleviate the exposure to perspiration, dirt or grime, in order to keep the firearm operational it's important that we clean and maintain our handguns. So, how often should somebody clean his concealed carry firearm?

A concealed carry firearm must be cleaned to the point where it can operate correctly.

The number of moving parts in a firearm can be correlated to its likeliness to fail. Failure is defined as the inability of the firearm to eject a round from the barrel in the direction of a target. Correct operation is defined as the firearm correctly discharging a round through the barrel in the direction of a target. Don't forget to empty your magazine and cycle the ammo through.

Failure Conditions for a Concealed Carry Firearm

As long as a revolver hasn't been sitting in a pool of water and the hammer strikes a good primer, a bullet will discharge through the barrel. For pistols, it's complicated. There's a number of factors between the bullet sliding up from the magazine into the chamber to when it leaves the barrel.

If there is any mud, dirt, or damage that prevents a pistol from sliding a bullet into the chamber and aligning it properly enough for the hammer or striker to hit the primer – it is now a paperweight. Worse yet, it's a paperweight with an improperly discharged bullet sitting inside of it.

This is the ultimate condition under which a firearm must be cleaned or it will not perform. Everything done in excess of this is simply to ensure that the gun never gets to this state. For the unbelievers, here is a video showing a torture test for a 1911 variant.


The Importance of Concealed Carry Routine Maintenance

Does this mean that you should torture your pistol regularly and never clean it? Absolutely not! Regular, routine maintenance of a firearm, outside of cleaning it after taking it to the range, is important for three reasons:

Moisture from humidity and perspiration can form rust. Rust will cause weapon failure.

Non-lubricated metal parts, when exposed to air, will form rust faster than lubricated parts.

If you suspect your firearm will fail, you will fail.

Modern firearms built to current specifications can survive a lot of torture before failing. There is no reason to ever place a person's life into jeopardy by willfully allowing this. Every person who carries a concealed firearm is depending on that weapon to respond faithfully when pulled from its concealable ccw holster. Routine maintenance is the best way of ensuring a weapon is ready to do its job.

Universal Steps to Weapon Maintenance

Every manufacturer of firearms includes a booklet that shows to what degree the layman should take apart his or her weapon for routine maintenance. If the weapon has not been fired recently, different routine maintenance steps apply.

    Here are a few recommendations:
  • Disassembly to manufacturer recommendations for maintenance
  • Inspecting those parts for dirt and anything that would obstruct proper function
  • Cleaning the barrel with lubricant, rod, and cloth strips
  • Cleaning the bolt (if applicable) and housing with clothing
  • Wicking off excess lubricant so only a thin layer remains
  • Unloading rounds from the magazine and inspecting springs
  • Check the rigidity of the spring while reloading magazines
  • Reassemble the weapon and inspect action (unloaded)
  • Place weapon on safe (if applicable)
  • Return magazine to magazine well
  • Return weapon to where it is stored

Here is a video on how to clean a gun

How frequently should this type of handgun cleaning this occur?

There are no good rules to define this because different environments and conditions require different maintenance cycles. In the Marine Corps, units stipulate that service weapons have to be cleaned once a month and after every exercise. Some people take solace in a bi-weekly cleaning cycle for the weapon they carry on them every day. Others will carry a weapon for months without cleaning it.

If you are confident that your weapon will work properly – that is a gamble. Stack the odds in your favor.

How often do you clean your primary concealed carry firearm?
Tell us about it in the comments section below.

James England

About The Author

James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.