How Often Should You Clean Your Gun?

gun cleaning kit

Cleaning a firearm is an important part of being prepared. If you’re an experienced gun owner, then you already know that keeping a firearm clean improves its accuracy and reliability when you’re at a range. However, in other situations, a clean firearm can save your life. But how often should you clean your gun? Is there such a thing as cleaning your gun too often?

Being Prepared

When you want to prepare for the range, this often involves caring for a variety of gear and properly maintaining them. With the best gun cleaning kit, you’ll have all the proper tools on hand to ensure your firearm remains in perfect working order. There’s something satisfying about sitting down and methodically cleaning a firearm. However, not all guns are created equal. Depending on your purpose, whether it’s competition shooting, EDC, practice, or hunting, there are certain cleaning practices that a shooter needs to take into account.

Maintaining a Firearm

Cleaning a gun is a very important part of gun ownership and it’s the best thing you can do to ensure you get the best performance out of your firearm. However, some gun owners don’t think regular maintenance is necessary. Unfortunately, this can end up ruining a firearm.

There are many questions those new to gun ownership have, such as:

  • How often should I clean my firearm?
  • Should I clean my firearm periodically, even if I don’t regularly shoot it?
  • How deeply do I need to clean a firearm?

These are important questions that should be addressed based on the shooter’s firearm usage and situation. You’ll need to know the proper techniques and use the right tools to clean them.

Why it’s so Important to Clean a Firearm

thoroughly cleaning the gun

If you own an axe, then you need to know how to sharpen an axe, before you use it, for safety reasons and to keep it in pristine condition. A dull axe can be dangerous and difficult to use. It’s the same with a firearm. Like any type of tool you use, a gun can get dirty, can corrode or rust, or buildup can cause firing issues. Each time you fire a gun, residue will pile up on the weapon’s surface. Not only from contaminants such as dirt from the air and moisture, but from the discharge of the cartridge.

If you don’t clean your firearm, then the chances are that your weapon will begin to dip in performance. Each time you fire your gun it results in the burning of propellant. The explosion will leave a small amount of carbon behind that will start to accumulate. Additionally, microscopic fragments of metal from the casing and bullet will add to the buildup.

This accumulation can prevent a gun from efficiently cycling. If neglected, it can change the trajectory of a bullet and can lead to rust or corrosion.

Anything that’s made out of metal can be negatively affected by moisture. Everyone knows that moisture will condense on metal surfaces. If you’re out hunting in a swampy area, then the moisture can penetrate every rail and crack on your firearm.

If you don’t clean your firearm often, the moisture can settle, causing your firearm to begin to corrode or rust.

Even in a dry environment, dust particles and some level of moisture in the air can lead to rusting and buildup. Cleaning your firearm regularly is essential, regardless of the type of environment you live in or hunt in.

Cleaning Frequency

If you have a personal firearm, the frequency in which you clean it will depend on the shooting frequency and the type of usage.

A gun should be cleaned after each trip to the range. The type of usage is the second factor that will impact cleaning frequency.

Competitive Shooting

If you shoot competitively, then your firearm should be cleaned after every match. Poor gun maintenance can lead to a low ranking. In a competition, a firearm must be in perfect working order. Consistency will be key here. Create a gun cleaning ritual that you’ll follow after each practice or match. The gun should be cleaned the same way, every time. Once your gun is broken down, clean the same parts in the exact same order every time. Creating a ritual will ensure consistency and a cleaner firearm.


A firearm that’s used for hunting isn’t shot many times. However, the type of environment you hunt in can have an impact on how well your gun performs. Proper storage and keeping the action closed will make a big difference in terms of keeping any contaminants from making their way into a firearm.

Even if you follow these precautions, the gun will be constantly exposed to moisture and dust particles in that environment. Hunting in rain and snow will require extra cleaning. If a firearm gets damp or wet, it must be immediately cleaned during any downtime.

Recreational Use

brush set for gun cleaning

If you own a gun just to shoot at the range, it will be less exposed to particles in the air. This will minimize the chances of corrosion and rust making its way into the firearm. In this type of situation, you should clean your gun every 200-300 rounds. After 3,000 rounds the gun should have a more thorough cleaning.

For rifles and shotguns, the number will be less. It can be challenging to keep track, so you should develop a habit to deep clean your weapons four times a year.

Daily Carry

A daily carry firearm is meant for protection. These guns are licensed and used as defensive tools. They are not fired often. However, a person’s luck can change instantly. You must be prepared and rely on your training. Holding a concealed carry permit can come with a heavy responsibility. It will mean that you have the ability to protect your loved ones, the people around you, and yourself. It also means you have a responsibility to these people.

A consistent cleaning schedule will be necessary to maintain your firearm. Scheduling consistent cleanings, range time, and staying up to date with the changes made to the law are important. Additionally, you must keep in mind that every gun addon or change in gear can change the dynamics of your personal protection system. In addition to your local indoor range, you should also make time to practice shooting drills and drawing in order to keep your muscle memory sharp.

Like all types of guns, these personal protection weapons should be cleaned thoroughly after each trip to the range or every time they’re fired. The biggest difference here is that they should be cleaned down to the firing pin, after every trip to the range and before you carry the firearm again. Regular maintenance and cleaning should be done every two weeks. Never go more than a month without cleaning your gun, performing a full breakdown and inspection. This applies even if you don’t carry your weapon often.

What If You Never Use Your Firearm?

Do guns still need to be cleaned, even if they’re never used? This is a valid question. However, even if you’re not using your firearm, you still have to keep it clean. You just won’t have to clean it as often as you would if you carried it daily.

Even if you store your weapon in the best gun safe, some level of contaminants and dust will accumulate on its surface over time. In addition to regular household dust, any residue from past firing will be amplified by time, which can lead to corrosion spots and rust.

Final Thoughts

How often you clean your gun can depend on how often you fire it, where you fire it and how the gun is used. Ideally, a gun should be cleaned after each time it’s been fired. However, daily carry weapons should be cleaned at least once every two weeks. If you don’t fire your gun ever, the gun should still be cleaned four times a year.

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