Gun Safety: How to Clean Your Gun

Keeping your gun clean helps keep it working properly, which is an important part of gun safety!

posted on November 7, 2023

In this space, we talk a lot about the NRA Rules of Gun Safety: 1.ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction; ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot; ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. Those rules are the bedrock of gun safety, but there's more to know. It may seem counterintuitive, but keeping your firearm clean is a critical part of gun safety. While it's true that some firearms are more tolerant of fouling and dirt than others, all firearms do require periodic cleaning in order to be safe. Why?

The first, and most important, reason is that enough dirt can result in what's called a "bore obstruction." An obstruction in the middle or forward part of the barrel may cause a ring bulge or, in some cases, bursting of the barrel at that point. As you can imagine, a burst barrel represents a serious safety hazard to the shooter and bystanders alike. 

The second reason is simpler: Clean guns shoot better. There's a fairly persistent social-media rumor that some fouling in the barrel is actually good for it, but the research is unequivocal about the fact that you will always get better accuracy from a clean firearm. (And as you can probably guess, the ability to hit what you're shooting at and not some other point on the reticle is also a critical part of gun safety!)

So how to get that gun spandy-clean? This step-by-step guide walks you through the basics of gun cleaning. As you follow along, remember that a clean gun is a safe gun ... and an informed gun owner is a safe gun owner!


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