Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukah to all of my friends and followers! I hope you all have the merriest of holidays. I also hope some of you were good enough this past year to find a new pistol under the tree – or in your Christmas stocking! Having shot competitively, your ever lovable Grey Beard Biker knows a few things about maintaining his pistols. Today I will share some things everyone who carries a handgun should know – and do.
After years of being a range safety officer (RSO), it has always amazed me to see how little care and maintenance the average shooter puts into their pistols – a tool they may need to use to protect themselves, their family or their friends. When someone on the range was having difficulties with failures to eject – or failures to chamber – I could generally run a snake through the barrel, and lube things up a bit, and their problems would often go away. But that type of maintenance is little more than a Band-Aid. While I may be a bit obsessive about cleaning and lubricating my pistols, I know I can count on them to go “BANG!” every time I pull the trigger. I clean and lubricate my pistols after every range session. Others do it every three or four times they go to the range. There may be a happy medium somewhere in between.
Cleaning Your Pistol
Before I leave the range, I will disassemble my pistol and run a cleaning snake through the barrel. This helps remove excess carbon and powder – potentially making the gun more reliable when driving back to my shop. Once back in my shop, I remove the magazine and cycle the slide twice to verify there is not a cartridge loaded in the pipe – DO NOT FORGET TO DO THIS – not once, but twice. There have been many accidental discharges because this step was not followed – with far too many deaths and injuries to count. Next, I completely disassemble the pistol and thoroughly clean the slide, the external parts of the barrel, the frame, the recoil spring and guide rod. If I have shot the pistol a lot, I will disassemble the magazines and thoroughly clean all the parts – with special attention given to the follower – which pushes the cartridge up into the slide – which in turn chambers the cartridge in the barrel as the pistol goes into battery. Once all parts are clean, I move to the barrel. I prefer the Otis cleaning kit, as the cleaning cloths and wire brushes are pulled through in the same direction the bullet travels the barrel. I alternate between a cleaning cloth lightly dipped in Hoppe’s 9 solvent and the wire cleaning brush. I continue to alternate between the two until the cloth comes out clean.
Lubricate Your Slide
At this point, many shooters reassemble the pistol, load it up and are done. I do a bit more to make my pistol more reliable and protect its moving parts. I use Brian Eno’s Slide Glide Lite, in colder weather, or Shooter’s Choice slide grease, when warmer, to lubricate the parts of the frame where the slide moves during firing cycles. Without proper lubrication, your slide/frame will wear. Remember – a little grease goes a long way – applying too much will make a mess of things when the pistol cycles. Don’t forget that there are spots on the top of the frame where the slide makes contact. Apply a little slide lubricant there too. Next, I apply a very light amount of Hoppe’s gun oil to the ramp in the frame and the ramp on the bottom of the barrel. Lastly, I will run a cleaning patch through the barrel, with a very small amount of oil on it. This will protect the barrel. Reassemble your pistol, and cycle the slide several times to make sure there is no binding.
Taking proper care of your pistol will protect your investment and will allow it to operate trouble free when you need it most. One final thought: make sure you have shot plenty of your personal protection ammo through your pistol at the range, before you rely on that brand in the real world. Some pistols may not like certain brands of ammunition.