By Mark Winslow
I clean my guns outside, because my wife can’t stand the smell of Hoppes #9 in the house. We live in a townhouse, and it’s close quarters – both inside and out. Our back yard can be seen easily by those around us. To keep the harmony going, I use the table out back on the patio. The nice thing about it is I have an open space I can spread out, and the umbrella shields me a bit from any neighbors who might be wondering what I’m up to . . .
Today was hot – 92 and humid. Thank God my wife got a fan for the patio. I set myself up with all my cleaning supplies and cranked up the fan and brought out my first subject for cleaning. An all-black Charles Daly .270. As I walked out to the table with it, I imagined what anyone seeing this rifle might say: “Oh my God – he’s got a sniper rifle!” Hoping no one was looking, I quickly laid it on the table where it might be out of sight and thought, “Yeah, well you haven’t seen what’s coming next.”
For me, cleaning my firearms is a Zen-like experience. I’m taking the accumulated carbon and dirt off an object and making it pristine again. This takes time and the time I spend cleaning my firearms makes my investment in them deeper. There are those who would argue that taking time to make instruments of death pristine is wrong, but I see it as sacrosanct. These are my rifles. I take great pride in taking care of them and seeing my boys hit targets at great distances with them. Speaking of which, recently my oldest son has shot the caps off of 2-liter bottles at 100 yards with the .270. So there.
Next was the Rock River Arms LAR-15. This might be the scariest one to see out your window. I quickly take it to the table and remove the lower – better to take it apart before someone figures out what it is. For those of you who live away from others, please bear with me – I have no compunction about standing up for my rights as a gun owner in Virginia, but I also don’t want to freak out my neighbors, who will be running to me for protection when the zombie apocalypse comes. Yes, we know, don’t we?
So the RRA got torn down and cleaned in a flurry of Hoppes and brushes, Q-tips and more Q-tips, pipe cleaners and more Hoppes, and rags. And then I use special tools to clean carbon off special parts and SHIT – these things are a BITCH to clean! But I still love it – wouldn’t trade my AR for anything. (Did I mention I’d fired about 500 rounds through it?) Still, she’s a dirty girl. Back in the gun safe goes the AR and then…
I brought out the real deal. There’s something about walking into your back yard with an M1A that just says something. Something that doesn’t really wash in suburbia. If you see it out your window you’ve probably figured out that the apocalypse is coming or there’s a maniac out back that’s going to shoot up the whole street. But I don’t want to talk about that, I just want to clean my toy. I’m hoping there isn’t someone looking out their window thinking, “Oh my God – he’s got one of those!’ Face it, it’s a scary looking gun. That’s partly why I bought it. That, and the fact that it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot.
So I break down the M1A and start cleaning. That’s when it hits me – this whole process is good for us. We thrive on the ability to have good tools, good machines, and if we care about them, cleaning should be a positive thing. I’m pulling flakes of copper out of the receiver and feeling like I’m doing something good. What’s wrong with that?
Living in a tight space is a challenge when you’re a firearms enthusiast. Note: (I was going to use the term ‘gun nut’ but realized that was way too over the top). Yet I feel that if we can’t be ourselves, then who can we be?
I get the barrel and action cleaned, and reassemble the M1A and am happy with the sound I get when I cycle the action. CHA-CHUNK. You can’t beat the sound of well-cleaned. Do my neighbors know? I’m not sure, but I know I did a good thing today.