Ask Kirsten Weiss: How Often Do You Clean Your Mags?


Over at TTAG’s Free Fire Zone  Stu asks our resident sharp shooter how often she cleans her mags, which, as far as I know, is not an obscure term for some deviant behavior. Or is it? Anyway, here I was thinking Kirsten Weiss was OCD. Not so OCD now, eh Mr. Bond?

Here’s her answer: Every time I do this —>



  1. avatar Ralph says:

    When I absolutely, positively have to and not before. I clean my guns as if my old Sgt. is about to inspect them, but the mags? Nah. And I’ve never had a failure due to dirty magazines.

  2. avatar Ronaldo Ignacio says:

    My play mags? After every match, when they were dropped and potentially stomped into puddles, snow, mud, or dirt. That is what the bottle brush in the range bag is for.

    My carry mags? I wipe them down with CLP when I clean the lint out of the barrel.

  3. avatar JMS says:

    Shocked to see a missed opportunity for posting a photo of Ms. Weiss.

    …but to keep on topic.. Ditto. They get disassembled and cleaned and lightly lubed on the inside if I’m bored or if they’ve dried out to the point where I’m worried about corrosion (usually they’re scratched up enough to expose bare steel).

        1. avatar Kirsten says:

          +4 for Indiana Jones

  4. avatar William Burke says:

    Sprayed them with bore cleaner maybe once, possibly twice, set them upside down to drain, wiped them off later on. That’s it. I don’t get a chance to shoot that much.

  5. avatar Esteve says:

    Kirsten may find that the little hands down awesome, ten round, flush fitting mag that loads in a circular pattern which came with the $4000 Volquartsen 10/22 needs a little more attention than other mags she is more familiar with.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I’ve been using a 10-22 since 1976. Owned 2 of them during that time. The 1 I own now has been my fun .22 for about 15 years. All I’ve ever done to the mags is wipe the feed lips and follower. I’ve never taken them apart. In both rifles for all those years I’ve toosed exactly 1 mag out because it was malfunctioning. 10-22 mags are so cheap and plentiful as to almost be disposable.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:


      I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned any semi-auto’s magazine as much as I’ve cleaned the mags on 10/22’s.

      All you need is a little dust or grit to get down into that mag and suddenly you’ll see it stop feeding.

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        How does one clean a 10/22 mag? I’ve wiped the excess soot off the feed lips, but the casing itself is ultrasonically welded shut, so what can you really do that will help?

        I’ve often wondered the same thing about my P238 mags, as they are welded-up steel boxes with no provision for getting inside them at all. Not that they get super dirty, but I could see them linting up since it’s my EDC.

        1. avatar Nigil says:

          Same way you clean a 1911 mag; push follower down, hold spring in place through count hole, remove follower, remove spring, use brush or q-tip to get inside mag.
          Or, blow out with compressed air. (I also just blow them out manually when empty to get rid of lint from behind pocket carried).
          Or, soak in a sonic jewelry cleaner, then oil.
          My $.02.

        2. avatar Matt in FL says:

          I wasn’t aware that you could remove the followers from 1911 magazines. I just tried it on my P238 mags, and the follower seems semi-permanently attached to the spring. When the spring is held down, I am unable to dislodge the follower from it. It’s not a huge deal. Thanks for the info just the same.

  6. avatar Cyrano says:

    Oiled from time to time but once in a blue moon are cleaned. My guns that get worked the most don’t have detachable mags. The ones that do get tossed in the grass on combat reloads so they rarely pick up dirt. Air cans and RemOil are good things to have on your gun bench. Everything but the mags are cleaned meticulously. You can white patch any gun on the standing gun rack and come up with a light oil only.

  7. avatar Matt in FL says:

    I don’t. I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned a mag. But then, I don’t compete and mine don’t hit the ground often. If they did, I’d probably clean them when they needed it.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:


  8. avatar MRC says:

    If you’re shooting 22 cal and suppressed, then often.

    1. avatar phoenixNFA says:

      this is correct. the amount of junk in my mark 2 lower is appaling.

      1. avatar Max says:

        Suppressed or not, the Ruger MK series pistols pretty much deposit loads of crap directly in the feed zone with every shot.

  9. avatar Michael B. says:

    Well, first I throw blinding white pain on the body of the mag and then blood red paint on both the feed lips and the baseplate.

    You see, I want it to look like a pokeball because the bad guy’s gotta catch ’em all.

    Then I show TTAG my mag and they use the same color scheme on the site.

    1. avatar Michael B. says:


      Although it causes pain.

  10. avatar c4v3man says:

    No offense intended towards Kirsten, but competition smallbore rifles don’t have large magazines (and most have no magazines), and typically aren’t subjected to the same rigors as someone competing in action shooting sports, or people dropping mags in the dirt during plinking/practice. I doubt her magazines hardly ever hit the dirt, and are more likely either on concrete, a range mat, or other “clean-ish” surface. Another large factor is the fact that the rifle she uses would be bolt action, which is going to have orders of magnitude less fouling in the action/magazine area than a semi-automatic action.

    Now she may be speaking from experience with her other non-competition arms, however I know that some competition shooters tend to avoid shooting higher-caliber weapons in order to keep from acquiring a flinch, or other negative body responses. So I’m not sure how much “other weapon” experience Kirsten may have. Maybe she can share with us what firearms she enjoys shooting when not practicing for a competition?

    1. avatar Kirsten says:

      No offense taken. RF grabbed someone else’s answer. The above one is corrected (thanks for the updated version TTAG). I wiped mags down when they look dirty. Or if anything like the above picture occurs, ha. I agree with what you’re saying. And I’ve shot all kinds of different firearms throughout my lifetime. Many different high calibers (I helped test .338s for Nammo Tactical), .50s, 7mm, 30-06, 6XC, etc. Not to mention the various pistols, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, chinese stars and—oh oops. Got carried away, haha. My family is, and always has been, into all this stuff.
      (and, as a side note, I participated in the NRA Youth program Y.E.S, where we had a chance to shoot ALL kinds of firearms, even Uzis. I recommend that program to any kid. Very valuable)

      As far as really knowing a particular gun, and a gun being “a part of me”, well, ya gotta know it well. That takes time. Its more about the specific gun in your arms, and less about guns as a group.
      But all of its fun to shoot!

      1. avatar c4v3man says:

        Thanks for the follow up. I appreciate a wide variety of arms, and the family ties are what keep me coming back. I agree, that children gain a lot from being exposed to firearms, and learning that responsibility early can help avoid other pitfalls as you grow up.

        I am lucky enough to be considered family with two of your fellow smallbore shooters, and always appreciate hearing news of the matches. It’s a shame the sport gets such poor coverage, although I thought it was interesting that they covered Heena Sidhu in the movie “First: The official move of the 2012 olympic games”. Hopefully people’s opinion of shooting will change as they see more instances of the 99.99999% of actual gunfire that takes place involving things other than targeting other humans.

        1. avatar Kirsten says:

          Yeah? Who are you related to? I may know them. Its a small world!

  11. avatar Tarrou says:

    Unless you’re exposing your mags to a lot of dirt (like carrying a full combat load and low-crawling in your web gear), mags really don’t get that dirty, especially if they are in a weapon. I’ve never seen civilian-use mags fail from dirt or fouling. You really have to pack them full of sand to get them to fail. Even then a strip of duct tape around the baseplate fixes most of that. So, if you’re dragging mags through mud and sand, clean em regular-like. If not, carry on.

  12. avatar BLAMMO says:


    And it really has to be a special “occasion”. Like a FTF.

    Spray ’em with CLP and blow ’em out with compressed air. That pretty much does it.

  13. avatar thingi says:

    I think my Colt 6920’s manual says the magazines should be cleaned regularly…

  14. avatar BurnOut says:

    I clean each mag I get before I take it out for initial use, and probably every other use thereafter. When I don’t fully clean them, I’ll at the very least wipe down the follower and exterior of the mag body with a Remoil wipe.

  15. avatar mediocrates says:

    hmmmm… my Taurus G2 mags get pretty dirty. I haven’t waited to see if they will gunk the system. I just take them apart, wipe them down and carry on.

  16. avatar ensitue says:

    Is she Flossing her teeth? I know of easier ways!
    I also know how to clean my mags, take them apart. put them in a fine mesh bag and toss them into the clothes washer (or dish washer)! I do the same with my dirty brass.

    Can you tell I’m not married?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Actually knew a guy that took his Ruger cap and ball black powder revolver, removed the wood grips and nipples and put it through his dishwasher. It was the stainless steel version. His wife was less than amused.

    2. avatar Kirsten says:

      My dad used to cook fish that way. You’re in good company. I think…

      1. avatar ensitue says:

        Oh, I have you beat! My great uncle used to cook chickens that way! (Pre-cleaning and un-plucked!)
        Except of course he never owned a clothes washer, or a dish washer.
        Actually he would simply shoot what ever was in the hen house and throw it in a pot suspended over the grate in the hearth.
        He burned down 3 cabins and one house that way.
        Can you tell he was not married either!

      2. avatar jim says:

        Fish fillets, gutted and cleaned on the riverbank and rinsed in river water. Wrapped in foil with olive oil, garlic powder and Tapatio hot sauce. Wire foil pack to the exhaust manifold and drive home. 15-20 miles at medium speed. Lunch is ready when you pull in the driveway.

  17. avatar mark_anthony_78 says:

    On my Ruger Mk III and SR9, I probably cleaned them once when new, and again when I’m really bored. Never noticed anything dirty, so I’m not sure it’s worth the 30 seconds to pop them open anymore.

    My Savage Arms magazines are non-servicable, so they get nothing but an outside wipe down with CLP.

    Those are the only guns I have that take magazines, so the next obvious point is that I need more guns.

    1. avatar Lolinski says:

      Cant argue with the last sentence.

      I dont clean my mags.

  18. avatar SelousX says:

    Usually mag cleaning is event-driven (FTF, etc). Otherwise, annually for regular and semi-regular carry guns.

  19. avatar Craig says:

    Whoa, tk421991 is not Stu, and I did use the word “magazine” in the opening question. I heard about creative license, but come on…

  20. avatar Nelson says:

    Farago, brother, just ask her out, will ya?

  21. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Huh, huh… I’d clean Kirsten’s magazines! (Somebody had to say it.)

    I clean my firearms every time I shoot and wipe off the tops a bit with a solvent soaked patch. Most of the powder it up at the top anyway. I take them down once in a while when I’m bored.

    1. avatar Kirsten says:

      How sweet of you. I will send all of my magazines to you to clean. I expect them spic and span spotless. They WILL be white glove inspected. You don’t mind if a throw in a few hundred of my friends’ magazines right? I didn’t think so. You’re a doll. 😉

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        Any time, sweetheart!

  22. Actually, RF grabbed the wrong answer. Kirsten’s answer now inserted, above.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      That is a much better answer! (Kirsten’s new, correct one.)

      1. avatar Ardent says:

        Ditto. Bright red plus bright white equals pain! I really don’t mean any offense but was a visually impaired person involved in the selection of the color scheme?

  23. avatar StPatrick_TN says:

    Like most of the questions on here, the answer is *it depends*. My AR mags get almost no attention, nor do centerfire pistol mags, internal bolt rifle mags, etc. However, since I bought a bunch of Eley Sport .22lr ammo, I’ve found that regular cleaning of my MkIII and CZ 452 mags has been necessary – the rounds are just long enough to leave a trail of lube (aka “Eley Gunk”) on the front face of the magazine’s internal surface. In the MkIII, this causes failure to feed issues, and the same goes for the 452, though the failures occur in a slightly different manner due to the obvious design differences. In both cases, the bullet lube builds up and prevents the next round from presenting itself to the bolt in the correct orientation. The fix for each is the same – a shot of CLP and a piece of shop towel run through a few times fixes the problem.

  24. avatar Skyler says:

    I’ve never cleaned a magazine except if I’m in the field and one gets exceptionally muddy. Then I rinse it under a faucet. I’ve taken them apart occasionally, but only out of boredom.

  25. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Always before a competition. Other than that, rarely. Maybe once a year or so.

  26. avatar Accur81 says:

    If you run and gun in the dirt and sand, mags definitely need to be cleaned. Often. If not, relegate those mags for training, and mark them with red bottoms or red tape. We have plenty of training mags that are a challenge to load to full capacity because they have so much sand and grit. Any experienced shooter should be able to discern the form and function of a clean magazine that has been properly maintained. If in doubt, clean it out. Especially if your life is on the line.

    An alternative “lazy” method is to set aside dirty mags for training and clean mags for clean ranges / self defense. I check my duty and self defense guns daily to weekly depending on workload. I’ll also sideline magazines if I can hear or feel grit inside. Guns run under extreme conditions will have to deal with sand, mud, and grit (as does the shooter, of course). The smart move is to minimize contamination in magazines if they are part of your critical use equipment.

    Springs wear out, feed lips can bend, and dirt can inhibit feeding. I wouldn’t want to deal with that if I’m going to a bump in the night. That’s my $.02.

  27. avatar Ardent says:

    Really filthy and or cruddy feeling mags get hosed out with solvent and worked until they feel right and the fluid running out of them is clear again. Any mag that isn’t visually dirty or suspect for some reason stays in the mix un-cleaned. Even when I was putting 300+ rounds a week of the cheapest .45 I could find through my match 1911 I never once cleaned the mags. In my experience when they failed it was due to bent feed lips and they became training mags once they were bent back into shape. I suppose some systems are different but centerfire auto pistols just don’t seem to gunk a mag up really no matter what you’re doing to it and the AR and AK families seem the same.

  28. avatar Brian Patterson says:

    Cleaning mags or not, I’m just glad we got another pic of miss Weiss!!!!

  29. avatar Joseph says:

    If it ain’t broke DON’T FIX IT

  30. avatar 2hotel9 says:

    I go through my AK mags about once a year, pull the base plate, spring and follower, check inside for any rust, wipe them lightly with oil. Same with the Walther mags. I go through all the clipped rounds in the Garrand tacbag and inspect for rust/discoloration on rds and clips. Once a month I switch out the loads in the mags in my tacbag and my carry mags for pistols(yes, I am fickle, switch between Beretta.22lr and Walther P1). I just do a wipe down on the 10/22 mags, don’t tend to drop them so much, and the clear plastic ones need wiped more, they show staining from powder residue quickly.

  31. avatar brian says:

    I’ll add my $0.02 as well. I clean them once when I first get them to get the factory wax off. Then, only if they are filthy. The Mk III tends to get powder residue all over the top of the mag, so those get a wipe.

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