Check Your Carry Piece – It Gets Dirty More Quickly Than You Think

Image by Boch.

We all know the importance of keeping our guns cleaned, especially after firing them. You should clean your magazines, too. But sometimes, we neglect to keep our guns as clean as we should when we haven’t fired them.

Early on during Illinois’ lockdown period, I cleaned the last couple of handguns that I haven’t (yet) lost in unfortunate boating accidents. Thankfully, my carry pistol remains in its holster 99% of the time. But last week I checked it and my eyes did a double take.

Dust had completely obscured the front sight.

Yes, in just four short weeks of 24/7 carry (at least while I’m dressed), enough dust had accumulated on the gun to obscure the front sight and, even worse, hide the glowing tritium sight needed for a proper sight picture in low-light.

At typical self-defense distances of three yards or less, an obscured front sight isn’t an issue for the “defensive” shooting.  However, against a moving target or if a more precisely aimed shot is needed, the ability to see the sights certainly helps.

Yeah, and in other news, water is wet.

It could have been worse. A now deceased friend of mine once admitted that he once lost the front sight off his holstered GLOCK. I asked how long he had carried it like that and Pete just shrugged his shoulders.  “I dunno. It’s probably been six months since I took it out of the holster.”

KelTec P3AT.  Image by Boch.

Now, while the confessional stands open and in service, I’ll also admit that a couple of years ago, I fired my KelTec P3AT back up gun on an indoor range. As the gun fired, I saw a bunch of stuff explode out of the gun. When the dust had settled — literally — I brushed numerous dust bunnies off my arm. It wasn’t one of my prouder moments, but it certainly cleaned the proverbial cobwebs out with one shot.

Dirty concealed carry gun

Dan Z. for TTAG

Thankfully nobody except the surveillance cameras caught it.  And I’m sure the incriminating video has long been over-written.

The moral of the story: check your carry gun and gear on a regular basis. More often than you think is necessary. Because beyond a couple of yards, those sights can really come in handy.

comments

  1. avatar arc says:

    I rarely shoot my pistol, but I carry it often enough during farm labor. The lint buildup is gets quite thick and the sweat will rust the barrel at the front of the slide, among other nit picky places. I have a few little pits on an otherwise new pistol (under the barrel) due to that one little spot wanting to collect sweat, regardless of how often I clean and oil it.

    The more use work with it on and wear it, the more you gota clean and scrub it. The G19 pictured looks exactly like mine after a few days of running around with it. Lint on everything, but that’s denim for ya.

    1. avatar Rad Man says:

      I clean my carry guns far more often than I shoot them, sadly.

  2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    foof it.

  3. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

    I had the cerakote done on my Star BM because I sweated all over it while carrying it outdoors on 100+ degree days and rusted it. It’s the one in my pic.

    My OWB guns get about as bad as the guns in the photos but my IWB guns quickly get a lot worse.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      The Star BM is one of my very favorite guns. My first handgun long ago was a piece retired from the Spanish Police force (a batch had been imported to the U.S.). Definitely had been used and showed plenty of EDC surface wear, but shot like a champ. Sold it to a relative and later purchased an almost identical model that had been purchased way back in the ’70s by the original American owner (with original box) and placed in his closet. It sat forgotten for over 30 years until the owner moved to a new residence and found it again upon clearing out his old house, but decided he didn’t want any guns anymore. It’s seen only an estimated 500 rounds max (partially from me to test it during a fun day at the range) and still looks brand new. In fact, the range officer came over to admire it and said he was good-naturedly envious.

      It’s in the safe, but comes out once a year or so for a light cleaning. Keeping it for a future grandson…

      1. avatar BM says:

        Sad that such a nice gun is called a BM 😆

        1. avatar Rad Man says:

          Boatswains Mate, a Coast Guard and Navy enlisted rate. I was a BM3 – three times the fun!

  4. avatar The Truth About Dishwashers says:

    The great thing about Glock perfection is that we can just run them through the dishwasher 😉

    1. avatar CentralVirginian says:

      No need to lubricate after either, because I learned on the internet that Glocks don’t like lubrication. 😉

      1. avatar KenW says:

        I learned Sigs P238 firing pin channel and and a certain amphibian named lube were not a good mix. Nothing like aim, pull the trigger click. Eject and try again, click. Drop the magazine and clear it and looking I see nothing wrong. At home during the teardown I found the lube had just enough stickiness to collect pocket debris so the firing pin channel was junked up. Now I just wipe the pin down with a rag and clean and inspect it and the channel monthly. At the time they recommended coating everything with it and doing the oven treatment to get it in the metals pores,
        The amphibian lube ended up making anything coated with it smell like rancid cooking oil.
        They may have improved it by now but my email asking about it smelling bad at the time was answered with a message saying no one has ever report that and I was full of it. Which was funny as after that I started noticing others also saying it became sticky and stank so it was tossed and never tried again.

    2. avatar LifeSavor says:

      Any dishwasher detergent you particularly recommend? I usually stick with the organic, biodegradale.

    3. avatar SuspiciousFisherman says:

      Had a drill sergeant tell soldiers to take their weapons in the showers and clean them…

    4. avatar Qtrmaster says:

      The barrel works well as a straw, too.

  5. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    Gotta be honest…I’ve never seen any lint or dust on any of my EDC equipment over the years. Ever. Not the gat, not the light, not the knife or multi-tool…nothing. I remove them from my pockets or belt at the end of each day and place them on my dresser, clean as can be. Maybe I’m carrying wrong? 🙂

    1. avatar Texican says:

      So your EDC is imaginary? 😉

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        They see imaginary action, as I spend most of my (employed, pre-COVID) days in an office environment… 😉

        1. avatar SuspiciousFisherman says:

          Certainly not a bad thing.

  6. avatar DCJ says:

    +1 to they get far dirtier faster than one would think

  7. avatar Darkman says:

    I give which ever firearm I’m using for EDC a field strip and wipe down once a week. Whether it needs it or not. If you can’t find 15 minutes once week to check and clean. The weapon you’re are betting your life on for protection. Maybe your priorities need reevaluated. After all it’s such a small task to insure everything is ready for action. If it’s needed. Oh well…To each their own. Keep Your Powder Dry.

  8. avatar Benzo says:

    I used to daily carry a Kel-Tec PF9, and kept it clean. After about a year, I decided to replace the trigger. Places in the gun that it took me an hour to get to were full of lint. Bottom line is – if you carry it, it gets dirtier that you’d ever imagine…

  9. avatar LifeSavor says:

    I carry my G43 while while doing yard work, while painting, while working in my shop. After a day in the shop, it needs to be cleaned. Wood dust is pernicious; it finds every crack and crevice.

  10. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    In the summer every two weeks and monthly in the winter whether it needs it or not.

  11. avatar Made in America says:

    I carry ED and never had that problem. Some of you guys should have your jeans washed or your trousers cleaned a little more often. Think about it.

    1. avatar Turn about says:

      Sorry to read that, I believe they have little blue pills for that ED problem.

  12. avatar Mark H says:

    I live in Arizona. I generally find a field strip isn’t really necessary, but the air compressor in the garage is really handy, especially with an inflation needle to get into the little nooks and crannies where crud collects.

    Lint, dust, and bit’s of Arizona – it’s all dry crud, so high pressure air is perfect.

    1. avatar Perry says:

      +1 on the air compressor.

      I also go to the range once or twice per month. It’s part of “well-[trained] militia”. Send my chambered CC round to retirement in the embankment. Afterward, the air compressor does a great job on all the dust bunnies that weren’t decamped at the range.

  13. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Dont have a problem with dust bunnies on my sights.

    On the LCP, they get in the hammer channel and in the crease on the back of the trigger.

    This is in a pocket holster.

    My 43, 48, and LCR are all carried IWB or OWB. I only see lines of crud on the top where holster meets metal.

    I clean my pocket piece about twice a week.

    The other get a swipe when I remove them and a real cleaning once a week.

  14. avatar tsandl says:

    “Yes, in just four short weeks of 24/7 carry (at least while I’m dressed), enough dust had accumulated…”

    See, there’s your answer. All that lint is coming from your clothes. If you were a nudist you wouldn’t have this problem. Of course, if you’re carrying CONCEALED as a nudist, then you’re likely to have another problem.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Gives a whole new meaning to “muzzling yourslef”. 😲

  15. avatar GunTotinDem says:

    Curious. Was it an open barrel holster or did it cover the barrel. I made my holsters open around the barrel for precisely that reason

  16. avatar Bemused Berserker says:

    I clean my CC weapon every Sunday night. Especially in the summer, with only a Ť shirt. 99.9% of that “dust” is sloughed off skin cells.

  17. avatar duroSIG556R says:

    You have to be careful with the lubricants on a carry piece. The oil, grease, clp, etc..All act like a magnet to dirt and debris.

  18. avatar Cea says:

    I occasionally find dust on the inside of my trigger guard.
    Never have I seen anything close to the guns in these pictures. Never.
    I carry one, and more often than not, two guns everyday. Like mentioned, they come out of the holster every night and at least one of the two, along with any number of other guns, pull house protection duty. Two in every room I happen to be in, in a suede pocket holster, and a rifle in a large common room.
    Never have I found such a mess.

    1. avatar PMinFl says:

      Wow ! two carry guns and two “house guns” in every room, you must live in and lead a pretty tough life. Good luck

      1. avatar Cea says:

        Yep, I do. But I’m tougher!!
        No, seriously though, you completely misunderstood everything you read.

  19. avatar former water walker says:

    My carry gun(Taurus 709)stays extremely lubed and dustfree after I switched Ballistol. For month’s. And it won’t kill me!😃I suppose it helps that dust isn’t a problem around here(Boch lives in ILL too but he must play in sandboxes with his gat😏)

  20. avatar George WashingtonGl says:

    Yeah, before the boat sank along WITH my guns…I could NEVER allow my pistols to become THAT filthy between cousins……I guess I’m just obsessive…

    1. avatar George WashingtonGl says:

      Cousins….. CLEANINGS….. WHATEVER…

  21. avatar Ironicatbest says:

    The ease of acquiring another substitute seems to have diminished the need to maintain tools.

  22. avatar Tacoma236 says:

    Its a good practice to clean your carry weapon at least monthly. I try to exercise mine at least once every two weeks and clean after use.

    My other weapons though stowed in sealed containers are cleaned regardless of use at least bi annually, if not more.

    The odd thing is that as you go through the weapons you also can begin to classify weapons as…”will this be a trade weapon?”

    Oddly enough Mr. Washington and I were on the same boat that sank…..oh and George my Attorney was with us.

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