By Jason M.
Call me crazy if you want, but I personally find cleaning handguns to be almost as much fun as shooting them. I know many people, my wife included, who look at me like I’m crazy when I say that. I have friends who have firearms that go unshot for months at a time because they don’t want to clean them when they get home. To me this is unfathomable. While it is true that I don’t clean my guns after every trip to the range, I do clean them fairly often, especially my carry gun. To me, cleaning my firearm is another way to become and stay familiar with it . . .
Most shooters look forward to taking our weapons out to the range, loading them up and shooting countless holes through cardboard boxes, regulation targets, or maybe even exploding targets. Shooting, and shooting fairly frequently, is required to stay familiar with the use, operations, and limitations of a given firearm. Through cleaning the same firearm, I believe one can grow even more accustomed to their chosen weapon.
For those who hate taking a weapon down because it’s difficult, disassembly only becomes easier with time and practice. If it doesn’t, watch an informational video on the internet, that’s what I do. But more importantly than being proficient at disassembly, when one takes down their firearm of choice, inspects it and cleans it, the shooter can see where the wear points are on the firearm. In doing so, one can catch any problem signs and hopefully prevent any catastrophic failures that may occur. Discovering that a spring is worn or a screw is loose during cleaning is a whole lot better than having the gun break, or worse, during use.
Frequent cleaning is especially important with a carry gun. I carry a Bersa Thunder 380 on a daily basis in an In Waist Band holster. Dust and lint constantly gather around the hammer and the trigger making for almost daily cleaning. Not a full strip down, mind you, but a surface cleaning to prevent the dust and lint from working its way into the guts of the gun. This preventative maintenance assures that my Bersa will function properly in an emergency situation.
I enjoy cleaning guns so much that my boss has had me clean eight of his pistols. These are weapons that do not belong to me and that I will probably never get to shoot, yet I enjoyed cleaning them. Why? Guns are some of the most amazing gadgets ever created! Dangerous if improperly handled, but amazing gadgets none the less. The intricacies of the moving parts, the timing and lock up on a revolvers cylinder and the reciprocating slide on a semi-auto are incredible feats of engineering. Cleaning the boss’ guns has exposed me to models that I’d never seen, let alone handled before.
We as shooters often take these incredible pieces of equipment for granted. When something does go wrong, shooters tend to whine and complain that it takes too long for the gunsmith to fix our prized weapons. When shooters take the time to sit down and clean and inspect their firearms, an appreciation for the craftsmanship and engineering emerges. Shooters can begin to understand why a gunsmith should take their time to ensure a proper repair. Again, taking the time to strip down ones firearm may prevent the costly repair from being necessary.
It’s a matter of pride, I think, having a clean and polished pistol. Whether it is my own firearm or someone else’s, cleaning firearms gives me a better appreciation for the inner workings of the machinery I rely on to protect myself and my family. Call me crazy, but cleaning is almost as much fun as shooting. Almost.