Hoppe's No. 9
Courtesy Hoppe's No. 9
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I’ve been asked by three different people in the last month how to clean their new gun. Two were semi-automatic pistols and one was a shotgun. There are a lot of new, first-time gun owners out there who have no earthly idea how to disassemble or maintain their new gun and need help.

Fortunately, there’s a huge repository of that information readily available to anyone with a phone or a laptop. YouTube may not be the gun-friendliest platform on the intertubes, but if you know of a type of gun for which someone hasn’t already produced a video showing how to take it down and clean it, let us know in the comments. They are few and far between.

Hoppe’s — makers of everyone’s favorite gun scent — has a great selections of videos on their channel that are perfect for just this kind of thing and I’ve pointed a couple of people their way in the past. Their latest edition, just posted yesterday, is on cleaning the venerable, reliable Remington 870 shotgun. Naturally, they push their cleaning products (that’s the whole point). But whatever brand of solvents, lubes, rods and brushes you prefer to use for gun cleaning, this is a good primer for someone who just bought his or her first pump gun.

Here’s another one:


Is there a video producer you most often turn to when you buy a new mohaska? Someone who turns out simple, clear instructions for field (or detail) stripping guns and cleaning them? If a friend asks you how to disassemble and clean the new used Ruger Mark III he just bought, what do you tell him?

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  1. If I don’t know how to field strip a new firearm, I use a crazy source — the manual that comes with the gun.

    I know. Nuts, right? Who uses a manual? Especially a manual written by the people who manufactured the firearm. That would be silly.

    • Those of us that were born before al gore invented the internet and global warming learned to read and follow directions. And the public libraries had manuals for things like cars and some reference books on firearms. Do they even have libraries any more?

      • Yes, libraries do exist, that is where the less fortunate go to access the internet.

      • Libraries are struggling for relevance, but they will exist as long as the tax dollars keep flowing in.

      • But there was a critical difference: while the average length / thickness of manuals has remained roughly constant, in the old days you got a manual FULL of directions, diagrams, parts inventory, etc. in English (MAYBE Spanish as well). Nowadays, you get a dozen pages of self-evident safety precautions and idiotic disclaimers, plus about a paragraph of worthless directions in each of 37 languages. Or, the paper manual is all “safety”, followed by instructions to download their stupid proprietary app if you want any directions at all!

      • Yeah and papyrus and a quill pen, or hieroglyphics carved on stone tablet……come in out of cold, gramps. We moved up from rubbing sticks together to using matches to having central heat and air. We moved up from writing to stored audio and video. Embrace new technology. Videos are quicker, easier, and often cover or show things that are missed or not clear in the manual.

        • Not sure about “moved up” to video. More like “added.” Still lots of good uses for the written word. I do agree that most videos are easier to follow than the badly thought out manuals of today (though perhaps not as good as the few nicely organized ones that I’ve seen).

          Once you’ve disassembled and reassembled a bunch of the more common types of guns, though, the manual/video stops being super necessary in many cases.

    • @Ralph

      Plus 1

      As far as used firearms w/o the original manual…usually available from the manufacturer as a download.

      I’ve noticed that a number of YouTube videos (on any subject) require you have a basic understanding of the item or just flat give questionable information…caveat emptor.

      That said…the Brownell’s videos on the assembly / disassembly and lubrication of the M1 Garand are excellent.

      • +1 on RTFM (Read The F*cking Manual)

        All too rare an occurrence. Few people understand a lot of effort was expended to create the manuals for virtually everything. It is a difficult process to create a manual, and not everyone has the ability to do it, let alone do it well.

    • The manual is often pretty useless. I prefer to watch someone, gun in hand, pop it apart on their desk and show me each little piece. I’m more of a hands on learner.

      In the case of more exotic, big bore rifles, I just have to play with it until I get it apart, then play with it until I get it back together, because the manual was entirely useless for telling me something screws in or out or there is a recessed set screw in the bolt and I just have to “find it”

      I needed a little guidance doing a complete disassembly of my G19 slide because pieces weren’t wiggling free like they are supposed to.

      • You’re talking about going past field stripping and into the territory of “no further disassembly is required or recommended”.

        There’s nothing wrong with that but expecting it to be in the manual is asking a bit much. It’s not like the owner’s manual of a car tells you how to flush the tranny or rebuild a differential.

        • “You’re talking about going past field stripping and into the territory of “no further disassembly is required or recommended”.

          There’s nothing wrong with that but expecting it to be in the manual is asking a bit much.”

          Dyspeptic cautioned it’s a really bad idea to detail strip a Beretta 92 variant and be able to get it back together successfully.

          I’ve torn down my Glocks with no real issue, but I think they were designed that way in the first place. I suspect 1911s are similar in skill level to break down.

          I think I’d be a bit leery tearing down complex semi-autos…

      • That is also a valid point.

        RTFM is not always enough, yet that is still the best place to start, in my opinion.

    • It is silly… especially when the only way to be free is to build one yourself, part by part. It’s 2020, and instructions are better on videos.

    • I bought my guns used. Used guns almost never come with instruction manuals as either the shop doesn’t keep them, or the previous owner didn’t keep them.

      Not all of us can afford to buy brand-new heat. And the used ones work just as well.

    • Ralph:
      “If I don’t know how to field strip a new firearm, I use a crazy source — the manual that comes with the gun.”


    • I believe, if the manufacturer is still in business, you can usually get a copy from them. Also, not a good sign of gun upkeep if the user can’t even hang onto a gun manual.

    • That’s why I highly recommend the Brownells Encyclopedia. It contains the detailed assembly/disassembly information for a great number of common guns made before 1960 or so, all in one place.

      • Hey DG,

        You think it’d have a blow out diagram of a Saturday Night Special? My dad inherited one from a friend of his when the guy passed and it had been disassembled and all the parts tossed in a box. I’ve messed around with it trying to piece it back together but I’m thinking some pieces are missing. It’s not worth anything but I think my dad would really like it if I could get it back together for him. I had done some searching online but the manufacturer was some no name company from way back when. I’m on vacation and not at home or I’d post it.

        • Do you have the manufacture’s name? Some makers of low-priced guns didn’t have much in the way of manuals. Many of their guns were in the “use once and forget” type of use.

      • Hey DG,

        Sorry for the delay, was on vacation. It’s a Herbert Schmidt Omega-HS 400. 22lr caliber 8 shot cylinder.

        If it’s in the Brownells book I would definitely buy the book just to reassemble it. Even though the book is probably more valuable then the revolver as I mentioned in my previous reply it’s a sentimental piece.

        Thanks sir!

  2. I never watch just one video on “how to… anything.”
    I generally watch three or more.

    Anyway, Larry Potterfield at Midway has quite the library of videos. Jerry Miculek has a bunch. And of course there’s the inimitable Hickok 45.

  3. Before YouTube began its removal of various gun-related videos, I downloaded vids for each model gun I own – all platforms – from gunsmiths showing full takedown, cleaning, repairing/replacement, and reassembly.

    MidwayUSA is a good source for specialty videos.

    • And that’s one of the reasons why I like dead tree books.

      No one can take them away from me.

  4. Thanks for the heads up.
    I’ve been interested in a 590A1 for a while and it helps to know where to look, just in case.

  5. Henry has these videos for every rifle they produce on their website. Yeah, I know; Nobody buys lever guns anymore, right? Wrong.

  6. Great for noobs and trainers … but

    LOL at needing an in-depth instructional on Glock assembly or disassembly. With five major parts a child could be proficient after a couple tries. What peeves me is doing my .45 and watching the bushing and recoil spring fly off in different directions, then hunting for the damned things. When that happens it makes me appreciate my revolvers.

    • Never had that happen…with any weapon.
      I always assume it will happen and hold a hand over/around anything that might go BOING!!!

    • Large ziploc bags are your friend when working with things that might want to go zipping off into the next zip code at a really bad time.

  7. I don’t really bother with videos – I like exploded parts diagrams to show the relationship of parts. Most modern firearms come apart and go back together relatively easily. Most videos won’t show the small details of how parts interact inside guns, and that’s what I want to see the most.

    Some firearms are a real pain in the neck to deal with. The Beretta 9x series of pistols is well-known among gunsmiths as a “spring bomb” that launches small parts in random directions. Marlin Model 60’s launch C/E clips into corners of the room. I really detest the Model 60.

    Some firearms need a “trick” or two that isn’t obvious to help – the Ruger Mk I, II, III .22LR pistols are in this category of gun. Once you know how to hold the gun, the Mk’s go back together quite easily.

    Some disassembly tasks need a specific tool. Sometimes you can work around the lack of this tool, and sometimes you cannot. One example that comes to mind is removing the barrel from a revolver. Don’t go using a mop handle shoved through the window of the frame to screw the frame off the barrel. Just don’t. You need a specific block, machined to hold the frame without distorting it. People here have heard me rant about the need for correct screwdrivers for gun work. There are few things I see that are more heartbreaking than a gun that is all chewed up because someone used a mechanic’s screwdriver on a gun, mashed out the screw heads, and then slipped and scarred the gun. If you have a gun with screws, get some gunsmith screwdrivers.

    Some firearms are notable for not needing a single tool for a detailed disassembly – the 1911 is one of the best examples I can give of this. I can detail strip a 1911 with nothing more than a round of .45 ACP brass to use as a screwdriver to pull the grip screws. After that, removal of the firing pin gives me a pin pusher to get any other pins out of the gun that I need to (eg, the mainspring housing).

    • I detest dull screwdrivers – buy quality, not Chinese crap, and replace them when they get dull. And I understand the benefit of having the correct size screwdriver to fit the screw.

      But beyond that – How are gunsmith screwdrivers different from other screwdrivers?

      • Gunsmith drivers have hollow ground tips to fit precisely into the slot without caming out. Ordinary drivers will cam out because the tips are wedge shaped (flat ground) like a chisel, and therefore will damage the screw slot and likely the surrounding frame/receiver.

        • Gunny nails it.

          The tips of a “mechanic’s screwdriver” look like this in edge profile: \/

          The tips of a “gunsmith’s screwdriver” look like this in edge profile: ||

          Gunsmith screwdrivers also come in a great assortment of sizes so that they fit the screw exactly. When I’m working on nice shotguns, the screw slots are often rather fine – often less than 0.025″ in thickness, and most mechanics screwdrivers won’t even fit into those slots. This is deliberately done, to keep people from using crap screwdrivers.

          Some people think that the ‘solution’ to this is to use Allen-head screws. Heh, heh, heh. Most people who know nothing about mechanical things think “Oh, it’s an Allen/hex head screw – it can’t strip out!

          Yea, and if you believe that, I have some beachfront property in Kansas to sell you. There’s a reason why the Torx head screw was invented, and that reason was the Allen-head screw.

          The difference is that I can work on a slotted screw head to recover the slot. It’s fiddly work, and it isn’t for the untrained, but it can be done. Recover the hex or torx head? Nowhere near as likely. Those hexes are either forged or broached in, and once you round the sides, your only good hope is to use a larger broach to make the hex larger.

          Gunsmith screwdrivers also tend to have harder tips, so they won’t bend so easily (especially the thin ones).

          I have probably about $500 tied up in screwdriver sets and special screwdrivers – and that isn’t including the special screwdrivers I’ve made myself. Occasionally, there is a screw that needs to be shifted, and I don’t have a screwdriver that fits it exactly. So I grab some O-1 drill rod, my 5C collet set, a collet positioning block, and an end mill, and I make the screwdriver/tip on my lathe & mill, then I’ll use a propane torch and some oil to quench it, and then I’ll temper it back to a straw color somewhere between light straw and dark straw – about 450F.

          Sometimes I’ll mount a bolt head on the screwdriver and use the bolt head to turn the screwdriver, other times I grab up a stick of hardwood doweling and glue the O1 rod into the handle.

          I have about a dozen such purpose-built screwdrivers in my tools. When you have them, work goes so much easier. When you don’t… you might make a mess.

        • Brownells. Screwdrivers and bits. That’s what you need to know.

          Before you take apart a gun held together with screws, buy some proper gunsmith hollow-ground screwdrivers. If you don’t buy some proper gunsmith hollow-ground screwdrivers, do not take apart a gun held together with screws.

          Then, buy more screwdrivers and bits. More is better. No two manufacturers can agree on what is the proper size for a screw head or slot. They go out of their way to come up with different screw slot sizes. They stay up nights thinking up new, unique slot sizes and depths. They are evil. Europeans are the worst. Then the English. The Turkish stand alone. They are not just evil in thinking up weird screw-slot sizes, but they also like to put a soft screw here, and a really brittle screw there, and one with a crooked, shallow slot over THERE.

          Just. . . buy good screwdrivers.

        • I agree with the others about getting good screwdrivers.

          I have been using The Chapman MFG company hollow-ground screwdriver bit and driver set (Kit No. 9600) for 20 years now. The flat screwdriver bits have parallel sides so they don’t damage the screw slots. The bits are knurled on the ends for use with your finger and thumb without a handle. The kit comes with a screwdriver handle, ratchet, and hex socket extension, and the bits can fit into all three of these. You also get Phillips and Alen hex head bits.

          A good kit basic kit is Chapman MFG 7331 Standard and Metric 24 Bit Allen Hex Screwdriver Set, available on Brownells and Amazon.

    • “spring bomb” – yikes! I never heard that term before, and it sounds very apt. Thanks for that addition to my lexicon! 🙂

  8. Not all manuals are that useful. I have a Ruger Mark 3 & the manual was worthless when it comes to field stripping and reassembly. Luckily I found a video on YouTube that helped me. I will never field strip that gun again. If it needs a detailed cleaning then I will take it to a gunsmith.

  9. Hmmm…for my AR15 a myriad of YouTube video’s(bought used but new from a pawnshop-no manual).Mrgunsngear,NSZ 85(hasn’t posted in year’s),Nutnfancy(too long and random) and a host of others. NO guidance whatsoever from live humans. Ditto my Tauruses. Ditto my shotgun. Ditto the several guns I sadly sold😟
    I can see I’ll never know everything about AR’s!

    • I really like NSZ85’s YouTube channel. Every video I saw was quite well done, and east to understand, even for a newbie like I was.

      • NSZ85 has been MIA for over 2 year’s. A lot of YouTube’s are geared to building. Or being “mechanical”. I spent many years fixing & refinishing antique furniture. I’m 66 years old& just want everything to run right. There’s quite a few major & minor YT channel’s out there. IF you can get past the goofiness CRS firearms has a wealth of indepth info on everything gun related…

    • The USMC technical manual for the M16 is a very good place to start on the AR platform.

  10. I went to Hoppe’s website for cleaning firearms and
    got distracted by the videos of Women of Hoppe’s. :<))

  11. Usually multiple sources. I start with the manual, and if it is a tricky gun, like a Kahr or an AR for a first time owner, I go to the interwebs. I found a great video on how to build an AR-15 that guided me through my first build. Kahr has links on its site for take down videos that are quite useful. My Kimber manual was pretty straightforward; it only gets tricky when you want to replace the recoil spring. I have looked at innumerable parts diagrams of the 1892 Winchester, not having an owner’s manual. I also found a page that had photos and instruction on how to tune an 1873 that was very very useful.

  12. I’ll search for YouTube’s on a new gun or one I’m thinking of buying. Just to see what other people have already figured out.

    The basics of gun cleaning though have not been a mystery to me for well over a half century, so these day’s its just curiosity and enjoyment.

  13. MCARBO (Military Carbine Brotherhood, maker of custom springs, trigger-job kits, extended controls, etc.) has the most comprehensive videos I’ve seen. Zero steps are assumed; they even show the polishing. You can always fast-forward processes you regard as obvious, but there’s no way to insert directions when a presenter hand-waves them away.

  14. I just don’t buy any firearms I don’t already know how to service. Or shoot.

    • Sometimes I buy a gun explicitly because I’ve never seen it before, never heard of it, or need to know how one works. Reading books or looking at pictures is one thing. Being able to put a gun on the bench and start disassembling it – that’s where learning truly happens.

      • This is what I pictured when I first heard about Cabela’s “Gun Library”. For me the simplest approximation to that dream was buying parts kits. Now that I’m more into semi-scratchbuilding, I should probably sell a few of those kits.

    • I can give an enthusiastic endorsement for Jerry Kuhnhausen’s books. Sadly, his books don’t cover that many guns, but what he does cover is significant.

      I will make the following critique of Jerry’s books: They’re written by a gunsmith, for a gunsmith audience. I have recommended these books to many people in the past, and probably more than half of those people have told me “All I wanted to know was how to take apart my gun for cleaning…” and these books will detail that. But these books are written by a gunsmith for a gunsmith, and they contain a LOT of detailed, arcane technical information.

      If all you wanted was a “follow this list of instructions to disassemble, follow this other list to re-assemble” you might well be frustrated by the level of detail in these books, which may contain such things as “on serial numbers X through Y of this variant of the gun, the screw will have these features, and in post-Y serial numbers, the screw will have been changed like this…”

      Here’s where you can find all of these books, along with some DVD’s:


      • I’ve been a machinist for over 40 years but I’m no gunsmith. I will admit to some “smithing” on my 1911s, guided by the Kuhnhausen manuals. If an issue beyond my competence arises I can refer to a real gunsmith.
        On occasion I have found some useful YT videos.

  15. Reading instructions is not the American way. And whose got time to watch a video. Just tear into it, with sone Jack Black and a bigger hammer any thing can be fixed, well kinda sorta

  16. Treat them like air filters – throw the dirty one out and buy a new one. Glocks claim to survive 100k rounds without cleaning, so I try to verify their claims.

    Seriously though, leave the coppery looking grease at the back of the Glock slide alone. It’s antiseize and is meant to wear off. People who don’t read the manual usually clean it off.

    Hoppe’s has a distinct smell, but there are so many fragrant choices now. FrogLube- mint, Ballistol- licorice, Slip2000 Carbon Killer- orange.

  17. Ah, how about the Owners/Users Manual? Anyone with a little common sense and tiny bit of a desire to be prepared should have the Factory Manual or have printed a copy from the Web. It’s not just cleaning, its got the full breakdown and troubleshooting too. I know younger folks can’t live without the internet but what if you had to? Just think of doing an old Ruger MK I .22LR pistol from memory after five years? Good luck with that. Lol

    • I have five black powder pistols and two 1873s, all but one with the manufacturer’s owner’s manual. Not one show you how to do anything that involves removing any screws. Back in the day when these gun designs were new, taking them down to their component pieces was common,and in fact necessary, which is why so many of the originals have buggered screws. Powder residue works its way into the workings of a Colt revolver, and there is only one way to get it out. The hand and hand springs were weak links in the design, and again, there was only one way to replace it.

  18. AGI has many weapon specific videos for sale. I have quite a few and feel they are well done worth the money.

  19. Raw intuition, I’m like the terminator looking at a semi-truck transmission, I just look at a gun and know what to do. Guns are like toasters to me, they’re consumer products, not that complicated or counterintuitive in the big picture.

    A lot of you gun nuts aren’t that bright, so using a gun is like a major achievement for you, naturally you make a big deal out of it. I mean whatever, it’s good, do what you can, take pride in it. Good deal.

  20. The manual suffices for most. But for 1886, 1892, and 71 Winchesters…best to get the AGI DVD.

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