How to Clean a Rifle like a Pro (Updated on Feb 2024)

Let’s learn How to Clean a Rifle in this article.

Cleaning a bolt action rifle is crucial for keeping your firearm in good working order. 

This tutorial will cover the fundamentals of cleaning your rifle to last longer and not rust. 

Wherever you go gunning, you should clean it. Improperly cleaning your gun impacts accuracy and can result in lasting damage to your weapon. 

Competitive shooters clean their firearms after a set number of bullets at the range since it is critical for accuracy. Here you will learn how to clean a rifle.

How to Clean a Rifle: Step by Steps

Whether you’re doing field stripping or a thorough disassembly, the processes for cleaning your rifle are different. 

In this tutorial, we’ll go through fundamental field stripping. Because of the wide range of rifles, comprehensive disassembly is beyond the scope of this essay.

1. Completely Unload the Rifle

This is an important stage in the cleaning procedure. You must retrieve your magazine (if fitted) and any ammo from the firearm, including inner magazines, to guarantee the safety of yourself and anyone around you. 

Do something like this only if the firearm is pointed in a safe direction. Ensure you undertake a thorough visual (look) and tactile (feel) inspection (feel). 

Never put your faith in the safety of your handgun since mishaps can and do occur.

2. Cleaning the Rifle

Some semi-automatic rifles require a partial disassembly; consult the manufacturer’s instruction book for more information. 

Keep an eye out for springs or other minor parts and store them in a cup, can cap, or other containers to avoid losing them.

Wipe any loose particles discovered within the action, bolt, barrel, frame, and cylinder with cleaning equipment such as a tool brush or cleansing swabs.

Heavy fouling can be cleaned by applying a light coat of cleanser and leaving for a few minutes before brushing it away. Wipe or rag the cleared fouling away.

Proceed to the barrel, pour some bore solvent on a cleaning piece, and run it through your cylinder using a polishing rod with a jab, brush, or patch holding the tip. 

Monitoring the amount of dirt or dust that falls off as you sweep your patch through your firearm is an excellent method to evaluate how clean it is becoming. 

If you’re using a brush tip, make sure it goes all the way into the barrel before reversing to avoid getting it stuck. 

Replace the soaked bore cleaning patch with many dry ones to ensure your barrel is clean and dry. 

Swabs are useful in this situation since they can cleanse hard-to-reach regions and guarantee that your barrel/chamber is as smooth as possible. A heaver cleaner can also clean heavily clogged barrels and cylinders.

3. Apply Lubrication Where Necessary

After you’ve thoroughly cleaned your firearm’s operation, bolt, receiver, and cylinder, you would like to properly oil and lube the moving parts.

It can vary with the type of gun you’re washing and the maker’s suggested lubricant. Except for long-term storage, do not add oils from the inside of the barrel or cylinder. 

This can result in high pressure and the risk of catastrophic (BOOM) collapse when firing. Misfires or squibs can be caused by lubricant on ammo.

When lubricating your handgun, there is a frequent misconception that more is better. 

You would like to lubricate where it’s needed, but too much can result in excessive residues, which might cause malfunctions and handling problems (slippery). 

Lubricating cloths are a great tool since they allow you to manage how much oil or lubricant is used in each region of your pistol.

Examine regions of worn metal on the bearing, like your actions and bolt lugs. In some spots, bare metal can be seen through the coating on a well-used gun. 

This isn’t necessarily bad because it signifies your firearm is learning how to perform more efficiently.

4. Wipe Down All Components

Clean up your firearm with a clean, dry towel after cleaning and lubricating it. This cleans fingerprints of any residue or oils/moisture that you’ve already missed in stages two and three. 

Once you’ve finished cleaning down all components, you may polish and protect your pistol with wax-treated gun rags. It’s also a great idea to give your rifle’s hardwood furniture a wipe down and polish.

5. Reassemble and Check for Any Irregularities 

It’s time to begin reconstructing your rifle after everything has been cleaned and wiped down. 

You should thoroughly check each component as you put it all together and note any damage, abnormalities, or abrasive wear or play during this procedure. 

Dents and scrapes do occur from time to time. Other damage not only reduces the worth of your firearm but can also pose a threat to your safety. 

If you detect anything suspicious during your inspection, we strongly recommend taking it to a reputable firearms shop or a qualified gunsmith. 

They’ll do a more thorough examination and guide you on how to proceed to maintain your safety and dependability.

You can use this stage to add preservative lubricants and then employ a storage method for the long-term storage of firearms.

To eliminate lead and other metal deposits, wash down your arms and work surfaces with a microfiber cleaning after washing your gun.

Some Gun Cleaning Tips

You must maintain the cleanliness of your handgun. Powder residue, dirt, and gases accumulate in action and on the barrel after multiple firings. 

It can affect the performance of your weapon over time, causing it to become unpredictable and unreliable.

Because many gun owners acquire weapons for self-defense, they must work at their best all of the time. 

To keep your pistol in good operating order, clean it as quickly as possible after each use. Here are a few cleaning tips:

  • Wipe your gun in a very well area at all times. You must, without a doubt, keep an eye on what you’re doing.
  • Wipe your weapon away from any open fire, whether it’s outside or inside, and remove any ammo. Of course, before disassembling your pistol for cleaning, make sure it’s empty of any ammo.
  • You’ll need several easy-to-find items, such as old toothbrushes, Qtips, and some old t-shirts.
  • Repairs, a bore/chamber swab, punch rods, a cleaning solution, and lubricant should all be included in a good cleaning kit. It might also be a good idea to have a bore snake tool available. If you want a cleaner that isn’t solvent-based, there are several options on the market. They’re a great choice because they don’t produce the same strong fumes as chemicals, and they’re softer on your gun’s plastic parts. Whatever cleaning chemicals you use, keep in mind that you must always clean your rifle in a well-ventilated location.
  • On the market, there are several different cleaning goods. To identify the best options, ask around and read the reviews.

Also check: best gun cleaning kits in 2024


How long can we go without cleaning your rifle?

If a gun is not used frequently, it can go up to 6 months without being cleaned. If you use it often, you’ll have to make a decision. 

Of course, if the gun has come into touch with any wetness, it should be cleaned before storing it.

Should we oil the outside of a gun barrel?

Do not use gun grease to lube the bore! The barrel can be coated with a thicker lube such as Barricade for long storage alone (or equivalent). 

Before shooting the pistol, this must be cleared by wiping the barrel! Wipe the barrel’s surface, including the barrel cowl, cylinder lug, and feed ramp.

How often should we lubricate my firearm?

If you go to the range regularly, cleaning and oiling your weapon a minimum of once a week is a great idea. 

You can probably get away with it once every 2 weeks or once a month if you just conceal bear without ever shooting.

Is it really bad to leave a gun dirty?

Moisture from the environment and sweat can corrode your gun’s metal parts, resulting in corrosive rust. 

Fouling that has accumulated over time might impact a gun’s dependability. You’ll notice that a dirty gun causes a lot of problems.


You should think about safety before gathering items to clean your pistol. A gun should always be assumed to be loaded unless you have personally verified it isn’t! is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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I'm an passionate gun cleaning expert from NY US. My goal is to save you time by doing the leg work for you and putting all the essential information in one location to be confident about the cleaning your gun.

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