If you are one of the 32% of Americans who own a gun, you already know that any type of firearm needs care and maintenance. If you’re a new gun owner you might be wondering how often you should clean your gun. This can be confusing for seasoned gun owners as well, especially when you’ll get different answers from a variety of people.

Not cleaning your gun or cleaning it infrequently can be damaging for your firearm. Proper gun cleaning will ensure accuracy and performance, two aspects that are crucial for safety.

How often should you clean your gun? Read on to learn more.

Importance of a Clean Gun

As a gun owner, you know that getting the best performance out of your firearm is a top necessity. You wouldn’t purchase a gun knowing it’s operating poorly — so why let poor maintenance ruin your weapon?

When your firearm gets dirty, it can rust or corrode. There’s also buildup that can cause inconsistencies. Whenever you go and shoot your gun, residue piles up on the surfaces.

It isn’t simply from the discharge of the cartage either. It can also be contaminants, moisture, and dirt from the air. Go long enough without cleaning it and your gun will start performing poorly.

Whenever you fire your gun, you’re leaving a small amount of carbon that accumulates. There are also tiny fragments from the metal of a bullet and casing that add to it. If left unchecked, the bullet trajectory of your gun can change and it’ll lead to rust or corrosion.

Environmental factors will also start to wear down your firearm. Moisture condenses on metal surfaces so if you’re an outdoor shooter, especially in those swampy areas, you need to be diligent with cleaning your gun. Dry environments can also cause rusting or build up.

How Often Should You Clean Your Gun?

While that may seem stressful, it doesn’t mean you need to be working around the clock to clean your firearm. In general, how often you clean your gun depends on how often you’re using the gun. With that said, even if it’s in storage you should be cleaning it periodically to keep it maintained.

While some people might have a general cleaning schedule for their guns, you might not need to clean as often as them. Alternatively, you could be shooting pretty often and that means you’ll need regular cleaning. The best way to know for your particular firearm is by how often you use it and for what.

You should always clean your gun after going to the range but let’s also look at other types of usage.

Everyday Firearm

If you’re someone who uses a handgun for protection, you may rarely be firing them in a field. However, you still need to clean it to maintain good execution. You never know when you’ll need to use your firearm and although you hope it doesn’t have to be used, you don’t want it dirty and ineffective if the time comes.

Part of having a handgun is consistently cleaning it as well as scheduling range time. If you do any gear changes or upgrades, you’ll need to make time to practice and get used to these as well.

Any gun should be cleaned after a trip to the range, this includes firearms. Even if you don’t make it to the range, be sure to clean your firearm at least every two weeks. Don’t go more than a month without a thorough cleaning and inspection.

Competitive Shooting

As a competitive shooter, you’ll want to clean your firearm after every match. Since the gun you’re using is your biggest tool, keeping it clean is one less thing to worry about when you compete. Build a consistent schedule so, after every match or practice session, you have a cleaning ritual to follow.

Consider creating a space with all the necessary cleaning tools, a permanent cleaning station if you will. That way you’ll have an easy way to get into the right habits and you’ll be able to score high points during the next match.

Recreational Use

If you mainly use your gun at a range, you’re less exposed to the environmental factors that outdoor shooters deal with. Despite that, you’ll still need to give your gun a good cleaning after every 250-300 rounds. Then, an even deeper cleaning after 3,000 rounds.


As a hunter, you’re exposing your gun to humidity and other elements that can cause rust and corrosion. Be sure to properly store your gun as you move from place to place. Different weather, like snow or rain, can create damage over time if ignored so be sure to do a quick clean between hunts.

How to Clean Your Gun

Now that you know how often you should clean your gun, you might be wondering how to clean it. There are a variety of different firearms and each of them is built differently so it’s always good to refer to the manual to avoid any mistakes. You can also check online for resources, like Mrs. Tactical, to get thorough instructions on how to clean your weapon and the tools you’ll need.

Now Your Firearm Is Ready To Go

Owning a gun is a great feeling, whether it’s for recreation or self-defense. Part of the responsibility of owning a firearm is safety and that means cleaning the weapon so it performs well.

How often should you clean your gun? The quick answer is: after firing at the range. However, depending on how often you’re using the gun and what it’s being used for, the answer can vary.

If you found this post helpful and are looking for more, be sure to check out our other web guides!

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