Proper Care and Cleaning of a Striker Fired Semi-automatic Pistol
By Heather Madsen
One of the most important aspects of owning a firearm is making sure that it is properly cleaned and maintained. A clean and well oiled gun will be more accurate, less prone to misfire, and will last longer than a gun that is neglected. In this article we will cover the proper tools and procedure for cleaning a striker fired pistol. If you would like to learn how to clean additional firearm platforms, follow this link.
To start, you will need to assemble your cleaning products. You can get a kit that comes with everything or buy the individual products you need here. Either way, you’ll need a solvent or cleaner, gun oil, a clean rag or patches, bristle brushes, a cleaning rod with attachments, and a gun mat to work on. cotton swabs are also a very useful and affordable tool you can use to help clean the hard to reach areas of your firearm. There are also a few alternative options for some of these items, and what you use will just depend on personal preference. For example, you can use a bore snake instead of a cleaning rod, or a clean cloth instead of a gun mat. Experiment with your options and pick the choice that works best for you. Once you’ve gathered all of these items, you’re almost ready to get started.
When handling any firearm, the most important thing to remember is safety. Before you start cleaning or disassembling your pistol, you’ll first need to make sure it’s unloaded. Always do a visual and a physical check to make sure that your magazine is out and there is nothing in the chamber. Once you’ve made sure that your gun is empty, you’ll want to move the magazine and any ammunition away from you and the firearm you’re cleaning. Placing them in a drawer or a separate room is a great way to ensure your safety, and the safety of anyone nearby.
Now you can begin the cleaning process. You’ll want to start by taking apart the different components of your firearm. For most gun owners, you’ll only need to know how to “field strip” your gun. Field stripping a striker fired pistol is simple and only requires you to remove the slide, and separate the barrel, spring, and guide rod. Dismantling your firearm further is called “detailed stripping,” and unless you are a trained professional, you should not attempt it, as it is very easy to damage the smaller and more delicate pieces of your firearm if they are removed incorrectly.
The first step in field stripping a striker fired pistol is to remove the slide. It’s important to note that different guns and brands sometimes have different takedown methods for disassembly. Some will require you to push a button, turn a lever, and/or even press the trigger in order to release the slide. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on how to take apart your specific firearm.
Once the slide is removed, the next step is to remove the guide rod and spring. This will also release the barrel from the slide and allow you to start cleaning the surface of each part. Start by spraying a bit of solvent onto your rag or patch and wipe down the slide, rod, spring, magazine chamber, and frame. Use a cotton swab to get into the crevices you can’t reach with just your hand. You’ll want to focus on any contact surface where metal touches metal. This is where the carbon builds up, and where you’ll encounter performance issues if your gun is not properly cleaned and oiled. If there’s heavy buildup you can’t dislodge with a cloth or cotton swab, you can scrub it gently with a stiff bristled brush to break up the stubborn carbon or debris.
Pro Tip: while you’re cleaning your firearm, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for any burs, cracks, scratches, or other abnormalities that may give you issues when firing. Knowing your firearm and any potential risks it may have will help keep you and others safe.
Now it’s time to move onto the barrel. If your firearm has a lot of carbon buildup, sometimes it helps to spray some solvent down the barrel and let it sit for a few minutes. Remember, this is the part of the gun that you’ll want to be extra careful with. To clean the inside of the barrel you’ll need to use your cleaning rod or bore snake. You’ll want to only go in one direction with your rod or snake, to avoid pushing debris back into the barrel, or accidentally scratching your crown (where the ammunition exits the barrel). The crown is where your accuracy comes from, so dents or scratches could negatively affect your shooting performance.
If you’re using a rod, attach a bristle brush, spray it with solvent, and starting at the chamber side of the barrel, push the brush towards the crown. Once the brush exits the barrel, remove it from the rod, and slide the rod back out. Reattach the brush and run it through again. Repeat this process a few times.
If you’re using a bore snake, spray it with solvent, and drop the end weight through the barrel, chamber side first. Pull the snake all the way through. Repeat this process a few times, always going in the same direction.
Once you’ve cleaned the inside of the barrel, you’ll want to check that you’ve removed all of the carbon buildup. You’ll do this by attaching a patch to your cleaning rod via a patch holder or jag (again, the choice is up to you and your preferences), and running it through the gun, chamber side first. If your patch comes out clean, you’re ready to move onto the next step. If your patch comes out streaked with black, you may need to repeat the cleaning process again.
The next step is to oil. A good rule of thumb is to oil the parts of the gun that have metal on metal contact; those are the spots that will rub the most, and will need lubrication. On a striker fired pistol that will include your barrel, frame rails, slide rails, trigger spring, etc. However, it’s important that you consult your owner’s manual for this step so you know exactly where your specific gun needs to be oiled, and what parts you might need to avoid.
There are few different ways to apply the lubrication. You may have an oil container that comes with a needle point tip, which is good for direct and precise application. Or, you could have one that has a wider nozzle, and you’ll need to use a cotton swab or patch in order to apply the oil where it needs to go.
Pro Tip: A good way to keep track of what you’ve already cleaned or oiled, is to clean and oil each piece in the order you disassembled them. So for a striker fired pistol, you’d start with the slide, and work your way to the barrel.
Once your pistol is cleaned and oiled, it’s time to reassemble all the pieces. Simply go in the reverse order that you took it apart; start with the barrel and work your way back to the slide. It’s a good idea to consult your owner’s manual when you’re ready to reassemble, to ensure that you don’t miss a step or damage your firearm in the process.
Once your firearm is back together, the last step is to perform a function check. This will tell you whether or not you did everything correctly, and if your pistol is safe and ready to fire. You’ll want to consult your owner’s manual for the exact steps you’ll need to follow to perform this check, but the general idea is to ensure that all of the individual pieces are working together properly. Making sure your slide racks smoothly, your trigger engages properly, and your magazine engages the lock, will help ensure that your firearm is accurately assembled and ready to be fired.
If your pistol passes your function check, you are officially done cleaning, and your pistol is ready to be taken to the range.
If you have any questions regarding your striker fired pistol or what was discussed in this article please reach out to a Sportsman’s representative at Sportsmans.com, or visit your local Sportsman’s Warehouse and speak to an associate at the gun counter.
Additional videos and information about using and maintaining your firearms can be found by clicking here.