Autoloader Cleaning Tips

Autoloader Cleaning Tips

Cleaning an autoloading handgun is a simple chore. Determining how often to clean is not so cut and dry. Some shooters will field strip, clean, and lube their favorite pistol after every trip to range, while others seldom clean their guns at all. So how often should an autoloader be cleaned? Even the experts disagree on the answer to that question.

One might think the top competition shooters would be fastidious about cleaning their autoloaders, but often the opposite is true. Rob Leatham once told me he had gone more than 6,000 rounds with one of his competition guns without any cleaning whatsoever. Other top competitors seldom clean as well. They spend their time shooting, not cleaning. One thing they all stress though is lubrication. Their guns will often be dripping with lubricant. That not only saves on wear and tear, but also keeps the powder fouling loosened up so it doesn't jam up the works.

While drenching an autoloader with most any good lubricant may work fine in a match, a gun carried for self-defense has different needs. You certainly don't want oil leaking onto your dress shirt and with guns that are carried often and shot seldom carbon can harden and cause problems. For those guns some of the high-tech lubricants get the nod. Keep them clean and lube them sparingly.

Anyone who owns an autoloading handgun should know how to fieldstrip it. These thorough cleanings are a good time to inspect the various parts for wear or damage. Pay particular attention to the extractor. The internal extractor on a 1911 should be removed occasionally for cleaning and inspection and you should know how to check for proper tension. While the barrel is removed is the time for bore cleaning, of course. Never clean your barrel from the muzzle with the handgun assembled. You risk crown damage and dump gunk into the action.


Some autoloaders can be finicky after a cleaning. After you field strip and thoroughly clean your carry gun, I suggest you run a couple magazines full of your chosen defense load through it to test for reliability, and then run a patch dampened with rust preventative down the bore. The rust preventative will prevent the powder fouling from absorbing moisture and rusting the bore and the test firing ensures the gun has been properly reassembled and working as it should.


Bore fouling is not a major concern with most autoloaders due to the relatively mild velocities compared to rifles and some other type handguns. If you shoot lead bullets, fouling can be an issue though. I will discuss both lead and copper fouling and how to deal with them in a soon to follow blog titled "Revolver Cleaning Tips."

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Beretta

Beretta's New 92X

The 92X Performance model from Beretta was created to satisfy two requirements: Speed and accuracy. Beretta's new competition pistol is uncompromising and aims for top performance.

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - 94 WINCHESTER

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - 94 WINCHESTER

Joe Mantegna talks about the origins of the 94 Winchester rifle.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

A New Season of G&A TV

A New Season of G&A TV

In this new season of Guns & Ammo TV, we introduce two new series and bring back a viewer favorite - Camera's Don't Lie. We look at long-range tech and see how to make shots previously thought impossible. Next we visit ISS Prop House in Hollywood.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle. Historical

The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle

Kyle Lamb - January 12, 2018

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a Rifle

6.5 PRC - Magnumized 6.5 Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand - August 01, 2018

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a "magnumized" 6.5 Creedmoor. It offers...

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun matches. Here's why. Reviews

Savage MSR 15 Competition Review

James Tarr - May 21, 2019

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun...

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight ready. Handguns

14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See

James Tarr - December 20, 2018

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight...

See More Trending Articles

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now