How to Clean a Handgun: A Beginner’s Guide 2021

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If you’re a new person to own a gun and want the best service from it, keeping it clean is the first skill you need. When you use the gun, the gun powder residue, and other gases and grime build-up inside. This could affect the performance of the gun and make it unpredictable and unreliable for the worst-case scenario. A clean gun doesn’t only get you a smooth service but also gets it a longer lifespan without any issues.

Knowing the proper way of how to clean a handgun will help you keep it on top-notch service. Taking the gun apart, using proper tools for cleaning, oiling, and some final touch-ups are the steps it takes. Stick to the article and you’ll learn how to clean a handgun without getting any damages in the internal mechanism.

How to Clean a Handgun in 2021

Cleaning your gun for the first time can be overwhelming, but I’m here to help you make it a breeze. Here is the step by step process of how to clean a handgun including the best practices and mistakes to avoid:

How to Clean a Handgun

When To Clean A Handgun

Before we get started, let’s know when is the best time to clean a gun and what’s the best practice. The best time for cleaning a gun is after every trip you take to the range and shoot. You have to clean your gun every week, monthly, and annually whether you shoot a bullet or not. Depending on how often your gun is getting exposed to humidity or moisture and where you put it. You can also follow our article on how to remove rust from a gun.

Supplies You Need

A gun works with a complex mechanism and you have to use some tools to keep it safe while cleaning it. The first thing you’re going to need for cleaning a handgun is a foaming bore cleaner or your gun barrel. Other things you need are good quality gun oil, bore snakes, gun cleaning brushes, Q-tips, and a microfiber rag. These items are available in any gun shop; you can even find a handgun or scope cleaning kit including each item in one pack!

Preparing For The Cleaning

Cleaning a firearm isn’t like cleaning a little toy that doesn’t hurt or damage. It’s a killing machine, and you must keep that in mind while going to clean it. You have to clean the gun in a well-ventilated space in your room where the cleaning chemicals cannot make reactions. Plus, a spacious space will help you move around easier and handle different parts without cluttering. Put a gun cleaning mat on a flat table and start cleaning, it helps to keep the gun’s exterior intact.

Field Strip The Handgun

First, you must field strip the gun, it means you’re going to open up the gun inside out. Take the magazine and the extra bullet out from the chamber if there is one inside.  Rotate the slide lock clockwise and it will unlock the upper portion of the gun from the bottom.


Keep the slide lock in a vertical position, hold the barrel back and slide it forward. Detach the upper portion of the gun from the base this way and carefully remove the spring. However, different guns may have different steps to do it, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Cleaning Inside The Barrel

The most grime and dirt are inside the gun barrel and you have to clean the inside and make it shiny. Take the foaming bore cleaner and spray inside the barrel making sure the whole inside is filled with the cleaner. Let it sit for a few minutes and take the bore snake and get the weighted end inside the barrel. Pull the snake out from the other side of the barrel and it’ll wipe off every bit of dirt and grime inside. Hold the barrel against light and see if the inside is shiny as you expected.

Cleaning The Slide

The housing where the gun barrel stays inside is the slide of the gun. It has a lot of tiny places where you cannot reach with a rag to wipe them clean. Use Q-tips to clean those narrow channels and use the rag to wipe the exposed parts of the slide. Don’t forget to dip some gun oil into the rag and wipe every inch of the gun where you can reach with it. Use the brush (brass should be good) for the stubborn areas with some oil.

Cleaning The Gun Frame

After cleaning the upper portion of the gun, it’s time to do the same with the bottom. Take the rag, dip some gun oil into it, and wipe clean everything. Use the Q-tips with some oil to reach the narrow, hard-to-reach places and the brass brush for the stiff and stubborn ones. This process should include the sliding mechanisms inside, the chamber, and the exterior.

Oiling The Gun

Once the cleaning process is done, it’s time to oil it for the good condition for long-time service. Start with the barrel inside out, oil the sliding and trigger mechanism, the guide rails, and the internal parts. Don’t skip anything in the gun including the slide and the frame to ensure good condition. However, don’t use too much oil, taking some into your finger or the rag and wiping with it is enough. Use the Q-tips for the hard-to-reach places in this stage as well.

Reassembling The Handgun

Now that your gun is thoroughly clean, reassemble it by reversing the process from the start to finish. After reassembling, check the slide is smooth and you should be satisfied with the smoothness of it. Give it some final touch-ups with the oil exterior for a longer lifespan from the gun before storing it. Take a bit of gun oil into the rag, and wipe clean the exterior of the gun.

Handgun Storing And Safety Tips

Using a handgun can be both tempting and dangerous if you don’t know how to keep it safe. Here are some gun safety tips that’ll help you use your gun without getting yourself or loved ones hurt:


  • Use a safe: You can never be sure enough that nobody’s going to lay their hands on the gun if you don’t have a safe for it. The safe will keep the gun away from kids, unwanted people, or even burglars or thieves.
  • Empty it: Never make the mistake of keeping a gun loaded when you’re storing it or not using it. Take the magazine out, empty the chamber, and put the bullets in a separate box in the safe.
  • Practice safe use: It’s severely important to practice safe use of guns; keep your fingers away from the trigger, and keep the safety on.
  • Point it outside: When you’re puting the gun on a surface like a table, floor, or elsewhere. Exterior walls are usually concrete and an accidental shot won’t penetrate through the wall.

Final Thoughts

Modern handguns are robust and extremely reliable for sure, but regular maintenance is mandatory for keeping them that way. The above guideline on how to clean a handgun will help you keep it simple and effective.

You have to practice cleaning the gun a few times before you get used to it perfectly. Once you practice enough, it’s only a matter of 5 minutes to clean your handgun and that’s enough. Keeping it clean and treating and regular oiling will help you use it for years without any issues.

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