Firearm tools & tricks of the trade

Every task these days has shortcuts and tricks that make them easier. Gun care is no different. Household items as well as tools from the gun industry can make the task of cleaning or maintenance much easier. Guns are especially frustrating, as many have little spots that are hard to get at that accumulate grime.

Q-Tips or cotton swabs – These are lifesavers when getting into nooks and crannies of the underside of a slide, or inside the frame. They are a must have in any gun cleaning kit. Buy the biggest, cheapest packs you can find. Using these cotton swabs, you can get into places more thoroughly than you would have been able to, or unless you’d completely disassembled the gun.

Pipe cleaners – You can find these in the craft department at Wal-Mart. They are great to slide between close machined surfaces that are hard to get a patch or cloth into. Some meticulous cleaning may seem like overkill, but it is really up to you how clean you want to get your own guns.

Silicone/Rem-Oil cloths – These are fantastic tools to give a wipe down of guns that you’ve handled. It can clear off any oils from your hands that may cause rust. That’s especially true for those older style blued guns. If you find yourself taking your Pedersoli Sharps rifle, or old Stevens doublegun out of the safe to fondle it once in a while, keep a can of Rem-Oil and a silicone cloth on hand, or the Rem-Oil wipes. They can mean the difference between a gun that looks like it did when you bought it for the rest of your life, and one that has round rust marks in the design of your fingerprints.

Brushes – Toothbrushes are pretty good to get the slots and grooves clean inside the slide of an auto, but they tend to not be tough enough. To get some of the more stubborn grime, you need something generally with more tenacity to the bristles than the usual Oral-B. Companies like Otis make all types of gun cleaning brushes in various bristle types. Copper and nylon are good for the specific applications, and they are relatively inexpensive. It never hurts to have a toothbrush on hand though.


A firearm is a significant investment, and unlike many of the other big ticket purchases in our life, like cars, stoves, cameras, TVs, they almost never end up going to the dump or junkyard when you decide you want a different one. Guns are the ultimate “durable consumer good.” They almost never get thrown away, and they are seldom worth less than 25% less than you paid for them. Often they are worth several times more later in life. If you take care of your guns, they will take care of you, whether it be protecting your life, service in the field, or as your own little retirement account locked in your gun safe. By keeping them clean and making sure that no hidden rust or corrosion is creeping in, you will keep them in service for a lifetime, and possibly several lifetimes.


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