- Weapon is unloaded by the person cleaning the weapon. Person points the firearm in a safe direction, makes sure finger is far away from the trigger, magazine is removed and he/she also checks the chamber to make sure that there isn't already a cartridge in the chamber and also enables any safeties. Remember: SAFETY FIRST!
- Person disassembles the firearm for cleaning, only so far as recommended by the manufacturer's manual. Typically, disassembly should only involve removing a few parts at most (field stripping). It is not necessary, for example, to disassemble the entire trigger assembly to clean a firearm. If more extensive work is required, it is probably best to consult a competent gunsmith.
- After the person field strips the firearm, he or she visually inspects the parts for signs of excessive wear or damage. If any problems are seen, it is best to send it to a gunsmith immediately.
- The person cleaning the firearm should have a cleaning kit available. Most commonly available kits have a cleaning rod (usually one that is disassembled into multiple parts), a few cotton cloth cleaning patches, a couple of patch holders or jags (or both jags and cloth holders) that attach to the end of the cleaning rod and to which a cloth patch is attached, a bore brush whose diameter depends on the firearm being cleaned, a hand brush, assorted solvents and gun greases and a bottle of gun oil. The user may augment this kit with extra brushes, jags, cloth holders and patches of different diameters, especially if the user owns multiple firearms of different bores. Sometimes, additional cleaning rods may also need to be purchased in appropriate diameters for different calibers.
- When possible, the user always tries to clean from the breech end towards the muzzle (i.e.) following the same direction as the bullet. If it is not possible to do it in this direction (for instance, in some revolvers), then one should take precautions to not push any debris into the action of the firearm. Some cleaning kits include a muzzle guard for situations where cleaning is done from the muzzle end.
- The barrel contains a couple of types of fouling: the first is due to powder residue (powder fouling) and the second is metal fouling, which is caused by metal particles from the cartridge case (brass) and metal particles from the bullet itself (lead and copper) getting deposited into the rifling grooves. There are different solvents that deal with powder fouling vs. metal fouling and some solvents (such as Hoppe's #9) do both.
- The user first attaches a patch holder or a jag to the cleaning rod and attaches a cotton patch cloth at the end. The user then soaks the patch with suitable solvent and pushes it completely through the bore. This removes some of the loose powder and metal fouling in the barrel.
- The user removes the patch holder and attaches the appropriately sized bore brush to the cleaning rod. Then the user soaks the brush in more solvent and pushes it through the bore again. As the user does this, the brush turns as it engages the rifling in the barrel. The user completely pushes the brush through the barrel, until the brush emerges on the other side and then pulls it back completely through and repeats the process 12-20 times. This loosens all the tiny metal particles and fouling that are stuck in the rifling grooves. It is not a good idea to reverse direction with the brush while it is still inside the barrel, because it will ruin the brush prematurely.
- The user then leaves the barrel aside to soak the solvent for around 5 minutes, so that the solvent has a chance to dissolve some of the lead or carbon buildup still clinging to the barrel. In the meantime, the user grabs the hand brush (or even an ordinary toothbrush), dips it in more solvent and uses it to brush the exposed action, receiver, bolt, trigger assembly etc. and remove the gunpowder residue in here. The user then dries all the scrubbed parts with a clean dry cloth.
- After the solvent has had a chance to work its magic inside the barrel, the user then takes the cleaning rod and attaches a cloth holder or a jag tip to the end and attaches a clean dry patch on it. The user then pushes it through the barrel completely. Most likely, this patch will come out very dirty. The user then replaces the patch with a new clean one and then repeats the process again for a few times, until the patch comes out looking relatively clean.
- The user then applies a few drops rust-preventative to a clean cloth patch and runs it down the barrel again. This leaves a very thin coating of rust preventative solution in the barrel bore, The user may also apply this to the outside of the barrel as well.
- The user then applies a very little amount of gun oil to lubricate the metal parts recommended in the manual. It is not a good idea to use too much gun oil for guns with wood stocks, as the excess oil could soak into the wood stock and ruin it (gun oil is very different from linseed oil and has a detrimental effect on wood). Excess oil also collects dust and dirt much easier, so it is a good idea to apply very little gun oil indeed, unless the gun is intended to be stored away for a while.
- For the same reason, it is not a good idea to put solvent or lubricant inside the magazine because the excess gun oil will collect dirt and dust in the magazine, while solvent will react with the cartridge casings and primer and degrade them. Magazines should only be cleaned with dry brushes if needed.
- Finally, the user uses a small flash light to look up through the barrel to make sure it looks clean.
- The user then reassembles the firearm and uses a silicone cloth to wipe away any finger prints.
Instead of a cleaning rod, some people use a bore snake instead. This is a long flexible cord with a section of brushes and cotton cloth on one end. The user merely drops the cord through the barrel and pulls it through to the other end. A couple of runs of this and the barrel is clean and ready to go.
Lastly, before we leave, here's a few videos that demonstrate what we just discussed above: