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Is there a downside to waiting a while to clean your guns after shooting them? For example, waiting to clean the dishes just makes the job much harder because the food has dried and stuck. So I always feel guilty about not cleaning my guns ASAP. Or do I need to clean that .22 that only had 50 rounds through it? Or can it wait until after the next range trip?


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Lots of different opinions will come, and I can only give you my thoughts based on my experience and concerns.

Short answer: No

Long version: My carry guns are usually fired and reholstered for carry pretty often without cleaning. That’s because they are shot almost every single day. They are all reliable even without being cleaned, but I will clean them every 100 or so rounds and just do a light lube in between those times.

If they need to be cleaned to be trusted for reliability after just 50 rounds or so, they don’t stay in my possession long , or get taken out of the carry rotation.

For a recreational gun like a .22, I wouldn’t clean it until it began to malfunction.
 

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I generally don't like to leave a gun uncleaned if it is not going to be used again soon - although I will admit I have never noticed any detrimental effect from doing so. Guns I use often ( sometimes daily ) I clean once per month or so. A gun that is going to be put away gets cleaned first. Seems practical to me. YMMV.
 

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I don't clean a .22 after every outing. My Ruger MKIII once went over 2700 rounds without cleaning (except for an occasional bore snake) and it functioned fine.

As for a gun I carry, I do clean after each outing, but that's because it may be weeks before I shoot it again. I live in the 'burbs, not the country, so I can't go into my backyard and shoot a mag or two every couple of days. And I don't go to the range multiple times a week. So once I'm back from the range, I might as well clean the carry gun I just shot, because it's likely going to be weeks before I shoot it again.

As for guns I don't clean regularly, I've found them no more difficult to clean than a gun I just fired.
 

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Some times I take several firearms to the range and don't really have the time or energy to clean them the same day. I haven't really noticed any additional difficulty cleaning them the next day, or even two or three days later.
 

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Most time guns can wait a few days or even longer between shoots.

The major exception to that rule and what others have said come from some surplus ammo that uses corrosive powders. I think that is mostly found with russian AK-47 or old Mosen Nagent ammo.
 

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I will tell a funny story I have told in the past, so if you've heard it, sorry.

My wife took the Ladies Only Basic Pistol at the NRA HQ Range in Fairfax, VA. There were two lady instructors, we'll call them Martha and Jennifer. Martha was in her 50's and Jennifer was in her 20's. Both were competitive shooters as well as instructors. The way the course was set up, they co-taught the classroom part and then each student had an appointment the next day to spend an hour on the range one-on-one with one of the instructors to complete the course. My wife had her range time with Martha.

So after the shooting, which went well, my wife asked Martha, "How often are you supposed to clean a gun?"

Martha said, "Well, I clean my 1911 after every time I shoot it, but...(rolling her eyes and taking a catty tone), Jen goes weeks without cleaning her Glock! It is soooo gross!"
 

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What kind of gun, how many rounds are you running, indoor range, out in the elements?

The answer is it depends on several factors.
 

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In general, my long guns - centerfire and shotgun - are cleaned after each use, because I can't predict how long they'll sit before their next use. The .22 rifles and handguns are wiped down after each use, but actions and bores are only cleaned when they need it.

Defensive handguns that are carried frequently are looked over weekly. The competition guns get cleaned usually before they start to show signs of slowing down, or if they come apart for other reasons. If I had to guess, I'd say that's in the range of 800-1000 rounds.

The dry AZ climate is a mixed blessing. Rust is rarely a worry, but fingerprints on blued guns and sweat on the carry guns are.
 

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I have far too many guns I take out, shoot a few rounds with for fun, to sight in with an optic that I then put away for another 2 years. I'd spend hours every week cleaning. I only clean guns when they need it. My exceptions being carry guns and competition guns. I try to at least clean guns every other competition, or after each if it gets too sandy.
Also I try to keep carry guns extra clean. And of course, when I shoot with corrosive ammo, Its always the first thing I do when I get home.
 

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Black powder is a big yes. I don't have any corrosive ammo , so I'm good to go ; )
H/D
 

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My habits were formed with front loaders. I clean each time after use.
 
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I would far prefer to carry a gun that has been throughly cleaned, reassembled, then function tested with carry ammo over just cleaning a gun, reassembling, and trusting that the everything will work right if needed.
 

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While not strictly necessary except for black powder and corrosive ammo, I still go with my military training...you clean it ASAP after shooting it. One round or 1000, doesn’t matter. It might be the same day, or a week later, but ASAP.

I had a speck of grime prevent a Ruger Mk target pistol from resetting the trigger. So, I am careful to clean well as I have seen what gunk in the wrong place can do.
 

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In My family there were down sides to not cleaning right away after shooting! First Dad would thunk the top of your head and send you to the garage! And the rest of the family would talk about you in hushed tones. As I have gotten older I don't clean like I used to. I shoot my bolt action 22 every day. It gets cleaned a couple times a year. It gets wiped down a couple times a week.
I have a match grade 22 that has never had its barrel cleaned. The guy that made the barrel said don't clean it till the accuracy falls off. So far it hasn't!
My EDC gets a brief cleaning every time its shot and wiped down weekly.
My hunting guns get cleaned every time also.
 

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A quick basic clean and lube on carry guns every time you shoot them so you can inspect parts. A part and safety inspection is the main thing, guns don't need to be over cleaned.
 
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