Spring is a great time to engage in a little bit of maintenance for your favorite hobby: guns. With many of the yearly hunting seasons coming to an end, it’s the perfect opportunity to evaluate your firearms––from hunting rifles to concealed carry pistols––and take stock of your supplies, as well as the state of your gun storage system.
The following guide can help you reevaluate your gun cleaning and gun storage routines. You’ll find professional tips and tricks to keep your firearms, handguns, and concealed carry holsters in top shape and step up your all-around gun maintenance practices, so you are never caught off guard.
Remember to check the function of your concealed carry handgun daily to ensure that it is in top form. Get in the habit of checking it is in good working order before you place it in its concealed carry holster at the beginning of each day. This mitigates your chances of experiencing surprise jams later, and it is also the key to longevity for your handgun.
Checking to see that there is no visible dirt, corrosion, or lint accumulation; the grips are secure; and the screws are tight should take no more than one minute. Daily checks should also include examining your holster for moisture and ensuring that each attachment point is secure.
It is important to stick to a weekly cleaning schedule for your handgun and your holster whether or not you have fired your weapon. This will ensure your firearm is always ready to use and that your holster is working as it should.
A weekly gun breakdown includes wiping down the parts with a good gun oil and lubricating all your firearm’s dynamic parts.
At the same time, check your holster to ensure the snaps and mounting straps are in working order, and make sure that the tension is functioning properly by placing your unloaded handgun in the holster and turning it upside down over a pillow or a couch. If the tension does not hold, it is time to shop for a new holster.
After checking the tension, wipe down the inside and outside of your holster with a soft cloth to remove dust, dirt, and lint.
If you are new to gun maintenance, or simply want to brush up on your cleaning skills, there are various resources that thoroughly detail and explain every step of the basics of gun cleaning available online.
Remember that sticking to a strict weekly cleaning schedule for your concealed carry gun does not mean that it is unnecessary to make daily checks when you place it in and remove it from your concealed carry holster.
Though it is highly unlikely that corrosion will develop in a day, waiting an entire week to make routine checks can lead to issues. Even in a holster, which greatly reduces your handgun’s exposure to the elements, it is still susceptible to wear and tear by environmental factors.
One of the biggest threats to your gun's performance and life is humidity. Whether you live in a humid climate year-round or you only deal with humidity a few months out of the year, it can pose a very real rust threat to your gun, even if it is stored in a gun safe or cabinet.
While the steel components of most firearms are pre-treated to prevent the rusting process, they can still rust over time with constant exposure to humidity.
Furthermore, even those who do not live in a humid climate can expose their handgun to constant humidity simply by carrying their handgun close to their body. Many do not realize that sweat also raises the risk of rust development.
If there is evidence of rust buildup, you can remove it, and handling rust build-up should be a standard part of your normal gun cleaning regimen.
First, make sure to wipe away any sediment. Then, use copper wool and brushes to scrub down the steel components. (Remember: Do not use copper on polymer components.)
After this, make sure the gun is as dry as possible to avoid re-oxidization of the steel. Finally, consider purchasing a re-bluing product to restore the protective bluing of the gun and prevent further rusting.
If your gun has already experienced considerable degradation due to rust or has been completely submerged in water, taking it to a gunsmith is the safest way to ensure every component is cleaned out and re-blued properly. A gunsmith can also make a professional evaluation concerning replacing parts of your handgun that may be too damaged for repair.
After the rust is entirely removed from your firearm, be proactive about preventing future rust issues. Clean your firearm bi-weekly to prevent potential build-up and mitigate your maintenance costs.
The best thing you can do for the lifespan of your handgun is to prevent rust by engaging in proactive storage habits.
When you remove your gun from the holster, immediately wipe it down and store it in a cool, dry place. If you live in a humid climate, consider investing in a good dehumidifier for your home or, specifically, for your gun safe or cabinet. This will ensure that no matter where your guns are stored, the humidity levels will be low enough to prevent rusting damage.
Wearing gloves while cleaning your firearms is another way to prevent rusting, as it prevents oils from the skin from transferring onto the steel of the gun. Gloves, especially white ones, will also show if there is any dirt or rust on the gun.
Finally, look into a pH-neutral wax. These are safe for all kinds of firearm surfaces and will protect your handgun from the harmful rust process and prevent cracking in extremely cold temperatures.
With all this talk about rust, it is worth mentioning that choosing the right concealed carry holster for your firearm can help prevent rust build-up, and it should be one of your top priorities.
In general, there are two materials that are typically used for concealed carry holsters: leather and Kydex. Choosing the right holster material depends on your unique needs and the factors that are important to you as a concealed carrier, such as quality, comfort, reliability, and wear-and-tear.
Leather is the traditional standard material that has been used to produce holsters since men and women began carrying handguns. After an initial break-in period, they mold to the body and offer a draw that is smooth and soundless.
In addition, leather holsters are aesthetically pleasing, and there is simply something charming about their look that harkens back to the gunslingers of the wild west.
However, there are also quite a few downsides to using a leather holster.
Leather requires substantial upkeep to maintain its function. A leather holster should be wiped down and dried after every use. Additionally, if you live in an area with high temperatures, it can cause the leather to dry out over time and eventually cause cracking, necessitating constant oiling.
Like most organic materials, leather does break down over time, and it will need to be replaced. It also holds sweat and other moisture, which can cause your gun to rust and corrode faster.
Many carriers find that, while leather may be comfortable and nice to look at, these pros simply do not outweigh the cons, and the wear-and-tear on the holster itself and the firearm are not worth the look of a leather holster.
Considering that the main purpose of a concealed holster is that it remains concealed anyway, you may want to think twice before choosing leather as the primary material for your concealed carry holster.
Kydex material is composed of a polymer blend that can be custom-molded to fit the exact specifications of your handgun. As a holster, it is very lightweight and does not require any upkeep to maintain its performance capabilities. This is because, unlike leather, Kydex holsters do not retain moisture; in fact, they repel it.
Kydex holsters also help protect your firearm from the elements much more effectively than leather and reduce the amount of time required for gun cleaning each week. In addition, Kydex concealed carry holsters offer an impressive lifespan and can last for years, giving them a great cost-benefit value.
Possible downsides can include scuffing to the surface of your gun over time due to the holster’s more secure hold on the firearm. Though this will not compromise the performance of your gun, it can affect its appearance.
After making sure your gun storage routine is up to par and choosing the right concealed carry holster for your weapon, it is good to ensure the environment in which you store your gun is cleaned and optimized during your spring cleaning regimen.
Remove all your guns from your gun safe, cabinet, or case and wipe each down thoroughly––particularly firearms like shotguns that are used for hunting and seldom used and cleaned.
Wear white gloves to examine each gun and check for oil, dirt, or grime build-up. The chances are that, if one needs a thorough cleaning, the others will, as well.
If you utilize a portable dehumidifier in your safe or cabinet, now is the time to change and check the batteries. Also, check the moisture levels using a hydrometer to ensure that your dehumidifier is working at an optimal level.
If your gun safe is too dry (humidity levels below 40%), consider purchasing dry packs to store with your guns while they are in the safe to prevent wood and steel components from cracking over time.
Wipe down the inside of the gun safe with a dry cotton cloth and remove excess gun oil, dirt, and grime. Look for cobwebs and the presence of insects that can indicate your cupboard or safe is not secure.
Refrain from using any cleaners on the interior of your gun safe that contain harsh chemicals, as these can damage the finish of both your safe or cabinet and your guns over time. Use mild soap and water instead or look for cleaners that are specifically formulated for use with firearm cabinets.
In addition, make sure your hinges are well-oiled to keep them from sticking or squeaking as the safe opens and closes. Use mild soap and water on metal surfaces, such as the handle and locking bolts, as metal cleaners can corrode the coating on these surfaces over time.
Once your safe maintenance is completed, try to stick to a schedule of cleaning it every 1-2 months thereafter, to maintain a clean environment for your guns and accessories.
Spring cleaning is the perfect time to make sure you are stocked up on all your cleaning supplies for the year. This includes gun cleaner and rags, lubricants, brushes, and re-bluing and wax.
If you own multiple types of holsters, check them over for wear-and-tear, including tears or cracks in the material, or stretching of the straps. Try your holsters on to ensure they still fit comfortably and adjust them as necessary.
Check all your other accessories as well, including sights, scopes, grips, mounts, and flashlights to ensure they are in working order. Replace batteries in flashlights, night goggles, trail cameras, and any other electronic equipment that you intend to use.
Finally, take stock of all of your supplies and gear. Is there a particular accessory you want to add to your collection this year? If so, you might want to sell another accessory to help pay for it and make room. Get rid of unnecessary, out-of-date, or unused gear, and replace them with high-quality accessories you will enjoy using.
Dedicating time during your spring cleaning to the maintenance of your guns and accessories is important. Take this time to ensure that the gun environment is cool and humidity-free, holsters are in good shape, accessories are ready to use, and your guns are rust-free.
Set yourself up for a spring, summer, and fall season of successful hunting and concealed carry. While it might take one or two days of dedicated time, depending on your collection, it is well worth it to know that your guns, storage, and accessories are well-maintained and ready for the rest of the year.
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