Can You Clean A Gun Without Taking It Apart?

can you clean a gun without taking it apart

I love going to the shooting range to pop off a few rounds with my friends and take the time to learn from those with a lot of experience and knowledge. One thing that has always sparked a debate is cleaning your firearm after you leave the range. Some say strip it; others say no – so can you clean a gun without taking it apart?

You can clean a gun without taking it apart. Field stripping a weapon to clean it is not required every time after firing a few rounds. It would be best if you only field strip your gun when it has to be repaired, deep cleaned, or it got submerged in water, otherwise clean the barrel and wipe it. 

If you use your gun every day, you know that gunpowder residue and other dirt can quickly accumulate. When I took possession of my Glock 23 .40 S&W, I learned that a lot depends on how you should clean your firearm. In my case, Glock is known to be operational in adverse conditions, but that is never a challenge you should accept. A gun should always be well maintained, but let’s look at exactly what to do to clean your gun without having to take it apart. 

How Long Can A Gun Go Without Cleaning?

Your gun can go from a few days to several months without cleaning. You should not leave a dirty gun for too long before you clean it, especially if you use corrosive ammunition. This can create rust and will damage the barrel. 

Once you cleaned your gun and oiled it, you can leave it in a gun bag or gun safe for months without the need to constantly re-clean it. What is essential to do is to ensure there are silicone packs inside to absorb any moisture. 

A gun used daily or over weekends on the shooting range or in security situations needs to be cleaned more regularly. The ammunition you use will determine the number of times the gun needs cleaning.

What Is Corrosive Ammunition?

Corrosive ammunition uses a primer with chemicals like sodium perchlorate or potassium chlorate. When these ignite, they become sodium chloride or potassium chloride. These salts are highly corrosive to metal. 

Usually, all army surplus ammo is highly corrosive. Today most modern ammunition is non-corrosive and uses one of two primers, namely Boxer or Berden. Only some of the Berden primes are corrosive.  All Boxer primer ammunition is non-corrosive are that’s why you are likely to find only ammunition with Boxer primer in indoor shooting ranges. 

Most civilian ammunition uses primers that have a Lead Styphnate base. This primer leaves little to no residue on a weapon. If you use ammo with this primer, you would not need to clean your gun immediately after going to the range. 

Can You Clean A Gun Without Taking It Apart? 1

When Should You Field Strip Your Gun To Clean?

Field stripping your gun for cleaning should be done after a day of shooting at the range, especially if you own a semi-automatic/AR pistol. They usually have a lot of blow-back compared to revolvers and bolt-action weapons, and the residue and debris can get in everywhere. 

While it is not essential that you take the gun apart after firing, say one or two rounds, we recommend you field strip maybe once a month unless you use corrosive ammo.  What you should avoid is an excess buildup of carbon on your weapon. It is notoriously difficult to remove. 

Helpful Tip – Always follow the gun manufacturers’ guidelines on how to disassemble and reassemble the weapon. Take a class or two from your local gun shop to assist you if you are unsure. Safety is always the top priority. 

How To Clean A Gun Without Taking It Apart 

Here are a few steps on how to clean your gun without field stripping it:

Step #1 – Get your cleaning kit together 

  • A cleaning solvent like Ballistol multi-purpose
  • A gun oil like Lucas Gun Oil
  • A bore brush or bore snake 
  • Patch holder and patches
  • A cleaning rod 
  • A nylon cleaning brush
  • Microfiber cloths for polishing

Step #2 – Make Your Gun Safe 

  • Ensure your gun is unloaded
  • Open the chamber- make sure there are no rounds inside
  • Start to disassemble the gun, but no need to field strip it
  • You should see the barrel, guide rod, slide, frame, and magazine

Step #3 – Cleaning Your Gun 

  • Use the bore brush and loosen all debris inside the barrel
  • Soak a patch in cleaning solvent and wrap it around the bore brush
  • Push it through from one side to the other and pull it out
  • Run a dry patch through and check for debris
  • Lubricate the barrel 
  • Apply some solvent on the nylon brush and clean the action part of the gun
  • Wipe off all excess
  • Lubricate the action area

Step #4 – Reassemble Your Gun 

  • Put your gun back together, wiping each part down as you progress
  • Using the soft cloth, wipe down the entire weapon, ensuring you leave no fingerprints or moisture on it. 
  • Holster or store according to the gun regulations in your state
Can You Clean A Gun Without Taking It Apart? 2

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Gun Regularly?

The maintenance of a gun is as necessary as the maintenance of your vehicle. It is a machine and has working parts that need lubrication and cleaning to function. 

Proper maintenance prevents the following things:

  • Corrosion- Several factors can lead to your weapon rusting. Mainly moisture, incorrect storing, and corrosive ammo that leaves a residue on the gun are the main culprits. 
  • The buildup of residual fouling – Bullets leave behind carbon when fired, creating the fouling residue inside the barrel. Leaving it unattended can cause pitting on the inside of the barrel. 
  • Misfire – Although not solely from lack of maintenance, a failure to fire, or a misfire. Another reason for this is old or failed ammo. 
  • A failure to feed or FTF – If you use lubricant and don’t remove all the excess, it can flow into places it should not and cause the feeding mechanism to stop functioning correctly.
  • A failure to eject or FTE  – In the same manner, when a gun has improper maintenance, it can result in the shell not being expelled as the chamber moves to be reloaded.


The idea of field stripping your gun as they show in military training or some action movies is unnecessary to maintain proper gun safety. You can clean the firearm effectively to keep it well lubricated and free of the residue by following the simple steps. 

Buying and applying suitable solvents and lubricants helps to keep your gun action ready. Always maintain the required gun safety while cleaning and assembling your gun.