​How Often Should You Clean Your Gun (Beginners Guide)

by Kevin Cadet, Founder & Editor of TheGunPlanet.com.

As a new gun owner, you might take firearm cleaning lightly. What harm can some dust do? This is how you can justify all the times that you kept postponing your gun cleaning sessions. To respond to this rhetorical question: it can actually do A LOT!

In order to maintain your firearm's reliability and accuracy, you need to attend to it from time to time and ensure it's clean and functional. Also, by neglecting your gun, you're speeding up its wear and tear.

Naturally, the next question that pops to mind is how often should it be cleaned then? This time around, the answer isn't as straightforward. Your firearm's type, purpose, and ammunition all share in determining the best cleaning practices. Let's explore these differences and help you settle on the most appropriate gun cleaning routine.

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Why Clean Your Guns

We already touched on how accuracy and reliability might be impacted if you don't clean your guns regularly, but why is this the case? With every shot fired, the propellant combustion leaves behind some carbon particles that build up in the shooting chambers over time.

That's not all; as the bullet travels through the barrel, microscopic metal fragments are chipped off, adding more residues with each shot and bringing you closer to the point where you'll notice a downgrade of your gun's performance.

Furthermore, rust is another big concern as your firearms come with many metal pieces. If moisture finds its way to your gun compartment, you might come across serious rust-related issues that are expensive to fix.

So, why add pricey maintenance expenses to your monthly bills when all you need to do is merely clean your firearms from time to time?

Stored Guns

Even if you don't use your guns that often, and they spend most of their time in their storage cases, they need proper maintenance. Sure, you won't have to clean them as often as the firearms you actually use, but you still need to keep an eye on them.

You can lift the curtains off your gun storage compartment twice a year and go on a cleaning spree. This should be enough to ensure your guns remain as good as new and never present with any hiccups once you start using them once more.

Even with proper storage, moisture and dust can find their way to your firearms and lead to rust formation. Furthermore, any residues or particles left behind from your last session on the range will start posing a threat over time. Such corrosive chemicals might begin eating their way through the metal parts and consequently damage your guns.

For all these reasons, it becomes a necessity to clean your stored guns to ensure your investment retains its value for years to come. Otis offers a solution to ensure all your bases are covered - the Rust Stopper™ Long Term Storage Kit .

Otis Long Term Gun Storage Kit

No Time to Waste

In some situations, it'll be a good idea to start cleaning your gun immediately as it has been exposed to some serious conditions that can silently work in the background and cause real-time damage.

For instance, shooting corrosive ammunition is one of those situations. Such ammo uses a corrosive primer that goes all over the firing chamber once a round is discharged. Since these cartridges are very affordable, you might find yourself opting to use them on your practice sessions, but beware of their drawbacks.

Furthermore, if your firearm is directly exposed to damaging elements like salt, dirt, or water, you need to clean it right away. You don't want these particles to overstay their welcome and lead to wear, corrosion, or rust.

Rust shouldn't be a significant issue for firearms made of stainless steel. Still, the material choice makes them less durable and more likely to be damaged by dust or dirt particles. Instead of guessing whether your specific gun material will fare well against different conditions, it's easier to just clean it. Otis offers some options – quickly and easily protect your firearm exposed to the elements with OtisO85® wipes or hit it with some Dry Lube. . If you’re running corrosive ammo, try an Otis Ripcord® for a quick clean after shooting.

Otis Dry Lube for firearms

Different Purposes, Different Cleaning Routines

Not all guns require the same cleaning routine. Your usage and shooting frequency are key in determining how often you need to clean them. Here are some of the most common purposes for which you get a firearm.


When in the wild chasing game, strategy is critical. You won't be frequently firing your hunting rifle, as all that you need is one good shot to get the job done. However, dirt can easily pile up inside your rifle as you're hiding in the bushes, waiting to make the right move.

Furthermore, early dusk is a perfect time to go after some animals but beware of the morning moisture that can damage your rifle. Also, some weather conditions like rain and snow are unforgiving, so you need to clean your firearms immediately once water finds its way to it. Otis offers many compact cleaning kits in a variety of calibers. Hunters can toss one of these small and lightweight kits in their hunting pack to be sure they have what they need while in the field.

So, even though you won't be firing as many shots on your hunting trips, other factors necessitate taking a moment to attend to your gun and ensure the harsh environmental conditions won't be its detriment.

Target Practice

The shooting range is a whole different story. Here, you won't be facing as many damaging particles like dust and moisture, but you'll, of course, be shooting way more. Rounds quickly fly on the range, and you might find yourself shooting as many rounds as ten hunting trips in a matter of minutes on the range.

Generally speaking, a quick cleaning process after 250-300 rounds can prevent carbon particles from building up along the barrel and help you keep your firearm in good shape.

On the other hand, when hitting the 3000 rounds mark, you need to consider a more in-depth cleaning. This is when you have to take your firearm apart and clean every component separately. The Otis Elite Kit, or Elite Range Box universal gun cleaning kits provide proper Breech-to-Muzzle® cleaning for all rifles, pistols, shotguns and inline muzzleloaders and includes everything needed to care for you guns. You can also add lubricating oils and rust protectors to form extra protective layers on your firearm. Need specific AR tools to clean the BCG, star chamber and more? Otis has plenty of tools geared for the AR platform.


When it comes to shooting competitions, you want to control as many variables as possible and focus all your attention on landing the perfect shot. Soot and combustion particles left behind in your gun's shooting chambers can impact your accuracy. That's why it's best to clean your gun after each match to get a fresh start on the next.

It would help if you develop your own firearm cleaning routine, so the process becomes a no-brainer. Having your Otis 3 Gun Competition Cleaning Kit ready on a bench is another way to speed up the process, allowing you to get back in the game in no time. Better yet, toss a cleaning kit in your range bag in case you have malfunctions or maintenance issues during the match that require your attention.

If you clean your guns regularly, your seasonal, comprehensive cleaning session will be a walk in the park. You won't have as many tightly adherent particles that need much scrubbing to fall off. Also, by following frequent cleaning cycles, you're preventing any premature wear and tear to your trusty competition firearm.

Carry Firearms

Just like practice guns, carry guns won't be as susceptible to rust and corrosion as they aren't usually exposed to harsh conditions. Also, if you're lucky enough, you won't need to draw your concealed firearm from its holster that often, and it'll remain there, ready to defend you if anything goes south.

Due to the fact that concealed firearms can literally mean the difference between life and death in certain situations, you don't want to take any chances. Your gun should always be clean to give you confidence in its reliability.

We recommend you clean your carry gun at a 2-week interval and ensure that whenever you hit the shooting range with it, you would have cleaned it by the time you slip it back in its holster and carry it around.

You also need to meticulously inspect your gun once a month, so prepare your disassembly tools. As you take your firearm apart, you must carefully examine every part and ensure there are no cracks, breaks, rust, or corrosion. Otis recently introduced a Professional Pistol Cleaning Kit for Glocks that is packed full of cleaning and maintenance gear including Ripcord®, 8-in-1 Pistol T-Tool, magazine plate disassembly tool and even a back plate for customizing your Glock.

Professional Pistol Cleaning Kit for Glocks

In Conclusion

By now, you should have a solid idea about the factors that speed up your firearm's wear and tear. Once you keep such factors in mind, you'll have a better judgment of when it's time to give your gun a make-over to prevent corrosive particles from building up.

Author bio:

Kevin Cadet is the founder & editor of Thegunplanet.com. He has been working as a content creator for 6 years. He is passionate about researching gun products to inform and empower consumers to make better decisions. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys hunting, reloading, and keeping up to date with current events.