The Basics of Cleaning Your Revolver

by schaefer on August 19, 2008 · 80 comments

in Gun Skills & Safety, Manly Skills, Tactical Skills

Several years ago my dad gave me my first handgun- a Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver. It didn’t come as a surprise. I had grown up around guns and had hoped that one day my dad would pass a few on to me. Because of the value of this gift, both sentimental and monetary, I felt a real responsibility to take care of it so that it would last for many years to come. I learned how to clean it well and have done so ever since.

Any gun owner knows that properly cleaning and maintaining your equipment is not only key in increasing a weapon’s lifespan, but is necessary to ensure safe operation. Just like shining your shoes there are as many ways to clean a gun as there are stars in the sky. The following is a guide to cleaning a standard revolver.

*Quick disclaimer: I am just a gun owner, not an expert or instructor. Read your gun’s owner’s manual for specific cleaning instructions and if in doubt, consult a certified arms dealer. And ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR GUN ISN’T LOADED BEFORE CLEANING.

Cleaning a Revolver:

Step 1: Make sure your gun is not loaded.

Making Sure Gun is Unloaded

Step 2: Get your cleaning supplies together in the same place. Below is a typical universal gun cleaning kit that you can buy at most outdoor stores OR here for around $50. Besides this, you need some gun cleaning solvent and gun oil. There are many different kinds and most work for all types of guns. Here I am using Hoppe’s No. 9 Solvent and Remington Oil.

Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

Step 3
: Tie an old sock or rag around the rear cylinder opening. This will protect the revolver from damage when the bore brush gets pushed through the barrel.

Tying Sock to  Rear Cylinder Opening

Step 4
: Dip your bore brush in the cleaning solvent. There are different sizes of bore brush that correspond with the barrel size, so make sure you match the size accordingly. It should be imprinted somewhere at the base of the bore brush.

Dipping Bore Brush in Solvent

Step 5: Feed the bore brush through the barrel of the gun. The bore brush handle will naturally twist in your hand as it follows the rifling inside the barrel, don’t try to stop this. Make sure the bore brush goes all the way through the barrel, exiting at the other end. Then come back through the barrel in the opposite direction.

Bore Brush Through Barrel

Step 6: Take a cleaning patch and dip it in cleaning solvent then feed it all the way through the barrel of the gun. There are many different opinions on how many times to do this, but I have always used 1 solvent covered patch followed by 2 dry cleaning patches. If your barrel is especially dirty you may need to do this a few more times.

Gun Cloth in Barrel

Step 7: Using a brush (you can use a toothbrush if you don’t have a cleaning kit), clean around the muzzle of the gun; then, using a little cleaning solvent, clean the rear cylinder opening.

Brushing Cylinder Opening

Step 8: Using the brush again and some cleaning solvent, brush the cylinders, both outside and on the ends.

Brushing Cylinders

Step 9: Continuing on, clean the extractor rod with the brush and solvent. Clean both the front side then push it out and clean the star and the rest of the rod normally housed between the cylinders.

Cleaning Extractor Rod

Step 10: Using the bore brush and the cleaning solvent, clean each of the cylinders in the same fashion that you cleaned the barrel. Remember to go all the way through on each side.

Cleaning Cylinders

Step 11: Use the cleaning patches in the same manner as you did with the barrel, taking the first patch and dipping it in the cleaning solvent before feeding it through an individual cylinder. Clean up by using two clean patches to get any excess residue.

Cleaning Cylinders II

Step 12: Using a clean cloth, take a small amount of gun oil and begin covering the gun with the exception of the hand grips, inside of the barrel and inside of the cylinders.

Gun Oil


Step 13: Wipe off any excess oil with a different rag then polish up the gun with a silicone gun cloth. If it looks like your gun is greasy or oily then you need to wipe it off some more; it shouldn’t look like a fat guy covered in baby oil.

Silicone Gun Cloth

Finally, remember this is simply a standard cleaning that should be performed after every time at the range or in the field. If your gun is used heavily, a more thorough dis-assembly and cleaning should be performed. If you aren’t sure how to do this, contact a qualified gunsmith or expert to help you out. And of course, always make sure to drink a Hansen’s Natural Soda while cleaning your gun; it will keep you sharp.

{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Writer Dad August 19, 2008 at 7:17 pm

I don’t even own a gun and this is by far my favorite thing I’ve seen all day.

2 Vickie August 19, 2008 at 7:59 pm

I wonder how many people actually own a revolver. Interesting article, nonetheless.

3 Zach August 19, 2008 at 8:09 pm

First appearance of Hansen’s Natural Soda at “The Art of Manliness”.

4 Kevan August 19, 2008 at 10:38 pm

Nice guide, this is how I take care of my revolver, too. :)

5 David Barnes August 20, 2008 at 3:46 am

Revolvers? Is this the Art of Boyliness now?

Bemused in the UK

6 Jesse August 20, 2008 at 3:54 am

Right on target. Great instructions; exactly how I clean my pistol.

My revolver is a S&W .38 special, from my father as well. He refused to give it to me though. He sold it to me for $100, in the hopes that I would take it more seriously if I paid for it.

He was right. Way to go, Dad!

7 Mark August 20, 2008 at 3:54 am

Nice article. I don’t own a revolver yet, but I do own a few semi-autos. I will keep this in mind when I pick up my S&W 442. Thanks…

8 Rich Landers August 20, 2008 at 5:01 am

Excellent review of a manly task!

I like the idea of the rag tied through the frame to protect against dings by the rod accoutrements. Even though I’m an instructor I hadn’t heard that one before.

One thing you might add for future reference is a brass cone that slides over the rod to center it in the muzzle and thereby protect the crown (where rifling meets the end of the barrel) from undue wear while working the rod. This is especially important with revolvers since you can only clean them from the muzzle-end. In my opinion it is an essential accessory to help keep your revolver accurate over time if you clean it faithfully.

Remember, speak softly and carry a big stick (or caliber)…

9 Will August 20, 2008 at 5:27 am

I urge everyone who has a gun to adopt these principles as well:

[b]There is no such thing as an unloaded gun.[/b]

If it’s taken apart and you can see the pieces, OK. Otherwise, treat it as a loaded gun [i]even after you just unloaded it[/i]. Mistakes happen.

[b]Never point a gun at anything you don’t want dead.[/b]

A high-school friend of mine lost her husband that way. No, we have no reason to think it was suicide. He killed himself cleaning his rifle. Please, [i]always[/i] point it at something you can afford to blow a hole in. Like the ground.

10 Hayden Tompkins August 20, 2008 at 5:29 am

For all the people who wanted ‘manliness’ articles without ‘marriage’ can I just tell you how glad I am that you did in fact write this gun article without reference to marriage? Just saying…

11 B.W. August 20, 2008 at 6:46 am

Nice guide. However, you may want to check into flexible brush rods (they bend like pipe cleaners) which allow you to push the bore brush through from the cylinder side. They prevent the possibility of damaging accuracy by brushing from the muzzle end.

12 MF August 20, 2008 at 7:20 am

Semi-autos are great, I love my 1911, but there is no greater deterrent and protector than a snub-nosed S&W .38 that is easy to use and conceal as well. Hit your target with that and you do not have to worry about having more than six rounds in your gun.

13 RM August 20, 2008 at 7:24 am

Note: Cleaning your revolver regularly has another, perhaps unforseen, benefit. If you happen to commit a crime and want to scrub your gun to throw the coppers off the chase, doing so won’t arouse suspicion.

And cleanliness is next to godliness, as they say.

14 RM August 20, 2008 at 7:27 am

Regularly cleaning your revolver has another, perhaps unforeseen, benefit. If you end up committing a crime and want to scrub your gun to throw the coppers off your trail, doing so won’t arouse undue suspicion.

And cleanliness is next to godliness, too.

15 James Lee Vann August 20, 2008 at 8:29 am

I normally think your guides are excellent, but this one is seriously lacking. Granted, you state that there are many different ways to clean a gun, your article illustrates the wrong way to do it.

You should always pull your cleaning rod through in the direction of natural travel of the bullet.

There is an excellent guide to cleaning guns, with instructions for different types, and videos, here- This site explains why you should always follow the natural direction of the bullet.

Please do more research and rewrite this post, we don’t want anyone damaging their gun or getting hurt!

16 Ben Hernandez August 20, 2008 at 10:30 am

@ David Barnes
At lest your soccer hooligans don’t have to clean there blood stained sticks.

Although I may never have need of a firearm, knowing how to clean one is still a good skill, especially if you ever have to enter Nazi infested Idaho or into back country.

17 guerriere | warrior woman August 20, 2008 at 12:14 pm

Excellent post. I love how you make it feel like such a calm ritual. It really is, for me anyway. I suppose it appeals to those of us who are meticulous ;-) But, imho, the handling/cleaning/shooting of a weapon is something every man should at least be familiar with.

Ironically, my father and I (the daughter) shoot guns together because my brother has no interest. One of my favorite things to do it sit around cleaning guns and chatting with him :-)

18 Keith August 20, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Nazi infested Idaho…interesting notion. I live just across the Eastern border in Liberal infested WA and would love to move to Idaho….

Anyway, ALL men should know how to handle a weapon (not a gun) and a basic part of that is to know how to clean said weapon. I have to second the posts that state you should always runt he bore brush in the direction the bullet takes. Prevents many many nasty things from creeping up on weapon accuracy.

Another lubricant to consider is Break Free. This is what the Army taught me to use and I use to this day. You can use it as both solvent and lubrication and the heck the smell brings back some fond memories.

Thanks for the great article!

19 Mike M. August 20, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Do not dip either the bore brush (if used, it’s not necessary) or patches in cleaning solution. This can taint the cleaner. Pour or spray cleaner on the patch. Hoppes is OK, but Ballistol seems to work better.

20 cj August 20, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Just love your site! Men have been wandering in the wilderness for several decades now not feeling comfortable as to what is kosher and what is not. I teach film students and have run into time after time that i need to set up a program for many of them to pass through rights of passage toward manhood. It has become a lost art.

So glad you are here!

Time to go clean my SIG 9mm!

21 Logan August 20, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Guns have a bad rap in the media, nice to see a neutral article!

Guys against guns beware, when an armed man/men burst through the door of your house to rob you/haul you away, you’ll wish you had paid better attention to disappearing gun rights. Not that I advocate killing people, but in the VAST majority of cases, the homeowner’s presenting a firearm causes the intruder to leave immediately, to go find easier prey. Do the wolves attack the strongest caribou? Nay, they go for the hornless weak! Buy yourself some damn horns, and learn how to SAFELY use them!

*steps off soapbox, cleans one of 7 guns*
SpiffyTexan (Who is young, but loves Texas!)

22 Rod Homor August 20, 2008 at 7:26 pm

Am I the only one who doesn’t get this article? I really think relating guns with manliness is problematic. I think rather than a HOW TO clean the friggin gun, there ought to be discussion about the serious problems handguns can cause if not handled properly. How to safely protect your family and loved ones is manly, but with a weapon comes a HUGE amount of responsibility. I have very mixed feelings about seeing this article here. Sorry… (go ahead and *blast* me for saying it…)

23 Steve August 20, 2008 at 7:57 pm

A few considerations: one do not use steel cleaning rods: only aluminum or brass as you do not want anything harder than the weapon’s barrel to cause damage; and two, you can dump the cleaning rods if you use a BoreSnake device which works especially well in dirty environments.

As for the solvent of choice: there is nothing like Hoppe’s No. 9 to restore fond memories while you clean your weapons.

24 Caleb August 20, 2008 at 9:20 pm

All in all, a very nice article, however one thing I should mention, quite surprised that nobody has pointed this out.

In the Army (5 years Infantry), we were taught NEVER to oil the bore of any weapon, and once again in gunsmithing school, which I now operate my own shop, I discovered the reason. There is a nasty little thing called a “barrel bulge” usually due to cheap or incorrect ammunition, or otherwise to liquid (oil) in the bore. The bullet comes out of the chamber at “mach chicken”, which fills the lands and grooves in the rifling, and leaves no room for that thin coat of oil to go anywhere, and as the steel in the barrel is relatively soft, the bullet will push that coat of oil in front of it and eventually build up and bulge the steel of the barrel in a nice even ring. This results in a new barrel, not a cheap procedure. Hence, unless you are storing your firearm for a long time (in which case you should clean it before firing it), leave the bore CLEAN AND DRY.

25 Cameron Schaefer August 20, 2008 at 9:26 pm

@ Caleb,

Unless I missed it somewhere, I only said to use cleaning solvent in the barrel, not gun oil. It’s possible that I didn’t make this clear and if so, I apologize. You are right though, a clean and dry bore is what you want.

@ Mike M.,

Good catch on dipping the bore brush, you are right that it can contaminate the solvent, bad form on my part and thanks for the correction. Still learning new things myself!

26 Jay August 20, 2008 at 10:50 pm

Nice post. This is why I come to AoM. Thanks!

27 Richard August 21, 2008 at 1:44 am

Caleb Lee?

28 Pieter August 21, 2008 at 4:44 am

Being from the Netherlands, guns and owning guns is one of the weirdest things ever. Here, guns are used for hunting only. You need a hunting-licence and only a small array of models are accepted as “huntingrifles” even if you meet all those demands, a gun needs to be kept disassembled in a vault with the bullets kept in a different vault. I don’t know anyone who owns a gun and I can’t see why you need a gun in the house for any other reason then hunting, but hey…

I like reading the articles on this site, but I don’t think many european men would consider “proper gun cleaning skills” to be “manly”. :P

29 Charlie August 21, 2008 at 5:53 am

Great write up! You know, a lot of my gun buddies really prefer automatics but I prefer the simplicity and functionality of a revolver.

30 Mike August 21, 2008 at 9:29 am

Good basic overview, but a few additions/suggestions…

A BoreSnake is good for a quick clean every hundred rounds at the range but is really no substitute for a proper cleaning. I have one for my M1 Carbine and recommend them for that purpose, but don’t fall back on them as a crutch.

If you’re going to be doing any sort of extensive shooting or you are shooting a historical firearm, I can’t recommend enough getting a muzzle protector like Rich Landers suggested, especially if that firearm is a revolver or a semi-automatic rifle, both of which can only be cleaned from the muzzle end. Nothing destroys the crown of a barrel (and subsequently, accuracy) faster than improper cleaning technique. Going along with that, if you are going to be doing extensive shooting (and therefore extensive cleaning) I recommend getting some sort of coated one piece cleaning rod. Much less likely to damage the bore than a segmented three piece standard aluminum or brass rod set that comes with most cleaning kits.

Finally, if you are interested in the holy grail of gun cleaning products, check these guys out. Sentry Solutions makes pretty much God’s gift to the firearms community in that their products enable you to apply it and forget about it. All you need to do to clean a firearm that has their stuff on it is run a brush through a barrel to loosen the debris that will be sitting on the surface and then run a patch or through two to clean it out. Voila, clean bore. Other than occasional reapplication, that’s literally all you need to do to have and keep a clean bore. As for the rest of the gun, they make an awesome anti-corrosion product called the Tuf-Cloth. All you do is wipe down the metal parts and they’re protected from rust.

I know it sounds too good to be true, but it really isn’t. It was designed for the military; in fact their stuff are the only lubricant and anti-corrosion products sold in PXs in combat zones. I’ve used it for over a year and have noticed results compared to my previous cleaning products.

Even if you don’t buy their whole line, at least get a Tuf-Cloth. It’s useful for all sorts of anti-corrosion activities, especially with knives. If you do that, I highly recommend using Break-Free as your CLP. That’s the only other CLP product that I own.

31 Matt August 22, 2008 at 4:08 am

Cleaning my guns is akin to meditation for me.

32 Alex August 22, 2008 at 7:09 am

A revolver is the first firearm a person should own if they are interested in getting involved with shooting. My first gun was a S&W .357 Magnum. They are easy to operate, easy to clean, easy to fire, etc. Their simplicity is almost mandatory when first becoming acquainted with a deadly weapon.

When i was looking into firearms I really wanted a 1911. My co-worker, who grew up with guns, suggested I start with a revolver. I’m glad i listened to him. As he put it “you’ll blow a hole in yourself if you don’t know what you are doing. Your first car wasn’t a Porsche.”

As for home safety, nothing compares to a pump-action shotgun. My house was broken into once. I was in bed, grabbed my shotgun from the closet and stood at the top of the steps, barren pointed down the steps. I never needed to fire a round, they ran away on their own. No one mistakes the sound of a shotgun being pumped :)

33 John August 25, 2008 at 2:41 pm

For David Barnes and Pieter (in the Netherlands),

Guns are manly, as is anything that deals with protecting and providing, the two most important manly tasks. Unfortunately for you, as many Europeans, your governments have taken on your duties, effectively emasculating you. If you are good with this, that’s your right, however, in my opinion, you are Nancies with a sore need for testosterone. To quote Mr. T: “Get your nuts on!”

34 Stephan August 28, 2008 at 11:32 am

Well written HowTo. However: All of the above should come naturally to someone who has the least bit of “mechanical sympathy”. “I have a machine in front of me, it has parts that have dirt on them but will also start corrosion if I wipe all the oil off, it has surfaces that are designed for very specific types of extreme forces and will wear out if scratched etc. etc.” If one thinks about this for a few seconds, everyone should be able to clean and service a gun and keep it in perfect condition.

Seriously, I don’t want to see the the car of a person that needs a howto on cleaning and caring for a machine with a relatively simple functionality like, well, a revolver. Or any machine, be it lathe or mill or whatever in their workshop, provided they have one. Which, imho, a man should :) Because, well, imho you can’t really care for a mechanical device unless you have at some point in your life created delicate device from a 10kg block of cheap rusty steel :)

35 Patrick Bowers September 14, 2008 at 6:28 am

James Lee Vann your statements can not be further from the truth. People have been cleaning their revolvers like this for years, including me, without any problems. Quit selling the Otis system. Their system is very expensive and works no better then any other system. There is nothing wrong with using aluminum rods, copper brushes, Hoppe’s #9 and Remington Oil. People have been using these for years and never had a problem. Just be careful and you will be fine. Some men have a tendency to over complicate things. Gun cleaning does not have to be one of them.

36 mattresses September 30, 2008 at 8:40 am

this was really helpful, thanks for posting

37 Straight Up G October 8, 2008 at 9:46 am

“I like reading the articles on this site, but I don’t think many european men would consider “proper gun cleaning skills” to be “manly”. ”

That’s because most European men are gay.

38 Sniper December 9, 2008 at 3:06 am

I don’t even own a gun but I found this article very interesting .. love the pictures of the revolver … you can see all the parts and springs that you wouldn’t normally see. The cleaning kit looks pretty cool too !

I live in Europe so I can’t legally own a gun unless I work for the police or army (or bribe someone and get a special permit :P) .
PS: Straight Up G – not all European men are gay but we have a strict gun policy that keeps lethal weapons away from people who don’t understand the responsibility that comes with owning a gun.

39 Chuck December 18, 2008 at 10:27 am

In reading this, am I hearing ( Solvent on the in side, Oil on the outside ) ?

40 Chuck December 28, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Thanks. Wife and I each got our first handguns, 357 revolvers from Santa. This really helped. Love the pictures!!!

41 Clarissa February 21, 2009 at 8:39 pm

This isn’t just a manly task, a woman can do this as well…I know, I have to do mine. If I am woman enough to use the gun, then I am woman enough to clean it. I have a S&W 38 btw. But it was a great instructional.

42 andy March 3, 2009 at 5:30 am

More firearms have been ruined by overeager cleaning than by any other reason, a wiseman once told me.
For mine, and i have some oldies, garands, M1 Carbine, 1911A1, 1903, etc… no brass brushes, only solvent, and i prefer mops to patches. but ALWAYS, as has been said. with a protector on the crown, and spend the money on a good rod, poly coated, lots of bearings in the grip so it spins freely. Pull the patch or mop from breech to bore. treat your rifle the opposite of your lady, ONLY go back-to front. ;)

43 steve March 5, 2009 at 4:54 am

damned good idea ,using an old sock,thanks

44 Cybic March 8, 2009 at 2:32 am

Good Article. Love the old sock idea. I didn’t realize the problem until I starting cleaning and kept hitting that area. I was using a cleaning cloth wrapped around the frame to stop the brush hitting those sensitive parts. I’m amazed no one actually warned me about it. I live in Australia where it is very rare to own any type of firearm. I have a S&W 686 “6 and love cleaning it. There’s nothing like coming back from the range (after firing .357 Mags) and sitting down to clean your gun. I do find it relaxing.

45 CaptStevenM March 31, 2009 at 11:41 am

Another tip, get a plastic coated cleaning rod. That way, if you accidentally hit the side of the barrel when cleaning, you won’t scratch it or hurt the rifling.

46 Jim Beam April 14, 2009 at 5:38 am

Actually, you do not want to dip your brass brush into the solvent. Solvent breaks down copper that will end up on your brush and in doing this loses it’s potency. Dipping the brush in the solvent will deposit copper into the solvent and lower the effectiveness of the solvent. It is much better to keep your solvent in a bottle that has a nozzle and drip the solvent onto the brush.

47 Zundfolge April 17, 2009 at 9:01 am

A little side note about Nickel finished guns:

Do NOT use Hoppe’s (or any other “copper solvent” type cleaner).

Nickel is bonded to the steel by a thin layer of copper and if you have a nick or deep enough scratch anywhere on the gun, the Hoppe’s will get under there and start to damage the Nickel finish.

My Nickel finished S&W Model 29-2 (last of the P&R Smiths) is cleaned with Shooter’s Choice FP-10.

That said, is there any manlier a scent than good old Hoppe’s No. 9? I think not.

48 AcmeNews May 7, 2009 at 5:02 am

This is a nice article. but the intro photo is horrible.

This two-bit cowboy has his finger inside the trigger guard (on the trigger as far as I’m concerned), his thumb is cocking the hammer and the muzzle is pointing at his hand.

It looks to me like this “gunslinger” is about to have one less hand with which to sling guns.

Revolvers are great. I’ve ditched all semi-autos in favor of revolvers because they always work and feel good in the hand.

49 Wayne Shelledy June 12, 2009 at 12:40 pm

son-in law had Hep c and killed himself; how can the weapon be cleaned safely without getting infective?

50 Philbert June 19, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Drink a soda while cleaning? This is very irresponsible advice. Cleaning a firearm will expose you to toxic chemicals in the solvents as well as the lead on the gun. Never eat or drink while handling firearms or ammunition. Also, wear disposable gloves to keep the solvents and lead off your hands, and goggles to keep chemical splashes away from your eyes.

51 Aglifter June 28, 2009 at 6:49 am

Don’t forget to rinse out your brushes, etc w. water after cleaning. Personally, I use the Otis system for my revolvers, but that’s just me.

You might want to really emphasize cleaning under the star — even a small speck of dirt/carbon underneath it can cause problems on a revolver w. a tight cylinder gap.

(Ya’ll are making me miss my toys, I just travel w. the horrible tupperware crap from Austria that I carry in inclement weather…)

In my experience, Hoppe’s #9 should be sufficient protection for the outside of a stainless steel gun. I usually put eezox on the outside of mine, or I have them coated/hard chromed.

52 T.R. Melcher November 12, 2009 at 2:54 pm

When cleaning any firearm, do not dip your bore brush directly into the solvent container. It contaminates the solvent. I use little plastic bowls I make from cuting the bottoms off plastic water or soda bottles. Put some patches in the bowl then apply solvent using a eye dropper or syringe. I apply solvent to the brushes the same way.
When you scrub your bore and chambers the brush becomes laden with carbon, powder residue and metal fouling. When you dip the brush into the solvent container all of this crap comes off in the remainder of your solvent which soon becomes so contaminated it’s of no use.

53 me November 29, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Some good additions here. I would also say:

Ammonia-based copper solvents, such as certain of the ingredients in Hoppe’s #9, and many other brands also, can attack and dissolve nickel directly; nickel and copper are very chemically similar and it is actually a bit difficult to separate them when ore is found that contains both metals.

Also, I have found that for stubborn fouling, I can moisten patches with Hoppe’s #9 and put one in each end of the barrel, and one in each chamber, and let it stand a few days safely.

Also, note that the chambers, except at the very forward end, which is called the “chamber throat,” a bit larger than the diameter of the bore. You may wish to use one size larger brush to clean the revolver’s chambers, i.e., if it is a .38/.357 revolver, use a .40/10mm brush to scrub the chambers.

Lastly, for very stubborn, very hard carbon deposits of the type that can build up in rings around the chambers on the front of the cylinder, you may wish to scrape at those gently with a brass tool of some kind, perhaps a length of 1/8″ brass rod filed to a point and affixed to a sturdy handle for good leverage. You don’t want to damage the surface or change the extremely tight tolerances, but no good can come of leaving the crud in place. Carbon fouling can absorb moisture from the air and promote corrosion, especially if the ammunition was loaded with certain types of primers using an older chemical priming mixture, and worse.

54 Justin December 17, 2009 at 1:48 am

Thank you to all of you for your advice, I am a new gun owner and this was very helpful. My father is in Iraq for the next 7 months so I really have no mentor on cleaning my .38.

55 John December 25, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Thank you, I receintly bought my first gun and a gun cleaning kit (kit had no directions). After an afternoon of target practice with a few friends, I brought it home for a good cleaning. Not knowing how, I typed in a search and was very fortunate to find your website with great instructions on how to clean my S&W .44 magnum. I’m sure if I was to use my revolver on a regular basis, I would be more interested on which way to stroke the barrel. But the sock tip and procedure was perfect. This will be the way I teach my children.

Thanks again.

56 yvonne February 21, 2010 at 1:12 am

This website was great. I just bought myself a 38 special model 10 and went to range once bought a cleaning kit and then here i go on the computer to fiqure out the cleaning. good site and everyones comments are helping me alot i definitely do not want my gun to be ruined any pointers guys on storeing it pretty concerned about rust and all.

57 guest April 10, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Intro picture DEFINITELY needs changed. You got a guy disobeying just about every rule in the book as your lead image in an article about firearms. FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOU ARE FIRING! ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED! ALWAYS KEEP A GUN POINTED AT SOMETHING YOU’RE WILLING TO DESTROY! Change the pic!

58 will May 5, 2010 at 1:28 am

@ guest (#57): stfu. The first pic is fine. It’s of a cowboy. The revolver is likely single action, thusly the cowboy may be in the act of de-cocking his revolver to return to holster. It’s a good picture, stop whining.

As for the article, I found it good. It was informative enough for what I needed to know etc. Good job.

59 Sean May 21, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Also @ guest:
I believe the man in the first pic is a speed shooter, it looks like he is drawing his revolver while cocking it. His left hand is moving over to the revolver so it can cock the hammer instantly after his first shot.

Here is a video of Bob Munden who is considered to be the fastest gun alive using this technique. I could be totally wrong, but that’s what it looks like is going on.

60 Jason June 28, 2010 at 2:49 am

Great article! It seems to me that AoM might take a moment to draft an article on overall gun safety/protocol. I know the anti-gun crowd who trolls these articles (particularly on the article about choosing the proper firearm for home defense) will be offended at such a notion, but a real man knows how and when to use a gun properly, and knows that it isn’t a toy to be flung about and pointed recklessly. Perhaps a short article recalling the simple rules of gun safety would be in order? Just food for thought. Keep up the good work!

61 Bryce Jackson August 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm

This is a great article. It is very important to know how to clean your gun the right way. Also, after a long day at the range or hunting, cleaning your gun can be quit relaxing!

62 John August 19, 2010 at 9:56 am

Thanks for the article. I’ve been cleaning revolvers for 20+ years and had not heard the tip about the sock/rag around the frame. I’m going to try that out.

63 kilogulf59 August 19, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Nice piece, I assume there is one on hot to lubricate your revolver in the works.

Oh, by the way you really should change the title photo…the man has just drawn his revolver from a cross draw holster and has cocked it while it is covering his off hand. As well, he has his finger inside the trigger guard…BIG NO-NO.

Please do not think me precise nonetheless, that type of gun handling should not be encouraged, as it is grossly unsafe.

Take Care and Stay Safe,
Ken aka kilogulf59

“REMEMBER – What works for you may not, necessarily, work for me. Keep an open mind!”

Integrated Close Combat Forum –

64 Jeremy August 19, 2010 at 7:51 pm

I own a revolver, and this is almost exactly the process I was taught and use after every range visit.

65 Barry October 24, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Very nicely done. Covered the subject in a understandible way for me. Thanks!

66 KRJ November 1, 2012 at 11:14 am

Thank you for an excellent article. My husband and I just purchased my first handgun [he has several and I have shot both them and our rifles] but I have never seen him do a good cleaning of any of his weapons, and I wanted a “heads up” on how to do so properly with my own .22 Taurus. I’ll be referring to this site in the future.

67 CBO November 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Someone commented above “Why would anyone own a revolver?”
Last night an armed burglary consisting of 3 guys armed with pistols and an assault rifle. The homeowner got his revolver which is very quiet AND easy to use in such situations was able to repel the intruders b/c he got off the fist few shots. I love my .357.

68 Ron December 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm

When you talk about the cleaning of the bore, something to suggest is running the brush down the bore dry without cleaner first. Hoppe’s tends to lubricate the bore keeping you from being able to remove the more stubborn deposits. Something else to suggest if you have a STAINLESS STEEL pistol you can do this use a mix of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar in equal parts let any component you want clean, to soak for several hours. It’s an old trick for cowboy action shooters especially if you’re shooting unplated bullets it helps dissolve the lead but beware the left over liquid is toxic. So dispose of that the right way. If you’re really having issues cleaning lead out of the forcing cone, that’s where the cylinder meets the barrel. Take your appropriately sized brush wrap some copper chore boy sponge strands around it. Kinda like a revolver enema. Personally I clean my revolver every four months consisting of a complete tear down. But that is required for me considering things wear out for the number of rounds I shoot. After hitting a 10K round count. As long as you take care of your equipment it will take care of you. A revolver has a touch of class and well it is pretty bad ass. So embrace it. Hope this helps someone

69 Jim March 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I didn’t read the article because of the photo of the gun being drawn at the top of the article. The shooter actually has the muzzle pointed at his left hand while cocking the trigger. VERY UNSAFE! Therefore, why should I read your article if you show me a picture that you clearly don’t know what you are doing?

70 Jeremy Eliot March 16, 2013 at 2:14 pm

N-e-v-e-r us a metal brush to cean your gun !! Never!!

71 Christal April 30, 2013 at 12:19 pm

My husband just gave me a little 5 shooter pistol, my Sally Sweetness, and I was looking for a website that laid out all the steps to cleaning it. Thank you for posting this!

72 Curtis May 8, 2013 at 8:36 am

Jeremy, bore brushes are made of bronze at most, and will not damage the steel of a firearm.

73 David June 1, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Jeremy, I agree with Curtis. If it was harmful to weapons we wouldn’t use them, hence we wouldn’t buy them, and gun manufacturers would void any warranty (if there is one) if they thought it was harmful to their products.

74 Susan June 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Vickie, why lots of people own and use revolvers. I think a lot of folks see the semi-autos in movies and so they think they have to have them, when really a revolver would work just as well if not better for their purposes (except the purpose of looking what they think is “cool.”) Love my snubbie. Not my favorite gun, but my best ccw.

75 Dar June 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm

I loved your website. I own a S & W 38 Special and just love it. I especially enjoyed your article on how to clean my revolver. This was the first time that I had to clean it by myself and I appreciated all of your information.

76 Catherine August 6, 2013 at 10:28 am

I live in Two Rivers, Alaska, alone on 40 acres. Thank you for helping me develop my manliness. My Ruger .357 was dirty.

77 Rose Hunter September 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Good article. There are about as many different recommendations out there for how to best clean guns as there are people who actually clean guns.
Great Choice of gun cleaning solvent. Hoppe’s #9 works well for me too.

78 tough little broad March 30, 2014 at 7:28 pm

thanks for the info…FYI I am a tiny lady newly learning how to defend myself !

79 Gary C April 6, 2014 at 1:01 pm

I’ve been cleaning revolvers since my service in Nam. Just bought a Smith & Wesson 686 with 6″ barrel that holds 7 357 rounds for target practice. Never hurts to discover new and better ways to take care of your guns!

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