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How to Clean Your Pistol with Swab-its

When it comes to maintaining firearms, Swab-its’ Bore-tips offer improved barrel cleaning and lubrication while the Gun-tips line offers four distinct sizes and lengths of swabs to ensure cleaning and lubrication of the harder to reach areas that are often neglected. Reusable and easy to clean with soap and water or mineral spirits, Swab-its products are more thorough, quicker and easier to use than traditional methods of firearms cleaning and do not leave the residue or lint left behind by patches, mops and cotton swabs. In this article, we will tackle the Semi-Automatic Pistol. To demonstrate, we will be cleaning a Sig Sauer Spartan 1911, a beautiful piece with a stainless steel slide and frame and a custom Oil Rubbed Bronze finish.

Before Cleaning Your Pistol

Remove the magazine and ensure that your firearm is unloaded by visually and physically inspecting the chamber and magazine well. No ammunition should be present while cleaning. It is advisable to have your manufacturer’s owner’s manual handy for reference for proper disassembly and maintenance procedures. If you purchased your gun used, many manuals can be downloaded by accessing the manufacturer’s website.

Once disassembled, it is helpful to group some of the smaller parts together, using various Gun-tips to apply solvent to the fowled areas.

A. Frame
B. 3” precision tip swab
C. 3” mini tip swab
D. 5” large surface swab
E. Slide Stop
F. Magazine
G. Barrel Bushing
H. Recoil spring and guide
I. Barrel
J. Slide
K. .45 caliber Bore-tips
L. Cleaning rod
M. Individual .45 caliber Bore-tip attached

Gun-tips 5” large surface swabs fit nicely along the slide and into the frame, allowing one to reach into the mag well, as well as the dust cover. It is also a good choice for the recoil spring. By placing the swab sideways between the coils, the spring can be rotated for full coverage. (The same can be done for cleaning the magazine spring.)

The slide rail, barrel lug recess, recoil spring guide, barrel bushing and barrel link are some of the smaller places where the 3” precision or 3” mini-tip is helpful.

A common mistake is not allowing the solvent to do its work. Waiting 10 to 15 minutes before using a bristle brush, such as a tooth brush to loosen the fowling, will yield the best results. Depending on the degree of buildup, it may be necessary to repeat the process until the fowling is suspended in the solvent. Once satisfied that the debris has been sufficiently loosened, use clean and dry Gun-tips to swab the slide and frame and remove the loosened solvent and fowling. Use another Gun-tip to apply the manufacturer recommended amount of lubrication as directed. Remember: less is more. Hint: when looking to see where lubrication is necessary, focus on the wear marks on the metal.

Cleaning the Barrel

Attach the appropriate caliber Bore-tip, in this case, .45 caliber, to a standard 8/32 cleaning rod. Bore-tips are caliber specific and self-centering. They are also color coded, so that all 9 sizes are easily recognizable. Due the absorbency of the foam, less solvent is required than you may generally be accustomed to using. An application of solvent should be made and, like the parts that we just applied solvent to above, the solvent should be allowed to set. Then, use a bore brush, and follow with the Bore-tip you applied the solvent with, blotting off on a rag or paper towel to remove fowling. Use a clean Bore-tip for drying and, if storing your gun, another clean swab for applying lubrication.

Remember: if you are storing your firearm and coat the barrel with light lubrication, this lubrication MUST be removed prior to shooting your gun. Swab-its products are washable and reusable. If you used a bio-based CLP, such as FrogLube, the swabs can best be cleaned by washing in a degreasing dish soap, rinsing thoroughly and allowing to dry completely before the next use. If you prefer a petroleum based solvent or CLP, cleaning the swabs can best be achieved by dipping in mineral spirits, blotting debris and air drying.

By Michele Makucevich, Firearms Products Territory Manager of Swab-its. She oversees the Rhode Island CMP and is a long-time youth coach and competitive shooter.

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