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Cleaning Semi-Automatic PistolsIf you conceal carry, have a gun for home defense, or shoot for fun at the range, it is likely that you use a semi-automatic pistol. This type of gun is extremely popular across the board and is used by military and police personnel as well as civilian shooters.

Cleaning a semi-automatic pistol is not hard or often needed. Modern manufacturers of semi-automatic pistols—like Glock, S&W, Sig Sauer, H&K, etc.—make their guns extremely durable. Even so, you should clean your pistol to keep it in good working order. With pistols the amount you clean will partially depend on its caliber. For example, you will likely need to clean a .22 after 300 rounds, while you can get away with 2000-3000 rounds for a 9mm.[1]

Field Stripping Your Pistol

field stripping a gunMost modern pistols are semi-automatic, which means you will remove a lot of parts when you field strip the gun. Each manufacturer has their own method for facilitating field stripping, so we recommend consulting your owner’s manual for the correct way to disassemble your particular pistol.

–        In general, most modern pistol makers will include a release lever/button that will begin the field dressing process. Some makers instead include a tool with their pistols that can be used to turn a screw and quickly open the gun.

–        Often disassembling semi-automatics will result in a few parts, so make sure that you have a tray or container nearby to hold them all. This will facilitate easy reassembly.

–        As always, ensure that you begin field dressing your pistol after removing all ammunition from the gun.

Cleaning Your Pistol

Cleaning your pistol is not hard. In fact, you only have a single short barrel to clean with the bore brush, jag, and patch, as opposed to the many cylinders of a revolver. If you want a step-by-step guide to cleaning your gun visit our longer cleaning article. Here are a few concerns unique to semi-automatic pistols.

–        As mentioned above, there are a lot of parts that can be removed from a semi-automatic pistol. This will increase the number of parts to clean. Make sure to clean and lubricate them all before reassembling the pistol.

–        Semi-automatic pistols use magazines, which should also be cleaned thoroughly.

–        If you are using a self-loading pistol—all modern pistols are self-loaders—you will need to change the recoil spring about every 3,000 rounds.[2] You can easily change the spring while cleaning the pistol.


If you are like most people in the United States, then you have probably bought a semi-automatic pistol for self or home defense. If this is the case, then you should always ensure that your pistol is clean and well-maintained. There are a lot of external variables that go into a self-defense situation. The last thing you want to worry about is your pistol misfiring because it is dirty. Keep it clean and dry and you will guarantee a well-functioning machine when you nee


[1] Bob Campbell, “How Often Should I Clean My Handgun?” Cheaper Than Dirt (May 5, 2017), http://blog.cheaperthandirt.com/clean-handgun/ (accessed 3/23/18).

[2] Bob Campbell, “How Often Should I Clean My Handgun?” Cheaper Than Dirt (May 5, 2017), http://blog.cheaperthandirt.com/clean-handgun/ (accessed 3/23/18).