Time to face your fear of disassembling your gun with this two-minute gun clean process for striker-fired pistols.
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The Two-Minute Gun Clean Job for Striker-Fired Pistols
Modern Pistols Are Easy to Take Down
Most of today’s striker-fired pistol models, made by brands like Glock, Smith & Wesson, Springfield, H&K, Canik, Ruger, and others, are made to be easy to “take down” or disassemble for cleaning. Despite that, I often encounter new owners who don't know how to clean a gun for fear of doing something wrong.
Although a video is an ideal format for this, there are surely plenty of those online to see how to take down and reassemble your pistol into what’s usually four easy parts: slide, barrel, guide a rod/recoil spring unit, and frame. So here, I’ll show the key points you don’t want to miss on the cleaning routine that takes me about two minutes, start to finish.
Purists will decry this routine as not being thorough or possibly sanitary enough. This is simply a quick method I like to do after a long day on the range. I have to be awake and shooting again early in the morning after my gun’s been in damp or wet weather or for a student who brings a dirty or brand new gun to class and is having problems. It’s not my aim to neglect what an owner’s manual says, but there are times when the situation prevents looking at it.
If you’re pregnant, nursing, or have open cuts on your hands, don the rubber gloves. Otherwise, I trust my handwashing routine at the end to take care of toxins … it’s up to you.
My range bag has one compartment for my gun cleaning kit. There, I keep a section of an old t-shirt in a Ziploc bag, and in my range bag’s pocket for my maintenance tools. Also in there is a small bottle of what I use as the do-all elixir for all my guns—Frog Lube. More on this excellent product later.
One thing you should NOT have is ammunition. Start with a gun that’s completely unloaded — magazine out, chamber clear. Ammunition should not be within arm’s reach of your cleaning station. Preferably, it should be in another room. Many unintended, sometimes tragic discharges occur at cleaning time.
The order of parts described in this two-minute gun clean isn’t necessary. Pick your own order.
Disassemble your pistol and lay the parts on a relatively clean surface. For me, it’s often the bumper of my SUV. Pick up the slide, put a dot of Frog Lube on the rag, and wipe out the entire visible interior surface. Be sure to take a fingernail (or other similarly shaped objects, like a flat screwdriver head, if you’re picky), and run the lube-dampened rag through the grooves that run the length of the slide’s interior.
This is a place where gunk builds up, and you must clean it well. Once the rag is coming up from the grooves clean, put a fresh drop or two of Frog Lube on each groove and smear it in with a fingertip. Don’t soak the slide grooves; they just need a little lube.
Now, pick up your recoil spring/guide rod. Wipe both ends using a clean section of the rag. I like to stick a bit of rag in between the spring coils and turn it so any carbon build-up will be cleaned off the length of the spring. But that’s not really necessary—wrapping the spring/rod unit inside the rag and turning it in your tightly closed palm will do just as well and is faster, too.
The barrel is next. With the rag moistened with Frog Lube, rub the entire outer surface with pressure, getting all the buildup off. The feed ramp of the barrel is an important place to clean. There’ll be some buildup here, even if you’ve only fired a few rounds. Wipe hard until you see there’s no buildup and it looks smooth and, depending on your barrel’s composition, maybe shiny like chrome. Wipe the feed ramp dry.
Do the same around the locking lugs. Basically, any place on the barrel with sharp angles will have carbon accumulation. Get it off to ensure your pistol continues to function smoothly.
If you’ve neglected cleaning, fired a lot of +P ammo, or have been rolling in the dirt, the accumulated gunk may be stubborn. A nylon bristle brush like an old toothbrush, cleaned and dried, works great for such occasions. But that’s beyond the two-minute rule here. A partial cleaning beats neglect!
Notice I didn’t talk about cleaning the barrel interior, well, at least take a look through it. Chances are, it’ll fire just fine for several hundred more rounds. If you feel you must clean it, do NOT lubricate the bore—a dry patch is more than sufficient for a quick cleaning. I usually compromise here and run a cloth patch through the bore, sans solvent and brushes. About once every 6-12 months, I give my primary pistol barrels a thorough bore cleaning. This has never caused a functional issue, but it has saved tons of time.
Put one or two drops of Frog Lube on the outside of the barrel, and smooth it all around with your finger, avoiding the feed ramp and muzzle ends. This is a high-friction, high-heat surface that needs some help from you in the form of lubricant.
On the frame, give the locking block and exposed parts of the trigger mechanism a wipe-off with a dry rag. If you’re not sure which parts are which, just wipe off the metal parts you can see.
Finally, use the rag to clean the rails on each side of the frame. These match up with the grooves on the inside of the slide. Put a dab of Frog Lube in each rail, and spread it a bit.
Now, reassemble your pistol. If any excess lube is seeping out the sides, wipe it off. Give the outside of the slide a wipe-down to remove fingerprints and any remaining smudges.
That’s it—doing it takes a fraction of the time reading this did! Don’t forget to wash your hands in cold water if you’re like me and do this job barehanded. Even though Frog Lube is edible, carbon and lead residue are quite the opposite.
Why Frog Lube?
Frog Lube is a “CLP,” or cleaning, lubricating, and protecting the product, all in one convenient formula. What makes it different from most synthetic gun cleaning products is that it won’t ruin whatever it may leak onto—it cleans up perfectly. Many consider this as one of the best gun cleaners available and it also smells nice!
Recently, I met a founding partner of Frog Lube, Larry Lasky. He explained that the company was considered a little weird at first. After all, gun cleaning products have always been stinky and toxic! Frog Lube has always been a clean cleaner, designed to be friendly to shooters, guns, and the environment.
Lasky said since Frog Lube was first released, it gained slow but enthusiastic acceptance. Since then, other companies have released their own non-toxic gun maintenance products. However, Frog Lube remains unique among natural CLPs in that it’s food grade—you can literally eat it.
The company isn’t stopping with having made the world’s only safe, natural, food grade gun goo. Two new products have just been released. The first is Frog Lube Extreme. It’s a variant of Frog Lube, specialized for shooting in extreme temperatures. It stays in liquid form even at -45F.
The other is yet another breakout product. Frog Lube Degreaser is for especially grimy jobs, like a gun that’s done a lot of suppressed shooting. It’s also good for gun cleaners even lazier than I. It’s mixed with water, believe it or not, and then it can be applied by hand, used in sonic cleaners, or simply soak your gun parts into a bowl of it while you have a sandwich.
On your return, you’ll find parts that simply need to be wiped off, and a bowl with residue at the bottom. “My wife took a small bottle of this, a couple days later she came back and asked for more to fill up a large spray bottle,” said Lasky. “I asked her what she’s doing with it; she said it’s great for cleaning the granite counters.” Like other Frog Lube products, this one’s food grade too.
Original Frog Lube has served me well. One $17 bottle of the gel has lasted three years, though I use it often. A little goes a long way. I use this CLP because it’s easy on my hands, smells nice, and keeps my guns and the occasional student gun working in hot, dry, dusty conditions. Unlike other solvents and oily products, Frog Lube has never leaked in my range bag, even in 100-plus degree temps. That alone makes it worth having! Frog Lube products are US-made, and the company is veteran-owned.
Check out this torture test video by FROGLUBE after storing a firearm for a year:
The thing is you can't go wrong with these guns as long as you follow directions. Unlike the fear of etching the so-called idiot scratch or putting an eye out with a flying recoil spring from a 1911 handgun, modern pistols are, for the most part, user-friendly when it comes to cleaning them. In fact, unless something’s worn out or damaged on your gun, you can get perfect performance with a two-minute gun clean job—my idea of a good time!
Are you ready to give this two-minute gun clean job a try? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.