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NEWS | Feb. 14, 2022

Small Arms: What You Should Know About Weapon Cleaning

How often should a weapon be cleaned? All weapons need to be cleaned every 90 days. No matter if it’s a pistol, rifle or shotgun and even if it hasn’t been fired since the last cleaning, this guidance still applies. And this guidance goes for all Army units: Active, Reserve and National Guard.
In humid areas, cleaning and lubricating may need to be done more often so the weapon doesn’t corrode. If you wait until the 90 days are up, you may find corrosion has ruined the weapon.
Here’s what you’ll need to properly clean and lube your weapon.
Every weapon has a cleaning kit. You can read about a weapons cleaning kit calculator in our past article on weapon cleaning kits.
Use this list of common cleaning and lubricating supplies:
Quantity NSN
1/2 ounce 9150-01-102-1473
4 ounces 9150-01-079-6124
1 pint 9150-01-054-6453
1 gallon 9150-01-053-6688
Rifle bore cleaning compound (RBC)
2 ounces 6850-00-224-6656
8 ounces 6850-00-224-6657
1 gallon 6850-00-224-6663
Arctic lubricating oil (LAW)
1 quart 9150-00-292-9689
Weapons lubricating oil (LSA)
2 ounces 9150-00-935-6597
4 ounces 9150-00-889-3522
1 quart 9150-00-687-4241
1 gallon 9150-00-753-4686
Pipe cleaners
1 box (1344) 9920-00-292-9946
Wiping rags
50-lb bundle 7920-00-205-1711
Cleaning swabs
Package of 1000 1005-00-912-4248
1 each 1005-00-494-6602
Solid film lubricant
16-oz spray can 9150-01-260-2534
Dry cleaning solvent MIL-PRF-680
1 gallon 6850-01-474-2319

Make sure your cleaning rod and brushes are in good shape. If the brushes are worn, they go through the barrel without cleaning carbon.
Run rod completely through barrel without reversing directions
Run rod completely through barrel without reversing directions
Never run the cleaning rod back and forth inside the barrel. It ruins the bore brush and the barrel’s grooves. Instead, put the cleaning rod brush in the chamber end and push it all the way out the muzzle end in a single stroke. If necessary, reverse the single stroke from muzzle end back through the barrel.
These are the things you don’t use on your weapon!
Don’t clean your weapon with any these alternatives.
Don’t clean with these!
  • Oven and carburetor cleaner. They strip off the protective finish, which leads to corrosion.
  • Cleaning pads. They strip off the finish.
  • Cotton tips or swabs. The cotton comes off and plugs things like gas ports.
  • They evaporate quickly and have a high flash point.
  • Paper towels and old rags as substitutes for cleaning patches and new cleaning rags. Paper towels and old rags shed and clog areas like the buffer tube.
  • Homemade cleaning tools. They scratch off the protective finish.
  • Shaving cream or cleaners like Simple Green®. They remove all lubricants, which leads to corrosion. 
  • Don’t use a chamber brush attached to an electric drill. That cleans the chamber so well that it wears out the star chamber (barrel extension) and causes excessive headspace in the M16 and M4 rifles.
  • Don’t use P-D-680 cleaning solvent on your weapon! It's not good for the environment.
  • Solvent tanks aren’t a substitute for a thorough cleaning and lubing. They clean the carbon out but leave the weapon bone dry. Even if you lube your weapon after it goes through the solvent tank, it’s still difficult to re-lube everything the way it should be. No lube, no protection!
 If you’re cleaning your weapon with stuff other than what the -10 TMs tell you to use, stop! The wrong cleaners and lubes can actually hurt your weapon instead of help it.  

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Prohibited small arms cleaning items
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