Maintaining your handguns shouldn’t be seen as a chore. It should be seen as an <i>opportunity</i>, one that allows you to inspect your weapons and get familiar with their parts while also assessing for damage and keeping them in good working order. Here are just four ways to keep your guns in the same shape that they were in when they were brand-new.

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  1. Disassemble Your Firearm

Also known as “stripping” your gun, this process breaks it down to its individual pieces for better cleaning and evaluation. Eject the magazine; empty the chamber; de-cock the hammer; take off the slider and barrel. Don’t start sticking your fingers into anything until you have every piece taken apart and lying on a clean towel in front of you.

  1. Get the Right Supplies

The first step is to buy gun cleaning supplies like chamber brushes and grime removers. The next step is knowing when and how to use them. Maybe your particular solvent doesn’t react well with cotton swabs, or maybe your gas tube cleaner will only work for AR-15s and not M4s. You don’t want to discover these things when it’s too late, so do your research beforehand.

  1. Wipe Everything Down

Don’t be alarmed if your white cloths quickly turn black when cleaning inside your chambers and ejectors. Between caked-on carbon and built-up oils and powders, it only takes a few uses of your handgun to make it a filthy place. Use as many rags or wipes as you need to, and be liberal with your application of grime removers. You’ll know that you’re done when your rags stay white.

  1. Lubricate It

If you aren’t sure which parts of your gun need oil, take a look at your owner’s manual or just visually inspect where your weapon is starting to suffer wear and tear. The main purpose of lubrication is to stop this kind of corrosion, so if it’s happening, you aren’t using enough oil. Properly lubricating your firearm is just as important as properly cleaning it, so don’t cut corners when it comes to oil.

These are just a few tips for maintaining your handguns. One of the first things that you should’ve learned as a gun owner was responsibility, and keeping your firearms in good shape is a part of that. Don’t slack off when the safety of you and your family is on the line.