Grab a cold one, folks, this is gonna be a long one. Kevin Baker long...
First step: Assemble your cleaning supplies. I have a Rubbermate tote in which I keep the majority of my gun cleaning accoutrements: Cleaners, oils, rags, brushes, steel wool, etc.; it's all in the tote. Makes it handy to just grab the big box 'o' supplies, as shown here:
Basically, this box is the culmination of well over a decade and a half of cleaning the crud off of my guns. Stuff that works - like good ol' Hoppes #9 - stays in the rotation.
Next step: Set up your cleaning area.
Notice the careful placement of the towel over the kitchen table. Don't let Hoppes spill on the table. Trust me on this one... A small but powerful flashlight is good for illuminating barrels to see if all the crud is gone. The red plastic cup is quite useful for tossing dirty Q-tips and patches into for easy clean-up of the cleaning area. And it doesn't leech out Hoppes onto the table. Once again, trust me... And boresnakes. I can't say enough good things about boresnakes. Especially for cleaning .22 rifles. A boresnake, some Break-Free, and a little bit of oil and you're good as new.
Lay out the guns to be cleaned. (Edit to add) This is a good time to double- and triple- check to make sure that ALL GUNS ARE UNLOADED. Check 'em again. Even if you are 100% certain the firearm is unloaded, check again. (thanks to DJK for the reminder!)
In general, I like to have a seperate section for each firearm to be cleaned. Note the cloth diapers, which serve an extra purpose. Not only do they present a unique section for each firearm to be cleaned, but they are extra-absorbent for inadvertent spills and overspray.
Then prep the guns. For revolvers, 99 times out of 100 all you need to do is open the cylinder. For semi-autos, "field stripping" will suffice.
Here's where the "one section per firearm" comes into play. All the parts for each gun stay on their respective section. Helps eliminate confusion if you're cleaning similar arms.
Note the S&W model 422. It's not field-stripped for a reason. It didn't get shot very much, so it got a quick run-through with the boresnake and was good to go. This is a judgement call made every time a gun goes to the range. They always get cleaned, but sometimes it's a quick hosing down with M-Pro or CLP.
Cleaning a semi-auto, part I - the frame.
Generally, a cotton swab soaked in Hoppes and a toothbrush are all that are needed to sufficiently clean the frame. Pay extra attention to the feed ramp, as this is where the bulk of the crud will accumulate (as shown in the pic).
Cleaning a semi-auto, part II - the slide.
Yeah. See all that crud? All that needs to be scrubbed off. Usually takes a good handful of Q-tips - helpful money saving tip from Jay? Buy in bulk at a warehouse store...
Cleaning a semi-auto, part III - the barrel.
Barrels are pretty easy. Take a bronze bore brush. Dip in Hoppes. Run through 3-5 times. Put a cotton patch on a jag. Dip in Hoppes. Repeat until patch comes out clean. Dry with a clean patch, then run a patch lightly covered in oil through. Barrel's done.
Cleaning a revolver is easier. The hardest part is getting the ejector free of powder residue and other assorted garf.
Basically, repeat the barrel-cleaning instructions above for the barrel and cylinders of the revolver, and clean the inside of the frame with a cotton swab.
Pay special attention to the forcing cone (where the bullet enters the breech):
This is what gets the most fouling. This is also a good time to check for flame-cutting.
Here's our semi-auto barrel all cleaned up:
Ahhhh. Isn't that better?
Almost done. Time to clean the exterior.
M-Pro 7. Good stuff. Just spray one side, let sit for a couple of minutes, then wipe clean. Flip gun over, repeat. Also works wonders on small parts for semi-autos like springs, barrel bushings, etc.
Once the exterior is clean, it's time to oil the interior. Run a patch with oil through the barrel and cylinders, then a little bit of oil for the crane and ejector rod (use sparingly, or you'll be wiping it up for a week...). For semi-autos, generally oiling the rail where the slide meets the frame and a couple drops on the barrel does the trick.
The last step is to wipe down the exterior with some oil to prevent corrosion.
This step isn't really necessary if the gun sees any kind of regular use, but it certainly can't hurt! (It's also my favorite part, because it means I'm almost done cleaning...) Now it's time to put everything away! I'll typically wrap the cleaned firearm in a clean cloth diaper - this helps wick away any excess oil left on the gun, as well as protect the finish from scratches when it inevitably gets jammed in the pistol safe.
I hope this was an informative post, and I'm curious to see how my cleaning regimen compares to others out there in the gunnie universe...
That is all.