Care and Cleaning of the Pistol and Revolver

The following information on care and cleaning of revolvers and pistols comes from Section 25 of Shooting by J. Henry FitzGerald. Shooting is also available to purchase in print.

As soon as possible after firing the revolver it should be cleaned. We now have on the market ammunition which eliminates the cleaning, but we also have several million rounds of the old issue.

Use a good solvent and a felt or bristle brush. An old toothbrush is handy to brush off the rear end of the barrel, recoil plate, and front end of cylinder. Then push a brush through each chamber of the cylinder several times; clean the barrel in the same way with the brush thoroughly moistened with solvent. Wipe off all excess oil on the outside of the arm and only leave a thin film of oil in the cylinder and barrel; more than that is not necessary. Oil the firing pin slightly, as a pierced primer may have allowed the powder gasses to corrode it and if left in this condition it will rust. Do not oil the mechanism of the revolver unless it has been dropped in the water, or on some very rare occasion when the action shows signs of rust or is gummed up by an accumulation of oil and dust.

A revolver should be oiled and cleaned every week whether it is shot or not. Perspiration from the body may cause rust. A little care of his revolver will pay the shooter big returns if he should need to use it in a hurry. We are all apt to neglect that part of our equipment which we seldom use; but it doesn’t pay in the care of a revolver, for the perfect revolver and the trained hand form an alliance to protect life and home.

In my travels I have examined thousands of good revolvers which were no better than a club of the same weight simply because they had been neglected, allowed to rust and become gummed up to the extent that they could not be fired even if the cartridges were fresh, which they were not. The arms were useless. A little pitting in the barrel or pitting on the outside does not render a revolver useless, but being carried in the pocket day after day, year after year, with no care will spoil the best revolver ever made.

I spoke of felt brushes in this section and I believe that some years ago I brought out some samples of the best brush ever invented for revolver and pistol cleaning. It consists of a twisted wire handle closely fitted with coarse hard wool and extending the entire length of the rod. With a brush of this kind the muzzle of the arm cannot be harmed and it will, when saturated with a good solvent, clean the arm from ten to twenty times before the brush becomes dry.

I use an aluminum fishing case cut to fourteen inches and a brush for each caliber carried. There is also room in the case for a brass rod threaded with a brass brush, but I find that if a film of solvent is left in the arm when it is fired that I seldom have use for the brass brush.

Care must be taken if a brass or steel rod is used to protect the muzzle. More so with the revolver and pistol than with the rifle, for with the rifle in a cleaning rack both hands can be used to guide the rod, but in the case of the revolver or pistol the arm is usually held in one hand, the rod in the other.

One of the worst enemies of the hand gun is the holster lined with felt or broadcloth. This will, when carried close to the body, collect moisture and when the arm is left in it for any length of time will rust the arm, and very likely when it is drawn will carry with it parts of the lining firmly rusted to the steel. If a revolver carried close to the body is lightly wiped over with an oily rag every night in warm weather it will usually protect it against rust.

It is not necessary to spend an hour in cleaning a revolver or pistol. With the brush such as I have described and a good solvent one minute will clean a revolver or pistol and it can safely be put away until it is needed. If a revolver is exposed into damp weather or at the seashore it should be wiped thoroughly and cleaned as soon as possible. If carried in a holster on a hunting trip exposed to rain and snow it is well to wipe over with a cloth moistened with solvent before starting and to clean it thoroughly on return whether it is shot or not.

If arms are carried back and forth to the range a cloth pocket made from three thicknesses of canton flannel and covered with a thin black cloth made with a snap at open end to keep the arm from slipping out is a fine carrier. It is thick enough to protect the clothing from oil and the arm from ordinary knocks and scratches. Arms carried in a case like this will look like new for years and there is no danger of a case like the one described collecting moisture.

If an arm is used for target shooting only, a little excess solvent will do no harm. If it is carried in a pocket or holster, loaded, a slight film of oil is more satisfactory.

Sights that have been blacked should be thoroughly cleaned and oiled before the revolver is put away. Care should always be taken to keep the grip screw tight, otherwise dirt and lint will find its way into the action.

Click here to purchase Shooting in paperback

Care and Cleaning of the Pistol and Revolver

Return to Shooting Table of Contents