How to Clean a Revolver

This revolver is a GP100 .357 Magnum made by Ruger. I bought this revolver several years ago during a brief period of time when some state laws concerning the application and approval process for carrying concealed weapons had lapsed or something. So, for about a year, anyone with 10 dollars and a state issued ID could get a permit to carry a concealed weapon in the state of Minnesota. Even though I thought it was pretty cool that I could carry a loaded concealed handgun, I rarely used it—only during a couple times when walking the dog late at night. But that’s about it. When it came time to renew, I passed on it.

The tools that I use for this article are at the bottom of the page. These are essentially all that you will need. The revolver cleaning kit comes for each specific caliber of revolver. This one works for a .357, .38, or 9mm as they are all nearly the same caliber. The pocket-sized kits should be clearly labeled for the specific calibers. The larger cleaning kits should have all the calibers, but check to make sure.

Steps to Cleaning a Revolver

  1. Mopping revolver with bore solventMop the bore with a bore solvent. Dip the mop head into the bore solvent. Let the excess drip off before sticking it down the barrel. Push it down and through the barrel 2 or 3 times. Then let the solvent soak in for 20‒30 minutes before moving onto the next step. Remove the cylinder when cleaning the barrel; you will clean the cylinder separately. Hold the revolver flat on a mat or towel while you clean it.
  2. Wire brush through revolverUse a wire brush to brush the bore. After 20 minutes or so, use the wire brush attachment to scrape loose the fouling and copper stuck inside the bore. Hold the revolver flat on its side and slide the brush down the barrel from the muzzle all the way out the other side. Push the brush all the way through, and pull it back through and out. Do this 10‒12 times.
  3. drying bore with jag/patchDry the bore with a jag and patch. Attach the jag to the ramrod. The jag is the small brass tool that is shaped kinda like a bullet. Place a patch over the end of the muzzle and push the jag into the bore. It should fit snugly inside the bore. Push the jag and patch through the barrel and out the other side. Push patches through until they come out clean. Look through the barrel and see if it’s truly clean. Repeat steps 1‒3 until it’s clean. Lastly, push an oiled patch through the bore with the jag to keep the bore from rusting.
  4. cleaning cylinder/chambersClean all the chambers of the cylinder. Using the same process as in steps 1‒3, clean all of the chambers of the cylinder. It should go much quicker than the bore. The end of the chamber that is closest to the bore will be the dirtiest part. Also clean around the outside of the cylinder using a microfiber cloth and a little solvent, if necessary. Avoid the use of solvent if possible.
  5. cleaning ejector/hammerClean the ejector and hammer. Look over the ejector and hammer assembly to see how dirty it really is. Often lint and fuzz will find its way into the recess areas of the gun, which will be hard to remove without further disassembly of your revolver. Refer to your owner’s manual for information on disassembling your revolver. To wipe down these areas of the revolver, use a lint-less cloth like microfiber.
  6. oiling gunLightly oil the gun. There are really only a couple areas of your revolver that need the tiniest little smidgen of oil, and those are the parts that move: the trigger, hammer, and cylinder. One little drop will do. I put one drop of oil at the base of the ejector rod where it connects to the cylinder. Then I manipulated the ejector and spun the cylinder a few times to work it in. The trigger and hammer assembly only gets oiled when I take the revolver completely apart, which occurs about once a year. To finish, wipe the whole revolver down with a lightly oiled microfiber cloth. Wipe off any excess oil.

Tips for Cleaning Your Revolver

  • First tip is don’t kill yourself when cleaning a revolver. Make sure it is UNLOADED!
  • Taking apart a revolver is not easy. Most revolvers have over 100 parts, many of which should not be messed with by you. The owner’s manual will tell you which parts to remove and clean and which parts to leave alone. So, if you need further advice, refer to your owner’s manual. If you don’t have one, check the Internet.
  • Solvent is pretty potent stuff, so turn on a fan or open a window when using it.
  • Storing your revolver in a foam-lined, hardshell case will reduce the amount of dust and lint settling in the recesses of your revolver when you’re not using it.
  • Don’t over-oil your revolver. Too much oil can interfere with function and potentially cause a misfire. Always wipe off excess oil with a dry microfiber cloth.
  • If your revolver has any bluing on it, remember that if you scrub it with any scratchy cloth or rag it will come off. The bluing, that is.

Revolver Cleaning Products

revolver cleaning kitThe revolver cleaning kit is essential if you want to clean your revolver properly. Each caliber of revolver needs its own size cleaning tools. So, if you have multiple revolvers, you may want to buy the large kit.

bottle of Hoppe's 9A bore solvent like Hoppe’s Number 9 will be the easiest way to remove fouling and copper dust from the bore of your revolver. Be sure to let it soak in before brushing it out. Multiple applications may be required to remove all the fouling. You can find Hoppe’s Bench Rest No. 9 from Amazon.

bottle of Remington gun oilRemington Gun Oil works well for lubrication and protection from rust. Make sure to use the thin straw attachment when applying a single drop to the action areas of your revolver. Remember that excess oil is not a good thing.