Educational Zone #47 – Cleaning a Semi-Auto Pistol

We last talked about cleaning a revolver, so let’s look at cleaning a semi-auto pistol.

The same discussion applies to using WD-40 as a solvent.

It is especially important to use a good solvent when cleaning a semi-auto, as they tend to get a lot more unburned powder, soot, and other stuff inside the working parts of the pistol.

This stuff should be “washed out” with a good solvent.

We will be cleaning my Kimber Royale 1911, .45 ACP pistol, a very fine shooting firearm.

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Of course, we start by making sure the magazine is removed and the pistol is completely empty.

Then you field strip the pistol to allow through cleaning.

I began by spraying WD-40 into the recesses of the slide and then setting it aside to “soak.”

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I also spray all the small parts and let them soak.

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While the solvent is working on the slide’s grime, we will clean the barrel.

I use Hoppes #9 and a .45 caliber bronze brush to scrub the bore.
And since we can work from the chamber end of the barrel, that is always preferable.

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4 or 5 strokes should clean out any fouling.

Then push a tight-fitting patch through the barrel.

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Then spray some WD-40 down the barrel…

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and another clean patch.

The barrel is now clean.

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Time to scrub the breech face with the toothbrush and WD-40.

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Be sure to clean under all the recesses and extractor.

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Also be sure to clean the locking lug recesses very well.

Then a final flush with lots of WD-40 to wash out all the crud.

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Now for the big “secret” to cleaning a semi-auto: An air compressor. 

Use the air compressor to blow out all the solvent from the slide.

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Then spray the lower and scrub it with the toothbrush.

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Spray on some more solvent and then use the air to blow it dry.

Everything can be wiped down and is ready for lubrication before reassembly.

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We start with oiling the barrel locking lugs with a small amount of lubricating oil. 

I also oil the exterior of the barrel, so that it will slide easily through the barrel bushing.

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Also a drop on the hinge pin.

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I learned a trick many years ago from the owner of Cylinder & Slide Custom Guns, about using a high quality gun grease on semi-autos.

The reason is the oils may run out of the proper places in the pistol, but the grease will stay right on the rails where it is needed.

I use Tetra Gun Grease, a very high quality grease.

It only requires a very, very small amount of grease to do the job.

I apply small dot to both rails.

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Then spread it with my finger.

The pistol is ready for reassembly.

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After reassembling the pistol, work the slide several times to spread the grease on the rails.

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There will be a small amount of grease “pushed” out on the back of the slide.

Just wipe it off with a cloth.

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A quick spray with WD-40 and a through wipe-down with the cotton cloth, and you are finished.

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Conclusion:
The whole process only takes 5 to 10 minutes and you are done. The pistol is ready for its next use.

Take care of your firearms well and they will take care of you. 

4 Comments on Educational Zone #47 – Cleaning a Semi-Auto Pistol

  1. I like the grease that is good info. I don’t know about w d 40 as a soven as I use hopes on all parts to be cleaned.

  2. Paul Decker // January 7, 2017 at 4:32 pm // Reply

    Thanks for the info. Very good and concisely delivered.

  3. John barfield // January 8, 2017 at 12:13 pm // Reply

    Would like to step by step process of cleaning model 37 glock

  4. I was taught 30 years ago that WD 40 can penetrate primers and cause a misfire. I am not an engineer or rocket scientist but I don’t want to risk that on my carry gun. Looks like you have been doing it a long time with no problems tho.

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