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.


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.”


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


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.


4 or 5 strokes should clean out any fouling.

Then push a tight-fitting patch through the barrel.


Then spray some WD-40 down the barrel…


and another clean patch.

The barrel is now clean.


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


Be sure to clean under all the recesses and extractor.


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.


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.


Then spray the lower and scrub it with the toothbrush.


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.


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.


Also a drop on the hinge pin.


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.


Then spread it with my finger.

The pistol is ready for reassembly.


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


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

Just wipe it off with a cloth.


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


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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.