Preventative Maintenance is a systematic procedure of cleaning, inspecting, lubricating and verifying the functioning of the pistol. The importance of developing and maintaining a program, whether it's an individual officer or a department, cannot and should not be over-looked. As law enforcement and instructors for law enforcement, our firearms are an important tool and like any tool, regular attention to and care of must be part of the program that includes practice with the tool and increasing your overall skill set. The key benefit of maintaining your pistol should be obvious; the objective is to establish and maintain maximum operational readiness of your pistol. Failure to do so could result in an unfavorable ending in a scenario where you are required to draw and use your firearm to protect a civilian, your partner, or your own life.
Before establishing a program, it is highly advisable to first, read the individual manufacturer's instructions on the care, cleaning and lubricating of your handgun. These recommendations should be strictly adhered to. Refer to the owner's or Armorer manual specific to the weapon system being maintained for the manufacturer's recommendations. And second, at International Training, Inc. we strongly recommend that protective eye glasses or goggles be worn at all times when cleaning your weapon.
Your overall goal in the performance of preventative maintenance is to:
- Be sure the handgun has been safely unloaded ("check twice") and all ammunition has been removed from the work area before performing any preventative maintenance.
- Properly clean, lubricate and preserve the handgun and magazines (if a semi automatic pistol) each time the handgun is fired or exposed to adverse environmental conditions.
- Safely inspect, troubleshoot and perform any routine maintenance on a regular schedule.
- Safely perform a "function check" to determine operational readiness.
- Understand the department's policy on the maintenance, repair, or replacement of unserviceable weapons.
- Understand any liability issues related to improper maintenance, unauthorized repair, or unauthorized modifications to the weapon system.
- Use the appropriate tools, lubricants and solvents in the recommended manner when performing weapon maintenance.
The equipment you choose to clean and maintain your firearms with is based on user preference or what the department purchases for this purpose. It should be comprised of several specific tools; a cleaning rod, bore brush, slotted patch holder and patch jag, patches, cleaning solvent, wet brush, dry brush, screwdriver, cleaning cloth, treated cloth, and air hose.
The cleaning rod is used to push cleaning attachments, i.e., brushes, patches or jags through the barrel. The cleaning rod should be inserted from the chamber end of the barrel when possible. It should be long enough to pass completely through the barrel and strong enough to resist bending when pressure is applied. Cleaning rods are made from various materials: however, brass, aluminum or coated metal are the most desirable. Regardless of the type of cleaning rod selected, improper use may cause excessive wear on the barrel, especially at the muzzle end. Continual wear on the muzzle is detrimental to the accuracy of the weapon.
Bore brushes can be of several types: nylon, brass or bronze, and stainless steel. The brass or bronze brush is recommended for cleaning the bore. Nylon bristles are rarely strong enough to loosen bore fouling and stainless steel bristles are overly abrasive due to their hardness. The bore brush used should be of the same caliber in size as your handgun. The bore brush is most effective when used with solvent. Use a bore brush only in the barrel of the weapon; do not use it as a general purpose scrub brush. Do not reverse direction while the brush is actually in the barrel. Instead, push the brush slowly all the way through the barrel before reversing direction. This will maximize the cleaning potential of the bore brush, as well as maintain its usefulness over a longer period of time.