Handgun Maintenance
for Klutzes

Take care of it and it will take care of you

Author smugly poses with his GLOCK cleaning plan. Her: G43; Him: G19 Gen5.

My dad was a gun guy and his only son grew up in a household full of guns. Dad was a jewelry store owner and watchmaker, with preternatural hand dexterity until late in life when arthritis got him. I started shooting .22 rifles at four, got my first shotgun of my very own at around age six or seven. I started with handguns at nine and got my very own — an early Ruger Standard Model .22 — at age 11.

By then, I had learned to field-strip every gun in the house. My parents had lived through the Depression years and were accordingly thrifty — I got to strip and clean guns, it seemed, at least as much as I got to shoot them. The Ruger .22 stymied me, though because I got it apart but couldn’t get it back together. It was the only gun that ever frustrated me to the point of tears. My father looked at it for a minute, then reassembled it for me. Decades later, I would be extremely grateful to Ruger for making the Mark IV version of that pistol so much easier to take apart and put back together.

I got my first 1911 .45 at age 12, a military-surplus Colt costing $37.50 in 1960. My best Christmas present evah! With it came an NRA manual on how to strip it. Before New Year’s, I had gotten to where I could field-strip and put it together blindfolded in under a minute.

This was probably the high point of my skill in firearms disassembly/reassembly/maintenance in what is approaching seven decades of shooting.

When shooting is part of the travel plan, take cleaning gear with you.
Photo: Wilson Combat.

If You Are A Klutz …

Webster’s definition of a “klutz” is “a clumsy person.” That would be me. As dexterous as my father was, the gene apparently skipped my generation. I have learned to accept this. So have my instructors at various armorer’s schools, who must have felt like Anne Sullivan teaching Helen Keller.

Life has forced me to learn certain manual dexterity skills. Martial arts and police defensive tactics, primarily Aikido and Hakka-ryu Jiu-Jitsu. Police batons, mostly the side-handle Monadnock PR-24. The nunchaku Monadnock PN-12 Police Restraining Device I carried for a while on duty. Foreplay. The keyboard on typewriters and then computers, where I was once over a hundred words a minute until hereditary arthritis caught up with me. And, oh yeah, manipulating firearms.

But cleaning guns? Especially detail stripping and reassembly? Oh, hell, no.

My friends joke I only clean my guns when I notice lower life forms evolving in the mechanisms. This is cruel and unfair. This is only my competition guns. The carry guns, I keep cleaned and lubed.

Not because I want to, mind you, but because I have to. Sporting equipment, which costs you a trophy or an ego dump if it fails, is one thing. Emergency life-saving rescue equipment — such as a firearm — is something else entirely which is why when I travel, there’s some gun cleaning gear with me. What I teach with is what I carry. If it jams when I’m demonstrating for a class, I can be embarrassed … but if it malfunctions when I’m fighting for my life with it, I could die.

Police Chief John Parsons makes sure all department guns
are always cleaned and lubed. So should we all.

Famed expert Bill Rogers demonstrates his meticulous gun cleaning protocol.
We can all learn from him.

Delegating Authority

In the parts of my life where I’ve been a supervisor, I’ve learned to delegate authority to the best personnel for the job. I don’t customize my own handguns — I assign the best professionals who specialize with those particular tools. My lovely bride is, thank God, mechanically inclined, and is a self-styled “shooter chick.” A Princess of Polymer Pistols, she started with GLOCKs and still carries them. When she asked me if I’d send her to the nearest GLOCK armorer’s school, I was enthusiastically positive. When she asked if she could go to the Mother Ship in Smyrna, Ga. for Advanced GLOCK Armorer’s School, I cheerfully paid her way. When she started shooting Springfield Armory XD pistols, I sent her to their armorer’s school and she was grateful.

Then I put my hands on her shoulders and said solemnly, “Darling, beloved, I think you’re ready for 1911 armorer’s school!”
And — dammit, dammit, dammit — she finally caught onto me …

But, anyway, I still have a resident GLOCK Nurse, which is one reason why I so often carry this brand of pistol.

So, now I still clean my own 1911s and most other pistols and revolvers. If I shoot them hard, well, that’s why I keep all those extra springs and such on hand. I figure those guns are there to take care of me more than I’m there to take care of them. But …
In the end, if we don’t see to it those guns are taken care of, we can’t expect them to take care of us.

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