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Essential Firearm Maintenance (When You’re Stuck at Home)

Oiled cleaning patch down the barrel 4 or 5 times
Got time? Here's some essential gun maintenance that you ought to be doing. From cleaning to swapping batteries, rotating mags, and dry-firing.
We review products independently. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission to help support our testing. Learn more.

    Whether you’re celebrating the holidays alone or enjoying a staycation…you know you wanna play with your toys.

    Cobray M11 sideways action shot
    Start a new fashion trend this quarantine season.

    A range day may be out of the question, but there are plenty of ways to stay busy and still spend some quality time with your pew pews.

    That’s right…we’re talking essential gun maintenance…aka gun chores.

    At this point my Glock 48 goes everywhere with me. I even clean and load it at the kitchen table.
    Cleaning and loading at the kitchen table.

    Specifically, ones you should be getting done while you’re stuck at home.

    After all, even if you don’t need them, it’s still good to make sure that your gun is still in good shape and is ready to rock and roll.

    Excellent bill and ted
    Exactly, Bill and Ted. Exactly.

    So open the gun safe, grab the lube and get to work. Here are some gun maintenance tasks to fill your time.

    Table of Contents


    Clean Your Guns… All of Them

    Stop hissing at me, sheesh! It’s not like I told you to clean your room. 

    Cleaner Brush Glock
    It’s time, my friends.

    Look, I know no one actually likes field-stripping and huffing caustic fumes while you clean.

    But be honest, when’s the last time you gave your guns a nice, thorough cleaning? Not just a little barrel swab after the range, but a full-blown cleaning and lube job.

    scrub face
    John demonstrates how to clean a Glock.

    We’re not saying you’re a bad person if you don’t know, but bruh…it’s time.

    Check out the 4 Best Gun Cleaning Kits to get you started on everything you need to get the job done right.

    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Not sure how to get the job done? Then off to How to Clean and Lubricate Your Gun! We’ll be here when you get back.

    And yes…we’ve got videos of some popular ones out there.

    Change Your Batteries

    We like our tech around here, from red dots to pistol lights, but there’s one thing we all hate — dead batteries.

    Somehow, they always seem to be dead just when you need them, but not anymore!


    Because you’re going to change all your batteries. Yes, now. Hop to it.

    Bushnell TRS-25 Battery Compartment
    Bushnell TRS-25 Battery Compartment

    Don’t forget to stock up on the batteries! You probably have something kicking around your safe that takes at least one of these common batteries:

    Stock up on what you need, and never be caught in the dark again.

    Don’t need to swap batteries? You probably need more lights then!

    Tested AR-15 Flashlights
    Tested AR-15 Flashlights

    Brush Up on Procedures with the Family

    There’s never a bad time to go over safety rules.

    Even if no one else in your family shoots and all your guns are safely locked away, family members need to be well versed in the rules for safe firearms handling.

    Rules are important.

    Review the four rules of firearm safety:

    1. Treat every gun as if it’s loaded, even when you know it’s not.
    2. Always point the gun in a safe direction, and never at anything you are not willing to destroy.
    3. Know what your target is, and what’s beyond it.
    4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.

    If your kiddos are a little too little to understand that, you can practice another set of four rules that will help keep them safe: Stop. Don’t touch. Run away. Tell an adult.

    Eddie Eagle
    Eddie Eagle knows what’s up.

    Teach them to respect guns, and you’ll protect the entire family.

    While you’re at it, make sure you don’t have guns lying around. They either need to be secured in a safe or in a holster on your body. And put away that ammo — securely and separately from your guns.

    varmint hunting with kids
    Kids can mix with guns safely–with the right supervision, instruction, and patience.

    Want to learn more about introducing your kids to firearms? Check out our Kids and Guns 101 guide!

    Swapping Out Ammo

    Shoot regularly? You can probably skip this section.

    However, if you bought a gun after 9/11 and haven’t really touched it since…it’s time.

    Glock 44 Ten Round .22LR Magazine
    Reloading your mags with fresh ammo is a good thing.

    Ammo can get dirty, damaged, and corroded when it’s left to sit around. So, if you’ve loaded magazines, it’s time to unload them, check your rounds, and refresh the stash.

    Especially in your self-defense guns.

    dirty brass cases
    Ammo can corrode, which can definitely impact its effectiveness.

    Ideally, you’d want to shoot any old ammo that wasn’t compromised to use it up. But if you can’t get to the range, that’s cool — just make sure that your loaded magazines are still good to use.

    While you’re at it wipe down and clean your mags, too!

    Dry-Firing Drills

    Hey. Hey, guess what? You should be dry-firing.

    Don’t you roll your eyes at me! Even the best shooters — ever heard of Jerry Miculek — practice dry-firing sometimes.

    Coin on Front Sight Dry Firing
    Coin on Front Sight Dry Firing

    Best part? You don’t need to go to the range to dry-fire.

    All you need is your gun, a safe target, and maybe some snap caps.

    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    We seriously love dry-fire training, since it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

    You can practice your aim, magazine swaps, even tactical maneuvers around your house. 

    Dry Fire Drill with Obstacles
    Dry Fire Drill with Obstacles

    Just always be sure to NEVER EVER HAVE AMMO AROUND. Never. Freakin’. Ever. That is how accidents happen, and ERs ain’t got time for that.

    We give you a full rundown on the what, the why, and the how of dry-firing in our guide to Safe and Effective Dry-Fire Training at Home.

    Plus our Best Lasers and Targets article if you want to techie up.

    Laser Training Targets
    Laser Training Targets

    Don’t miss it!


    Whether you’re quarantining or just need some time away from people, work on those guns and make sure they’re maintained!

    If you need a little assistance getting pistols field-stripped and back together again, make sure to check out Brownells’ Daily Defense video below.

    Have any ideas on what to do with your guns when you’re not able to go to the range? Let us know in the comments below. And, since we all could use a refresher — check out Prepping 101! Or see the terrible things that can befall guns in Most Common AR-15 Failures (And How to Fix Them).

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    5 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      I prefer Shooters Lube. Owned by Vets; no smell and it works great.

      September 7, 2021 10:20 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I prefer dry firing at my large screen TV where you have moving people, scenes change, etc. It almost becomes a FATS trainer.

      March 29, 2020 3:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I wanted to buy the M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaning Kit a while back, but it's been discontinued as far as I can tell, replaced by the hard case kit which is definitely not as good.

      March 29, 2020 3:04 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Man I look forward to your articles. Keeping me laughing and just going. Thanks!

      March 26, 2020 2:15 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Anthony Burkett

      I feel the necessity to add an additional 5th Rule to the "Most Excellent" standard 4 given above... a Rule often times neglected that is of equal importance to the safety of shooters and those in the near vicinity ... and that is:
      5. Know your weapon and it's ammunition, their strengths and their

      Ample knowledge and training is of such paramount importance that it must not be neglected.

      March 26, 2020 1:28 pm
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