How To Clean Your Rifle For The First Time

When you get a rifle, you need to make sure it is clean before every use.

Otherwise, there is a chance they will get damaged or not work as well as they used to in the past, even if you have the best .223 rifle. But if this your first time with a rifle, then you might be confused about how to get the job done.


So, to make the task a little easier for you, I am going to give you a very thorough step-by-step instruction on how to clean a rifle for the first time. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Steps to Take Before Cleaning

Before you start the actual cleaning process, there are a number of things you have to do. You don’t want to get injured or damage any part of the rifle.

Get the Right Cleaning Supply

First and foremost, you have to make sure you have all the supplies needed for the cleanse. You can buy all the cleaning items separately or can even think about investing your money on getting a rifle cleaning kit. This will make sure you have all the products readily available, and you won’t have to make a list of things you need to buy.

You Must Unload the Gun and Disassemble It

When you’re cleaning your gun, you do not want to accidentally press the trigger and fire around; you could injure yourself or anyone near you. So, you have to take the time beforehand to make sure the gun is unloaded. You also have to keep in mind that it might have a loaded round, so take that out after unloading the magazine.

Also, make sure you double-checked whether you took everything out before you start cleaning because you might be forgetful at times.

Now for the disassembling, you have to follow the guide provided by the manufacturer. You don’t want to disassemble it to the point where you can’t put it back together on your own. So, follow the instructions to the T.

Make Sure There Is Proper Ventilation in the Room

Most cleaning supplies have a very distinct smell, and in most cases, they are very strong. While cleaning your rifle, you will be in a room working with the solutions for a long time; if you keep breathing in the fumes, then you might start feeling bad after some time.

So, open up the windows of the room you’re working in.

Now, we are going to go ahead with all the steps you will have to take when you are actually cleaning the rifle. Read through everything carefully to avoid making any mistakes.

Clean the Barrel

Rod and Patch

The first thing you have to do when cleaning your rifle is to clean the barrel. If the gun hasn’t been used in a while, then chances are it has a lot of dust build-up inside. You need to clean it out before use.

First, take a cleaning road, and wrap a patch around it; insert it into the barrel to clean up the inside. Make sure you have a muzzle guard that is going to stop the rod from banging the muzzle, which might lead to malfunction.


Once you are satisfied with the job done by the rod and the patch, you are going to move on to using a brush as well. Push the brush back and forth a few times to scrub off all the dirt stuck on the sides; after that, take the rod and patch again to clean up all the things you scrubbed out.

The brush is really going to help you take out all the dirt that is stuck inside. They can be very stubborn and hard to take off with just the rod and patch; this is especially true if you haven’t used the device in a long time. The debris will easily be removed.


Now, the last thing you need to do with the barrel is lubricating it. And doing so is very easy, all you have to do is take the patch off the cleaning rod and replace it with a cotton mop. Just add a few drops of gun conditioner on the mop and put the rod inside the barrel.

Make sure the coating is light; this will keep the inside clean for a longer time. Too much might prove to be detrimental.

Clean the Action

Just as you cleaned the barrel of the gun, now you have to clean up the action. This step is just as important as the previous one, so do not skip out on it.

Take the gun brush and add the solution to it, now you have to run the brush along with the action a few times; make sure you put a little pressure with the motion, so you get to clean off all the dirt and dust from the gun. When you see that it is all clean, you can now take a clean cloth and wipe it dry.

Just as you used gun conditioner or some type of lubricant inside the barrel to keep it from rusting, you have to do the same for the action as well. So, just add a few drops of it to the action, and you will be good to go.

Wipe the Rest of the Gun

You are done with all the difficult stuff; all you have left to do is wipe down the whole gun. This is something you should do on a regular basis anyway, not wait till you do a thorough cleanse. Just take a piece of cloth and put a very slight amount of lubricant on it and wipe the gun with it.

This will keep the gun from rusting too quickly.


The cleanup job for your gun is very easy; you just have to make sure you do so every few months. I hope now you know how to clean a rifle for the first time. If you have any queries, shoot them in the comments.

Written by

A tactical and gun expert, loves to hunt deer and is passionate about it. He is the father of two sons.

Latest comments
  • Not very credible when you talk about cleaning a rifle but show a shotgun!

  • I agree with Neil. Not being ugly, but if somebody never used a cleaning rod, I can picture them trying to wrap a patch AROUND THE ROD and watch it fall off. Muzzle guard, really? I’ve never used one in my life, and you never started by saying you were inserting the cleaning rod into the muzzle plus your showing entry into the breach end of a shotgun. Maybe explain that some rifles can’t be broken down like an AR and in that case you would insert into the muzzle end and if you DON’T have a “muzzle guard” just be careful and don’t slam the rod handle into the muzzle. Also, have you ever tried to lube a brush? It drips through. Use a clean patch! As a former firearms instructor, I can just see the eyes of rookies reading this compared to deer looking at headlights. The best way to learn if you’re alone in this day of technology is search YouTube on how to clean your specific gun. There are plenty of good videos out there…nice try though…again, not trying to be ugly…just sayin”

  • My guns are stored in a gun safe. They have not been touched or fired in a long time. Do I really need to clean them out completely every three months?

  • Kinda “Out of Wack” and disorganized. Couldn’t make much sense of the overall plan.

  • Maybe my eyesight is failing, but that first photo sure appears to include a shotgun. Who proofed this article?

  • I have never played with an AR but cleaning the rifling is just a small part.
    What about disassembly, you don’t just clean the rifling.
    Individual parts.. carbon fouling/build up.
    Potential metal slivers,
    Reassembly, adding or removing and replacing parts, checking for wear.. ?

    I got a learning session with my first SKS, not difficult but more than just
    swabbing the barrel.

    If all you have is a BB gun your good to go.

  • You can run the brush back and forth, just make sure you don’t change direction inside the barrel.

  • It would be help ful to have a PRINT option selectable for phone, laptop or other device.

    • Hello Mike,

      You cand download the article as a pdf and then print it from any device you want. There’s a small pdf icon at the end of each article.

      Alex from Survivopedia 🙂

  • what do you use for a solvent that is better at cleaning the barrel but is still safe for the finish on a wooden stock?