I am definitely one who will push the envelope regarding my gear. I want to know it will perform under the harshest conditions before I find myself in those harsh conditions.
With that being said, you need to make sure your equipment is functioning at peak levels when your life is on the line. Knowing how to care for, clean and when necessary replace small parts should be part of every gun owner’s repertoire. It is so important that it is listed as one of the core skills to master in our curriculum.
Let’s start with the simple stuff, like do you know how to safely disassemble and reassemble your firearm. Hopefully folks picked up on the “safely” because some of the striker fired pistols have produced pretty bad results. With today’s internet access there really isn’t a reason why you cannot sit down and watch a video. Granted some are pretty lame, but there are a few good ones that can provide basic guidance.
Next, basic cleaning and an investment into a few cleaning supplies. Everyone builds there own after awhile and I have seen some pretty impressive cleaning kits. I don’t much care for the “tank dunking” that seems to be popular in some places. It is not a replacement for safe disassemble and cleaning, in fact it is more of a liability as you will see. There is no substitute for breaking it down and cleaning it yourself and it accomplishes more than just cleaning. I am boggled by some who have to turn it in to have someone else clean it for them. That is wrong on so many levels it’s a whole other article.
The primary purpose for cleaning in my opinion is to visually inspect the small parts and known issues. I need to clean away all the crap so I can give it a good once over and make sure it is still good to go. Disassemble at the user level should be routine after a solid range day. How do you define solid, well hopefully you have pushed the platform to find out how far it can go between cleaning intervals. We really are talking duty weapons, true tools of the trade so invest in this process. In our classes we hand out a bottle of lube to each student and give them instructions on proper field lubrication. We ask them to avoid cleaning during the class, but instead apply lube as instructed. This will give them a pretty good idea of what their weapon system can do in a controlled environment.
With the known issues, have a small parts replacement kit handy so if you notice something during your inspection, you can remedy it pretty easily. I avoid any weapon system I cannot perform user maintenance and obtain small parts. There are too many better choices for duty weapons to be limited in this fashion.
Lastly, know how to perform a function check on your weapon system. Take the time to perform the function check after each reassembly and prior to being put back into service. The life you save, maybe your own.