A gun is a tool just like any other, and if you take care of it by keeping it clean, it will last you a long time. Cleaning a gun properly is essential, but proper lubrication is just as, if not more, necessary.

A firearm is comparable to a car. Cars require regular maintenance, an inspection of wear on parts and replacement as needed, and lubrication to run right. When a vehicle is neglected and these simple tasks are not performed, it is more likely to break, less likely to last a long time, and more expensive to maintain over time.

Every time you get home from the range after shooting, you should clean your gun. Consider cleaning and lubricating your weapon as part of your range day, and you’ll likely avoid some of the most common issues with firearms. This step-by-step guide is here to help you learn how to take your gun cleaning skills to the next level, covering best practices for pistols, ARs, and other long guns.

Whether it’s a workbench in the garage or a table in your house, always dedicate a good amount of space for gun cleaning.

This space should never have any drinks or food near it for two reasons. The first is it’s easy to knock over and create an even bigger mess, and the second is because lead is ingested through the mouth, nose, and eyes. If you are scrubbing a barrel while snacking on chips, you are most likely poisoning yourself without even knowing it.

Remove all live ammunition from your cleaning space, whether it’s the ammo for the gun you’re cleaning or not. Many negligent discharges occur because the round is not cleared from the gun’s chamber before disassembling the firearm. Other caliber rounds should be removed because the solvent can cause corrosion which can cause ammunition to malfunction.

Common Bullet Types

  • FMJ (Full Metal Jacket): Metal cased and full metal jacket both refer to bullets with a metal coating that covers all of, or all but the base of, a bullet.
  • MC (Metal Cased): This is a term used by Remington to refer to their full metal jacketed bullets.
  • HP (Hollow Point): Hollow point bullets have a concave shaped tip that facilitates rapid expansion of the round upon impact.
  • BT (Boat Tail): Boat tail bullets have a streamlined base to facilitate better aerodynamics.

Sometimes, these terms are mixed to make a new acronym.

  • FMJBT (Full Metal Jacketed Boat Tail): Full metal jacket boat tail ammunition commonly refers to rife ammunition with the boat tail design that incorporates a copper jacket.
  • JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point): Jacketed hollow point bullets are similar in design to regular hollow point bullets, but have a copper jacket that normally covers everything but the hollowed portion of the round.
  • JFP (Jacketed Flat Point): Jacketed flat point rounds have a flat area of exposed lead at the tip.
  • JSP (Jacketed Soft Point): Jacketed soft point bullets usually have a spire pointed tip of exposed lead. JSP can also refer to a Jacketed spitzer point; spitzer meaning a sharply pointed bullet.
  • JRN (Jacketed Round Nose): Jacketed round nose bullets split the difference between JFP and JSP bullets and have a rounded tip of exposed lead.
  • BTHP (Boat Tail Hollow Point): BTHP ammunition commonly refers to rife ammunition with the boat tail design that utilizes an expanding hollow point design.
  • BTSP (Boat Tail Soft Point): Sometimes the letters in the acronyms are switched, so boat tail soft point may also be abbreviated as soft point boat tail or SPBT.
  • EFMJ (Expanding Full Metal Jacket): Expanding full metal jacketed rounds appear as and feed like a regular full metal jacket bullet, but have a construction that allows the case to collapse and the bullet to flatten upon impact.
  • WC (Wad Cutter): Wad cutter designs often appear to be nothing more than a cylinder, usually with a hollow base. This design is used in target practice to punch neat holes in the paper, rather than the ragged holes produced by more rounded designs.
  • AP (Armor Piercing): Armor piercing ammunition can have bullets with a variety of shapes, though in general they are spire pointed and full metal jacketed rounds that have a strong core designed to penetrate armor.
  • API (Armor Piercing Incendiary): Armor piercing incendiary ammunition has the same penetrating abilities of armor piercing bullets, but with the added function of bursting into an intense flame upon impact.
  • Frangible: Frangible ammunition is available under a number of trademarks; notably MagSafe, Glaser, and SinterFire. All of these rounds are characterized by a design that facilitates the rapid breakup of the bullet upon impact, thus reducing the chances of over-penetration or a ricochet.
  • Shotshell: Shotshell ammunition is primarilly designed for pest control and utilizes a plastic capsule filled with small pellets that spread when fired.
  • SWC (Semi Wad Cutter): Semi wad cutter bullets have a rounded nose that comes down to a cylinder that is slightly larger than the rounded section, giving the bullet a more aerodynamic shape while allowing it to punch clean holes in paper targets.
  • RFP (Rounded Flat Point): Rounded flat point bullets have a flat tip that is smaller than the bullet diameter and rounded shoulders.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are other variations in bullet designs, many of which are proprietary and made only by certain manufacturers.

If there are other bullet types you think should be listed, be sure to let us know in the comment section.

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