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How to clean a Glock "Safe Action" Pistol

Updated on May 2, 2012

The Glock "Safe Action" pistol

The Glock "Safe Action" pistol is a weapon used around the world by various law enforcement agencies, military organizations, sportsmen, and even civilians. In today's age, one can hardly even watch an action film without being exposed to the iconic weapon. From Harrison Ford in Fugitive, to Will Smith in Bad Boys II, the Glock has a indisputable presence in the world today.

Part of its appeal is its revolutionary design, which utilizes plastic polymers to increase the durability and reliability of the weapon, as well as to decrease the cost and weight of the gun itself. Part and parcel to such technological innovations, however, is the method of servicing and cleaning the weapon itself, to keep it in working order.

What You Will Need

Glock Pistols have an almost legendary reputation for reliability and durability. However, as any responsible firearm owner knows, even the most reliable weapon will fail if improperly cared for, or exposed to the elements for too long. In order to keep your Glock in working order, here are the things you will need:

  1. Gun Solvent: This will be used to remove fouling from the gunpowder residue, copper from the jacket, and any lead buildup that may occur. My Recommendations: Hoppe's No. 9, or Outer's Foaming Bore Cleaner
  2. Gun Oil: This lubricates the moving parts in the firearm.
  3. Gun Cleaning Rod and Brush: Glock Pistols come standard with a plastic rod and brush.
  4. Gun Cleaning Patches: These are used to swab the barrel and slide with solvent, as well as to swab out the barrel itself once the solvent has been used.
  5. Additional Supplies: Helpful, but not strictly necessary.
  • Pipe Cleaners: Useful to get into hard to reach areas
  • Break-Free CLP: Sometimes if gunk has built up, in the barrel or in the slide, Break- free is a good way to clear it up.
  • Latex or Non-porous Gloves: Solvents and cleaning products have come a long way in recent years, but keep in mind, these are substances designed to dissolve or loosen metal. Do you really want that seeping into your skin?
  • Microfiber Cloth: Microfiber cloth is very absorbent, will not abrade metal in the least, and leaves very little debris.

Dissasembly

When Gaston Glock first designed the Glock Pistol, he attempted to meet the Austrian Defense Ministry's 17 criteria. One of those seventeen criteria stated that disassembly of the main parts for maintenance and reassembling must be possible without the use of any tools. So it is with the Glock, with its unique method of dissasembly.

It is important to mention that before attempting any cleaning or maintenance, a safety check should be performed. First, eject the magazine, and set it aside, taking care to keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction. Then, open the action, and eject any cartridge remaining in the weapon. After doing so, check to make certain the chamber is empty, then check it again. Untold numbers of accidental and negligent discharges happen during weapon cleaning, many of them fatal.

Now that you've verified that the weapon is unloaded and uncharged, you can begin dissasembly.

  • Point the weapon in a safe direction, and pull the trigger, resetting it.
  • You don't have to follow my method, I simply find it much easier and more ergonomic than with the gun held upright.

Step One

Flip the pistol upside down, and wrap your thumb around the curve at the top of the frame grip. Then, wrap your other fingers around the slide, getting a firm grip on it.
Flip the pistol upside down, and wrap your thumb around the curve at the top of the frame grip. Then, wrap your other fingers around the slide, getting a firm grip on it.

Step Two

Gripping the slide with your fingers, lever the slide back 1/4 inch, holding it in place there. If the trigger begins to set, you've pulled it back to far. Reset the trigger, and attempt the step again.
Gripping the slide with your fingers, lever the slide back 1/4 inch, holding it in place there. If the trigger begins to set, you've pulled it back to far. Reset the trigger, and attempt the step again.

Step Three

Just above the edge of the trigger guard is a rectangular pin that can be slid upwards, releasing the slide from the frame. With thumb and forefinger, grip the pin, and slide it upwards, holding it in place there.
Just above the edge of the trigger guard is a rectangular pin that can be slid upwards, releasing the slide from the frame. With thumb and forefinger, grip the pin, and slide it upwards, holding it in place there.

Step Four

While holding the sliding pin in place, use your other hand to move the slide towards the muzzle end, and then off of the frame itself.
While holding the sliding pin in place, use your other hand to move the slide towards the muzzle end, and then off of the frame itself.

Step Five

Once the slide is separated from the frame, remove the guide rod and spring, as well as the barrel, and set them aside. Your Glock should now be stripped for cleaning.
Once the slide is separated from the frame, remove the guide rod and spring, as well as the barrel, and set them aside. Your Glock should now be stripped for cleaning.

Part Two: Cleaning

When a handgun is fired, residue from the gunpowder conflagrating (as opposed to exploding) is coats the inside of the weapon. The coating from black powder is even corrosive, and can damage the weapon itself. Glocks, however, being modern weapons, have little to fear from that. However, buildup of powder can cause the weapon to malfunction.

Furthermore, copper, and other metallic deposits can accumulate on the inside of the barrel and breechface as well. Depending on the weapon, this can be allowed for longer or shorter periods of time. You can go a very long time without cleaning a Glock with full functionality. However, Glocks use polygonal rifling, which creates a tighter gas seal around the bullet as it is propelled out of the barrel. With higher increases in pressure, so comes higher risk of catastrophic failure, or as its colloquially known, "Ka-boom." With such a risk, even minor, the simple and beneficial task of cleaning seems a no brainer. The first step in the cleaning process is also the solution to that particular risk:


3rd Generation Glock 21 4.60" Barrel
3rd Generation Glock 21 4.60" Barrel

The Barrel

  1. Run your bore brush through the barrel, removing any large or loose powder or metal residue. As a rule, always insert the brush from the breech end of the barrel, and never the muzzle end.
  2. Remove the brush if necessary, and insert a cleaning cloth into the rod. Soak the cloth in bore cleaner. I personally use Hoppe's No. 9.
  3. Run the solvent soaked cloth down the length of the barrel, again inserting it from the breech, for consistency. Once you've run the cloth down the length of the barrel a few times, set the barrel aside, and let the solvent soak in.
  4. After the solvent has had time to soak into the barrel, run a cloth down the length of the barrel, discarding the cloth once it becomes too soiled. Repeat this until the cloth is running through the barrel with no soiling or discoloration.
  5. Now, you're finished, The barrel is now clean, set it aside somewhere where it won't pick up lint or debris.


3rd Generation Glock 21 Slide
3rd Generation Glock 21 Slide

The Slide

  1. With a clean (non oil soaked or solvent soaked) toothbrush, scrub the inside of the slide. This loosens up any debris or deposits on the metal of the slide.
  2. Soak another cleaning cloth in solvent, and run it along the length of the inside of the slide. I use a bent in half pipe cleaner to force the cloth into hard to reach crevices. Make certain to clean the slide rails out, in particular.
  3. Tilt the slide upright, with the barrel end the bottom most portion, then scrub the breechface with the solvent cloth. This is to ensure no solvent leaks into the chamber that houses the firing pin assembly. Make sure to get the other hard to reach places such as behind the extractor, and such.
  4. Once you've cleaned the slide off with the solvent, wipe the slide off with a clean cloth, either another gun cloth, or a clean microfiber cloth, to leave as little debris or lint as possible.


3rd Generation Glock 21 frame
3rd Generation Glock 21 frame

The Frame

1. Brush the internal area's off with the toothbrush, loosening any powder buildup or debris that may have accumulated.

2. Inspect the frame for any gunk that might have built up from oil attracting dirt, powder residue, or debris, and remove it.

3. Wipe clean with a clean microfiber cloth.


Part Three: Oiling

Oiling is a necessary maintenance task for any firearm. Regardless of how simple, they all have moving parts put under great stress, and it is important to keep those parts interacting as smoothly as possible. Glocks in particular require less oil than many firearms. Below is a diagram detailing the proper oiling points for Glock Pistols. Make certain to oil the slide rails, as well as the oil point on the "tail" of the frame, in particular.

You'll note at the bottom that it cautions against using too much oil in the process. Too much oil can result in the oil catching the powder residue during firing, as well as any other debris that is floating around inside the weapon, gunking it up. Glocks require very little oil to function properly. When applying the oil, you may use a thin tipped oil applicator, such as an oil syringe, or even rub it on with your finger to avoid over-oiling it. I personally have a 4" by 4" microfiber oil rag that I lightly soaked with oil that I use to spread out or wipe up any excess oil.


Oiling diagram for Glock Pistols
Oiling diagram for Glock Pistols | Source

The Finished Product

Once you've finished cleaning and oiling your Glock, you should be left with a frame, barrel, and slide that is free from all residue, buildup, lint, or debris. It should also be well oiled and fully functional. Thank you for reading, and remember, proper maintenance is key to a properly functioning firearm. Whether you rely on it for defending yourself and your family, law enforcement, combat, or simply sports shooting, a properly maintained weapon is a weapon you can rely on.

As always, be safe! Firearms are a great responsibility, and handling them safely and properly should be at the forefront of every weapon owners mind.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Not everyone does it the same way, and I can't rightly say that my own method is any better than any other persons. I will say, though, that when I first purchased my Glock, that I wish I had better instruction in it. Hopefully, this will be of use to someone else like me out there.

Cleaned, Oiled, and Reassembled Glock 21

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    • profile image

      Robert Modero 2 years ago

      Some great tips. I think a lot of people miss out on when not cleaning their guns frequently. Most of the people also over use lubricant, which is bad. We wrote about it here for anyone that is interested: http://nationalcarryacademy.com/handgun-cleaning-t... Would love to get some feedback from you.

      - Robert Modero

    • TomBlalock profile image
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      TomBlalock 3 years ago from Hickory, NC

      I actually avoid Q-tips. They work well, but have a tendency to leave cotton lint. I like a completely clean firearm when I'm done, and even those little slivers of cotton get on my nerves.

    • profile image

      John 3 years ago

      They make 22 kits

    • profile image

      Thomas 4 years ago

      Most interesting information on cleaning the Glock pistol, you forgot one important item for cleaning and that is the Q-tip, great for reaching hard to get places on your pistol, Glock is one of the best and most used automatic pistol in the world today , I wish Glock would make available their .380 automatic to the American public and I wish they would make a .22 automatic !

    • profile image

      TokarevCzar 5 years ago

      The beauty of my G21 is its pretty like a prom queen but tougher than a biker chic. I like cleaning her with M-pro....interestingly I have never oiled the barrel, good information, thanks!

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      Peter V 5 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Great hub! Voted for it for hub-nugget!

    • profile image

      DigbyAdams 5 years ago

      Very interesting topic. I don't own a glock, but it was good to understand the amount of work that it takes to maintain one properly.

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      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Ripplemakers News Flash" This hub is a Hubnuggets nominee! Check your email or this link http://koffeeklatchgals.hubpages.com/hub/Word-Sala... and get the chance to be in the Hubpages newsletter. Join the fun!

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