More Than Just Ammo
When it comes to firearms there are those among us who are all about the platform. What brand, caliber and model is the best. How much ammo can we store and who has the cheapest at the moment. And while these are certainly valid concerns, there really is much more to it.
Any firearm is nothing more than an extension of yourself. Boiled down all it really does is allow us to project force over distance. The shooting of the weapon is generally a short affair. If it’s a training class, it could be a day or two. We have yet to come to a point where any of us are using them on the daily for defense.
Since most of the life span of a weapon will be spent sitting in a safe or maybe in your vehicle it is important to be prepared to support that weapon. Our carry weapons require additional care as they are generally with us daily, or at least, should be.
Most of us will clean our firearms after a session at the range. Our carry guns may also be cleaned after a range day. For most weapons this is more than enough. However, our carry guns need regular care and maintenance. A firearm is, after all, nothing more than a machine and every machine needs to be tended to.
With that thought in mind, how much material do you keep on hand to fulfill that task? While not high speed or a lot of fun, cleaning supplies are just as necessary as they ammo. Patches, solvents, lubricants and the tools to disassemble and clean your firearms is just as critical.
As already stated, for most of the guns we own, they will only be cleaned after a day at the range. And with the prices of ammo at present, for most of us, range days are getting farther and farther apart. The same cannot be said for our carry guns.
Those weapons we carry on the daily need a little more maintenance. The simple act of carrying the gun exposes it to a lot more environmental hazards than the safe queens back at the house. From sweat to rain, our carry guns are exposed to a lot of factors that can degrade their functioning.
While we are still living in the good old days, we should take advantage of this time to ensure we are properly supplied. Let’s take a quick look at what we should have.
Most modern firearms do not require tools to disassemble. There are still a few. My Kimber 1911’s need a tool as do a few others out there. If you depend on a firearm that needs a takedown tool, make sure you have it and a spare or three. A good quality cleaning kit is also necessity. There are many, many types and kinds of kits and I’m not going to debate the quality of one over the other. The point is to have one or three.
The old GI cleaning kit is fine for most jobs and also compact enough to be able to carry in a ruck. Yes, you should have a cleaning kit in your ruck, and I do not mean a small puck style kit with a bore snake. The snake will be useless should you have a squib round or a FTE (failure to extract) that can only be corrected with an actual rod to knock it out. Get a decent kit for the bench and one for the ruck.
Your kit should have the obvious rods, wire brushes, wire bore brushes, patch holder and mops. In the GI kit I carry I’ve added wire bore brushes for all the calibers I commonly use. That way no matter what weapon I’m carrying I will have the tools to handle to situation.
Next comes the consumables. Things like patches and chemicals. We really need to remember that these items are just that, consumable. They will run out. Now, I know some of you are saying, I’ve been using the same bottle of Hoppe’s for years! And you probably are. But what happens if you can’t run to the gun shop and buy another one? Or Amazon isn’t delivering (a true sign of the apocalypse).
Putting a few bottles of solvents, gun scrub, lubricants and grease is a good idea. In recent years I’ve switched to grease on all my weapons. I’ve found that it lasts longer, is easier to apply and the weapons run smoother. With that in mind I’ve added several large tubs of grease in a few brands to my stores. The same for the solvents and cans of gun scrubber. While I can get by without them, I want to be ready in case there’s a sudden inability to resupply.
The last thing we really need to consider is spare parts. I’ve already said guns are nothing more than a machine and machines break. For handguns I would recommend a spare trigger and firing pin or striker. This is a powerful incentive for standardization of the guns we use. Pick a platform and live with it. That way you’re only dealing with one weapon type to keep spares for.
For rifles there are generally more parts to consider. In the AR platform for example there are numerous springs, pins, detents, clips and other parts that can wear out or simply break. And it’s not just these small parts that nearly all of us have had to run out and find when something totally unforeseen occurred, it can be the larger parts as well.
A few years ago in a training class I had a student using my rifle to run malfunction drills. He needed to mortar a FTE and in doing so, snapped the stock in half. He looked back at me shocked. I told him he had to run it, shit happens, and we need to know how to deal with it. But it was a good example of what can happen. Guns can and will break. And if you do not have spare parts you have nothing more than a really awkward club.
The ability to clean, maintain and repair our firearms is just as important has having them. If you cannot support the weapon by keeping it clean and functional then having it is either useless or a false sense of security. It will only take one small failure to take your weapon out of service. Be prepared now to deal with them.