Forgetting to clean the rifle’s magazine is one of the most basic mistakes out there. So basic, in fact, that the untold numbers of gun owners who probably experience magazine failure each year only do because they’ve literally never cleaned their mags.
It is consistently listed as one of the most fundamental rookie mistakes of gun cleaning. Everyone knows you need to swab the bore, chamber to muzzle, drop out the trigger group and clean the bolt or bolt carrier, lest issues arise such as failure to feed or extract. But the magazine? That largely goes unforgotten. Well, here’s your “gentle” reminder.
Why Keep Your Rifle Magazine Clean?
Here are the facts: You need to clean your rifle magazine if you want to ensure the operability of your rifle, period.
If that’s not enough for you, please accept this justification. If your rifle is a repeater or an autoloader, it relies on the functionality of some sort of magazine to feed the action. Magazines get just as dirty with fouling, oil, and grit as trigger groups and bolt carriers.
When they do, performance is sluggish. A very dirty mag might not allow the cartridges to seat properly and can significantly impact feeding. In extreme cases, a poorly maintained rifle magazine might be hindered in terms of capacity.
Feeding issues aside (these are bad enough) a dirty magazine is much more likely to corrode. Powder fouling creates salts that mix with moisture in the air and can destroy a magazine from the inside out – just like they’d do to the rifle’s bore.
Leaving fouling all over the interior of a magazine is not just unsightly, it destroys the mag. So when you take your gun to the bench after a day at the range or in the field, drop out the mag and clean that, too.
How to Clean Your Rifle Magazine?
First off, a disclaimer. Some rifles have integral magazines or have tube magazines. This quick exposition does not detail cleaning them. You’ll need to look elsewhere for that.
Drop out the detachable box mag. Most (but not all) magazines contain only a few internal parts. Many of them consist of only a mag body, a floor plate, an internal spring, and a follower; that’s it.
Drop out the floor plate. It will either slide out of place or can be removed via a few screws. If it has screws, place them in a magnetic tray to prevent yourself from losing them.
Then, remove the spring and follower. Get a bowl ready with some warm water and soap, and submerge these parts in them. Let them soak, and take a brush to the magazine body and floor plate. Brush away and noticeable fouling and then wipe them clean and dry before applying a very light coat of oil.
As for the spring and following, we suggest using soap and water only (no solvent) simply because some followers are plastic and solvent may destroy them. If you have a metal follower, you may be able to use some gun cleaning solvents on them. However, in the days of muzzleloaders, soap and water worked fine and then continue to.
Use a rag or brush to clean off any fouling from the magazine spring and follower before drying thoroughly and applying a very light coat of oil. Then, reassemble the magazine in the reverse order from which you took it apart.
Where Can You Get a New Rifle Magazine?
If you’re one of those guys that has let your magazine go so long without cleaning that it feels like a matchbox full of sand or has seized entirely, what you need is a new rifle magazine and not a bare-bones cleaning tutorial.
Visit SARCO, Inc., online at SarcoInc.com. They carry a huge collection of firearms and parts including magazines for hard-to-find historical oddities and service rifles. Check out their collection today and give them a call at 610-250-3960 if you have any questions.