“The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.” General John Pershing, U.S. Army.

No matter what their MOS is, every Marine is a rifleman. They are all trained to effectively engage targets out to 500 meters, perform basic battlefield maneuvers, and professionally maintain the standard issue service rifle. This is one of the defining characteristics that makes the Marine Corps the world’s finest fighting force; feared and respected by our enemies and allies alike. No better friend, no worse enemy.

As a United States Marine, I will personally attest to this and as such I can tell you that we individually and institutionally perform weapons maintenance at the level of an art form. Ask any Marine and he can tell you about long hours spent at an armory table scrubbing away with essentially a toothbrush and CLP, (a brand of cleaning/lubricant that Cleans Lubricates and Protects). I will be the first to admit that the level of cleanliness we strive for is a bit obsessive and overkill, but it is honestly a good habit to have. It is one of the small details that contributes to us being able to identify as professionals in a community of warriors.

Now, hands down probably the fastest way to clean your rifle is by throwing it into a solvent tank for a bit or sticking a 20 dollar bill inside the chamber when you hand it back to your armorer. But if neither of these is an option afforded to you, there is always the good old-fashioned way of doing it yourself by hand. To really accomplish this to a better standard, a few essential tools and products need to be acquired first.

First and foremost you are going to need a cleaning solution of some form. There are a variety of brands out their but as long as it one- prevents corrosion; and two- lubricates the firearm; you are generally good to go. However you are probably going to want to stick to an established brand that’s designed specifically for firearms. I prefer some of the following:

  • FrogLube
  • Fireclean
  • CLP
  • Rem Oil
  • Hoppes No. 9

That being said, I have successfully lubricated weapons with motor oil, Vaseline, Aquafor, etc. I have also successfully cleaned weapons with diesel fuel, soap and water, WD-40, etc. Sometimes you have to get creative to improvise, adapt and overcome.

When it comes to tools, there are several preferred ones and kits you can buy, but this can also be very subjective to the rifle make and model. For the majority of this article, I will be referencing a kit associated to an M16/ M4 style of rifle, specifically a U.S. Military issue cleaning kit. Some universal items included or beneficial will be,

  • Small brush
  • Cleaning rag
  • Q-tips
  • Bore punch/cleaning rod
  • Bore brush
  • Eyelet

The small brush could literally be a tooth-brush or something similar in size and bristle strength. A cleaning rag could an old shirt or mechanic’s rag but can also be substituted by tissues or paper towels. Paper products often make things more difficult in my opinion. A bore punch and brush plus eyelet for cleaning a rifle bore and chamber is pretty much a standard for any service rifle cleaning kit.