Gas Gun Cleaning Redux

Dear Technoid:

Regarding care and cleaning, I am somewhat confused by what appears to be a conflict between two of your technical tracts: the one entitled “Care and Cleaning” and the reprinted article on “Break-Free CLP”. In the former, you recommend Hoppes #9 or Shooters Choice as solvents and Birchwood Casey’s Sheath as a lubricant/rust protectant (although Break-Free is mentioned); whereas the latter tract strongly suggests that Break-Free is the be-all and end-all for cleaning, lubricating, protecting and storing.

What IS your current best advice regarding the use of these products and what habits should I adopt (recognizing that I am a rank novice to all of this) so that the gun continues to operate without malfunction and gives me years of rust free service. Specifically, how often should the gun be cleaned, what’s the best way to do it and with what product(s) and how should the gun be stored given that I have neither a gun safe nor a “Golden Rod”?

I anxiously await your reply which will likely be neither in error nor doubt.


Dear Kent,

Well, welcome to the sport. After 47 years of living a normal existence, you have a lot of catching up to do. Glad that you like the AL390. It’s a good gun and will give you many years of trouble free service.

Cleaning guns isn’t all that bad. The technique is simple unless following advice from people like me who cause confusion. That’s the problem with web site archives- the darn computer never forgets and sharp eyed people can compare my old bad advice to my new bad advice.

Birchwood Casey’s Sheath is an excellent rust protectant, but I really don’t use it as a lubricant because there are far better products for lubrication. I apologize if I said that I did. In the gas gun, I really think that the best overall strategy is to use BreakFree CLP for everything, from “C”leaning, to “L”ubrication to “P”rotection. In a gas gun, this is never a mistake. I sometimes use more aggressive solvents (like Shooters Choice) to clean choke tubes, but BreakFree will do the job. It just takes a little longer. A wipe down with Birchwood Casey’s Sheath is probably a slightly better rust preventer than the same with BreakFree, but I have never had rust using either. Again, using Breakfree is never a mistake on a gas gun.

The key to proper gun maintenance is to clean properly and often. It really doesn’t hinge so much on what you use, as how often you use it. If you are a good boy, you will clean your faithful 390 to spotless perfection each and every time you use it. I am a bad boy and usually only wipe my gas guns down when done. I generally just add oil, not change it, until I have about 500-1000 rounds through the gun. Then I clean it properly. This is more a tribute to the dirt eating qualities of the Beretta than it is to my slovenly gun hygiene, but I am a realist and know that a few drops of BreakFree on the piston and rod will just about always get the gun through another 100 rounds no matter what shape it is in. I also always clean properly before a match. I don’t mess with that. I do clean my SxS and FNs properly and completely after each use. After all, sloth has its limits.

As to gun storage without a safe or Golden Rod, well- that is up to you. I hope that your gun has a trigger lock and is in a safe place where unauthorized people can’t get access. The only part of the 390 that can really rust is the outside of the barrel. Just about everything else is chromed, stainless or aluminum. Wipe the barrel down with BreakFree or Sheath. Don’t ever store the gun in a tight fitting plastic sleeve as that will trap moisture against the metal. A little air circulation is actually better for the gun. I still really recommend a gun safe or locking cabinet though. It is far safer.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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