Experiment: I Didn’t Clean This Gun For Three Years

I've decided to conduct a small experiment on just how long one of my guns can go before needing to be cleaned. The revolver pictured in this article hasn't been cleaned once in the time I've owned it, probably about three years or so now.

It has a very specific use for me which we'll cover in a bit. But first, let's cover why I did this.

We always hear various things about revolvers that may or may not be true depending on who you ask, the gun itself, and even a few other aspects about it as we'll see in a few moments.

I repeat, this revolver has never been cleaned. Not even once. I'll periodically make an attempt to blow the dust off of it with my mouth which usually yields zero to little dust actually leaving the gun. I do drop some oil on it from time to time.

So, what are some of the things said about revolvers and guns in general?

  • Revolvers don't fail
  • Guns need to be cleaned weekly or after each range session
  • Guns don't need to be cleaned, just regularly oiled

Let's get started.

The cylinder is filthy and the ejection rod is stiff, not returning fully back unless I push on it. That is not rust on the bottom, I was concerned it was but it wiped right off.

This revolver of mine is my house gun. I drop it in my pocket holster and use it to carry my gun around my house. This is highly relevant because the pocket is one of the dirtiest places for a carry gun.

I tend to keep this one in a Sticky Holster (which you can purchase here in our store) and it does a good job of keeping the trigger protected. However, it also does a good job of collecting lint and dust.

That lint and dust can work its way into every crevice, nook, and cranny on your gun–which is why this revolver looks the way it does. This ultimately brings me to my first point.

Revolvers don't fail. Well, first of all, yes they can. We've covered this more in depth here, but while this revolver still functions when the trigger gets yanked, there are other issues with it that could pose a real problem if I ever needed to defend myself with it.

The ejection rod is very stiff both when ejecting the rounds as well as when going back in. To get it fully seated again I have to push on it.

Then there's the cylinder release that sticks in the “cylinder open” position until the cylinder is closed and rotates again. Both of these could cause me issues if I had to reload my gun, which I wouldn't have to because this one sees duty primarily in my house and is meant to fight me to a better option.

Having said all of that, these failures are not detrimental to the operation of the firearm in its first five shots, and the gun still does function otherwise. Also, this can obviously be attributed to a failure on my part for this experiment. I'd also make the argument that many failures can be attributed to people, not the guns themselves.

I can only imagine what has worked its way into these parts to get them to not work properly. I haven't pulled it apart yet to clean it, but will be shortly.

Let's move on.

Do guns need to be cleaned weekly or after every range session? Well, not exactly, but as we can see here they do need to be cleaned at some sort of regular interval.

I hate cleaning my guns. But, I do recognize that I need to do it on at least a semi-regular basis. Because while this gun still fires, not all functions are at 100% which still poses a problem should I ever use this gun outside my home.

I'm not going to make an attempt to tell you how often to clean your guns because everyone will disagree with me and has their own schedule. What I can say is that I find it a huge waste of time to clean mine after each range session or even on a weekly basis.

All they really need on a regular basis is to be properly lubricated. Matthew goes more into depth about proper firearm maintenance in that article, and while we may not clean our guns at the same intervals, we can both agree that regular maintenance is important, as we've proven here.

My conclusion in all of this with my experiment in not cleaning this gun for at least three years (maybe more) is that guns do need to be cleaned at regular intervals, but will likely still work to a degree if the aliens attempt to take over the world and you can't get to cleaning gear.

What are your thoughts? How often do you clean your guns? Let us know in the comments below. Oh, and if you need new cleaning gear, we've got a plethora of goodies in our store.

About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. Allan McKenney on December 7, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Hello, Josh. I always clean my S+W after any and all shooting. This is when a person should inspect that all working parts are just that,’ working’. After cleaning I’ll store it in a ‘gun rug. And I agree that a revolver can act up just like an ‘auto’. Have a very good day, Allan.

  2. john-clement on December 9, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    I agree with Mr. McKenny…I clean any gun I have after every firing…and when any gun I own has not been fired in 3 months…I became obsessed with cleaning my weapons in the RVN…But I know I could be a little paranoid…but anyway how long does it take to clean a revolver…and getting pits in your riflings is the eighth deadly sin…lol…

  3. Bob Raby on December 10, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    What an idiotic thing to do. I can’t believe anyone is stupid enough to see any value in this “experiment.
    What a waste of words.
    Try not brushing your teeth for three years and write an article on that.

    • Joshua Gillem on December 10, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      Bob, while I thank you for your comment, I think you’re missing the overall point. You know that you’ve got to brush your teeth because when you were a kid you had a dentist and some other adults telling you that if you didn’t they might fall out.

      It’s the same thing with any part of life. We don’t know until we are told by other people who know more than we do. It may sound stupid to those of us who have been around guns for longer, but anyone who truly doesn’t know probably wouldn’t enjoy being called stupid. But hey, you do whatever makes you feel good.


    • Don Theman on May 22, 2024 at 9:17 am

      It’s been a long time since this article and comments were originally posted, but I’m a novice gun owner. Though I’ve had my S&W pistol for about 10 years and went to the range inside and in a large field a few times, I’ve not shot it since I last cleaned it 3 years ago. I was concerned about what issues I might face. Well, I do an online search and found this Joshua Gillem page.

      There is certainly value in this ‘experiment’ and I’m grateful for the information I learned. I’m about to go to a range and use it.

      BTW, I haven’t brushed my teeth in 3 years, and aside from no woman would want to kiss me, my teeth are just fine. I do NOT recommend this for or to anyone, though.

  4. Randy A Martin on December 11, 2019 at 7:54 am


    Interesting experiment, I too dislike cleaning and have mostly been if its not broke don’t fix it kind of guy. I was taught to clean my weapons after it was shot period. But my experience has shown me this is really a waste of time if you are planning to shoot the weapon again in short order, and since I have more than a few guns and shoot them regularly. I find cleaning them each time I shoot, takes up way too much of my time. I do inspect them after I fire them and put them back in the safe or case, but I shoot mostly for fun and cleaning is not! I agree you need to lubricate and inspect on a regular basis but I see no need to clean my MPX or G19 after I put 50 or even 100 rounds through it. Final thought I can personally attest that the majority of my failures have been caused by magazines and ammo and not the weapon itself. So inspect your ammo and maintain those Mags as much or more as your weapon, and by all means clean away if that make you happy.

    Merry Christmas Everyone

    Randy in Wichita

  5. Gary Radtke on December 11, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Michigan State Police issued Sig-Sauer P-226 9mm pistols to all enlisted personnel in 1989; we had a week-long training session to familiarize ourselves with the new equipment. We had previously been issued revolvers. Training Division staff told us to clean the pistols every day after class. I decided to see how long it would take to gum up a new pistol using cheap ammo. We fired about 3000 rounds total in the training session. I cleaned my gun on the last day of class. I never had a misfire or any malfunction during the class. The gun was pretty dirty but still worked flawlessly. I normally clean my guns after every range session or match but it is clearly not necessary.

  6. [email protected] on December 15, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    I Agree, I have pocket revolvers I rarely clean and function the same as the day they came out of the box.

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