While the Glock handgun's design is surprisingly simple, there is still some confusion about how to clean a Glock handgun. We will cover the basics. I am beginning with how to take a Glock slide off. And continue all the way to completely disassembly and reassembly of your Glock. And I will even show you how to safety check a Glock to make sure you are good to go.
Getting Started With How to Clean A Glock Handgun:
The Glock handgun is known for its reliability, but we need to maintain even the most reliable machines. Every Glock comes with an owner's manual that explains how to disassemble, clean and lube it. But if you're like many gun owners, this book has never made an appearance outside of the sealed envelope it came in.
And, maybe you have other questions about your gun. Sure, you could do an internet search and find Youtube videos showing how to maintain your Glock, but I find the quality of content is hit or miss.
Here is an in-depth article and video on the best practices for:
- Field Stripping
- Full Break-Down
- Safety Checks
- Conducting function Check
The text will cover the above topics. However, for some specifics on how to completely disassemble the Glock, check out the video.
How to Take Apart a Glock:
Too many mishaps happen when people are cleaning their guns. Let's address how to ensure you are working with an unloaded firearm. This step is critical in any firearm disassembly, but as you will see, even more so when disassembling a Glock handgun.
- First, point the firearm in a safe direction.
- Next, remove the source of ammunition (your magazine).
- Then, pull the slide completely to the rear, locking it open with the slide lock. Pulling the slide back should extract any round in the chamber.
However, you still need to visually and physically check the chamber to ensure there is no round in the chamber.
Now that you have confirmed the gun is safe, you can take it apart. Nearly all cleaning and testing of the firearm can be accomplished after field stripping the gun. However, you may have reason to strip your gun apart entirely. I'll cover both in this article.
Field Stripping a Glock–
Anything outside of the basic field stripping Glock recommends to be done by an armorer. But the simple design of the Glock allows complete disassembly to be relatively easy.
That said, only attempt to do this type of breakdown if you are confident in your abilities. You could cause a lot of problems and safety issues if you fail to assemble things correctly.
The first step in basic disassembly down requires the removal of the slide.
How to Remove a Glock Slide:
After ensuring you have an unloaded gun, point it in a safe direction.
Then squeeze the trigger until the firing pin is released.
Pull the slide backward about 1/4″ while simultaneously pulling down on both sides of the slide lock (not slide stop).
Be careful not to pull the slide back too far because this will reset the trigger, and you will have to start over.
I find an easy method is to wrap one hand around the rear of the slide and backstrap, creating a ‘C' grip. Tightening your grip will pull the slide backward, but keep it from going too far.
Then, using the index finger and thumb of the other hand, pull down on the slide lock.
Hold the slide lock down and release the slide forward. It will move forward and can slide off the frame.
A Note About Safety:
As noted, the trigger must be depressed as part of the Glock handgun disassembly. Some say the process is flawed and inherently dangerous because of this. Proponents of this mindset point to negligent discharges while cleaning a Glock.
I find this reasoning highly flawed and showing a lack of understanding of standard firearm safety procedures.
We should always know the condition (loaded or unloaded) of our firearm when squeezing the trigger. The safety check mentioned above wholly eliminates any risk.
Continuing to Field Strip Your Glock:
You can now remove the guide rod and recoil-spring assembly. Depress the unit toward the muzzle end and pull it from the barrel.
The next step is to remove the barrel from the slide by sliding it slightly forward and then pulling it out to the rear.
Once you have made it this far, you have broken the gun down for basic maintenance. Once again, this is as far as Glock recommends you take your firearm apart unless you are an armorer.
As promised, in the video, I show you how to take your gun entirely apart and put it back together.
How often should you clean your guns? Glock recommends cleaning your firearm: every month, after any live fire or exposure to unfavorable conditions, i.e., rain, snow, high humidity, etc. How often you clean your Glock is up to you. I will say that an under-lubricated Glock will have way more issues compared to a dirty Glock.
Here is my basic formula for cleaning my guns:
My Everyday Carry Gun (EDC)–
Even if I have not fired a round, I do basic, monthly cleaning. Your EDC gun is subject to changing temperatures, skin oils, dust, and debris. As part of the cleaning, I also routinely check the following:
- Look inside the barrel for any debris or fouling.
- Check the magazines for spring tension and any discoloration or corrosion, or setback of my self-defense ammunition.
- Inspect iron sights to make sure they are not loose, damaged, or show corrosion.
- Examine any optic and ensure the optic hasn't become loose and it isn't time to change the battery.
- I perform a function check after putting the gun back together (I'll explain the process in a bit).
- Finally, if necessary, apply an ultra-thin layer of oil to the exterior of the gun.
All Other Guns–
Clean these guns based on their usage or amount of time before being used again. Some say that you must clean your firearm after EVERY trip to the range. I don't think you can over-clean a gun, but I also don't believe it is necessary to clean a gun after 20 or 30 rounds unless you don't fire the gun for months.
If you never clean your gun, you increase the odds you will have a malfunction, even if ever so slightly. The point is to use common sense, clean your guns after high-round counts or low round counts and a long period of non-usage.
Glocks come with a caliber-specific bore brush and punch rod with an integrated eyelet. In addition to these items, grab a stiff-bristled cleaning brush. Purpose-built gun cleaning brushes that are thick on one side and thin on the other work well.
I recommend a basic handgun cleaning kit with the above tools and some tools for scraping and reaching tiny crevises. Here is an excellent option from ReadyUpGear.
Use clean, cotton fabric squares, called patches, to clean the bore of the gun. You can purchase these or sacrifice some old t-shirts for the sake of a well-maintained firearm.
There are hundreds of different cleaning products sold: solvents, multi-use cleaner/lubricants, and eco-friendly cleaners of all kinds. Whichever you end up using, make sure you follow the instructions for that specific product because they are not all used in the same manner.
The area around the locking block and slide stop get especially dirty. I find cotton swabs work well here but pay attention if you use them. Be careful that cotton does not pull from the stick and end up jammed inside your firearm.
A bore snake is a helpful tool. It is a long, soft nylon/cotton rope with a copper brush embedded in it. As you pull it through the barrel, it cleans out the bore. It's not a replacement for a bore brush, but you can use it without breaking the gun down, so it's handy for a quick clean.
Magazines get dirty, which can cause feeding problems. Taking apart a Glock magazine can sometimes be a pain in the butt.
First, flip your magazine upside down and insert a punch into the small buttonhole on the base plate. Push the baseplate several inches up toward the opening.
There are two tabs on either side of the magazine where the magazine tube meets the base plate. Press in on these tabs while simultaneously sliding the base plate forward. If you don't push the base plate far enough, you might not be able to squeeze the magazine tube to release the tabs.
Glock magazines are very stiff, and it's not always easy to disengage the tabs. You can purchase a tool that makes it much more manageable.
The spring inside your magazine is under tension, so remove the base plate slowly and cover the opening. Failure to do so can launch magazine parts across the room.
Wipe down the components and the interior of the magazine tube with a dry cloth. Don't oil the spring or any other magazine components.
Internal Components & Safety Checks:
At this point, take a look for any obvious signs that something is not functioning correctly. Address any gouge marks, scrapes, or loose parts that indicate a problem. Check the following components:
Slide stop-pull up on the slide stop and ensure it snaps back down into place. If it stays up or doesn't return quickly, the spring may be broken or damaged.
The extractor, located on the rear portion of the slide's ejection port, is under spring tension and should not be loose.
Look at your pins (3 or 2 depending on the model and generation) and ensure they have not loosened up or moved.
Press your magazine release and make sure the spring is functioning and working correctly. I also insert an empty magazine into the frame and ensure the magazine locks and drops freely.
How to Perform Safety Checks on a Glock–
Glocks do not have a traditional external safety. But Glocks are equipped with three safeties. Two of these safeties we can check with the gun disassembled, and one we will check later on as part of a functions check.
Firing Pin Safety Check–
Pull the tang of the firing pin to the rear of the slide (do not let the firing pin slam forward).
Now push the firing pin to the front of the slide. You should not see the firing pin protruding through the firing pin hole on the breech face. If it protrudes, replace the firing pin and safety.
Next, fully depress the safety plunger. Manually push the firing pin tang to the front of the slide. The firing pin should now protrude through the breech face.
While holding the plunger down, shake the slide back and forth. You should hear the firing pin moving freely inside the slide.
Drop Safety Check–
Fully extend your trigger bar to the forward position. Using a punch or other tool, press down on the trigger bar cruciform.
The cruciform should not drop off of the drop safety shelf.
The next step is to release the tension from the trigger. The trigger safety tab should rest against the frame of your gun.
Again, press down on the trigger bar cruciform.
If the cruciform drops during either of the tests, your Glock is not drop safe.
Many shooters over-lube their guns. It's not only unnecessary but can cause malfunctions and safety concerns.
Apply oil only to specific areas of the gun. Oiling areas that do not burn the oil away through friction attract debris, creating a sludge that is arguably more detrimental than not having enough oil.
Additionally, never oil the firing pin channel or put oil down into the trigger mechanism housing.
Glock recommends placing one drop of oil on the four rails, on the portion of the trigger bar that makes contact with the connector, and on the cruciform.
Additionally, apply a thin coat of oil on the outside of the barrel. Also, apply a thin coat of oil inside the slide where the barrel's hood makes contact with the slide.
What type of lubricant you choose to use is a personal preference. I particularly like Rand CLP's H.A.W.G. Grease and Pig Lube. I almost exclusively use these two products. Your lube not only protects against wear, so choose one that performs.
Take your time and put the firearm back together in the reverse order you took it apart.
Watch the video again if you get confused. A step that can cause problems is putting the slide back on. Take your time to ensure you line up the rails with the groves of the slide. If you feel resistance, don't force it. Back it off, realign and try again.
Glock Function Check-
Performing a function check after reassembly is essential, especially for your EDC.
First, squeeze the trigger, the firing pin should release, and the trigger should stay to the rear.
While holding the trigger to the rear, rack and release the slide, then release the trigger. You should feel the trigger reset with a click.
If your Glock has passed, move on to:
Testing the Glock Trigger Safety.
Depress the outside of the trigger shoe without engaging the trigger safety tab. The tab should contact the frame, prohibiting the trigger from traveling to the rear and firing the handgun.
Insert an empty magazine and rack the slide to the rear. The slide stop should engage and lock the slide open. Remove the magazine, pull the slide back and release it. The slide should move fully forward into battery.
Glock is now on its 5th generation handgun. However, the practical and reliable design has changed very little. I hope between this written article and the video; you will have a better idea of maintaining your Glock and ensuring it functions the way it should.
Any gun you carry should get some extra love in the maintenance department. I plan on covering the ins and outs of some other commonly carried guns. Leave any requests in the comments of guns you would like covered.