The Glock handgun is known for its reliability, but even the most reliable machines need to be maintained for peak performance. 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, there are Glock owners who have questions about their 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
- Saftey Checks
- Conducting function Check
The text will cover the above topics. However, because some things like disassembly and reassembly are better taught visually, the specifics will be further explained in the video.
Breaking it Down:
Too many mishaps happen when people are cleaning their guns. Let's address how to ensure the firearm is unloaded. This 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). Pull the slide fully to the rear, locking it open with the slide lock. Any chambered round should be extracted when you pull the slide back. However, you still need to visually and physically check the chamber to ensure that there is no round present.
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 fully strip your gun apart. I'll cover both in this article.
Glock recommends cleaning your firearm: every month, after any live fire or when the firearm has been exposed to unfavorable conditions ie. rain, snow, high humidity etc.
Anything outside of the basic field stripping Glock recommends to be done by an armorer. But the simple design of the Glock allows full disassembly to be relatively easy. That being said, only attempt to do this type of breakdown if you are confident in your abilities. You don't want your firearm to malfunction because you didn't reassemble it correctly, or take a box of Glock parts to the gun store for them to reassemble for you.
The first step in breaking down the gun requires the slide to be removed. There is some controversy surrounding this step of disassembly. This is because the trigger must be depressed as part of the disassembly process. Not all guns require this step, and it is this action that some point to as a reason for unintended discharges at the cleaning bench. I find this reasoning to be extremely flawed, and lacking an understanding of common firearm safety procedures. We should always know the condition (loaded or unloaded) of our firearm when squeezing the trigger. The safety check mentioned above completely eliminates any risk.
To remove the slide, it first must be in the forward position. Point the gun in a safe direction and squeeze the trigger until the firing pin is released. Pull the slide about 1/4″ to the rear, while simultaneously pulling down on both sides of the slide lock (not slide stop). Be careful not to pull the slide too far back, because this will reset the trigger and you will have to start over. The easiest method is to wrap one hand around the rear of the slide and backstrap, creating a ‘C' grip. Tightening your grip will move the slide to the rear. 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.
How often should you clean your guns? I am not subject to a commanders weapon inspection like I was back in my Marine Corps days, so my weapons cleaning schedule is a bit more lax.
My Every Day Carry (EDC)– Even if I have not fired a round, I do a basic cleaning about every 2 weeks. Your EDC gun is subject to changing temperatures, skin oils, dust, and debris. Break the gun down, look inside the barrel for any dust or fouling. Check the magazines for spring tension and any discoloration or corrosion of ammunition. Check the sights to make sure they are not loose, damaged or show corrosion. Perform a function check (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 Guns– Clean these guns based on their usage or amount of time before they will be shot again. Some say that you must clean your firearm after EVERY trip to the range. I don't think you can over-clean a firearm, but also don't think it is necessary to clean a gun after 20 or 30 rounds. Unless that firearm will not be fired for weeks.
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. Clean, cotton fabric squares, called patches are used 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 literally 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 the action of your firearm.
A bore snake is a useful 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 it can be used without breaking the gun down, so it's handy for a quick clean.
Magazines don't typically need to be cleaned. But they can definitely get dirty, which can cause feeding problems. Taking apart a Glock magazine can be a pain in the butt. First, flip your magazine upside down and insert a punch into the small buttonhole on the base plate. You will notice two tabs on either side of the magazine where the magazine tube meets the base plate. You will need to press in on these tabs, while simultaneously sliding the base plate forward.
Glock magazines are very stiff, and it's not easy to squeeze enough to disengage the tabs. You can purchase a tool which makes the process easier. The spring inside your magazine is under tension, so remove the base plate slowly and cover the opening. Failure to do so can result in magazine parts being launched 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. Gouge marks, scrapes or loose parts indicate a problem and should be addressed. 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 ejection port of the slide 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 properly. I also insert an empty magazine into the frame and ensure the magazine locks and drops freely.
Glocks do not have the traditional external safety many people are accustomed to. But Glocks are actually equipped with three safeties. Two of these safeties we can check while the gun is 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. The firing pin should not be seen protruding through the firing pin hole on the breech face. If it protrudes the firing pin and safety should be replaced. 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. The firing pin should be heard 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. Now release the tension from the trigger. The trigger safety tab should be resting 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. Oil should only be applied to specific areas. If oil is applied to areas that do not burn the oil away through friction, the oil pools and attracts debris. This creates a sludge that is arguably more detrimental than not having enough oil. Additionally, you should 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, and the inside of the slide where the hood of the barrel 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 but some make cleaning the gun easier, so choose one that performs.
Take your time and put the firearm back together in the reverse order it was taken 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 the rails are lined up with the groves of the slide. Don't force it, if you feel resistance. Back it off, realign and try again.
Function Check- Performing a function check after reassembly is important, especially for your EDC. First, squeeze the trigger, the firing pin should release and the trigger should stay to the rear. Rack and release the slide while holding the trigger to the rear. Slowly release the trigger and you should feel the trigger reset with a click.
If your Glock has passed, move on to testing the trigger safety. Depress the outside of the trigger shoe, without engaging the trigger safety tab. The tab should make contact with the frame, prohibiting the trigger from traveling to the rear and firing the handgun.
Lastly, 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 to the rear and release it. The slide should move fully forward into battery.
2000 words later and you may be thinking I am crazy for saying that the Glock is easy to clean and maintain. But it is genuinely the Honda of firearms, nothing fancy, but utilitarian and reliable. I hope between this written article, and the video, you have a better idea of how to maintain your Glock and ensure it is functioning 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.