I'll admit it -- I'm kind of lazy when it comes to cleaning firearms. Luckily most of our firearms are really pretty low maintenance. The bolt and lever guns seem to be happy with the occasional bore snake and a cleaning before and after hunting season. The 10/22s hum along merrily for hundreds of rounds without complaint. Heck, with the upgraded extractors I put in there I suspect that they'll be good for over a thousand rounds between cleanings -- that brass really flies and the bolt hums along line a sewing machine.
The S&W M&Ps have been boringly reliable. We've run four day handgun classes with them without any cleaning and been just fine. I cleaned them today for the first time in, well, probably 4-6 months. They probably have close to a thousand rounds through them, if not more, and they were working just fine. I cleaned them only because I had all the stuff out and they go pretty quick once you strip 'em all.
My Beretta 96 was actually showing some signs of fouling. I was getting some weak extraction; not quite enough to cause a malf but the slide cycling was definitely noticeably slower or different. The slide release was getting "mushy" results in that the slide would go forward haltingly. Sure enough I stripped it down and it was pretty dirty, but the Beretta is trivially easy to strip and clean. One of the handgrip screws was showing a tiny spot of rust but that came right off.
Finally, I went through the AR as well. Everyone tells me that the AR needs to be coddled like a spoiled princess, that it shits where it eats, etc. Well, this one has been fired regularly with probably 6+ months since the last cleaning, over a thousand rounds including an Appleseed through it, and it lives under my bed with the dust bunnies. Our range has fine brown sand on the line and that also got into everything. I hadn't noticed any malfs or issues but felt a bit guilty so I figured I'd clean it. Sure enough, the AR was NASTY. I could see the carbon build up in the barrel, the firing pin was black, my fingers were caked in gunk. The carbon, dust bunnies, and brown dust had mixed into a nasty sort of cake-like substance. So, I stripped it down, liberally applied CLP, went back to the handguns, and then in an hour or so returned. The carbon came off nicely, I dried off most of the oil, and we're good to go.
The AR platform has been very reliable for me. Sure, I see the advantages of a piston driven design. However, the ol' boring gas impingement system is not that awful to take care of. It isn't like you need to detail strip the thing every few magazines or after every trip to the range. And again, I had experienced ZERO malfs or other troubling symptoms. So the filthy AR was probably good for another few hundred rounds.
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