Everyone knows it is essential to keep weapons clean and well-maintained. Saying it can seem like beating a dead horse, so to speak. Although, there are some nuances that bear discussing and some critical points which may be lesser known. I know for myself, cleaning and maintaining the weapons I own is something that can be easy to overlook. If for no other reason, it will be a good reminder to myself of the importance!
As we all know, when a firearm is discharged, carbon deposits build up inside the gun. Those deposits will harden and impede the function of the gun. As such, it is necessary to take the gun apart and remove the deposits with a solvent. It also helps to lubricate the moving parts with oil where there is metal-on-metal contact. This will make the parts last longer by preventing wear and tear. Oil also protects the metal from corrosion and rust. These are all the obvious reasons to keep a gun clean and well-maintained.
There are other not-so-obvious benefits to this seemingly mundane activity, however. Cleaning and maintaining a firearm fosters knowledge of how to take the gun apart and put it back together. It also fosters an understanding of how the gun functions and what parts make contact with each other, especially after the firearm has been put through a bit of use. Wear marks and carbon buildup show clearly what parts of the gun are under the most stress, something which may not be so clear on a model or replica gun. Of course, parts that are too worn down may need replacement, which is another thing cleaning and maintenance makes one aware of.
Cleaning and maintaining a firearm can be seen as a chore. Thus, it fosters a certain level of discipline, as well as respect for one’s equipment. If you have to actively take care of something, you will come to value it more so than something which does not require care. This transfers to other areas of life and makes one a more responsible individual when the performance of the chore becomes habitual. Also, it may be a lifesaver one day to know how to clean and maintain one’s own weapons rather than relying on someone else for that simple task.
It is true that one should not bring a “knife to a gunfight,” so to speak. After all, combatants armed with only edged weapons generally do not perform so well against combatants armed with ranged weapons, barring a few exceptions. What are those exceptions? Well, close-quarters situations, of course. When grappling with an opponent, a firearm can be a much less reliable weapon compared to a short knife.
Thus, even when carrying a firearm, a knife is important as well. And all but the most high-end steel knives have to be cleaned and maintained. Some modern steels are very corrosion-resistant, although most steel still needs to be protected from the elements. A wet knife can become a rusty knife, and a rusty knife can be very brittle. Therefore, knives should be kept clean, dry, and lightly oiled.
Of course, sharp knives are safe knives. Dull knives will require more force to use and thus are more likely to drag and slip during a cut. If that happens, you may cut yourself, something, or someone else you did not intend to. Some knives are easier to sharpen than others, although knives that are easier to sharpen generally do not hold an edge as well. Thus, knives that are harder to sharpen generally need less sharpening. This can be a bonus to longevity because sharpening removes metal from the blade and thus reduces its lifespan. Also, if it is possible to tone the edge of a knife instead of sharpening it, this may increase the lifespan. Though sometimes sharpening is necessary.
A few last thoughts. Folding knives require more maintenance than fixed-blade knives. This is because they have more parts to their construction and they have moving parts. Folding knives may have to be taken apart o be cleaned and maintained. The benefit of a folding knife is obviously its lack of a separate sheath, as the folding knife folds in on itself. It is one piece, which is very convenient. Though this convenience tends to be the only advantage, coming at the cost of reliability and functionality in every other respect.
When I first started carrying weapons for self-defense years ago, I viewed having to clean and maintain them as a chore. It was something I knew I needed to do, but I was not fond of it. Recently though, the activity has grown on me. So, perhaps it is an acquired taste. Although I also suspect I did not enjoy cleaning and maintaining weapons when I was still learning how to do it and I had to often stop what I was doing to check reference materials, ensuring I was doing everything correctly. Now that the process has become second nature to me, I do not mind it so much. In fact, it can be quite enjoyable.
So, if you are the kind of person who does not like to clean your guns or whatever you carry for protection, I would just say to not give up on it. You have to do it anyway, and it pays to know how to do it yourself. Also, it may just grow on you too.
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