How to Clean a 1911 Colt


Cleaning a 1911, pre-war Colt pistol is similar to cleaning other older guns. You'll need a well-lit space to work and room for the gun parts and cleaning materials. Always make sure the gun is empty, and work slowly and carefully. If the gun is at all damaged, or you can't remove a bullet or remove the magazine, take it to a dealer instead of trying to fix it yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • G.I. Issue 45 caliber bore brush
  • Tooth brush
  • Hoppes #9 Cleaner
  • Gun Oil
  • Clean, lint-free cloth
  • Soak a toothbrush in Hoppes #9 cleaner. Remove the magazine. Cycle the action several times to make sure the gun is empty of bullets. Engage the safety. This locks the slide and makes taking apart the gun for cleaning easier. Point the gun in a safe direction. Grasp the front barrel busing and rotate it while at the same time pressing against the recoil spring plug. Hold on tightly to the plug; it is designed to pop out with a lot of force and you don't want it to spring across the room.

  • Take the safety off and remove the slide lock. There is a small indentation or cut on the side of the slide that needs to be aligned with the lock. Push the lock through from the opposite side of the gun. The slide and body of the gun will slide apart. Place the slide upside down on a clean cloth. Remove the spring, barrel bushing and barrel from the gun.

  • Remove the firing pin by pushing on the end of it and lift it out. Carefully remove the extractor, which you can see after the firing pin has been taken out. Tweezers can help remove the extractor. Clean the extractor with the toothbrush soaked in cleaner, dry, clean a second time, dry and coat with a thin application of gun oil.

  • Clean the slide inside and out with the toothbrush soaked in cleaner. Clean the feed ramp with the bore brush and the outside of the entire body of the gun with the toothbrush.

  • Apply a small amount of gun oil on the slide rails and slide the body back onto the slide. Keep the gun upside down while you do this. When the slide and body are back together, turn the gun right-side up. Replace the slide lock on the slide. You may need to gently move the slide back and forth. Replace the slide lock pin. Line the slide lock up with the small cut in the slide. Push the recoil spring back into place and turn the barrel bushing to lock it down.

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  • Photo Credit toothbrush image by Christopher Hall from
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