The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Marine Corp has a weapons Maintenance problem..

 This ties in with a discussion I had with "Mack" Last weekend while we were at Hooters with him and Jackie, we were discussing the Rifles at camp and the new shooting sports director that happens to buy Hopps #9 by the gallon and yes he he is a Marine veteran.  I can't say too much, it almost was the same way in the Army when I was in, weapons cleaning was always a thing, even though the Rifles were spotless, we were always cleaning them...it was more of a "keep the lower enlisted busy, so they can't get into Mischief than any real purpose kinda thing"  With modern weapons you don't need to clean the $%#& out of it, you strip the coating out of the rifling and expose it to corrosion. My personal weapons( before that durn kayak accidents) I  would break them down once and a while, but usually I wipe them down and ran a boresnake down the barrel and and a spot of oil on the moving parts, and that was it and they were in excellent condition.  I shamelessly clipped this from "The Sandboxx"

The Marine Corps has a weapon maintenance problem

I can’t speak for the other military branches, but the Marine Corps has a weapons-cleaning problem. When I say that, I mean we clean our weapons too much. Too much, and often incorrectly, to adhere to the strict standards of the Marine Corps. The problem is complicated and tied to both the lower enlisted and the higher-ups. If the Marine Corps wants its Marines to be the most lethal warfighters, it’s a problem it needs to solve. As it’s known in the Marine Corps, weapon maintenance needs to be revised.

The problem with modern weapon maintenance

Keeping a rifle, machine gun, handgun, well, any gun, working relies on proper maintenance. Weapon maintenance is critical to the function of a weapon, especially in austere environments. We’ve fought for two decades in deserts, on snow-covered mountains, and in the worst places possible for modern weapons.

weapon maintenance in the military

However, the extent the Marine Corps engages in weapon maintenance can be completely detrimental to the weapon. Marines find themselves using improper tools to reach a standard. For example, Marines will often use hard, stainless steel brushes to clean their weapon. When used enthusiastically, these brushes will eventually destroy the finish of the inside and outside of your weapon.

A good finish protects the weapon and helps prevent rust. Without a good finish, the weapon’s long-term reliability will be in question. My issue M9 was almost more silver than black since the finish had been rubbed off over time due to excessive cleaning.

Your average lower enlisted will likely lose or break his issued cleaning kit. This will, in turn, cause them to purchase one, which is often the cheapest one out there. These cheap cleaning kits will often have stainless steel bore brushes that can damage the rifling, making the weapon lose accuracy and consistency over time.

Marines should use bronze bore brushes mixed with bore cleaner in their weapon maintenance.

Related: The APC9K: We get hands-on with the Army’s new SMG

Keeping it shiny

weapon maintenance in the military
Troops cleaning up their weapons.

Even Marines who keep their issued cleaning kits will find them lacking and may supplement them with tools to speed up the chore. This includes Q-tips and baby wipes. I’m guilty of this, as was every infantry Marine I knew. However, Q-tips and baby wipes come with their own problems.

Q-tips break easily and can break off or deposit little bits of cotton in areas that can disable the weapon. They can get stuck in all manner of areas in rifles, but especially in machine guns. However, Q-tips do make weapon maintenance faster, and they can reach into the spots that fingers and AP brushes can’t.

Baby wipes provided the quickest means to remove dirt, dust, and carbon. The problem with baby wipes is their low concentration of alcohol and very high concentration of water which creates rust and oxidation. In time, this gathers in small cracks and pits and eventually causes rust. Rust creates more little places for water and alcohol to gather and rust. The use of baby wipes creates a vicious cycle that will wear the weapon down sooner, creating a need for more weapon maintenance.

Finally, Marines will often turn in their weapons completely dry causing them to rust in the armory. A light coat of CLP prevents rust but can also be the reason a Marine fails inspection as CLP is slightly brown, so the weapon appears dirty when an inspector uses their finger, glove, or white patch.

Related: MQ-9B STOL: A new Reaper cousin could help Marines win the Pacific

Why is weapon maintenance a problem?

Cleaning guns on ships
Everything must be cleaned!

First, the Marine Corps culture demands perfection. If something can be cleaned, be it a humvee, a weapon, or a barracks room, it must be cleaned. This creates strict requirements for cleanliness. A weapon must be inspection-ready at all times. You never know when the commandant himself might bust into the armory and inspect the weapons.

To tap into that, lance corporals and PFCs can be lazy. Without the demand for perfection, things might be really slack. Give ’em an inch, and they’ll take ten clicks.

There is also a lack of education and clear objectives regarding weapon maintenance. You learn a little in boot camp, but it’s often sidelined in favor of drills, classes, and other training. Those cleaning methods are not retained in the feet, especially when the weapons go from rifles to machine guns, heavy machine guns, shotguns, pistols, missile launchers, and more.

How to fix it?

preventive weapons maintenance
Soldiers from the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion clean and perform preventive maintenance on their weapons at the Robert L. Poxon Army Reserve Center in Southfield, Michigan, Oct 19, 2019. Equipment maintenance is an essential task performed by Soldiers to ensure the Army Reserve maintains a high level of combat-readiness. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Torres)

The Marine Corps needs to revamp and re-evaluate its weapon maintenance program, tactics, and techniques. It needs to provide modern equipment and do so in bulk. Cleaning kits are cheap, guns are not, and neither is losing a firefight due to a broken weapon.

The Marine Corps should consult with the firearms industry on the most effective means to maintain weapons. They should also ensure that the troops and command are educated on what’s important in weapon maintenance and how to achieve proper weapon maintenance. No one ever told me not to use baby wipes, steel bore brushes, or Q-tips. I learned it from higher-ups.

Ultimately, the Marine Corps needs to accept that parade-ready weapons should be reserved for parades. Additionally, Marines need to accept responsibility for the tools of their trade and treat them as such. It’s a problem that starts at both the bottom and top of the branch and should be fixed before we worry about adopting new weapons.



  1. The Army partakes of the same mindset/problem. There have been cases of bore brushes mounted in drills to ready weapons for inspection.

    1. We did that in Basic back in 1981, drill sgt had a cleaning rod in a drill and gave each rifle a quick in-and-out to speed up cleaning after a trip to the range.

    2. Hey Y'all "white Glove" inspection was an issue, I understand they wanted the rifles spotless, they were having to train kids that in most cases never had anything to do with guns before joining the Military so they had to get them into a cleaning mindset. But in my mind, they went too far, but you can't tell them that...they won't listen because you get the "This is how we always done it"

  2. Self licking ice cream cones... sigh... You can either be 'inspection ready', or combat ready, but not both.

    1. Hey Old NFO;
      Yeap, and they want inspection ready at all time, some one's OER is riding on this process.


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