When to do a total breakdown cleaning?

Hi all,
I own two handguns, a Walther PPK (4 years old) and a SW bodyguard. The SW 380 trigger is too heavy for my hands so it mostly just sits in the safe. The Walther though gets used much more ~500 rounds every other month. It has never been deeply cleaned beyond the minimum that the manual calls for. Now, I am wondering if it would be a good idea to dissemble EVERYTHING and get a good cleaning going?4 years seems to have taken its toll. Inside the magazine well it is awfully dirty in there! It is tough to clean. I'd also like to clean the whole trigger mechanism but don't have any experience doing that. Is this cleaning even necessary?
Crud and grit are bad for any machinery.
Dis-assemble per your instructions,
<broken link removed>
Walther PPK page 20
Spray with a can of aerosol WD-40 to wash out the crud and grit.
(outside, onto a wad of paper towels)
Do this with magazines also.
Wipe excess WD40 with a dry paper towel, rag.
Oil per owner's manual
Re-assemble and return to safe.

I like to use vinyl gloves from Harbor Freight to keep my hands clean.


That's not the only way you can do it, but it will certainly work.

I'll also say, do a total breakdown clean whenever you feel like it :D Sometimes it's nice to, but in your case, if it's full of crud, it needs doing.

You can use an actual gun cleaner to clean it out instead of WD40 if you want, even though i lube/protect with a CLP type product, i do not use them as cleaners, (i like to take two bottles into the shower)

If i really want something cleaned, i will use something that's very good at cleaning, not just ok at cleaning and also some other stuff, just make sure you 'treat' afterwards. I use MPro7 for my cleaner/degreaser, i've heard that it has something in it so that something that's completely degreased doesn't just oxidise instantly in the air, i've found this to be true.
I'm also a big fan of M-Pro7 and have been using it for years now. I've always been the type that will take my guns apart to do a full detail clean whenever standard cleaning doesn't feel like it's doing the job. I've been thinking of getting an ultrasonic cleaner and filling that up with the M-Pro7 gun cleaner. As for the S&W trigger, either take it apart and polish the trigger and sear or take it to a gunsmith. A gun sitting in the safe unused does no good. Or sell it...


I dowse it in Rem Oil onto a dog pad and when it starts running clean I wipe off the outside and hit the inside with an air compressor.

It blows the cleaner/protectant thru all the little crevices and then drys it out.

I add a couple of drops of hoppe's oil after that and blow it thru all the crevices. Wipe with a cloth to pickup any excessive oil and I'm done.

That's kept me from having to disassemble bolts and trigger groups on several guns that I would have needed to do a complete breakdown to clean (meaning punching out pins, not the regular maintenance break downs in the manual).

Bon Sauvage

Your instincts are sound and I believe that your pistol is due, and perhaps overdue, for a complete break down and cleaning. There are plenty of videos and other sites on the internet to assist you should you feel confident in your abilities.

Otherwise I would pay to have a trusted gunsmith break it down, and clean and reassemble it.
WD-40 is fine to use if you want to, and is actually pretty good at cutting through the crud, but you want to be careful to wash or blow most of it out afterwards. It tends to dry out to a sticky mess if you leave it accumulated in tight mechanisms.

A friend had a Rem 700 trigger that was dangerous because they cleaned it with WD-40 which ran into, puddled up and dried onto the trigger mechanism and basically glued it down. They had an incident when sighting it in for dear season a couple years later where it went off when she closed the bolt. Fortunately no one was hurt because it was pointed in a safe direction.
Are you saying you have 12,000 rounds fired on your Walther? I would do a take down and inspect springs. I would replace the recoil spring, trigger reset spring and magazine springs at a minimum. Use cleaners that are listed as weapon cleaners, WD40 is not for weapons (if you ever get below freezing it might lockup your gun plus it is flammable/ ignites and its designed to seep so may work into your ammo and cause a misfire/squib).
I'm also a big fan of M-Pro7 and have been using it for years now. I've always been the type that will take my guns apart to do a full detail clean whenever standard cleaning doesn't feel like it's doing the job. I've been thinking of getting an ultrasonic cleaner and filling that up with the M-Pro7 gun cleaner. As for the S&W trigger, either take it apart and polish the trigger and sear or take it to a gunsmith. A gun sitting in the safe unused does no good. Or sell it...
I just this week started using M-Pro 7 and the 2.5L ultrasonic cleaner from Harbor Freight ($67 after 20$ off coupon). I experimented on a used, police issue S&W I recently bought. It was not super clean when I received it and I fired a few rounds thru it. I stripped it to the frame and into the ultrasonic cleaner it went (frame grip, barrel and some of the larger parts) filled with 1 part M-Pro7 to 5 parts water. I ran it twice on the longest setting. I cannot recall how long, but it was probably 8-10 minutes total. The liquid was very warm too as the cleaner includes a heater. All parts came out amazingly clean with very little effort on my part. Did an amazing job on a very dirty Mosin bolt too!
It may be useful to note that WD-40 is not a pure solvent and does leave behind material that over time resembles wax or thick silicone.

My preference for solvents is the aerosols such as Birchwood Casey Bore Cleaner or BreakFree Powder Blast or as mentioned above, a non-chlorinated brake cleaner.

The non chlorinated distinction is important because ,combined with water vapor, it creates hydrochloric acid, not good for metal parts.

And IMO yes, I clean my guns down to the individual parts every several hundred rounds, with the exception of the Smith J-frame, which side plate I have never removed.

A really handy tool to have in your kit is a 6" locking straight hemostat. Available on Amazon for about $5.
Yeps, you don't need the surgical quality ones though, inexpensive will do. Something that will grab a patch and get it up into magwells, down magazine interiors, into the lower receiver, etc.

Things are gonna get tougher as we go along, kids. We all should know how to take apart each one of our pieces down to the last pin and detent, and put 'em back together without a diagram or manual or gunsmith helping.

Before it gets worse is the best time to learn, not when "all of a sudden" no parts are available.

Spare parts, such as return springs, extractors, ejectors, firing pin safety plungers and spring, bolt carrier groups, should become part of your kits for all of the important guns. Spare trigger and hammer, extra buffer springs.

Think about what'd happen if you lost your 1911 disconnector and there were no parts to be had? It'd be useless. That little Glock trigger spring breaks? and the G-19 is now a paperweight!

OK I-594 has got me goin'..
I myself disassemble the gun down to nothing, taking all the parts out of the gun put the parts on a towel spray with simple green use a brush to clean them. Rinse in water. Heat up with hair dryer. Put Brake Free on and wipe them off with clean towel, Reassemble. I do this about one time per year, unless I use the gun like all the time. If it is use most of the time do this more often, 2 or 3 times a year. Or when it needs it. Any time after you are done hunting with the weapon for the season. If you need some help doing this Please contact me by PM and I will help you with it.

Tony Portland, Oregon Area
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Monthly if I shoot it a lot. Those I don't shoot very often every couple of years. Externally every year weather I shoot it or not. Never use WD 40 or like stuff. I use gun oil or sewing machine oil. Semi autos', gun grease on the slides.


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