Gloves While Shooting and Cleaning

Linoge asks a question:

Do you use gloves when shooting guns? If so, what kind?

And, more specifically, do you use gloves when cleaning your guns? If so, what kind?

For me the answers flow like this.  While shooting I normally do not wear any gloves.  Worrying about soot and lead residue is the last thing on my mind while shooting.  My rule is no drinks and food unless I wash/wipe my hands.  What I do use religiously is D-Lead wipes.  I have a package in my range bag as well as a second in the tool box of my truck.

They’re honestly worth their weight in gold.  The few times I do wear gloves it is unbelievably cold out here, read that as single digits or teens at most.  Then I am wearing military style flight gloves.

While cleaning, yes, yes, and yes.  Here’s the trick through, buy two different types, seriously.  Vinyl, Latex/Nitrile all react differently to the different solvents and other things used to clean firearms.  If all you’re using is standard Hoppe’s No. 9 as a solvent you can get away with just using Latex/Nitrile.

In my experience though Barnes CR-10 chews up Latex and Nitrile but the Vinyl handles it well.  Butch’s Bore Shine eats up the Vinyl making it brittle.  Further if you use things like brake cleaner to strip the oils and grease it will go through the vinyl.  I recommend using a wire to hold the object and avoid your hand in general in that case.  The active ingredient in Brake Kleen for example will absorb through the skin and take anything with it it’s stripped off.  Gloves will help prevent or slow it but that little bugger of an ingredient as it likes to go through your skin.

Wearing gloves while cleaning is important.  While growing up I mainly just cleaned with No. 9 and didn’t really bother with the gloves.  Again you can probably get away with it but I look back on it now and it was stupid.  Your skin is porous and absorbs whatever is on it.  Honestly I don’t want it absorbing any of that crap.

Butch’s Bore Shine I think is the biggest lesson in, “Wear Gloves!”  There is a warning label telling you not to use it bare handed, use of it bare handed can allow the chemicals to be absorbed and they have been known to cause liver failure.

Gloves are cheap, your body is not, when cleaning your guns at least wear latex or nitrile and expect to change them often as they break and die from the solvents.

As for cleaning my rifles I use a mix of No. 9, CR-10, and Butch’s.  CR-10 and Butch’s both get used on the barrel.  The CR-10 is much better at getting out heavy copper fouling, the Butch’s does a fantastic job at getting any lead and powder out and leaving the barrel in a pristine state. Butch’s takes out the copper too, it just takes forever if you have a lot of it.

The No. 9 I use on my pistols and actions to clean out the gunk and other crap that has collected up.  Oil and lube it all back up and put it back together.

So yes, wear gloves when cleaning, don’t worry so much about shooting.  Just make sure to wipe down and wash your hands after and you’ll be fine.

What say you other readers?

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About TMM

TMM is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms. Many know his private name and information however due to the current political climate, many are distancing themselves due to the abandonment of Due Process.

11 Responses to Gloves While Shooting and Cleaning

  1. Old_NFO says:

    Concur on the cleaning, I found some heavy Nitrile gloves at a medical supply store, and I use those. In cold weather, I shoot with flight gloves, and when I wear gloves in the winter, I make sure I can actually shoot with them (on the range) BEFORE I wear them in public.

  2. NotClauswitz says:

    I’ll repeat what I posted at Linoge’s, more briefly re the acetone experience: I don’t usually wear gloves when shooting unless it’s cold, but I use non-latex “nitrile exam gloves” from Costco when cleaning: guns, motorcycles, the kitchen sink – anything with harsh cleansers or chemistry.
    After years of fairly careless exposure to various nasty things while painting in Theater and working on motorcycles I tend to get contact dermatitis on my hands. After handling oil, gasoline, latex, analine dyes (nasty, heavy elements), acetone, paint-thinner, nasty carburetor cleaners, brake cleaner, bug sprays… I guess I hit my personal limit.
    It’s kinda ugly and a bit painful. There’s a top-layer of skin flaking off that tears, also little “bubbles” of fluid appear under the first skin layer and erupt, then are vacant and it stings when stuff gets in the holes.Some gun-cleaners and most brake-cleaners (even the “green” crap) can get to latex gloves pretty quick and then they tear open, so I like the nitrile ones just because I don’t have to keep changing into new ones. I also find that it improves my finger sensitivity when dealing with objects in oily fluids and I can get a better grip on an item with less slippery fumbling.

  3. Bill says:

    4th try!

    Yes, I use gloves, Nitrile. I know long use any solvents that are a problem with Nitrile.

    I know longer scrub for copper, either. Long discussions with Gene, Monte, and Paul have convinced me that far more barrels are ruined by attempts to clean them than are actually ruined by shooting them when copper is present.

    New barrels are cleaned every 5 shots until I see no blue on the copper solvent patch, then I don’t clean for copper again. My new barrels are all hand lapped barrels, and I haven’t had to go past 15 shots before they didn’t show copper anymore. I do clean for carbon buildup with a good carbon cleaner.

    Interesting discussion here helped convince me that cleaning copper was counterproductive:

    My 7mm WSM has about 200 shots down the barrel. I’ve only clean carbon, not copper since the 15th shot. Last weekend I shot 5 shot, 200 yard groups covered by a dime. When it had less than 100 shots down the barrel, while fireforming brass at Boomershoot, we were hitting 4″ Boomers on the berm and ringing the flags at 700 yards.

    Shoot more, clean less!

    • Barron says:

      What you said above holds true for my bolt rifles. My carbine AR’s though when the copper starts to build up (non-lined barrels) the action starts telling me there are problems (short cycling). Running a couple passes with the CR-10 strips it out and I don’t do it again for probably close to 700-800 rounds. Action runs reliably again after that. The only problem is for the next 10-20 shots my groups are crap because it’s not nearly as tight.

      I have yet to need to do it on my mid-length AR’s.

  4. Bill says:

    Yes, lousy grammar and word use in that last post. I apologize, I’ve worked 30 hours in the last 36, so I’m a bit rummy, time to head home.

  5. Good info. I haven’t thought to wear gloves while cleaning. I haven’t heard anyone suggest that nor have I seen it in any videos etc. I have watched. Makes sense.

  6. Boyd says:

    Always during cleaning. I prefer nitrile packs from costco as others have mentioned and keep boxes of all sizes (S for kids M for Wife L for me) handy for any cleaning and especially for firearms cleaning. Using Nitrile gloves is part of the NRA curriculum.

  7. John says:

    Should also point out that even if you use “non-toxic” gun cleaners (Frog Lube and the like) you still should be wearing gloves for the residues that you’re cleaning out of your guns.

  8. Bill says:


    Try running some CFE 223 powder handloads in you carbines. See what happens with copper buildup then.

    My shorter guns are blasters, so as long as they ring steel out to 300, I’m happy. They have to be REALLY dirty to not do that!

    • Barron says:

      I’ll give that a try at some point. For the most part I use MILSURP 5.56 or wolf in my carbines just because I don’t feel like hand loading blasting ammo. The majority of it is used for Boomershoot cleanup and High-Intensity.

      Neither of my mid-lengths have had the issue, just the carbines.

      If/When I get into three gun I will probably start loading 5.56 more.

  9. It is interesting that the comments seem to overwhelmingly favor the use of gloves while cleaning firearms.

    Considering many people probably don’t shoot enough to clean their guns very often, it would make sense that the low-frequency shooters would have less exposure to gun cleaning than some of the hi-volume gun shooters out there. That would reduce the worry of “chemical” exposure by a large degree for the low-frequency shooters.