The Springfield Armory Hellcat is one of the hottest concealed carry pistols coming out of 2019, and with that comes new gun owners on the hunt for maintenance tips. Digging through the owner's manual is a little on the dull side and sometimes doesn’t get you where you need to go, which is why is here to help.

We’ve broken the cleaning process down step-by-step to ensure you get the freshest Hellcat on the block.

10 Steps to Clean a Hellcat 


Tools for the Job

  • Cleaning mat/surface to clean the Hellcat
  • Cleaning patches
  • Cleaning rod/bore snake
  • Nylon bristle brush
  • Rag/old t-shirt for wiping down parts
  • Gun cleaner (brand doesn't matter as long as it's made for gun cleaning)
  • Gun oil (brand doesn't matter, as long as it's made for guns)

Now that we have our tools assembled and our gun mat rolled out let's dive in. 

1. Remove Ammunition and Mags, Clear Hellcat

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

The first step in cleaning any gun is to make sure it's unloaded and free of all ammunition. Remove the magazine, lock the Hellcat's slide to the rear, and eject any live ammo from the chamber. 

Empty the magazine, then take all ammunition and store in another room away from the cleaning area. With the slide locked back, visually check several times that the gun is unloaded and no ammo is present in the chamber or magwell. 

2. Disassemble the Hellcat

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

Once you are sure the Hellcat is unloaded, it's time to disassemble. To take down a Hellcat, make sure the slide is locked to the rear. Rotate the slide stop lever, located at the front of the slide on the left side, vertically to a 12 o'clock position. 

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

Grab the rear of the slide, pull rearward to disengage the slide stop, then slowly allow it to move forward until spring tension is released. From here, point the firearm in a safe direction and pull the trigger. This should free the slide, allowing it to move all the way forward and off the pistol frame. 

3. Remove the Barrel and Guide Rod

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

Set the frame aside and, with the slide in your hand, use your thumb to apply gentle pressure -- forward and up -- to the guide rod to release and remove it. Then lift up on the barrel slightly to pull it up and out of the slide. At this point, the four major components of the field-stripped Hellcat lay before us -- the frame, slide, guide rod, and barrel. 

4. Cleaning the Guide Rod

Tools: Cleaning pathes, nylon bristle brush, dry rag

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

We prefer to tackle the smaller parts first, so we begin with the guide rod. It's the easiest to clean, just wipe it down with a dry rag. If there's persistent buildup, a nylon bristle brush can remove gunk. 

5. Cleaning the Barrel

Tools: Cleaning patches, gun cleaner, dry rag, nylon bristle brush

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

The barrel sees a lot of action; therefore, it accumulates a lot of buildup. Start by wetting a cleaning patch with gun cleaner, then tread it through a cleaning rod. (You can also use a bore snake for this step in lieu of a rod.)

Working from the chamber end, move the cleaning rod/bore snake through the barrel a few times to loosen grime. Remove the dirty patch, and replace it with a clean, dry one. Repeat the process. If the barrel comes back black, give it another pass with a moistened cleaning patch. If the patch is clean, move on to the exterior of the barrel. 

Take a dampened cleaning patch and wipe down the exterior of the barrel. At times, you might need to resort to the nylon bristle brush wrapped in a cleaning cloth to remove caked-on dirt carbon buildup. Once you think the grime is gone, give the exterior a pass with a dry, clean patch. If it comes up clean, you're finished with barrel cleaning. If it's still dirty, repeat the process. 

Before we set the barrel aside and target the slide, take a few moments to do an inspection. Look for flaws in the barrel, like bulges or cracks. If you see something peculiar, contact a gunsmith. 

Once the barrel is clean, and we've verified it's flaw-free, set it aside. 

6. Cleaning the Slide

Cleaning patches, gun cleaner, dry rag, nylon bristle brush

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

When tackling the slide, remember that the rails see the most action, so concentrate your efforts here. Use a combination of cleaning patches and a nylon bristle brush to clean the area around the rails. Wrapping a cleaning patch around the brush, scrub the rails, loosening buildup. Take a clean patch to the rails to confirm it’s free of grime.

Again, this is a good opportunity to look for bulges or cracks in the metal. If you observe any abnormalities, contact a gunsmith.

7. Cleaning the Frame

Cleaning patches, gun cleaner, dry rag, nylon bristle brush

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

Once the slide is clean, move onto the frame. Again, we’re going to concentrate on the rails using a combination of patches and a nylon bristle brush to loosen any debris. Once completed, visually inspect the rest of the frame for dirty spots and wipe down with a rag if needed.

8. Lube It Up

Cleaning patches, gun oil

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

Now that the Hellcat is clean, we can lubricate it. A good rule of thumb is to lubricate any area with metal on metal contact. Remember, a little goes a long way, and the Hellcat doesn't need a ton of lube to work well. In fact, too much gun oil can induce problems. Less is more. 

The guide rod doesn't need any lube, so head to the barrel. Add a little gun oil to a cleaning patch and thread it through a cleaning rod. Give the barrel a few passes, then take a dry patch and run it through to soak up any excess. Take another cleaning patch with some oil and wipe the exterior. Follow that with a dry cleaning patch to soak up the excess. 

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

Moving on to the slide, add a drop of lube to the rails, spreading it down the entirety of that area. Use a dry patch to wipe any excess. Also, add lube to the opening where the slide moves against the barrel. Wipe up any excess. 

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

On the frame, spread a drop of lube down the rails and use another handy dry patch to clean any excess oil from the frame. 

9. Reassemble the Hellcat

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

Drop the barrel back into the slide, then put the guide rod back in place. Align the rails, and slowly guide the slide backward, racking completely to engage the slide rock. Rotate the slide lever back to its original horizontal location, securing it. Rack the gun a few times to ensure proper movement. Wipe any excess gun oil up with a dry, clean patch. 

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

Perform a trigger function test, ensuring the gun is still clear before pressing the trigger. Rack the slide, then test the trigger safety to make sure the trigger does not engage. 

10. Storing the Hellcat

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

Once the Hellcat is spiffy clean and lubed up, you can rock that bad boy in a holster. Alternatively, if you are storing it long-term, tuck it away inside a safe or locked area that is dry and free of moisture.

For information about safely and responsibly storing a firearm when not in use, visit Project Childsafe.

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