These detailed instructions are for a Beretta Px4, but if you have a 92/96 series, you can take advantage of this article too. There are a couple of different details, like how the takedown lever works, but everything else is pretty much the same.
The gun I'm using for this demonstration is a.40 S&W Beretta Px4 with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro. That's a combination light and laser unit that works with virtually any gun with a rail - like this Px4. The good thing is that it's completely out of the way for cleaning and maintenance, as you see here.
First you have to take it apart, or field strip your PX4. There is no need to completely disassemble your pistol unless something is obviously wrong with its function. And even then, full disassembly and inspection is best left to a qualified gunsmith.
When you’ve field stripped your Px4, you will be left with six major assemblies:
- Recoil spring
- Central block
All necessary cleaning and lubrication can be done with this level of takedown.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Even before step 1 of the field stripping process, you need to make sure that your pistol is empty. Remove the magazine. Most importantly, rack the slide multiple times to remove the cartridge in the chamber. Now visually check the chamber. Now do it again. Lock the slide open by pressing upward on the slide lock lever while retracting the slide. When you look through the top, can you see daylight through the magazine well? Can you see that there is no cartridge in the chamber? Good. Now you’re ready to proceed.
How to field strip your Px4
Step 1: Remove the slide.
Your Px4 should be decocted with the hammer in the “down” position. Using one hand, pull down the disassembly latch on both sides of the frame. Now move the entire slide assembly forward and it will come completely off the gun frame. Yes, it’s that easy.
Step 2: Remove the central block and recoil spring.
The nice thing about a Px4 is that the recoil spring is captive, meaning it won’t go flying off across the room when you remove it. Turn the slide upside down and pull the central block and spring out. These two parts will separate easily as the spring is inserted into a hole in the block.
Step 3: Remove the barrel from the slide.
Another easy step. With the central block and spring removed, the barrel will lift out of the slide.
All done! With the Px4, you want to be careful with the slide lock / slide release lever. With the slide removed, it’s fairly easy to knock off the frame, and the spring that holds it is a little bit tricky to reinstall. Just be careful and you’ll be fine.
How to clean your Beretta Px4
First you’re going to need some basic supplies. The Px4 includes a cleaning rod with a slotted end for patches and a brush, so technically all you need is cleaning solvent and lubricant.
There are dozens of gun oils and cleaning solvents on the market. Fortunately, it’s pretty hard to go too wrong with any gun-specific cleaners and oils. Notice we say gun-specific. What you don’t want to do is use a general purpose penetrating oil like WD-40. We love WD-40 and it’s wonderful for many things, like getting bubble gum out of your hair. You may even use it to clean gun parts. Just don’t rely on it as a preservative and protectant for post-cleaning use. Guns tend to get really hot, hence the need for special oil and lubricant formulations that are designed to stand up to intense heat. Since the Px4 has a polymer frame, be sure not to use solvents than can damage plastic. Generally, only degreasing products will have this issue.
Once you’ve chosen your cleaner and lubricant - and sometimes they are in the same bottle - you’ll want a couple of high-tech tools and disposables to clean the gun.
One of my favorites high-tech tools is an old toothbrush. While rough on teeth, those nylon bristles aren’t going to scratch gun metal or even the polymer frames on modern pistols. And they have a nice big handle so you can clean vigorously!
We’re going to pause and put in a plug for what I believe to be the best cleaning system on the market. It’s called the OTIS Technology System.
It’s well worth the money and the kits are designed to accommodate rifles, shotguns and pistols of various calibers. Their most basic kits will handle 9mm, 40 S&W and .45 ACP - all you need to clean the Beretta Px4.
Cleaning the barrel
Next, since your gun is field stripped, you have easy access to the barrel, so let’s clean that first. Using the cleaning rod, stuff a cloth patch through the loop, apply some cleaner or solvent, and push (or pull) it through the barrel. Ideally do this from the breech (the back end) to the muzzle as this will pull gunk away from the action and out the muzzle.
If you haven’t had a chance to get a cleaning kit yet, and are using the included rod, just stick a small cotton patch through the slot, put a little bit of solvent on it, and push it all the way through the barrel from back to front. You can buy patches almost anywhere that sells gun stuff or you can cut up an old t-shirt.
Now that you’ve made an initial pass through the bore with solvent and a cotton patch to get cleaner in and the loose gunk out, you can use the brush. Push or pull that through in the same direction a bunch of times.
Always pull or push the brush all the way through the barrel so it comes out the other end. If you try to reverse directions while the brush is in the barrel, it might get stuck and will definitely mess up your brush. The brushing will loosen stubborn stuff in the barrel like powder, lead and copper residue. The solvent you dragged through in the first step will be working to loosen dirt and mung while you do this.
Last, run a clean and dry patch through the barrel. If it comes out dirty, put a clean patch on and repeat the process until no more dirt is coming out. Finally, check the instructions on the cleaner or lubricant you chose to see if they recommend leaving a light coat on the inside of the barrel. If you used a pure solvent or cleaner, you will need to finish the process with a fine film of lubricant or protectant.
Now that you’ve cleaned the inside of the bore, clean the outside of the barrel - especially the breech (back) area as that tends to collect lots of ick. Scrub it with a toothbrush, then use an old t-shirt or cotton rag to wipe the loose dirt off.
Cleaning the frame and slide
Now you get to look for dirt on the rest of the gun. Be careful not to go crazy with that cleaning toothbrush as there are small parts and springs, like that slide lock lever, that can get knocked off with vigorous cleaning. Use a little cleaner, scrub with a brush, then wipe away dirt with a cloth cleaning patch or rag.
When cleaning my Px4 pistol, I like to do the following after cleaning the barrel:
Use a toothbrush to lightly scrub the breech face. This is the flat section that butts up against the cartridge, where the firing pin comes through. It will collect a little bit of crud with frequent shooting and you always want that part clean so your slide will lock into a proper fit with the barrel. It’s also important to keep the breech face dry. The firing pin comes through a small hole there and you want the firing pin and channel it lives in to stay dry. If lots of oil gets in there, it can jam up the motion of the firing pin, causing failures to fire.
Use a toothbrush to scrub the rail lugs on the frame itself. The Beretta Px4 has three frame lugs on each side - one set at the very back and the other two over the trigger area. You want both areas clean and dry for now. We’ll talk about how to properly lubricate the slide and lugs in just a bit.
This is a great time to scrub the metal feed ramp in the frame itself. Just above the trigger, you’ll see a small concave area that helps direct cartridges from the magazine into the barrel chamber. When you got your Px4, it was bright and shiny. Now it’s likely covered with soot. Scrub that area with your brush and wipe clean and dry with a rag.
You’ll also want to gently clean the ejector and trigger bar with your lightly oiled rag. Use a toothbrush if you need to, just remember to keep things fairly dry, or at least dry these areas after cleaning.
The last thing to clean on the gun frame is the dust cover channel in the front of the frame. This is the half pipe shaped area under where the barrel sits. Just wipe that out with your rag - it most likely will not be all that dirty. While you’re at it, wipe out the inside of the magazine well, again taking care not to knock the slide release lever out of place.
Cleaning the slide
Now we’re going to clean to the steel slide itself. Use your toothbrush to scrub the long rail grooves that run the length of the slide on both sides.
This is an area where an actual gun cleaning brush comes in really handy as most of them have a large brush on one end and a very narrow brush on the other. The narrow brush does a great job of getting into the grooved areas.
After you loosen the dirt with a cleaning brush, use the small end of the cleaning brush to push a cleaning patch through the grooved areas. This really helps to remove the dirt and crud rather than just move it around.
Wipe any loose dirt or oil off the recoil spring assembly. You don’t want to soak this in oil or anything, just use a lightly oiled rag, like an old t-shirt, to wipe off loose dirt if there is any. Make sure there isn’t any crud on either flat end that could impact the fit with the slide or notch in the barrel.
Modern guns like the Beretta Px4 are engineered to really take a beating and it’s unlikely that you’ll do it any harm by cleaning. Relax, be safe and scrub away!
How to properly lubricate your Beretta Px4
The last step is to apply small amounts of lubricant. Remember, less is more with almost any gun, including the Beretta Px4. It’s built to run like a champ with just a few drops of lubricant in just the right places. The more oil you slather around, the more likely it is to attract dirt, so lubricate sparingly. You can even decrease the reliability of your Px4 by using too much oil!
First, put a drop of oil on the block and rub it around with your finger. Be sure to coat the parts with wear marks.
I like to put an extra drop of oil in the recoil groove at the breech end of the barrel. Every time the gun fires, this channel causes the barrel to rotate as it moves back, so it gets a lot of wear.
Next, put one more drop on top of the barrel right at the muzzle, about ¼ inch from the end. Rub this around the barrel a bit to smooth it out. The barrel will move back and forth through the hole in the front of the slide and you want to minimize friction and wear here.
Now you want to lubricate the grooves in the slide. Put one drop in each of the interior slide channels so the oil runs down those grooves towards the muzzle. Be careful not to get oil anywhere near the firing pin channel in the rear center of the slide.
How to reassemble your Beretta Px4
Putting things back together is almost the exact reverse process of taking the gun apart, but let’s quickly go through that. After all, you want things to work properly, right?
Step 1: Insert the barrel into the slide
Turn the slide upside down so the big open part is facing upwards. Drop the barrel in, working the muzzle of the barrel through the hole in the front of the slide. Make sure the recoil channel is facing straight up as shown in the photo here.
Step 2: Install the recoil spring assembly
Put the small end of the recoil spring assembly into the central block. Now, fit the front end of the recoil spring into the hole in the front of the slide. Then, fro the block into place so that it fits into the recoil groove of the barrel. It should “click” into place.
Step 3: Install the slide
Push the slide onto the frame from the front of the gun. If anything binds or catches, check to make sure that the barrel and recoil spring are installed properly. The slide should go on very easily until you start to feel spring pressure. Push the slide all the way back.
Step 4: Rack the slide and function test
Rack the slide a few times to make sure you reassembled everything correctly.
Cleaning your magazines!
Over time, dirt and dust bunnies tend to get in there. Remember, your Px4 and magazines are tools. When practicing, you’ll want to eject empty magazines, let them fall on the ground (if your range allows) and reload a full magazine. When you do this, the magazines will tend to accumulate dirt, dust and maybe even mud. That’s OK as long as you clean them!
But first, you have to disassemble the magazines. This is really, really easy. Here’s how to do it.First, remove the bullets. Yeah, I know, that may sound obvious, but I’m just being practical here.
Next, remove the base. There is a small, round locking lug right in the center of the magazine base. Ideally, use a punch to press this in. If you don’t have a punch, you can use just about anything small enough to press that pin inwards - like a key or nail. Be careful not to scrape up the base though.
As you remove the magazine base plate, remember that there is a big spring inside just waiting to spring and launch stuff halfway across the room, so be ready to catch it.
Gently allow the spring, floor plate and follower to ease out of the magazine housing. Pay close attention to the orientation of things here. Look how the floor plate is placed on the bottom of the spring. A nice thing about Px4 magazines is that the spring it attached to the base plate and follower, so it’s pretty easy to keep things oriented correctly.
Once you have the magazine disassembled, wipe down all parts with a clean and dry rag - like an old t-shirt. Run that rag through the magazine body itself to make sure there is no crud on the inside. You want the follower to be able to travel freely up and down inside the body.
There is no need to lubricate any of the parts in the magazine. In fact, you want to avoid that as oil does not mix well with bullets. Just get all the loose dirt and crud out of there and reassemble.
The reassembly part is the reverse of takedown. Put the follower in, followed by the spring and magazine floor plate. Compress the spring and slide the magazine base into position until it locks into place. Right around now, you’ll be glad you paid attention to exactly how everything came out!
Function testing your gun
Function testing sounds like a word space shuttle engineers would use doesn’t it? All this means is to try the basic operations of your gun, before reloading it, to make sure you put it back together correctly. If there are no parts left over on the table, you’re off to a great start!
When you’re finished cleaning, using safe dry-fire precautions, test your gun to be sure you put things back together correctly.
- Remove the magazine.
- Rack the slide and visually verify that the chamber is empty.
- Rack the slide, point at a safe backstop, and press the trigger. Everything sound OK? Good. Now repeat the process to be sure before loading or securing your Px4.
Some people like to clean their gun at the range when they are finished shooting. This way, after reassembly, they can fire a couple of test shots to make sure the gun is put back together in working order. That’s another benefit of using one of the portable OTIS Technology kits. You can bring everything you need with you without filling your shooting bag with loose cleaning supplies.