Another advantage is I know how it comes apart and goes back together. That can be good to know if something goes wrong…at the range or in an emergency. I know how it feels, I know how it looks, and I know when it doesn’t feel or look “right”.
By breaking it down and cleaning it, I also get a look at the inner workings. I may not understand all the parts, but I have a pretty good idea how the basics work. I think having an understanding of the mechanics makes me a better shooter. Again, it helps me identify and correct a problem before it becomes too serious. It also helps me recognize when I have exceeded my skills and need to consult an expert or a gunsmith.
Most basic pistol classes address cleaning at a very high level. We talk about the basic tools, chemicals, safety equipment…but don’t go into a lot of detail. Why? Every gun is just a little different. They come apart differently, they need oil a little differently, and they reassemble differently. I have owned Rugers Brownings, Colts and Glocks. The Glocks have been the easiest to break down (some people are afraid of them because you have to pull the trigger to take it apart, but if you follow the safety basics, unloaded, cleared, visually and physically, it is safe). My Colt (a .380) was the worst! The recoil spring used to shoot out of the gun and fly across the room every time I broke it down to clean. It usually ended up under a piece of furniture. Then, I would have a terrible time compressing it enough to put it back together. My relationship with that particular gun was brief.
Your best source of information is the Owner’s Manual. It should give you detailed diagrams and explanations on how to break down your pistol, how to clean it, how and where to oil it, and how to put it back together. There should also be a phone number you can call if you get stuck. It should give you an idea how many rounds you can reasonably expect to shoot before you need to clean it. Realistically, if you shoot, even 50-100 rounds, and don’t plan to shoot again for a few weeks, clean it. If you are going again in a couple days, you can probably wait.
Remember the latex gloves, and eye protection. Bore Cleaner is a harsh chemical, it is designed to clean the lead out of your gun. You don’t want it on your skin or in your eyes. You do want to be sure to clean in a well-ventilated area, and then dispose of your used materials in a ventilated area (I dump everything in an outdoor trash can when I’m done). Use a small dedicated shot glass, or other glass/pyrex (I wouldn’t recommend plastic as this is a harsh chemical and could dissolve the plastic) container for a small amount of bore cleaner. Pour a little in the glass or dish, and then when you are done cleaning, dump it out with your used patches. Why? If you dip your bore brush into the bore cleaner bottle, you are contaminating your cleaner. Then you are cleaning your gun with a contaminated cleaner.
Always practice safe cleaning, do not have ammunition in the area, unload and clear your gun, check it, then check it again, both visually and physically. Always keep it pointed in a safe direction, even while cleaning. Practice safe habits and you can avoid accidents.
If you are going to trust your life to your gun, shouldn’t you be responsible for keeping it clean and knowing how it works?