Or if you know you are going back in a day or too, will it make any difference? I went to the range Saturday, planning on going back Monday or Tuesday. Have not cleaned it yet. Will that hurt my pistol?
Well...I used to clean everything religiously after every trip. However I read an article in American Handgunner several months ago that really brought that into question. Bottom line, if it makes you feel better, then go ahead. It is not necessary to clean every time unless you are shooting corrosive (i.e some foreign made or milsurp) ammunition, which you are most likely not. There is an argument that excessive cleaning can actually do more harm than good...not sure about that, but I have to say I shoot a lot more now that I don't obsess about keeping things clean. Wipe off the residue and put it away. Just my 2 pesos.
I always clean and lube after the range. I especially like to work on the pistols because they are so much easier than rifles. I love it that you pop off the barrel and even soak it in solvent or rinse it out in hot water. I also clean after carrying on a really hot day because of sweat and or condensation. Besides, who doesn't love the smell of Hoppe's #9? Like someone already said,"I actually enjoy cleaning my weapons."
I feel no need to clean the bore after every trip to the range on any gun we shoot on a regular basis. If it happens to be one of the few guns I don't shoot on a regular basis, then yes, I will clean and lubricate the bore after a range session. In forty plus years of shooting, I've never had a gun develop rust or corrosion in the bore for lack of my cleaning it.
I will wipe down all our guns, clean the crud out of the action, lube as needed, check for function (and also to see if we remembered to turn off the red dots) when I get back home after every range session, but, no, I do not clean the bore after every range trip. In fact, on my rimfires, I only clean the bore when the crud builds up enough to cause extraction problems.
I personally think if you only shot 50 rounds or less and you are planning to go back in a couple days don't worry about it or even a week. I find myself cleaning my gun if I shoot 100+ rounds after a range visit. I use relatively clean ammo Remington UMC 115g 9mm in SR9 and Federal Champion 22LR in my 10/22.
I will wipe down all guns when I get home just in case my plans in a few days change. I always completely clean my personal carry (SR9C) and the SR22 since the 22lr is a dirty round and I usually go through a hundred rounds with the SR22.
Remington 7mm Mag and the 30/30 Winchester only get light wipe down and then cleaned after deer season or heavy rains.
It is just habit for me and no scientific justification.
I also enjoy cleaning them when I get home. As the others mentioned above it's also good to make sure you have no mechanical issues. Crimped spring, loose sight all can and will loosen up in time or need replacement. Give good "Peace of Mind"
We're supposed to clean these things? Now you tell me.
Seriously, it all depends upon the situation. In most cases, I like to clean 'em after every trip to the range. However, if I know I'm heading back to the range the next day, I'll slack off and skip one cleaning. Also, depends upon how many rounds were fired.