but it could and should have been avoided. If you're gonna shoot a gas gun, clean it...
Absolutely - you have to maintain the gun as required for it to be reliable. I've run mine 500 rounds between cleaning with no problems. But, I also keep it lubricated properly.
The only thing that really needs cleaning is the gas piston and ports. You can get to the gas piston in less than 30 seconds as the forearm cap unscrews, you pull off the forearm and the gas piston is accessible.
You can also pull the barrel out of the receiver at the same time to get to the bolt and clean the barrel.
I use SLiP 2000 Choke Tube Cleaner. It comes in a jar and I take out the choke and piston, put them in the jar and continue cleaning and lubing the gun. When I'm ready to reassemble the gun, I take the choke and piston out of the jar, brush them clean, dry them, lubricate and install them back into the gun.
The weak point of the gun is the pistons if you shoot it a lot - like thousands of rounds per month. The pistons have a spring in them and the spring fatigues and finally breaks. The way you know this has happened is the gun requires heavier loads to cycle.
What SRM Performance does as part of their reliability / performance tuneup is remove the spring in each gas piston, replace the spring with a custom part and adjust the gas ports in the pistons to run without the spring.
The gun functions exactly the same, but the weak point (piston springs) has been removed so it is no longer a concern. The spring is there as a recoil reduction measure it's not really needed for the gun to function.
The Sure Cycle recoil system replaces the recoil spring with an enclosed system that never wears out, and manages recoil better, with the bonus of closing the bolt faster so the cycle time of the gun is reduced.