Alright, so it was a good day. You spent the morning on the water and came away with some nice birds. You get home and unload the jeep. You set the shotgun in the corner and proceed to clean the birds. You get the birds all taken care of and look at the shotgun…and then put it in the safe thinking, “I’ll get to cleaning you tomorrow.”
Well, tomorrow turns into 2 weeks later when you get some more time to go hunt. You pull the shotgun out of the safe and what used to be a beautiful high gloss blued barrel now has ugly silver spots where the bluing has been removed and rust starting to form…it was a good day.
Everyone loves shooting their guns, but not everyone likes cleaning them. It may not be the most fun thing to do, but it really is one of the most important. Here is a short step-by-step guide to properly clean a gun.
Proper tools for cleaning are imperative. You need tools to clean the barrel and the action. For the barrel, a good stiff brass or copper brush the size of your bore is necessary for breaking up the residue, patches of mops can be used for applying cleaner and oil. For the action a stiff nylon brush works the best to loosen and clean the debris away, cheap toothbrushes work well. You will need lint free rags as well, not paper towel or anything that may leave bits behind. You need proper gun cleaning solvent and oil as well…WD-40 is NOT a gun cleaner or gun oil or a gun ANYTHING…stop it. A dedicated cleaning mat is also nice to have, but an old towel or even newspapers works as well.
1. Check & Strip
To properly clean and oil a firearm, it MUST be “field stripped”. “Field stripped” is breaking the gun down into its basic major components, usually the barrel, action or receiver, and trigger group. If you are not familiar with how to do this to your gun, refer to your manual. And always, ALWAYS physically check your gun to make sure it is unloaded before you do anything else!
For over-under or side-by-side shotguns, usually the fore end is removed, then the barrel is released and can be removed. If the shotgun has chokes, then these are removed as well. This is normally as far as you need to disassemble the gun. Semi-auto shotguns can be a little more involved, so check a manual, ask the manufacture or your local gunsmith. Bolt action rifles usually only involve removing the bolt, which is done by either depressing a bolt release, or pulling the trigger, or sometimes a combination of both, while sliding the bolt out of the receiver.
2. Inspect & Spray
Once the gun is field stripped and laid out, you want to inspect each part. Look for anything that looks damaged, overly worn or cracked. If something looks wrong, take it in to a gunsmith to have it checked out. If everything looks OK, proceed to cleaning.
Use a dry brush to shift any loose particles or large debris, then spray everything down with a gun cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes - a good time to go have a cuppa’.
3. Pay attention to Bore
When you come back to start cleaning, spray everything lightly again and start gently scrubbing with the cleaning brush. Wipe each part clean and inspect them to make sure it is clean. Pay special attention to the bore, using a bore brush to loosen the carbon and fouling and then run a few patches down the bore to wipe it clean. If the bore isn’t completely clean, repeat the process until it is.
Once clean, run a clean patch soaked in oil down the bore. The same basic process is repeated for all the other parts, scrubbing and wiping till clean. For lubricating, either refer to your manual, or look for parts of the gun that seem to make contact or rub, usually those areas will look shiny like they have been polished, as well as any parts that move, like hammers, triggers, etc. A small amount of gun oil in those areas and you are ready to put it back together. Once the gun is reassembled, take a clean patch and soak it in gun oil and wipe the entire gun with it. You always want to oil the gun before putting it away.
Bob's your Uncle
That’s it, fairly simple really, and after you do this a couple times it shouldn’t take any more than 15-20 minutes per gun. It is recommended the gun be cleaned every time you take it out of the house. Even if you don’t shoot it, still wipe the outside down with a little oil.
A thorough cleaning before the shooting season begins allows you to catch any issues before they become problems you find while hunting, and at the end of the season before putting the gun into storage. A little care and maintenance will ensure that your gun will last for generations.
Steven is our in house Gunsmith and is a master of his art. We offer a list of gunsmith services. Click here to avail of any these.