Shotgun Cleaning and Maintenence
Regular cleaning and maintenance of your shotgun can make it last for generations. It’s true that many shooters get away without regularly cleaning their firearm and may claim that it still functions normally every time they use it. Let’s assume that you want your shotgun to stay in tip-top shape for as long as possible, so you’re not willing to take any risks by neglecting its maintenance. You may even enjoy the act of cleaning your firearm because it brings you peace of mind, much like a car enthusiast enjoys cleaning a classic hotrod.
There are certain essential supplies that come handy when cleaning your shotgun. A thorough cleaning regimen will use some combination of gun oil, polish/wax, solvents, lubricant, brushes, cleaning rods, patches, cloth etc. There are many gun cleaning kits you can order online that provide everything you possibly need to clean, polish, and protect your shotgun.
The main priority of cleaning is to eliminate moisture and remove dirt and debris. Moisture will cause wood to crack and steel to rust. Dirt and debris will foul and lock up critical parts, reduce accuracy, and contribute to rusting.
Dismantle your shotgun before a thorough cleaning. Important note: read the manual to learn how to dismantle your firearm and to know which parts that shouldn’t be cleaned.
First wipe and clean off all the dirt, debris, carbon dust, and residue that collects on the surface of the shotgun parts with a cloth rag or napkins. Use special cleaning solvents to remove dirt and residue that’s stuck on the metal parts. Anti-rust solvents can be used to scrub off rust with a very fine steel wool. Use gun oil to wipe down metal parts and something like furniture polish or wax to clean the wooden stock and forearm. A basic wipedown can be done with simple cloth.
Now you can clean the interior parts of even the best shotguns. Never forget to clean the choke and barrel. Lots of grime will collect in the choke. This is when bore brushes and cleaning rods come in handy. Special solvents are used to clean the choke and inside of the barrel which will dissolve all unwanted material. Clean out the threads. Apply lubricant or gun oil to the choke tube before screwing it back on. Also use gun oil for the other small and intricate parts of the shotgun if you decide to clean those.
Store your shotgun with its barrel/muzzle facing down after cleaning to let any oil or fluids drain out onto an exterior surface. Use a moisture-proof case when traveling. It’s very important that the case be breathable because this is where rusting is likely to occur.
Check out our Concealment Furniture Options if you’re looking for something extremely safe and reliable.
If your shotgun is wet, wipe it off with cloth and air-dry it in a warm room before storing it in a case. You don’t always have to store your shotgun in a case, and for long periods of internal storage it’s probably best if you don’t use a case (unless the case is absolutely dry and in good condition).
It’s a good idea to periodically clean and inspect your shotgun after every use, or at least every 250 rounds or so. A properly cleaned shotgun will stay rust-free while in storage. At a minimum, you can wipe down your firearm with an oily rag. Barrels and bores should be cleaned out regularly too, along with choke tightening. Depending on your type of shotgun, style of shooting, ammo, and environment, you may need to inspect and clean the magazine/ejection port, action springs, and gas system.
Basically, remember to gently wipe down your shotgun after each use, keep it dry, remove rust, and apply protective gun oil to metal parts and hard wax wood polish to the stock and forend to recapture shine. You should periodically strip off old lubricant and grease before applying new applications.
Watch out for dark rings and barrel bulges over time. Having your firearm periodically inspected by a gunsmith is not a bad idea, and above all else, remember gun safety.