Shipshape Shotguns: How to Clean Your Boomstick

by admin on 09-13-2013 in Firearms & guns

In a shooting competition, a dirty gun can cost you a trophy. In the worst case scenario, it could cost you your life. If you've never cleaned your shotgun, you could be risking a dangerous malfunction. Malfunctions such as a failure to eject a shell, or a shell sticking in the chamber, can be caused by a shotgun that hasn't been cleaned properly. Proper cleaning and storage of a shotgun is must-have knowledge for anyone who owns one, and here's a guide for how to do it.

Darne Shotgun open breech

Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Hmaag

Tear It Down

Before you even think about cleaning a shotgun, make sure it is unloaded. It might seem obvious, but if it's been a long time since you've used the gun, it's easy to forget, and it's not worth the risk to not check. Next, break the gun down to clean it thoroughly. Mechanisms not disassembled and cleaned can collect dangerous residues from lubricants that have exceeded their intended lifespans, Shotgun World says. Clean all moving parts, including the pump, but don't take apart the action, as it is full of many tiny parts. Degrease everything that has heavy buildup with a degreaser made specifically for firearms, but be especially thorough with the barrel, gas chamber and any part that is exposed to friction in normal operation.

Swabbing and Scrubbing

Use a clean bore to swab out the shotgun's barrel, and make sure the cord on the snake doesn't snag on anything before you extract it from the shotgun's barrel. If you have the time, it's a smart move to soak the tube of the choke. However, if you are pressed for time, scrubbing the tube with solvent, a brush and some elbow grease should suffice. Spray a little solvent into the barrel, and push an old rag through in a screwing motion to clean out the threads. Finish by adding a dab of grease to the choke for smooth action, and make a final pass through the barrel with the bore snake again.

Clean, Lube, Tighten

Lube and clean the shotgun's action with a very small amount of oil. Use it very sparingly, as grit and gunpowder can collect and cause problems later if you overdo it. Afterwords, thoroughly oil the gun's metal parts, and remove your fingerprints from any metal surface. The oil from your hands contains a makeup of chemicals that can cause rust to quickly form on any metal surface on your gun. Use a cleaning wipe with just a spot of oil to clean everything. Be sure to carefully check the o-ring from the magazine tube against an o-ring sizing chart because they can stretch over time.

When you've finished spot cleaning, tighten every piece of hardware and every screw, then reassemble the gun. Wipe down the wooden or plastic parts of the gun with a clean rag to remove any stray solvents, oil or grease.

Clean, Safe Storage

Store your gun in a cabinet with childproof locks, preferably in a humidity-controlled case. Storing your shotgun in a carrying case can cause moisture to become trapped in the case along with the gun, leading to mildew. A climate-controlled case is best for long-term storage, but don't leave a shotgun in storage for too long. Every month or so, you should remove it from its case, and wipe down any metal parts with a little gun oil to prevent rust. If you follow this procedure, you'll have a functional and safe firearm year-round.

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