How To Properly Clean A Gun In 10 Steps

Gun Cleaning

A fine shotgun should last many generations, and with proper care, it can. Even after a long day afield, it is the responsibility of the gun owner to clean and maintain his or her shotgun to ensure long life and proper function. Jordan Smith, Orvis resident Gunsmith, recommends the following procedure be followed each time a gun returns from the field or clays course.

  1. First, always ensure that the action is open and empty and the gun safety is on, particularly if you are cleaning an autoloader or a slide-action gun.
  2. Take the gun down into its component parts, which in the case of the break-action gun are the barrels, the forend, and the butt-stock/action.
  3. Wipe all pieces thoroughly with a clean, dry rag. In the event that the gun got wet while in use, allow it to dry in pieces in a warm, well-ventilated space. Bear in mind that the gun should not be exposed to direct heat from a wood stove, hair dryer, etc. The gun should warm and dry slowly to ensure that finishes and wood components not be damaged.
  4. Use a toothbrush, cotton swab or toothpick to clean debris from hard-to-reach places. Pay particular attention to the recesses of the action, the areas alongside the rib, inside the trigger guard, and moving parts around the ejectors. Concentrate on removing larger bits of debris such as pine needles, dirt, and clotted grease.
  5. Once the outer surfaces are largely clean, use a cleaning rod to push a patch or a scrap of paper towel/cloth through the bores. The cloth/patch should be soaked in a high-quality bore solvent such as Hoppes #9. Alternatively, I often use the appropriate-sized bronze bore brush wrapped in a soaked patch to scrub the barrel. The bristles of the brush hold the patch securely, and I find I can get optimal bore contact with this scrubbing surface.
  6. Once sufficiently scrubbed, I swab with dry patches until largely clean, then I pass an oil-soaked patch through each bore.
  7. Wipe the barrels and action with an oily rag to protect surface metal.
  8. Never spray oil, solvent, or any other cleaning product/lubricant into the stock checkering.
  9. In the event that the stock wood loses its lustre, it can be rejuvenated by rubbing a SMALL drop of boiled linseed oil, or, even better, a bit of high-quality paste shoe polish (cordovan color) into non-checkered areas.
  10. Make special note of steps 2 and 3 as they will give you a chance to inspect your shotgun to make sure all is in working order.