Gun-Cleaning Basics & Maintenance Review: Keep Your Shotgun in Tip-Top Shape

Time of shot from gun

Cleaning and maintenance isn’t the most exciting part of owning a gun, but it’s essential. You should clean your gun after every hunting or shooting session, and then perform periodic basic maintenance routines. This will extend the lifespan, accuracy and functionality of the weapon. The work can be time-consuming, but it will improve your shooting experience and save you money in the long run. Even if you’re a seasoned gun owner, review the cleaning and maintenance basics outlines below:

Wipe It Down With a Silicone Cloth

Most gun owners know they need to wipe down their gun after it’s been used, but even veteran gun owners may not be using the right material. Perform these routine wipe-downs with a silicone-based cloth, not one made of cotton or other materials. Silicone will be more effective at removing moisture and residue. Bushnell sells a good silicone cloth for this purpose.

You don’t need to do a full tear-down to do this. Just wipe down the easily accessible interior parts to stave off rush. A patch cleaner is effective at clearing moisture from the gun’s barrel before rust develops, but if rust is already present, consider a bore brush to keep the shaft clean.

Change Out O-Rings to Combat Oxidation

O-rings play an important but undervalued role in the function and fitness of your gun. Because oxygen is one of the main contributors to rust formation, silicone o-rings are needed to provide a tight seal in the gun and keep oxygen out of those hard-to-reach places.

As silicone ages, it dries out and develops cracks that let oxygen seep into the interior of the gun. Most o-rings come with a recommended lifespan or warranty, so keep track of the age of these seals and swap them out before they break down. Apple Rubber makes quality silicone parts and seals in a variety of sizes to serve different gun types.

Scrub (Don’t Soak) the Chokes

Some gun owners soak their gun’s choke tubes before they clean them, but this usually isn’t necessary. Even at its best, soaking is a needless step that lengthens the choke cleaning process considerably. Skip the soaking and simply clean the tubes with a brass brush. Use a spray solvent to free up the accumulated grime—G96 Nitro Solvent gun cleaner is a popular choice—and then go in with the brush and sweep out the unwanted debris.

Once a Year, Do a Full Dismantle

No matter how well you keep on top of day-to-day maintenance, every shotgun needs to be fully dismantled for a once-a-year cleaning. You can do this yourself, but if you’re unsure of your skills or the process, take your gun to a gunsmith for a professional cleaning. An amateur dismantle could compromise the weapon’s proper functioning. Even if you get it back together the right way, the gun may not perform as well as it did before the cleaning.