Whether you are shooting a rifle or shotgun, follow these simple steps before storing your gun to extend its life.
I love my guns. Whether you enjoy polishing your guns as I do, or put it off as long as you can as many of my friends do, now is the time that you should buckle down and get it done. Not a quick once over either. This is the time of year that you should get in to every nook and cranny and give it a good old polishing. Gun maintenance is important if you want your gun to perform well.
Here are the four steps you should follow at least once a year to give your gun a really good cleaning. The best time for this is right after your hunting season.
1. Get a good gun cleaning kit, mat, solvent, and oil.
Don’t try to clean your gun with Windex and paper towels. It just plain won’t work period. There are some things in life that you get what you pay for and this is one of them. Splurge in this regard and it will make your life easier.
You should even consider a snake for the caliber you are going to clean most often and run it through the barrel once or twice every time after firing your gun. Believe me, it makes the full cleaning days much easier and quicker.
2. Learn how to fully disassemble your gun, and do so.
This is optional, but highly recommended. When I give my guns a full cleaning, I fully disassemble everything except the trigger group. If possible, I even disassemble the magazine tube on my shotgun. I lay every piece out on the mat so I can easily see where it belongs. Disassembling your gun like this allows it to dry out and remove any excess dirt, twigs, grass, or whatever other foreign material may have found its way in.
Make sure to take notice of any small pieces. If you are not comfortable fully disassembling your gun, break it down into its primary groups giving you access to the bore and action.
3. Clean action and bore.
Make note that bore solvent can ruin any finish on the external areas of your gun. Only use it on areas that collect build up from the corrosive materials produced when you fire.
If you fully disassembled your gun, clean all pieces of the action with bore solvent. Use a toothbrush and cotton swabs to reach and clean difficult build up. Once cleaned with solvent, make sure to give a light coating of gun oil and let it sit while you work on the rest of the gun. I like to give a little extra oil to the areas of metal on metal friction.
If you have not fully disassembled the gun, try to remove as much of the build up as you can from the action being cautious not to push debris further in. If you have a bore snake, run it through a couple of times to remove any debris. Always pull the snake through from the breech to the muzzle. This will pull any debris away from the action.
Using either a cleaning rod or continuing to use the snake, soak a few cloth patches with solvent and run them through the bore. Both cleaning rods and snakes should have a slot to feed these patches thorough. Again, make sure you are running from breech to muzzle so as to draw debris away from the action end.
If your bore is very dirty, attach a copper brush to your cleaning rod and run it through a few times. Many snakes have build in copper wiring that acts as a brush already. Again, draw the brush from the breech to the muzzle in the direction the bullet will fly for best results. Continue to run dry patches through until they come out clean. Once they come through the bore clean, soak a couple of patches with gun oil and run them through. Let it soak for a few minutes and then run a dry patch through to remove any excess oil.
If you are cleaning a shotgun, make sure to clean any chokes the same way making sure any debris is removed from the threads.
Returning to the action, give a light wipe down to remove any excess oil. Keep in mind that while oil may reduce the friction in the action, too much oil will gather dust and debris and cause more trouble than good.
4. Cleaning barrel and stock.
Once the inside of the gun is clean, I like to wipe done the outside with a light gun oil. Make sure to remove any solvent that may have come in contact with the finish on your gun. Reassemble everything and give a thorough visual inspection.
Now it is time for my favorite part, run the action a few time to make sure it flows smoothly. There is nothing like a smooth action of a freshly cleaned gun.
With that, your gun is clean and ready for storage. While storing, make sure to keep it in a warm and dry location. Whether in a case or a safe, I like to keep my guns in a gun sock that helps pull moisture away from the gun. I also check it frequently through out the off season just to make sure no rust or corrosion has started to form.
Whether you partially or fully disassembled your gun, try to schedule in a time at the range to make sure everything is firing smoothly. You don’t want to discover your gun is not working when you get that big buck , moose, or bear in your sites.