Maintaining your firearm will help the longevity and performance over time.
Owning a firearm comes with several responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is routine maintenance. There are differing opinions between gun owners as to frequency and product choice, however, this general list are do's and don'ts typically agreed upon.
1. Practice safety first.
Take the time to ensure the gun is unloaded including checking the chamber. Do not assume the gun is safe, even if you handled it last. Several accidents have happened under the assumption the gun was unloaded.
2. Invest in a basic cleaning kit.
These kits have the tools needed in order to maintain your firearm appropriately at a reasonable cost. Do not rely on everyday household cleaners. Some of these may be corrosive and harmful to your firearm over time. Get this one at Cabela's.
3. Clean in the natural direction of the bullet, breech to muzzle.
Do not run a cleaning tool in the opposite direction. This will push any residue or other debris towards the chamber and receiver causing problems with lever actions or create stuck problems over time.
4. Use a clean patch surface each time you run the patch through the barrel.
This ensures you are not picking up debris along the way and re-depositing it through the chamber and neck. Do not run a brush in the barrel first. This could potentially damage the firearm. The brush picks up dirt and other residues that could also be re-deposited into the chamber.
5. Use only a thin layer of lubricant.
Some have the mentality that more is better. That is not the case when it comes to applying lubricant to your firearm. Using too much lubricant can damage your firearm and cause it to malfunction.
6. Pack a small cleaning kit when you hunt.
Depending on your hunt location, the weather may be extreme and harsh. Firearms exposed to salt water or high humidity run the risk of rusting while hunting in extremely cold temperatures could adversely affect how your firearm functions. A small kit on your hunt may come in handy to keep your firearm in good working order.
Several gun enthusiasts have perfected their own personal method to maintaining their firearm. Although there may be slight variances to each one the tips listed above, these will generally help you keep your firearm performance-ready.