Skip to main content

How to Maintain Your Hunting Rifle Throughout the Season

Simple, basic cleaning is better than over-doing it.


Heavy duty rifle cleaning should be reserved for the end of the season just prior to storage. Once the rifle is sighted in for the hunting season it is better treated with a minimum amount of chemicals and scrubbing. Some people do not know that a shot fired from a completely clean barrel will often hit in a different spot than subsequent shots that are fired through a dirty barrel.

Contrary to common belief, oils, lubricants and constantly cleaning the barrel can actually reduce accuracy and reliability and cause wear.

Find out what you need to know to maintain your hunting rifle in the slideshow.

Keep the barrel clear of debris

Photo by Joe Riekers

Keeping the barrel free of dirt, powder and debris is most important for consistent accuracy. Also, keeping the action functioning properly and running smoothly is vital. Use a proper rifle support when cleaning.

Use proper tools designed for firearms


If you must remove any screws or otherwise take a piece apart to clean it, use tools made for firearms. Proper, hollow ground screwdrivers fit the screws perfectly and will not tear them up. Other essential tools for firearms will not damage or scratch the finish.

Access the Action and the Bolt

Photo by Joe Riekers

Look down the barrel using a flashlight. You want to be able to compare the current condition to how it looks after you clean it out. The same goes for the action. The more accessible these components are, the less likely you are to accidentally cause any damage.

RELATED: 5 cartridges you should try on deer

Visibly clean is all it takes

Photo by Joe Riekers

There are dozens, if not more, of gun cleaning products and devices available. The truth is, to maintain your hunting rifle throughout the season the only items you really need are air, dry lube and a lint-free cloth.

Plain old air is the best thing for rifle cleaning

Photo by Joe Riekers

An air compressor or a bottle of compressed air is your best friend for maintaining your rifle throughout the season. Bottled air can be purchased as “computer keyboard cleaner,” “Dust-off” or similar products. Air pressure will remove moisture as well as blow away the dirt and debris.

RELATED: 10 reasons why Henry rifles are the best

Lubricants and solvents

Photo by Joe Riekers

The action, including the bolt and firing pin should be coated lightly with a dry lube. Any wet, oil, greasy or sticky lubricant will attract dirt which will stick to it. This is counter-productive. Sometimes carbon, excessive powder residue or dirt will be caked on to the bolt or action. This dirt needs to be removed to make sure your rifle keeps working properly under adverse conditions. A light bristle brush can usually remove most of the heavy gunk and the solvent can get off what is really caked on. If your rifle was subjected to excessive moisture, a light gun oil on the exterior surfaces will prevent build-up.

RELATED: The 35-30 cartridge is one of the original wildcat

you might also like

How to Maintain Your Hunting Rifle Throughout the Season