For most people their gun is a very special object. Whether it is a Boss or a Baikal they can have huge sentimental value and also constitute a significant financial investment. To this end it is impossible to over-exaggerate the importance in caring for it in order to protect your prized possession.
Each time your gun is fired, residues of unburnt powder and remnants of fibre waddings are left behind which can serve to pit the barrels and can affect the performance of your shotgun. This pitting can cause the pellets to behave differently to normal and in consequence can have an adverse impact on the patterns that are produced. In short this mean that less shot will end up where you want it to as well as reducing stopping power, which is very important if you are like me and need all the help you can get! As well as obvious impacts on your shooting and your gun (which will ultimately decrease it’s value) safety is also compromised due to the unpredictability of your shot pattern.
Lubrication is also key. There are many moving parts to a gun and where metal rubs metal without a suitable lubricant, problems will ensue. The best way to combat this is to ensure that all parts (the hook, the lumps and the cam on the forend) are lubricated with gun oil or lithium grease. While it is difficult to appreciate that the metal can wear enough to be an issue, a shotgun is such a precision piece of workmanship that even the smallest amount of wear can mean that a gun ultimately requires expensive repair work.
Despite the real and serious consequences of poor gun care they can be avoided by simple routine maintenance. Here is how I tend to clean guns and reduce these risks:
- Disassemble the gun so you have the barrels, stock and action and forend separately in front of you.
- Start with the barrels; spray a good amount of gun cleaner down each of the bores. Please note, cleaner and not gun oil, this is for later.
- Use a Payne-Galway brass brush to remove any unburnt powder or foulings from the bores.
- Next, use a jag along with a cleaning patch to remove any remaining particles of dirt or foulings. The bores should now be bright and clean with no flecks whatsoever. If not repeat until this is achieved. Please note that a paradox cleaner is a very useful tool to quickly clean the barrels, but it is a soft mop and will not scrub out all the unburnt powder residue or leading.
- Spray some gun cleaner on a cloth and clean the outside of the barrels. Ensure you remove any fingerprints. Pay special attention to the muzzles and making sure they are clean and that any residues of the cleaner are also removed.
- Use a cotton bud or a pipe cleaner to clean in the corners and tight spots around the lumps, inside the action, the bites, the ejectors (push them out first) and also along the top rib, this removes any dirt or water that may have built up.
- Put some gun oil not cleaner on a cloth and oil the hook, lumps, the cam on the forend and where the forend meets the action.
- Give the stock and action a wipe off with a cloth to remove any water or dirt and your gun is ready to go back in the cabinet.
Whilst this is not the only method, it works well and covers the main areas to ensure that your gun is in top condition. In addition to this, it is sensible to have your gun stripped and cleaned at the end of the season so you can put it away with piece of mind that come the beginning of the new season, you really will be able to go at it lock, stock and barrels!
We’ve put together a short video on how to clean your gun – click here to view it now