For all shooters, whether your target is pheasants, grouse or clays – your shotgun is by far the most important piece of equipment.
To keep any shotgun working at maximum effectiveness, it needs to be cleaned and maintained regularly – especially if you’re storing it for a few weeks over the winter. To help, we’ve created a handy step-by-step guide to cleaning your shotgun properly.
1) Take Your Shotgun Apart
When taking your shotgun apart to completely clean it, the most important starting point is to make 100% sure all ammunition has been removed – otherwise it can be very dangerous.
If you have a pump-action shotgun, pull back the bolt release (or the bolt grip on an auto-loading shotgun) – which will eject a shell. Repeat until every shell is out of the gun, and store them somewhere safe.
To disassemble, take off the shotgun barrel to split the gun into two pieces. For a pump-action, remove the end-cap first. Alternatively, for a single-shot shotgun, take off the forearm first.
2) Wipe It Down
Repeated firing will probably have created a thick layer of carbon dust around your barrel. If parts of your cloth show up black when wiping it, then you know it’s there. Just keep turning the cloth and polishing until it’s no longer appearing.
Once the outside of the barrel is clean, it’s time to deal with the inside. You’ll naturally get an even worse level of carbon build-up within the barrel from the impact of the cartridge’s release. Thankfully, most gun cleaning kits come with a cleaning rod – which does the job expertly. Attach a patch (loo roll works in a pinch) to the rod and push it through each barrel, where it should absorb any excess moisture – as well as getting the carbon debris out.
Image credit: Guns on Pegs
3) Finish With Oil
Once you’ve fully cleaned your gun, inside and out – there’s only one thing left to do, and that’s add some gun oil!
It’s your choice whether to spray or wipe your oil – but we find that spraying makes it easier to get into every last little nook and cranny. Either way, give the action a good oiling to avoid rust build-up before you reassemble it. What’s more, if your ejector is removable – take that out and oil it as well. Finally, make sure the outside of your barrels are properly oiled and then wiped down with a clean cloth (you wouldn’t want to drop it). Now your firing action should be smoother than ever, and ready to go for your next shoot!