Whether your target is a pheasant, grouse, or clays – your shotgun is by far your most important piece of equipment.
To keep any shotgun working at its best, it needs to be maintained and cared for regularly – especially if you are storing it during the off-season. To help, we’ve got 7 shotgun maintenance tips that’ll keep it in tip-top condition.
1. Never neglect cleaning your shotgun
Are you the person who simply sticks your gun in its case after a day’s shooting? That person who leaves it to rest until the next shooting season? It might be tempting but cleaning your shotgun is perhaps the most important aspect of shotgun maintenance.
Cleaning it means it’ll stay rust-free in storage, the barrel walls won’t build up with harmful deposits and it’ll preserve its pin-point accuracy. Some prefer to hand their gun to a gunsmith to clean, while others like to roll their sleeves up and do it themselves. If you fall into the latter group, check out our handy step-by-step guide to thoroughly cleaning your shotgun.
2. Store your gun barrel-down
If your gun is still wet with oil or cleaning fluid after cleaning, make sure to store it muzzle-down. This ensures that any excess oil or cleaning fluid runs out onto the cabinet floor rather than back through the chamber, into the mechanism and into the wood of the gunstock. This can soften the wood and create irreversible damage.
3. Be wary when storing your shotgun in a gun slip
If you’re storing your gun for more than a few weeks, it’s probably best to store your gun without its gun slip on to give it some air. If you prefer storing your shotgun with a cover on, make sure the slip is bone dry inside out – rust, after all, loves damp conditions!
4. Don’t forget about the chokes
The screw-in choke tubes for a shotgun are a common feature and it’s extremely important that you maintain them properly. If you leave them in place for too long, good luck extracting them!
Be sure to take them out regularly using the choke’s key, clean them of old lubricant, dry, and then lubricate before refitting.
5. If your shotgun gets wet…
Spoiler alert: rain and the UK come hand-in-hand. So being caught out during a shoot and your gun getting wet is an all too likely possibility. If this happens, don’t put it back into the slip if you can help it. The wool inside the slip will act like a sponge and soak up the water, the warmth of the car on your journey home will then be a perfect environment for rust to develop.
Don’t be tempted to speed up the drying process by placing the gun by a radiator or fire as this will cause the wood to crack. Instead, dry it off with kitchen roll as soon as you get into the dry and leave it to slowly dry in a warm room.
6. If you need to recapture the shine…
After a while, the wood of your gun is likely to become duller – luckily, it’s easy enough to recapture its shine. If your gun was finished with varnish in its factory, there’s no need to use any oil. Just some hard-wax furniture polish and get ready to buff (a lot).
If the gunstock was oil-finished, take a trip to your gunsmith of choice and ask them which brand of oil they’d recommend. They can also offer you some advice on how to achieve the best finish with the chosen oil. Your gun will be looking like new in no time!
7. Watch out for dark rings inside the barrel
If you notice any dark rings start to appear down the barrels of your gun, we recommend taking it to a gunsmith as soon as possible because this could be a sign of barrel bulges.
If the gunsmith gives your shotgun a clean bill of health, get them to give the barrel bores a good polish. After that, make sure you’re cleaning the barrels thoroughly after every shoot – a clean gun is a healthy gun!
Are there any shotgun maintenance tips you do regularly to keep your gun performing at its best? Let us know in the comments below!