How to clean a shotgun.

At the start or end of the shooting season, a well-used shotgun will often need a good clean and whilst it’s important to maintain a clean gun after every shoot, a thorough clean every now and then is paramount to a shotgun operating efficiently and accurately.

You can get your gun professionally cleaned by a gunsmith for around £25, however you should have a go yourself (especially as ideally your gun should be cleaned every time you use it!) Get yourself a cleaning kit, and follow the tips below to help you achieve a good-as-new clean.

What You Need to Clean a Shotgun

You will need a few tools and pieces of equipment in order to properly and effectively clean a shotgun. It is really important that you are able to clean away any dirt, debris, dust and anything else that may otherwise hinder the performance of your shooting and the functioning of your gun. You will need the following:

  • Bronze wire brush
  • Cleaning rod
  • Cleaning patches, cloths or paper towel
  • Toothbrush
  • Gun oil

Always ensure you shotgun is unloaded before cleaning, and that you have a clear safe space to work in. You also want to make sure your gun is dry and free from any condensation on the inside of the barrels. Keep the choke inserts in place so that dirt and dust can’t get into the barrel threads. The cleaning process for shotguns is as follows:

First, always ensure that the action is open and empty and the gun safety is on, particularly if you are cleaning an autoloader or a slide-action gun.

Take the gun down into its component parts, which in the case of the break-action gun are the barrels, the forend, and the butt-stock/action.

Wipe all pieces thoroughly with a clean, dry rag. In the event that the gun got wet while in use, allow it to dry in pieces in a warm, well-ventilated space. Bear in mind that the gun should not be exposed to direct heat from a wood stove, hair dryer, etc. The gun should warm and dry slowly to ensure that finishes and wood components not be damaged.

Use a toothbrush, cotton swab or toothpick to clean debris from hard-to-reach places. Pay particular attention to the recesses of the action, the areas alongside the rib, inside the trigger guard, and moving parts around the ejectors. Concentrate on removing larger bits of debris such as pine needles, dirt, and clotted grease.

Once the outer surfaces are largely clean, use a cleaning rod to push a patch or a scrap of paper towel/cloth through the bores. The cloth/patch should be soaked in a high-quality bore solvent such as Hoppes #9. Alternatively, I often use the appropriate-sized bronze bore brush wrapped in a soaked patch to scrub the barrel. The bristles of the brush hold the patch securely, and I find I can get optimal bore contact with this scrubbing surface.

Once sufficiently scrubbed, I swab with dry patches until largely clean, then I pass an oil-soaked patch through each bore.

Wipe the barrels and action with an oily rag to protect surface metal.

Never spray oil, solvent, or any other cleaning product/lubricant into the stock checkering.

In the event that the stock wood loses its lustre, it can be rejuvenated by rubbing a SMALL drop of boiled linseed oil, or, even better, a bit of high-quality paste shoe polish (cordovan color) into non-checkered areas. Be careful to not exaggerate with the quantities.

Make special note of steps 2 and 3 as they will give you a chance to inspect your shotgun to make sure all is in working order.

If you continue to clean a shotgun in the correct way, it should last years and remain in good working order.

How To Clean A Shotgun
Cleaning your shotgun before the start of the season is a good habit.