Written by: Jennifer Miller, Greystone Castle
Have you ever had your semi-automatic jam? Or struggled to break open your over/under? Shooting is an outdoor sport, which means your shotgun is subject to moisture, dust, and the occasional drop in the mud. Added to gunpowder residue and the oil required to keep the gun functioning, these environmental factors result in a build-up of gunk and rust that can cause many problems.
Moisture is a shotgun’s biggest enemy. Wet wood cracks, and wet steel rusts. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid duck hunting or cancel at the slightest chance of rain; it just means you need to take special care to ensure there is no long-term damage. Always wipe your gun down with a soft towel after every use. This will absorb any moisture on the outside and also remove oil from fingerprints. Make sure that your gun is stored in a cool, dry place. A simple humidor is available to hang in gun safes. It draws moisture out of the air, and once it’s full, simply plug it in to any outlet to dry it out and use it again.
After every 200 or so shots, it is best to break your shotgun down and give it a thorough cleaning and oiling. Start by checking that it is unloaded, then separate the pieces and place them on a soft, dry cleaning cloth. What you actually use to clean with is a matter of personal preference. There are many different types and brands of cleaning solvents and oils. There are also many methods, including bore snakes, gun mops, cotton swaps, polishing clothes and metal brushes. The most important things to remember are to use a method recommended for your gun and gauge, and that when it comes to oil, a little goes a long way.
Always make sure you unscrew your choke tubes and clean the threads. Just cleaning the bore doesn’t get all the gunk that works its way into the chokes. This gunk can turn to rust and lock your choke tubes in place forever. When you screw them back in, just a dab of oil is needed on the first thread. As they screw in, the oil will be dispersed through all the threads.
You can use simple furniture polish on your stock and fore-end. You do not want oil on the wood. As you reassemble the gun, just a touch of oil where metal meets metal will keep the pieces working smoothly without overdoing it.
Finally, a wipe down with a soft cloth will leave you with a gleaming shot gun ready for your next hunt.
Jennifer Miller is the marketing manager at Greystone Castle, 2015 Orvis-Endorsed Wingshooting Lodge of the Year, in Mingus, Texas.