Save Your Shotgun, Watch the Oil: Tips for the Gun-Cleaning Fanatic

Written by: John Rano, Gun Room Manager

There are really two kind of people when it comes to gun cleaning. The ever conscious shooter who cleans his gun in a meticulous manner, ensuring the gun is properly wiped down, the bore scrubbed and oiled, and the action hinge properly lubed. Then there are people like me, a quick wipe of the barrels and maybe a cleaning rod through the bore. That is if I don’t plan on shooting with in the next week, otherwise it goes back in the case. I remember asking the late Gene Hill how often he cleaned his guns. He gave me a quizzical look then rolled his eyes and went back to drinking his glass of wine. I guess you know the answer.

This tip is really for the fanatics and meticulous gun cleaners. It is all well and good to do the job thoroughly and correctly, and I highly recommend that at least once a year, a gun that has been shot a fair amount be sent in to be professionally cleaned by a qualified gunsmith. The problem that I see time and time again on guns owned and cleaned by the meticulous gun cleaner is OIL. Many people drench their gun with oil when cleaning. This causes a serious problem with the wood. What happens with over oiling your gun is that the oil seeps into the wood, both the forearm and stock, and can cause the wood to crack easily, badly discolor. Worse, if something were to happen to the stock, it can make it impossible for a gunsmith to fix because the wood has broken down and become too soft to work on with out further damage. If something does happen to the wood on an over-oiled gun can cause, you can spend a great deal of money repairing it. In most cases we see the stock is so damaged it has to be replaced.

All this said, the best way to oil your gun is sparingly. A great tip is to spray a cleaning rag with the oil rather than applying oil directly to the gun. Do not leave excess oil on any part of your gun especially where it can run or seep into the wood. Yes go ahead and be your fanatical self, but go easy on the OIL. In the end, it will save you money.

John Rano is the Orvis Gun Room Manager, an Orvis shooting instructor, and gunfitter for the Orvis Wingshooting Schools. You can contact John about New Orvis guns and consignment guns at : 802-362-2580 or or check out our line of shotguns at The Orvis Gun Room

5 thoughts on “Save Your Shotgun, Watch the Oil: Tips for the Gun-Cleaning Fanatic”

  1. Pingback: June 27, 2014: Feather and Fin Link Round-Up | Feather and Fin
  2. Totally agree with you John. Most of the people really overdo the oil thing when cleaning their gun. Your gun doesn’t really need that much oil and that often. We wrote a piece recently about similar thing that you can find here: Would definitely appreciate your feedback as you always have great things to say. In the man time I am looking forward to more what you have to share with us. It definitely gives me a lot of great insights.
    -Jaro from

  3. I’m kind of a mix between the two types of gun cleaners that you describe. Someones I will be very meticulous about my cleaning, and other times, it’s just a quick job. I have been needing to get some new lubricant for my 9mm Springfield XD and I’m wondering if it’s better to be meticulous at first with newer guns or take the quicker approach. Do you have any further tips for me?

  4. I think I’m the meticulous type when cleaning my gun. I spend more than an hour in cleaning my gun just to make sure it’s safe to use. I even bought a gunsmithing & cleaning product to prevent marring of metal surfaces & for brass punches.

  5. I like your tip to spray a cleaning rag with the oil rather than applying oil directly to the gun. My husband just got a new gun for his birthday, but he needs to know how to best care for it so that it stays in good condition. I think it would be really good for him to take it to a professional to get help cleaning it.

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