Bird Dog & Retriever News

Dec 2016 / Jan 2017 issue page 3

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Keep it Clean!

By Frank Neumayer

Many of my students are new to shotgun shooting, and lately several have asked me about what methods or frequency they should use for cleaning and maintaining their shotguns? I answer them by briefly going over some of the basic and routine tasks they'll need to adopt in order to keep their guns safe, dependable, and in good condition. As a result of this question, and on a number of occasions, I'll find student shotguns with little or no lube on any of the mating metal parts. Based on this experience, and before we start any session, I'll do a quick check to make certain that all student shotguns are clean, lubed, and functioning properly. This situation also made me realize that I needed to write all this down so my students would have something to reference before, and apply after, their training session. 
     As boys growing up on a small farm in rural Oregon, my brother and I were shooting rifles, pistols, and shotguns at an early age. Our dad taught us not only how to handle guns safely and to shoot well, but also the importance of keeping our guns clean and ready to go. I can still hear him say "Take care of your gun and it will take care of you". My brother and I were taught that good gun maintenance is simply a part of responsible gun ownership and we made it standard part of our shooting and hunting routine. I'm sure there are many different thoughts and methods out there on how and when to clean your guns, but all I can do is convey to you what I was taught, and that has served me well for many years. I'm going to focus my comments on shotguns, because as clay target shooters we're usually firing many more rounds per day or per week than with most average rifle and pistol shooters.  
     Basically, there are two types of gun cleaning methods that I use. The first is what I call "Dry Cleaning", and the other (more involved method) I call "Wet Cleaning". I rarely shoot less than 100 rounds each time I take my shotgun out to the range. Every time I'm finished shooting I take a few minutes and dry clean my shotgun. First, by pulling a "cleaning snake" through the barrels, and then by wiping down all metal and wood surfaces using a lightly oiled cloth for the exposed metal parts, and a silicone cloth for the wood. This removes any dust, dirt, shot residue, hand and face oils, and especially fingerprints off the metal - which can cause corrosion. I then spot lube all the mating metal surfaces, and wear and hinge points. If the shotgun I'm using has choke tubes, I remove them and thoroughly clean and wipe them down. I also make certain I completely clean the barrel threads before I lube and re-insert the clean choke tubes. The goal is to have my shotgun cleaned, lubed, and all ready to go for the next time I head to the range or the field.

   If you shoot a Semi-automatic shotgun they will take a little more cleaning effort. Be sure to remove the forearm and wipe down all the major components with a clean dry cloth. Then prior to assembly, wipe down all the metal components with a lightly oiled cloth leaving the entire assembly lightly lubed - but fairly dry. The thing to remember is that you don't want to leave any of the action components in a "wet" condition. Your Semi-automatic works off the gases expended from the fired shells and a wet assembly will simply collect spent particles and soot more rapidly, and this residue or build-up can quickly jeopardize or stop the proper functioning of your shotgun's action. If possible, remove the trigger assembly and brush out any and all loose particles then wipe it down with a dry cloth. On reassembly, a light spray lube is all that's needed, and for the same reason mentioned above, don't leave your trigger assembly or receiver components too wet or over-lubed.     
     After about 500 plus rounds through my gun, and depending on the shooting conditions I've exposed it to, I'll do a "wet cleaning" of my shotgun. For this effort, I disassemble the shotgun down to its major components. Relative to the specific make and model of the shotgun, I'll remove the forearm, barrel-set, bolt, slides, and/or trigger assembly, as well as remove the stock to expose the receiver. (Note: on your cleaning bench, keep your wood separate from your metal parts, that way you won't end up with a nice ding in your stock or forearm while handling the metal receiver or barrel-set.) While cleaning these components take the opportunity to thoroughly inspect each for damage or wear. I clean each component separately in a pan with a light solvent (kerosene). Use a cleaning brush to remove any particles, then blow dry with compressed air, or simply wipe dry with a clean cloth. Prior to assembly, thoroughly apply a light spray lube to all components. Again, and especially with Semi-autos, don't leave an excessive amount of lube on the component surfaces that will collect shot residue or build-up. 
     As far as cleaning products go, there are a number of excellent manufacturers out there that offer basic to advanced shotgun cleaning kits. You can easily find these kits and products on-line or at your local Sporting Goods outlet. The kits normally include everything you'll need to get started out correctly. Along with detailed instructions, every kit will include the necessary rods; patches; brushes; tips; treated cloths; wipes; tubes of grease; as well as small bottles of gun solvent and oil… everything you'll need to keep you shotgun functioning properly and in great shape. Outers, Hoppe's, Rig, and STOS are just a few of the excellent cleaning products available. I would refrain from using items like automotive brake cleaners or other harsh solvents on your shotgun or firearm. I've seen beautiful wood and metal ruined by using some of these products, so I strongly recommend you play it safe and stay with the products that have been specifically developed for firearm maintenance. 
     Think of your shotgun as a complex mechanical device (with many small moving parts) that you use in the performance of a precision task. With that mindset, it should be easy to adopt the right attitude and perspective for proper gun care, inspection, and maintenance. There are many different thoughts out there on how to properly clean your shotgun, and on what products will work the best? Without question, good gun maintenance will not only retain your guns function, but its beauty, and value for as long as you own it. Again, these are just my ideas and methods which have served me well for many years. Here's the point… you want to be confident your gun will function properly for every shot you take! Plus, you want to know your gun is clean and ready to go the moment you decide to head out to the field or range. Take pride in what you own, and remember "Take care of your gun and it will take care of you". 

  If you'd like more information visit my website at , or if you have a specific question send me an email at and I'll do my best to get it answered.


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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News Dec 2016
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
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