Cleaning a Shotgun

by April Reinhardt
(last updated February 20, 2009)

Shotguns come in many varieties; semi-automatic, single barreled, double barreled, and pump. There are also different gauges; 10, 12, 16, 20, and 28. No matter the type or gauge of your shotgun, the basic instructions for cleaning are the same. While the cleaning procedure is unique to different varieties and gauges, the basics of cleaning remain the same. Before you attempt to clean your shotgun, follow the manufacturer's instructions to unload and dismantle it. Always place your ammunition into a separate room before you begin to clean your shotgun, and then follow these instructions to remove the barrel:

  1. If you have a single-shot shotgun, take off the forearm and remove the barrel.
  2. If your shotgun is pump action, unscrew the top of the tubular chamber after sliding the action all the way back, and then twist off the barrel away from the gun.
  3. Slide the barrel off of a semi-automatic shotgun by pulling the action all the way back, unscrewing the forearm cap, and then slide the forearm off of the gun.

Once you've removed the barrel from your shotgun, you can start to clean it. While there is differing opinion amongst gun experts as to the proper gear for cleaning a firearm, the basics are still the same. While some of the equipment described in this process may be unconventional, this is the easiest and most inexpensive way to clean a shotgun:

  1. Using a can of WD-40 with a spray nozzle, spray the product into the barrel from one end, and then the other.
  2. Use a bore brush to scrub through the barrel.
  3. Open a new tampon housed in a cardboard applicator. Fluff it open, place it on the end of the cleaning rod, and push it all the way through the barrel until it comes out of the other end.
  4. Spray WD-40 down the barrel of the gun again.
  5. Turn the tampon over, exposing the clean side, and ram it through the barrel with your cleaning rod again.
  6. Hold the barrel up to a light and look to see if there is any residue remaining. If there is, repeat the tampon cleaning process.
  7. Saturate another clean tampon with gun oil, and run it through the barrel.
  8. Wipe all metal parts of your shotgun with gun oil, taking great care not to get oil on the wood stock of your gun.
  9. Apply small amounts of gun oil to all of the moving parts of your shotgun.
  10. Reassemble your shotgun and test for functionality.

If you do happen to get gun oil on the wood parts of your shotgun, immediately wipe it down with a dry cloth. Gun oil can soften wood, leaving it vulnerable to scratches and dents. Use the lesser amount of gun oil on your action and slide, as too much may prevent the action from working properly.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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