Maintaining your shotgun is always important, especially in the off-season when it can be locked away for months on end without being used. Not only will regularly caring for your gun help to keep in it pristine condition but it will also ensure that no damage is being done while you are storing it away. Below, we have provided answers to our top six gun maintenance FAQs to help you maintain your most vital piece of shooting equipment:
How Do I Clean My Gun?
While we have provided a more in-depth guide on how to clean a shotgun previously, we will cover some basics here to help get started on the cleaning process.
First and foremost, check that your shotgun is unloaded and safe to handle. Once you have carried out the safety checks, disassemble your gun by removing the fore-end and separating the barrels from the action.
Next, lay down your barrels on top of a protective mat or sheet. Then, use a bore snake to clean the inside of your barrels by feeding it through them until they look clean. Alternatively, if you’re using a traditional cleaning kit, use the rod and jag to push a patch through your barrels until they are clear. Remove any other residue with the bronze brush provided. Finally, spray on some bore cleaner and leave it to soak for around ten minutes before passing your patch through the barrels again.
Now, clean your action by using a cloth to wipe off any dirt or grease, paying extra attention to grime on the firing pins where marks are likely to have been left. Make sure you also use the cloth to wipe off any handprints that have been left on the top lever as these will tarnish the metal. To clean out of those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, you can use a small brush or even a toothbrush, with soft bristles, to ensure your gun is as clean as possible!
Next, oil your action but don’t use too much as this will attract dust and may also weaken your stock. The best method is to dab some gun oil on to a cleaning cloth and gently wipe it over the action; when you are finished, the oil should not be visible, but you should be able to feel it, so run your finger over as a test.
Lastly, don’t forget to grease the action by applying some grease to the hinge pins before reassembling your gun and placing it back inside your gun cabinet where it can be safely stored until your next shooting day.
How Can I Restore My Gun’s Shine?
If you’ve had your gun for some time, you may notice that the wood on the stock has become slightly duller and may have lost its shine. But don’t worry as there are several ways you can make your gun gleam once again. But first, you need to determine how it was finished.
If your gun was factory varnished, it will require some hard-wax furniture polish and some serious buffing from you to restore it to its former glory. Alternatively, if your gun was oil-finished, we recommend heading down to your local gunsmith who will be able to recommend a suitable brand of oil as well as provide you with some cleaning tips for how to make your stock as shiny as possible.
Why Should I Store My Gun Barrel-Down?
Whether you have just used it out in the field or are returning it to its cabinet after cleaning, it always best to store your gun barrel-down for several reasons.
Although you may have dried off your gun as much as you can, there could still be some water concealed in those hard-to-reach places that if left may cause some serious damage. As such, storing your gun with the barrel pointing downwards will allow any excess water to run off.
Similarly, if your gun is still a bit damp with cleaning products or oil, storing it barrel-down will again enable leftover fluid to drain on to the floor of the cabinet rather than into the gun’s chamber.
What’s the Best Method of Drying Out My Gun?
Living in the UK, the likelihood of your gun getting wet whilst you are out shooting is relatively high. However, although you may be tempted to pop it straight back in its gun slip, it’s best not to do this as the wool inside will soak up the water and leave your gun open to rust when it is back in a warm environment, e.g. your car or home.
Instead, leave your gun out in the open air for as long as possible while out in the field. Then, at your earliest convenience when returning home, pat your gun dry using kitchen roll and leave it to dry naturally in a warm room. Do not place your gun near the fire or a radiator as the intensity of the heat could cause the wood to crack.
What Are the Dark Rings Inside the Barrel of My Gun?
If you begin to notice any dark rings forming on the inside of your gun’s barrels, this could be an indication of barrel bulges. As such, we recommend taking it to your local gunsmith as soon as possible so they can assess the damage and carry out any works that are required.
Once your gun has been given a clean bill of health, make sure you clean it as regularly as you can to prevent any further bulges from forming and maintain its condition.
Is There Any Way to Repair a Scratched Stock?
While most gun stocks are reasonably tough, their finish can still be marked or scratch, both of which if not dealt with, can become unwanted permanent features.
If you are going to repair a scratch yourself, there are a number of traditional methods you can use to fix your stock’s finish. For one of the easiest, you will need French polish, methylated spirit, a cleaning rag, a scriber or pointed piece of steel, kitchen roll, dry paper and a wooden backer.
Start by wrapping the cleaning rag around the wooden backer and then dipping it in the methylated spirit. Then, begin working it into your scratch to clean it out as much as possible to ensure no debris is left behind.
Next, dip the scriber or pointed piece of steel into the French polish and poke it into the scratch, using the kitchen roll to wipe away any excess polish. Then go over the scratch using the paper and wooden backer and build up the polish in layers, starting with 800 grade polish and ending with 2000 grade polish until your scratch has been filled and your stock looks as good as new!
Hopefully, we have answered some of your questions about gun maintenance in this blog. However, if you have more, do get in touch by leaving us a comment below or on our social channels and we’ll do our best to provide some useful advice. Otherwise, head to our blog to discover how to choose the perfect gun cabinet to keep your gun safe and secure.