Regular cleaning of a firearm is not only a responsibility of gun ownership but a necessity for reliable performance.   We have a significant investment in modern firearms and depend upon their accuracy.  It is important to pay attention to their condition.

 One of the most neglected times when care is needed comes after the hunt.  We get home from either an extended trip or just a day in the field.  It is easy to put the cased gun in the corner and go about normal tasks.

 Guns can rust whether they have gotten wet or not.  Those of us who live in areas of high humidity with changes of temperature can find guns rusting right in the case.  As a minimum, a gun should be removed from the case, a light coat of gun oil applied and the weapon stored out of the case.

 It is best to completely clean the weapon before storing it away for the next season.  If you did not do that last fall, then it is time to dig out your gun and clean it now.

 The first step is to be sure the gun is unloaded and the bolt, if any, is removed.  Next the gun should be cleaned from the breech end.  If you have to clean it from the muzzle end, as in muzzle loaders, use a caliber-specific muzzle bore guide to prevent damage to the muzzle end of the barrel.

 You can begin the cleaning process with a clean patch soaked in solvent to soak the build up before cleaning with a brass brush soaked in solvent.  A newer and perhaps more effective way of cleaning during this step is the use of “USP Bore Paste” ( which is made of Garnet.  This mild natural abrasive is softer than steel so that it cannot scratch the bore.  It is harder than the fouling found in the barrel, so it removes it.

 Bore paste is made to be used in a 15-30 minutes application.  Solvents can take much longer to complete the same task.

 If using solvent continue the process of brush soaked in solvent, and clean patch swabs until the barrel appears clean.  The usual procedure is two or three passes with the brush followed by the swabbing to remove the lose gunk.

 The next step is to scrub the bore with a patch and a good copper solvent.  Immediately swab the barrel again.  Keep this procedure up until there is no sign of blue or green on the patches.  This can take time but is well worth it.

 It is a good idea to use a gun cleaner or degreaser next.  This is applied not only to the bore but also to the bolt and action.  It usually comes in an aerosol can and air dries on contact leaving a clean surface.

 The final step is the use of a gun cleaning oil.  It is best to use oil specifically made for gun cleaning.  It will protect all metal parts from rust for three to six months, depending upon the product.

 If there is still some rust showing on your weapon, try Birchwood Casey’s gun scrubber ( to remove all the grease right down to the bluing.  It works well on surface rust, but if the gun is pitted there is nothing you can do except to have it re-blued or live with the situation.

 A bit or preventative maintenance before leaving home should take care of the weapon until you get back.  Some hunters like to take a small field kit along for cleaning in the field.  Birchwood Casey does make some little packets with sheets that are coated with gun oil.  They are throw away sheets that can provide some temporary protection.  The important thing is to never put away a gun wet.

 In addition to cleaning the surface, bore, bolt and action, shotgun hunters need to protect the choke tubes on their weapons.  During the cleaning process it is good to pull out the choke and clean the threads and inside of the barrel.  Lightly lube the choke before putting it back in the barrel.

 Guns are sentimental, financial and a practical weapon for the enjoyment of hunting and shooting.  Provide protection and care, and the weapon will give years of service.  Fail to provide it and you may end up with a piece of rusting junk.

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