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Preserving Legacy: How to Clean a Shotgun

Preserving Legacy: How to Clean a Shotgun

A hunter cleaning a shotgun on a table.

Knowing how to clean a shotgun is a basic part of being an upland hunter

“They come out of the gun cabinet clean and by golly they are going back in the same way,” I remember my father saying to me. There was no mincing words with my father. He wasn’t asking, he was telling. But as with any good mentor, his words were not what convinced me. His actions were.

I remember the look in his eyes. He broke apart the family shotgun and meticulously cleaned it in his machine shop. I remember how he paid attention to every every angle, every surface as if he knew them personally. This wasn’t just a tool to him. This was a piece of the past, passed down to him with the responsibility of carrying on a tradition. Like my father, it would be in my hands for years down the line.

This wasn’t a weapon, this was a legacy.

I learned at a young age how to break apart and clean a shotgun. More important than the how, I remember the why. Take care of a firearm and it will outlive you. Your memories will be attached to the gun, the gun your grandson will hold as he pulls the trigger on his first grouse. He watches the feathers fall, he connects with his past.

There are two ways you can clean a shotgun: the right way and the wrong way. This isn’t rocket science, I promise. The right way includes a breakdown that cleans, lubricates, and protects your firearm to insure it functions properly in the future. The wrong way includes tossing it behind the seat of your pickup truck and promising “Ol’ Trusty” a bath someday.

Every shotgun breaks down differently. See your manufacturer’s recommendation on how to accomplish that.

Read: Sage and Braker Gun Cleaning Mat – Review

So what ends up sending our shotguns to an early grave? The number one killer is carbon. It’s a devilish fiend that excels in attacking over time. It builds upon itself and reveals its mischief at the most inopportune time. Need that follow up shot on that mallard whizzing by at breakneck speed? Well carbon says you ain’t getting it.

The key is to remove all carbon from your firearm after every use and lubricate all moving parts. Use a product that will create a buffer between your weapon and the carbon that would like to attach to it.

Here’s how to clean a shotgun:

  1. Fully break down the shotgun on a mat, keeping all parts well organized.
  2. Soak any little parts in a container with CLP. That’s Clean, Lube and Protect for those of us not in the know.
  3. Give the bore a healthy couple of sprays of the CLP, tilt back and forth to assure that the CLP has made its way down the bore.
  4. Go watch the latest video from Project Upland as your CLP does its job.
  5. You can’t watch videos all day slacker! Back to work, your gun needs you.
  6. Wipe clean all the parts that you were soaking, use a nylon brush and Q-tips for hard to reach spots and pull a snake bore cleaning kit through the shotgun’s bore. Finally wipe down all surfaces.
  7. Here comes the crucial part. Give all parts a light mist of CLP before reassembling. Remember that Protect part we talked about earlier? This is what does the protecting. If you’re using a good CLP, and you should be, it will provide a lubricating layer to all moving parts as well as a buffer to prevent carbon from attaching to the firearm.
  8. Fully reassemble your firearm and store in a dry and safe location.

Painless right? It also happens to be one of the most important things you can do for your gun to preserve its legacy. Take care of your firearms and the memories associated with them for the generations to come. While you’re at it, donate a couple of bucks to a great organization that will preserve the public land you hunt on. After all, what good are our finely maintained shotguns if we don’t have the land to use them on?

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