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How to Clean an Over and Under Shotgun

How to Clean an Over and Under Shotgun

Fred Bohm, owner of the gun cleaning company Sage and Braker, brings us an extensive look at the proper cleaning and maintenance of over/under shotguns including gear, technique, and disassembly

Cleaning a shotgun is a basic part of proper gear maintenance in any type of hunting or shooting activity. The type of shotgun—pump, semiautomatic, side-by-side, over/under, or even single shot—can change some details in the process for proper results. In this step-by-step guide, we break down the process of cleaning one of the most popular action types: the over and under shotgun.

Gear needed to clean an over/under shotgun

  • A bore cleaning kit specific to your firearm’s gauge
  • A rugged cleaning cloth. Avoid paper towels as they tear easily and are more trouble than they’re worth.
  • Some CLP to clean, lubricate, and protect your firearm
  • A little bit of firearm grease to lubricate the choke tubes
  • A brush and pick set for scrubbing and cleaning
  • Some long-handled cotton swabs
  • A parts tray to corral all the small parts and soak them in CLP
  • A small screw driver and a choke tube wrench

Check out the cleaning gear from: Sage & Braker

Step-by-step instructions for cleaning an over/under shotgun

Time needed: 20 minutes.

Check out this complete step-by-step guide to cleaning an over and under shotgun with pictures, words, and video.

  1. Make sure gun is safe

    First and foremost, make sure the weapon is unloaded before attempting to clean it.

    checking that over/under shotgun is unloaded

  2. Remove forend

    Remove the forearm by pulling the forend latch lever up and pulling the whole unit away from the rest of the gun.

    removing the forend of an over and under shotgun

  3. Separating the action and barrels

    Using the top lever to break open the gun, separate the two pieces and set aside.

  4. The extractors

    Pull the extractors out. You only need to do this a few times a year, depending on how much you shoot, but we’ll show you how to do it here. If you’re just looking to do a quick cleaning you can skip this part. There’s a caveat, though: over/unders vary on how their extractors are removed. In this example we are using a Browning Citori.

    Fred pulls the shotgun extractors out of the barrels

  5. Spray barrels and metal surfaces with cleaner

    Spray CLP down both ends of the bore, as well as coating all of the metal on the outside. Set aside to soak for a bit.

    Spraying a shotgun cleaner down both barrels

  6. Clean the bores

    Send a bore cleaning kit of the appropriate caliber down the breech end of the bore. You’ll be amazed at the gunk that comes out. Repeat the process for the other bore.

    hunter runs a bore brush through barrels of shotgun

  7. The chokes

    We’re going to take out the choke tubes as well. Use a choke tool to loosen them and then you use your fingers to twist it the rest of the way out.

    Removing the choke tubes

  8. Soaking small parts

    Place the extractors and chokes in a tray. Now everything in the tray needs a healthy coating of CLP. Make sure to give all the parts a healthy soaking. Set aside for later.

    Soaking small shotgun parts in cleaner

  9. Brush metal parts

    Grab a nylon brush and get to work on the breech end. Pay attention to where the extractors sit. Get in there and break everything loose. Work through all the parts of the breech. Loosen up any carbon and debris you see in there.

    brushing metal parts of shotgun with nylon brush

  10. Scrub parts in tray

    Now take a bronze phosphorous brush, or nylon if that’s what you have, and scrub all the parts in the tray. Get in there and make sure every surface is scrubbed. You don’t want any gunk left in there that can foul up the extractors. Place the parts aside.

    scrubbing small parts like chokes and extractors from shotgun

  11. Clean hard to reach spots

    Take some long-handled cotton swabs and get all the hard to reach areas on both parts of the gun.

    cleaning hard to reach spots on a shotgun

  12. Wipe down metal surfaces

    Use a rugged cloth and wipe down all metal surfaces of the gun.

    Wiping down metal parts of shogun with cloth

  13. Reassemble extractors

    Give the channel that the extractors sit in a squirt of CLP to properly lubricate them. Now you can reassemble the extractors in the reverse of how you took them apart.

    reassembling the extractors of a Browning Citori shotgun

  14. Clean choke tubes

    After the extractors are in, take your bore cleaning kit and pass it through your choke tubes. Start at the threaded end.

    cleaning chokes tubes from a shotgun

  15. Lubricate choke tubes

    Place a little firearm grease on the threads of the choke tubes and use a cotton swab to disperse it throughout the treads. This will prevent them from becoming stuck the next time you go to remove them. Screw them back in by hand and then use your choke tube wrench for the final seating.

    lubricating choke tubes before reassmebling them

  16. Reassemble the shotgun

    Now for the simple reassembly. Take the barrel and snap it into place on the receiver.

    reassembling a shotgun after cleaning

  17. One final wipe down

    Take a cloth to the metal surfaces of the shotgun for a final wipe down from any fingerprints before putting away in your gun safe. Use some more CLP if necessary.

View Comment (1)
  • I took all the wood off my dad’s over/under, which he had never fully cleaned in the 50 years he’s owned it, and took it to the local bike shop. They put it in their ultrasonic cleaner/oiler. It came out clean as a whistle and functioning smoothly.

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