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Cleaning a shotgun is important and can’t be overstated. When it comes to cleaning a shotgun, there are several important things you need to do. A clean gun not only ensures it works at peak performance but also maintains it and makes sure it last for a long time. In this article, we outline the main steps to cleaning a shotgun, from disassembling it to storing it properly.

Cleaning a Shotgun
Cleaning a Shotgun

Shotguns are powerful firearms that require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure they function properly and remain in good condition.

Proper cleaning and maintenance not only improve the shotgun’s performance but also extends its lifespan. However, cleaning a shotgun can be a daunting task, especially for beginners.

Main Steps to Cleaning a Shotgun

1. Gathering Necessary Equipment and Supplies

When cleaning a shotgun, you’ll need a few essential tools and supplies. Be sure to gather the following:

  • Shotgun cleaning kit (including cleaning rods, brushes, patches, and cleaning solvent)
  • Protective gear (gloves and eye protection)
  • Gun oil or lubricant
  • Cleaning mat or surface
  • Cleaning solvent
  • Bore snake
  • Gun cleaning cloth
  • Q-tips
  • Brush set
  • Cleaning tray

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary tools and supplies, you can begin cleaning your shotgun. If you are interested in a gun cleaning kit, we reviewed the best gun cleaning kits that you can read here.

2. Disassembling the Shotgun

Disassembling the shotgun is a critical step in the cleaning process as it enables you to access all parts and clean them thoroughly. Before you start to disassemble the shotgun, ensure that it is unloaded. 

Begin by removing the barrel and stock to access the trigger assembly and internal parts. Be gentle and avoid using excessive force to prevent any damage. Remember to keep track of any small parts or screws that you remove.

Once disassembled, clean each part thoroughly, following the instructions on your cleaning kit. Disassembling the shotgun safely and properly is essential for keeping it in good condition and functioning properly.

3. Applying Cleaning Solvent

Applying cleaning solvent is a vital step in the shotgun cleaning process, as it helps to remove stubborn dirt, grime, and other debris from the shotgun’s internal and external components.

Before applying the solvent, ensure that the shotgun is disassembled and that all parts are accessible. It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as some cleaning solvents can be harmful if not used properly.

Apply the solvent to a cleaning patch or brush and then rub it onto the parts that need to be cleaned. Allow the solvent to sit for a few minutes to break down any buildup or debris. Once the solvent has had time to work, use a cleaning brush to scrub the parts thoroughly, removing any remaining dirt or debris.

After cleaning, use a clean patch or cloth to wipe down the parts, removing any excess solvent. Applying cleaning solvent is a critical step in the cleaning process that helps to make sure your shotgun remains in good condition and functions properly.

4. Scrubbing the Barrel

Start by attaching a bore brush to a cleaning rod and applying cleaning solvent to the brush. Then, run the brush through the barrel several times, applying pressure as needed to scrub away any buildup or debris.

After scrubbing, run a clean patch through the barrel to remove any excess solvent and debris. Repeat the process until the patch comes out clean. Scrubbing the barrel thoroughly will help to ensure that your shotgun is in good condition and performs well when you need it to.

5. Lubricating Moving Parts

Lubricating moving parts is a vital step in the shotgun cleaning process as it helps to prevent corrosion, reduce friction, and ensure the shotgun functions smoothly. Moving parts, such as the action, bolt, and trigger, need proper lubrication to function correctly and efficiently.

Before applying any lubricant, guarantee that all parts are clean and free from any dirt or debris. Then, apply a small amount of lubricant to each moving part, spreading it evenly with a cloth or a clean brush.

It’s important not to over-lubricate the shotgun, as this can attract dirt and debris and cause problems in the long run. A light coat of lubricant should be sufficient to ensure that the shotgun functions smoothly.

After lubricating, cycle the shotgun a few times to help distribute the lubricant evenly. Lubricating moving parts is a simple but critical step in maintaining the performance and longevity of your shotgun. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the recommended lubricants for your shotgun.

6. Reassembling the Shotgun

Reassembling the shotgun is the final step in the cleaning process, and it’s essential to ensure that all parts are in their proper place and properly secured. Here are some steps to follow when reassembling your shotgun

Check All Parts

Before reassembling the shotgun, make sure that all parts are clean and free from any debris. Check that all parts are in their proper place and that they are in good condition.

Assemble the Stock

First, reattach the stock to the shotgun. Ensure that all screws are tightened and that the stock is firmly secured.

Assemble the Action and Trigger

Next, reattach the action and trigger to the shotgun. Be sure that all pins and screws are properly secured.

Test the Shotgun

Once you’ve reassembled the shotgun, test it by cycling it several times to ensure that all parts are working correctly.

Reassembling the shotgun can be tricky, especially if you’re not familiar with the process. Be sure to take your time and refer to the manufacturer’s instructions if you need help. Properly reassembling your shotgun is crucial to make sure that it functions correctly and is safe to use.

7. Storing Your Shotgun

Storing the shotgun properly is essential to keep it in good condition and prevent damage. After cleaning, store your shotgun in a cool, dry place away from moisture and direct sunlight. It’s also essential to store the shotgun unloaded and with the action open to release any tension in the springs.

Practice sensible gun safety by placing your shotgun in a gun safe or a gun rack with a locking mechanism to prevent unauthorized access. Proper storage will help to prolong the life of your shotgun and ensure that it’s ready to use when you need it.

8. Cleaning a Shotgun Keeps It Safe

Cleaning a shotgun is essential to keep it in top condition and ensure it’s safe to use. By following the main steps we outlined in this article, you can guarantee that your shotgun is clean, lubricated, and functioning correctly.

Remember to always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and use the recommended cleaning products. Proper cleaning and maintenance will not only improve your shotgun’s performance but also ensure that it’s ready to use when you need it.

How often should a shotgun be cleaned?
It is recommended that you thoroughly clean a shotgun every 200 rounds.
Can you clean a shotgun?
Yes, you can clean a shotgun. There are steps to clean a shotgun that we discussed in this article. Cleaning a shotgun help to make it work at peak performance and maintain it for the long term.
What materials are needed to clean a shotgun?
To clean a shotgun, you will need a cleaning rod, a bore brush, cleaning jags, swabs, patches, a cleaning cloth, bore cleaners, and lubricants.
What happens if you don't clean your shotgun?
When you don’t clean your shotgun, residue, and dirt will affect the integrity of the steel causing corrosion and affecting the performance of the shotgun and its durability long term.
Do you lubricate a shotgun?
Yes, always lubricate a shotgun for smooth performance and to prevent corrosion.

The Bottom Line

Cleaning a shotgun ensures it works at peak performance and maintains it for the long term. There will always be residue and dirt that will accumulate over time in the shotgun. This accumulation can adversely affect the performance and durability of the shotgun if it is not cleaned regularly.

In this article, we outlined and discussed the main steps to cleaning a shotgun. You can also read these articles on the best range bags, how to clean your hunting rifle, and how to clean binoculars.