Cleaning a shotgun. It’s really pretty simple, and knowing how to break down and wipe down your gun is a skill not to be undervalued.
Not a soccer Mom is sponsored by Jagemann Sporting Group
Gather your supplies. I use a spray cleaner, like contact cleaner, rags or paper towels, a small punch, AP brush, 12-gauge bore snake or cleaning rod, and Q-tips for the tight spots. Oh, and grab your manual in case you need to check disassembly steps.
First, I take off the extension tube. Make sure you are wearing safety glasses because the magazine tube spring is compressed and can surprise you. Then I set the extension, magazine tube spring and follower aside. Next, take off the barrel and forearm. This is a Stoeger M3K, but most semi-auto shotguns disassemble somewhat like this. If you’re uncertain, watch some videos specific to disassembling YOUR gun.
Next, I remove the trigger group by punching out the small pin in the receiver, and by applying pressure to the bolt release to make sure the lifter and trigger group can freely drop out of the receiver. I will spray the receiver out – again, remember the eye protection! I pay attention to the grooves the bolt rides in and make sure I get any carbon build-up off. Then, I hit the magazine tube to make sure dust, dirt and oil are removed. If I’m inside and can’t spray it out, wiping the receiver down with a rag will work fine, then get the grooves or tight spots with a Q-tip or foam pipe cleaner. Last, I will rub a very light coating of oil on the inside of my receiver to make sure that I can wipe out any dirt easily the next time.
Usually, I just spray the trigger group with air from the compressor or canned air if I’m on the road. I want to make sure no bits of media from shotgun shells, or unburnt powder have accumulated in areas that can affect my gun’s functioning. I don’t like using contact cleaner and stripping all the oil off these parts, so I just use air. If I was out in the dust and it was really dirty, I would spray with a cleaner and then oil the moving parts.
To clean the barrel, usually I just have to pull a bore snake through a few times. If I’ve shot many slugs, I use a bore brush with some steel wool wrapped around it to remove any lean build up inside the barrel. I pay attention to my choke threads and clean them with an AP brush or a rag and re-oil as I put my choke back in. I always keep a choke in my gun, as it protects the thinner walled end of the barrel where the choke threads are cut into the barrel. Then I look at my ejector and add a drop of oil there. I make sure to look over my extractor cut to check for any dings or sharp edges. This area is where an shell can catch and it takes abuse, so I go over it carefully when I clean my gun. I’ll look at my front and rear sights too, and make sure they’re clean and haven’t been knocked loose in a match.
One place I spend time on my shotgun is the tube. I want it clean and dry, and I want to make sure that there is zero dirt/dust/oil in it. A few times a year, I will use a tube cleaning jig with rubber O-rings. I used to just run a wad of paper towels down before this tool, but this is faster with a patch. And it really gets the dirt; nothing escapes it. Alternatively, for a gun that I know is pretty clean, I’ll just run the fluffy bore tube mop from Midway down it and call it good.
I coat the outside of the tube with oil, re-oil my bolt and action bars that I’ve wiped down, then put the gun together and cycle that action several times. If I’m shooting a match, I always like to function-fire my guns before I shoot them again. It’s probably a little OCD, but it makes me feel more confident, and I can focus my mental energy on stage planning and shooting.
Now that you know the basics, don’t be afraid to search for instructions on how to clean your guns, and give yourself the boost in confidence in knowing they are ready to run!
Check out Becky’s pistol cleaning video here.
Becky Yackley primarily competes in 3 Gun, USPSA, Bianchi pistol, but has competed in shooting since 1989 in disciplines from service-rifle, to NCAA Air Rifle and Smallbore, air pistol and a little bit of long range rifle. She shoots guns and cameras at competitions around the country, and writes in her fictional spare time. Her writing can be found here The WON in her column titled "Not a Soccer Mom" and sponsored by Jagemann Sporting Group, as well as Guns America and Gun World. View all posts by Becky Yackley