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If you like hunting, whether you’re an avid hunter or someone who just enjoys it occasionally, you know that keeping your guns in top shape requires some work on your part. More specifically, you need to know how to clean a gun. Guns get dirty not just from the outdoors, but also from their own mechanisms. Corrosive materials from ammunition, as well as substances like carbon, build up inside the gun and affect its function and accuracy. Eventually, you’ll need to buy a new gun, or you’ll have to take your gun to a gunsmith for restoration.

My husband is a U.S. Army veteran, and what he remembers most about how to clean a gun is the banners and posters all over his barracks that said, “The gun isn’t clean until the patch is.” His drill sergeants drove that point home every time they needed to clean their guns. Later on, when he and I bought our first hunting rifle, he hammered that point home in my head. Even though we’ve only ever fired that gun at a range, I can’t in good conscience put it away without cleaning it. In fact, I’m so meticulous about it that I usually make sure I have two or three clean patches before I decide that the bore is clean. And that doesn’t include cleaning the rest of the gun.

Because we’re so meticulous about cleaning it, that rifle always fires well and true, even though we often go for months (or even years) without firing it. Knowing how to clean a gun is essential regardless of that for which you use it.

Why You Need To Know How To Clean A Gun

Keeping a gun clean, regardless of what kind of gun it is, ensures that it continues to perform at peak levels and maintain its accuracy. A dirty bore, for instance, affects the trajectory of a bullet. That makes it more challenging to shoot accurately.

The heat firing the gun creates attracts dirt and carbon, which contributes to significant wear on the gun’s moving parts. It also helps to trap other particulates and cause corrosion. At that point, your firearm is toast — unless you know how to restore corroded guns.

If you know how to clean a gun, you can prevent all of this damage, which is better than repairing it after the fact.

How To Clean A Gun In 6 Easy Steps

3d handgun on a grunge wooden texture background

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Knowing why you should clean your guns is pretty useless if you don’t know how to clean a gun. So we’ve put together six easy steps for how to clean a gun that should help make your life a little easier.

Step 1: Gather your Cleaning Supplies

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You can’t clean anything without the proper cleaning supplies. So step one for how to clean a gun is to determine what cleaning supplies you need, and then to gather them together.

You’ll need the following supplies:

  • Solvent
  • Degreaser
  • Lubricant (gun oil, not just any old oil or lubricant)
  • Dry rags to remove moisture
  • More dry rags with which to apply oil
  • Rods
  • Bore brush (that matches the caliber of your weapon)
  • Loops
  • Cotton patches
  • Foam swabs
  • Small paintbrushes
  • Cleaning cradle (long guns are difficult to hold still enough to clean properly)

You might also want a toothbrush, which gives you the ability to scrub out slide grooves and trigger parts.

Depending on how many guns you use on your hunting trips, and how often you need to clean them, you might want to consider purchasing a gun-cleaning kit. You might also find it easier to learn how to clean a gun when you don’t have to worry about individual supplies. Amazon sells gun-cleaning kits at affordable prices. Your local gun shop or gunsmith will also carry them.

Step 2: Remove Any Moisture

In learning how to clean a gun, understand that moisture is your enemy. Let’s face it; if you’re out hunting, chances are you’re getting moisture in your gun. Many areas where you find good hunting are damp and that alone introduces moisture to your gun. If you have inclement weather, you have even more moisture getting into your gun. So before you do anything else, make sure your gun is as dry as possible.

Make sure your gun is unloaded. Take one of your dry rags and wipe your gun down thoroughly to ensure you’ve removed as much moisture as possible. It might seem like an unnecessary step, but drying your gun will help you with the rest of your cleaning.

Step 3: Disassemble Your Gun

The first step to disassembling your gun is to check, recheck, and then check again to be sure it’s unloaded. Ideally, you did this at the beginning of step two, but you should do it again. You can never check your gun too many times.

Once you’re sure it’s unloaded, put it down on something stable and open the action. Unless your gun is incredibly dirty, you want to disassemble as little as possible, so only do as much as you’re comfortable doing. It’s best to refer to your gun manufacturer’s manual for how to do this properly. There are a million models of guns out there, and many of them have different parts. As such, they have different steps for disassembly. You want to be sure you execute this step properly before you do anything else. You can’t learn how to clean a gun if you don’t know what’s unique to yours.

Step 4: Clean The Bore And Chamber

The bore and the barrel aren’t the same things. A gun’s bore is the interior of the barrel, from where the tip of the bullet rests all the way to the muzzle. It’s the hollow space in which the bullet travels. The barrel is the tube that houses the bore.

Cleaning The Bore

With your gun disassembled, it’s time to clean the bore. First, attach a loop to the end of your rod. Then soak a cotton patch in a solvent, thread it through the loop, and run it through the barrel from chamber to muzzle. Pull it back out, and let the solvent do its work for a few minutes.

Now, take your bore brush and rod and run it through the bore to loosen the icky stuff. Avoid scrubbing your bore in this step. You’ll scratch it up, destroy the rifling, and ruin your accuracy if you do that. If you have a rod long enough for you to remove the brush when it pops out the muzzle, then do so. If you can’t, though, then be gentle when pulling your brush back out. Remove it from the bore entirely before reinserting and running it through again. Try to avoid brushing the inside of the barrel more than twice at a time

Take another cotton patch, soak it in the solvent, thread it through your loop, and push it through the barrel again. Let it sit a couple more minutes, and then get a dry patch and run it through the barrel. Keep running dry patches through until they come out clean. Remember what the banner that hung in my husband’s barracks at basic training said: “The gun isn’t clean until the patch is.” Repeat these steps if you’re having problems getting clean patches.

When the patch comes out clean, this step is complete.

However, you’re not finished cleaning your gun. You still need to clean the chamber and action.

Cleaning The Chamber

There often isn’t much to clean in the chamber. However, your firing pin and other firing mechanisms are just behind the chamber, and they can get dirty, too. Dirt in the firing mechanisms can weaken them, which increases your chances of misfires and other problems. Wipe the chamber down with a clean, dry rag, and use small paintbrushes and foam swabs to clean out the nooks and crannies. You can also use a can of compressed air to blow out dust and debris before using your swabs and brushes to clean it out. Try to avoid using cotton swabs, as they can leave little fibers behind, which can muck things up just as badly as dirt and moisture will.

Step 5: Clean And Lubricate The

Action

The type of gun you have doesn’t matter for most steps, but for this one, it does. A pump-action shotgun has different parts than a bolt-action rifle, which has different parts than an over-under shotgun. This information is imperative to learn how to clean a gun.

Pump Action

For this type of shotgun, you need to remove any chokes you have on the end of the muzzle before disassembling anything else. Remove the cap on the pump, ensuring that the spring underneath is not under pressure, so it doesn’t leap out, and then pull the barrel off.

After you’ve finished cleaning the bore, take a dry patch and wipe down the inside and outside of the pump and chamber as thoroughly as you can. Use a swab with some solvent to loosen and remove any stuck-on dirt and grime inside and behind the pump, and in the receiver, and then grab your toothbrush and brush away the grime. Wipe it down again with a moisture repellant if you’re going to store your gun for a long time. Then reassemble it, wipe down the exterior with a light coat of oil, and put it away.

Bolt Action

To clean the bolt on a bolt-action rifle, first close the bolt on the empty chamber. Move the safety to the middle position, and then open the bolt. At this point, you can remove it entirely. Lock the cocking piece, and unscrew the piece and firing assembly. Scrub the firing assembly, pin, and spring with non-copper removing solvent and a stiff brush, ensuring that the solvent gets into every part of the spring. Spray it thoroughly with your degreaser, and then scrub with solvent again. Degrease it a second time, and then spray a light coating of lubricant onto the firing pin and spring.

After you’re finished with that, plug the hole where the firing pin goes into the bolt body. Pour the solvent into it. Use your bore brush to scrub out the bolt. If you get a lot of sludge, then spray it with solvent and scrub it again. Wipe it down, and then spray degreaser on the bolt body and let it dry completely. Apply a liberal amount of oil to the threaded part of the bolt body, stand it on its end, and let the oil run out of the firing pin’s hole. When all the excess oil has run out, put the firing mechanism and the bolt body back together. Wipe down the firing mechanism with a cloth, and then screw the bolt back onto the rifle.

Over-under Action

Over-under shotguns are popular because they have less recoil than other guns. They’re also easier to clean than pump-action shotguns and bolt-action rifles. Open the shotgun up and ensure it’s unloaded. Place it in a braced position so you have access to the bores. After you clean the bores, put some oil on the friction points of the extractor. When you’re done, wipe down the exterior of the gun.

A Word On Lubrication And Moisture

When you’re lubricating the action, keep in mind that too much just attracts dust and dirt, and leaves a residue that turns into a dirty mess. You want to use the least amount of oil you can get away with and wipe away all the excess as best you can. If you’re planning on storing your guns for a long time, you may want to apply a moisture repellent everywhere you can to ensure that humidity doesn’t cause any damage. You also want a dehumidifier for your gun safe if possible.

Step 6: Wipe the Outside of the Gun and Store

This is probably the easiest step in how to clean a gun. At this point, you’ve cleaned the bore and all the moving parts of your gun. Now you need to wipe it down and prepare it for storage. Begin by wiping down the entire exterior of the gun. You may want to use a light polish for this. Make sure the whole outside of your gun is clean and free from fingerprints and other spots. Then return it to your gun case or safe.

Keep in mind that how you do this depends on how long you plan to store your guns. Part of how to clean a gun is knowing how long you want to store it, and taking the right steps to ensure your storage preparation works with that.

Bottom Line On How To Clean A Gun

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Keeping a gun clean, regardless of what kind of gun it is, ensures that it continues to perform at peak levels and maintain its accuracy. A dirty bore, for instance, affects the trajectory of a bullet. That makes it more challenging to shoot accurately.

The heat firing the gun creates attracts dirt and carbon, which contributes to significant wear on the gun’s moving parts. It also helps to trap other particulates and cause corrosion. At that point, your firearm is toast — unless you know how to restore corroded guns.

If you know how to clean a gun, you can prevent all of this damage, which is better than repairing it after the fact.

  1. Gather your cleaning supplies
  2. Remove any moisture from your gun
  3. Disassemble it
  4. Clean the bore and chamber
  5. Clean and lubricate the action
  6. Wipe the outside of the gun and store it

When you know how to clean a gun, you know how to ensure your guns last a long time. Knowing how to clean a gun will help you mitigate the problems that adverse hunting conditions can cause. You spend less money on purchases and repairs, and you get to use a weapon with which you’re increasingly familiar. Understanding how to clean a gun is a valuable preventive measure, so use it, and happy hunting.

Last update on 2021-06-20 at 21:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API