Show your shotgun a little love at the end of season, and it’ll be there for you on next spring’s first gobbler
Turkey season is over in many states and will be soon in others. Memories of strutting longbeards are still fresh in your mind, and hopefully there’s some fresh turkey breast in the freezer. But before putting your gear away, take a few minutes to clean your shotgun and ensure it’s in tiptop shape for next spring. Here’s how.
Editor’s note: Before starting, always make sure your gun is unloaded.
© Bill Konway photo
1. Tear it Down
Start by field-stripping your gun, following your owner’s manual instructions. Whether you shoot a pump, autoloader, or something else, knowing how to disassemble your gun allows you to clean it more effectively – and it also helps you learn your tool inside and out. Printed and online manuals, YouTube, and even your local gun shop can all provide tips and tricks for getting most modern shotguns apart and ready to clean, while also providing specific cleaning advice for various types of firearms. The gas system on a semi-auto, for instance, needs more attention than a single-shot.
2. Clean the Action
Turkey hunters are notorious for belly-crawling through dirt, stalking gobblers in thick brush, and braving conditions like rain and snow. That all equates to plenty of “stuff” making its way into the gun’s action. Too many hunters run a patch through the barrel and neglect the rest, but you know better. Now that the gun is disassembled, shake out the pine needles, clumps of brush and grains of sand. A blast of compressed air will help remove the loose debris, while a dental pick will tidy up the crevices. After that, focus on cleaning up powder and gun oil residue by spraying everything with a quality cleaner like Hoppe’s Gun Medic. Q-tips and a small rag will allow a more thorough cleaning of the internals. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. This baby has done its part in the field, so you owe it a good rubdown.
© Bill Konway photo
3. Clean the Barrel
With the dirt gone and the action spiffed up, it’s time to turn attention to your turkey gun’s barrel. The traditional brush-and-patch technique works, but for a more efficient way to keep the pipe bright and shiny, grab a Hoppe’s BoreSnake (different sizes are available to match the gauge of your gun). With one or two quick pulls, the bore will be good as new. The new BoreSnake Den even includes a storage container, making it ideal for packing in a hunting kit. There are plenty of bore cleaners on the market, but the classic Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner/cologne always gets the job done. If your barrel has a fixed choke, congratulations, your work is nearly complete. If you have interchangeable choke tubes, however, read on and thank us later.
4. Clean that Tube
More shotguns come into the gun shop for repair due to stuck choke tubes than almost any other problem. When not removed and cleaned regularly, choke tubes will cause headaches and destroy barrels. Good news is, they’re easy to maintain. Remove your choke, using the provided wrench, each time you’re cleaning the barrel. Soak it in solvent if necessary, though a good spray-down will usually do the trick. A wire brush will clean any remaining gunk from the threads of the tube, but don’t forget the threads inside the barrel as well. Before re-installing the choke tube, give it a dose of choke tube-specific lube. Generic anti-seize will do in a pinch, too.
5. Add Some Oil
The action is clean, the barrel is shiny, and your choke tube is happy. What more could that turkey blaster possibly need? Prior to reassembling the gun, be sure to grease and oil the areas indicated by the manual. In general, a light spray-down with gun oil is all that’s needed. A few of our favorite final lubes are Hoppe’s Gun Medic or G96 Gun Treatment. As any gunsmith can attest, there’s no need to dump a quart of oil into the action. Likewise, WD-40 has a million household uses, but gun lubricant is not one of them. Give that action one last cycling to ensure you’ve reassembled everything correctly, and that the gun functions.
A Clean Sweep
© Rachelle Hedrick photo
The next time your significant other begs you to do your share of the cleaning, you can honestly say it’s already done. You’ve busted the crud and prepared your trusty turkey gun for another string of duty, so all that’s left is to toast a bygone season and look forward to the next. Turkey hunting is proof you don’t need the most expensive equipment to find success. But no matter your choice in guns, keeping it clean ensures you’ll be ready when the next trophy tom struts into view.