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7 Steps to Cleaning My Double-barrel shotgun and other Gun Cleaning Tips

“You never go camping without your gun,” my dad uses to say. So, guns have long been part of camping in my family, young and old. This goes back to the early days when bringing a gun was for hunting and protection as much as it was for sport. The tradition continues today.

The most recognizable gun to even the most novice gun enthusiasts is the double-barreled shotgun, and it was the first gun my dad gave. I was 10 years old and he not only taught me how to use it safely but how to keep it clean. In this article, we will be discussing the 7 steps to cleaning a double-barrel shotgun that my dad taught me over 50 years ago.

7 Steps to Cleaning a Double-Barrel Shotgun

Cleaning guns is an essential part of being a gun owner. This makes sure your gun lasts a long time as well as ensures it will work efficiently when you take it out to use. The Double-barrel is a reliable gun that is easy to maintain and clean. Below are the steps you need to follow to do so.

1. Breaking the gun down.

The double-barrel breaks down into three main parts: the barrels, the stock, and the forend. First, you will take the forend off by releasing a snap-lever located at the top of the forend by the barrel. Once it is released, the forend will come right off.

Next is separating the barrel from the stock. This is simply done by opening the shotgun like you are going to load it. Be careful when you do this, as the barrels will be loose and will come right off the stock. Once this is finished, you will now have your shotgun broken down into three pieces.

2. Applying the cleaning solvent.

The Cleaning solvent is intended only for the metal parts of your gun. Be sure to not put in on the wood parts and be thorough when applying it to the metal. I use cotton swabs to get into the smaller and more intricate places on the trigger action and hinges. Also, use a swab in between and at the ends of the barrels.

3. Mopping the barrels with solvent.

At this point, you want to take out a barrel mop, and if you do not have one, then a small clean piece of cotton rag will work fine. Dip the mop in the solvent and let any excess drip off before you use it.

After the excess has dripped off, run it through the barrels a few times to make sure the inside is nice and coated. Then let the solvent sit in the barrel for 30 minutes.

4. Brushing the barrels.

After the 30 minutes are up, you will get a brass-wired brush and use it to scrub out any of the fouling or rust that the solvent has loosened up. Be sure to get a brush that fits the gauge of your shotgun to ensure that the inside is completely scraped. You will run the brush all the way through the barrel and then pull it completely out. Do this several times to make sure the barrel is clear.

5. Push a dry cloth through the barrel.

Using a dry and cotton clean rag, push it through the barrels to clean out any remaining fouling that lingers inside. Continue to run the rag through until there is no trace of fouling in the barrel.

6. Clean the rest of the gun.

Here you can use a tool resembling a toothbrush and scrub at the other parts of the gun. Be sure to have a dry paper towel or rag nearby to wipe away any further fouling or excess solvent that is still on the gun.

7. Oiling the gun.

The final step is to oil the whole shotgun. What oil can you use on your gun? You can use 3 in 1 oil on your gun. You simply apply a thick coat of it to the entire gun, including the insides of the barrels. This protects the gun from rust and helps keep the hinges and parts moving as they should.

Gun Cleaning safety tips:

• Be sure the gun is not loaded during cleaning. Accidental discharge of a firearm while cleaning is one reason for firearm-related injuries. Be responsible and be sure to make sure the gun is unloaded at all times while you are handling it.

• Don't use anything abrasive on the shotgun metal other than the wire brush. This will scrub away the bluing of the metal, which helps prevent rusting. As long as the gun is oiled correctly, there is almost no chance at all it will rust.

• When you are cleaning your gun, be sure to be in a well-ventilated area and have a fan going. The solvent used to clean the gun is pretty potent, and the fumes are harmful if you are exposed to them for too long. I like to clean my guns in the garage with a fan or on the porch.

• Try not to store your gun in a fabric-lined case. The fabric will leach the oil off the gun and leave it exposed to rusting. It is better to have it in a synthetic case or in a gun vault, which will help the gun last longer and are better for storage.

General gun cleaning tips

Is 3 in 1 oil is the same as WD40? Many people have WD40 in their tool kits and use it for various things. Some out there use it to clean their guns but 3 in 1 oil is not the same as WD40.

This trend started years ago when the choices for gun owners to clean their firearms were very limited and when looking for an aerosol was nonexistent. Primarily WD40 is used as a way to remove rust and loosen up stuck things. Naturally, these are two things that gun owners want for their guns.

However, WD40 does its job too well when used as a solvent and remover. It strips the gun of the oil on the surface. Removing the oil leaves the gun open to rust, dust, and other things to collect on the gun, causing it to lock up and not operate as intended.

It would work well on maybe restoring a mistreated gun that has already started to rust, but if you have kept up your gun care, then this may not be the first thing you would want to reach for.

A simple solvent recipe.

There are times when a residue or some other buildup keeps your gun from working the way it should. It could be a lead buildup, or maybe there is a stubborn rust spot inside your gun in a place you hadn't cleaned or oiled in a while.

Then you are in luck because there is a fair chance you have everything you need to take care of these issues in your house right now. All that is required in order to make the solvent is equal parts white vine and hydrogen peroxide.

This will not only remove metal deposits on the gun but burn marks as well as other stains that mar your gun inside and out. The compound will even work on the outside of your gun and have it cleaned like new.

For the more stubborn rust and gunpowder build-up, leave the solution on the gun overnight, and by the next day, whatever was there would scrub away easily with a copper brush or even less effort.

The best part of this solution is there are no unpleasant fumes to worry about. The only drawback is the sticky residue left behind, but that can easily be cleaned compared to the burn marks and other residues the solution helped remove.

Strip and replace oils and coatings.

Make sure you clean off your shotgun entirely from time to time. The oils and lubricants are great for the functions of the gun, but over time the layers can build up. With this buildup, they can collect dust or just form gunk on the firearm's inner parts, which can affect performance and safety. It is best to strip it all off entirely once in a while and apply fresh coats.

Do your homework.

This should go without saying but before you clean your gun or use the gun cleaning kit, do your reading. Read the manual for the gun if you have not owned one before or using a model you are not familiar with. I don’t make videos, I guess I should.

Watch gun cleaning video tutorials. Sometimes with things like this seeing, everything being done gives you a better understanding than just words on a page. Instructions are helpful, and one place where you do not want to mix things up is with guns. So, set aside some time to read the manual and make sure you know what each part does and how to use them.

Check on your shotgun.

Regularly take your gun out and inspect it. It can be easy to think if you are not using it, then you do not need to clean it. This isn't true. Guns still need upkeep while in storage. Check on them at least once every 6 months if you are not using and cleaning them regularly.

Clean them, dust them, and check for rust. The worst thing to deal with on the first day of hunting season or using the gun after a long time is that it locks up or malfunctions. My savage 12-gauge double barren firing pins stopped working once when invited by a friend to go shooting clays for the afternoon.

Also, even if you oil and clean it, rust can still creep up on you. Catching rust early is the best thing for your gun. It never hurts to pull it from storage or your gun cabinet and give it a good look over.

How to use Gun Oil Properly.

Gun oil is designed for a specific purpose. It is meant to operate and withstand high heat and to be used on metals. Please be sure not to use it on any wooden parts of your gun as this can get into the wood grain and cause it to swell and crack. Only apply it anywhere metal touches metal. These are the parts that need the oil the most to ensure they work well.

How to clean the wood gunstock.

I like to use Lemon Oil Furniture polish. Not only does it clean the dirt off and gives a nice shine, but it smells pretty good as well. You don't have to clean the stock with any other cleaner as others think. Just use a generous amount of Lemon Oil and it a one-step process.

Gun Cleaning Kits: What to look for.

When it comes to gun maintenance, it is essential to look into a gun cleaning kit. These kits have the tools you need to clean a gun properly without damaging any of the parts or interfering with the mechanics of the gun. There are several different kits out in the market with varying levels of qualities. Some kits are tailored for certain firearms, while others come with interchangeable pieces to help clean different guns with different calibers. Below we will list a couple of sets.

Hoppe's No. 9 Deluxe Gun Cleaning Kit.

This kit is a good starting place for people who have never owned a gun cleaning kit before. The kit is inexpensive and comes with a few parts needed to clean a gun. It also has instructions for beginners to read that explain how to use the components inside.

The kit comes in a nice wooden box. The box isn't of the best quality, but it looks nice, and if you just keep it at home, it will be fine. The tools included aren't expansive, but the ones included can be used on a few common firearms. It has tools to clean handguns and shotguns. Cheap and simple, this is an excellent kit for beginners.

Gloryfire Elite Gun Cleaning Kit

The Gloryfire is an excellent gun kit. The materials used to make the tools are high quality, and they cover many common-caliber guns, from pistols to rifles and even shotguns. The intended users for this kit are people who already have some knowledge of gun cleaning.

The price alone would deter most novices, so those who actually make the investment to buy this one proves they are knowledgeable. This is an exceptional kit for someone who is well into having an expansive gun collection. It will last a very long time, even if used often. Here’s the link to check it out at Amazon.

Otis Elite Gun Cleaning Kit

Here we have a genuine universal gun kit. One of the most comprehensive ones on the market, with a variety of tools you will need or want when it comes time to clean your gun. Not only are there plenty of tools in the kit, but they are also of fantastic quality.

Included in the Otis are 22 different caliber brass brushes, each labeled on the side, so you know which brush to use for which caliber. The set is truly comprehensive, and the case does not lack in quality either.

Inside the nylon carrying case is a specific spot for each tool. This is helpful when you consider how much it is storing inside. The Otis is also surprisingly compact and easy to carry; there is even a sling to carry it off the shoulder as well as a handle to hold it like hard cases.

Some would say the case is made of nylon is a flaw, primarily a preference issue. Bonus inclusions in the kit are small bottles of solvent to use on your gun and a lens cleaning kit for scopes and such.

A minor problem with the equipment is the time someone will need to take when they have to pack it up. Since all the tools have designated places in the bag, you cannot simply throw them in the bag and close them. Everything must be in the correct spot.

Also, there will be a few small cheaper items that you will need to buy, like oils and cotton swabs with handles, but that is nothing compared to how much they have stuffed in this bag. Here’s the link to read more.

DAC Winchester Super Deluxe

The Winchester Super Deluxe is another comprehensive gun cleaning kit that is durable, well put together, and very useful for most common caliber guns. It is geared towards gun enthusiasts who know what they are looking for and what they are doing.

There are no instructions included in the kit, but you can always look online for video tutorials. Inside there are tools for 14 different caliber guns ranging from pistols to shotguns. The various tool sections are attached to the case by Velcro, so if you only need one area, they can easily be removed and reattached to the case.

The only things not included are the oils, solvents, and a bore snake. These additional items aren't very expensive, and this way, you can buy the brands you prefer to use instead of having to use whatever comes inside. Overall, this is a great kit that most gun owners will find very useful and cost-effective. Here’s the link so you can read more.

Some parting thoughts

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, I got my first gun when I was 10 years old. It was a Savage Double Barrel 12 gauge with a full choke and a modified barrel. So, my dad taught me, "all guns are loaded, and keep them clean especially when you aren’t using them just in case you need them quickly. And even in my 60’s those words are stuck in my head.

Maintaining and cleaning your shotgun is very important. If done correctly, this can be something you pass down to your kids. Heirlooms carry memories, and memories often mean more than the thing itself but it sure is nice to give them something that still works as well, and they can teach their kids to use?

Upkeep your shotgun; use it while camping. Teach the next generation how to use and upkeep it. Make memories and teach them important values along the way. They will thank

you for it.

All the best,

Alex Anderson

Avid Gun Aficionado


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