How to Take Care of Your Shotgun
Russ Chastain 07.11.18
Firearms are useful machines, and most are rugged enough to keep working even in poor conditions, but like all machinery even the simplest shotgun requires care and maintenance. Here are some pointers on how to take care of your shotgun.
Keep Your Shotgun Clean
A clean shotgun will always work more reliably than a dirty one, because fouling and rust can cause all sorts of malfunctions. And because the shells are so much larger than most rifle and handgun cartridges, dirty shotguns can be mighty finicky about feeding. Be sure the bore, chamber, choke tubes, choke tube threads, all moving parts, and even the exterior of barrel, receiver, magazine tube if present, and stock are all clean.
Nooks and crannies, checkering, etc can be cleaned with a toothbrush. It goes without saying to clean the bore and action to remove gunpowder residue and other fouling.
Don’t use abrasives on your scattergun; mild solvent and a hunk of old t-shirt can work wonders, and won’t mess up your gun’s looks. Just make sure you don’t use hard-core solvents that might damage plastic, wood finish, and/or painted metal parts.
Examine Your Shotgun
Get out your gun every now and then to make sure everything works like it oughta. Do all moving parts move like they should? Are other parts all tight and snug and not about to fall apart? Did you remember to clean it well after the last time you fired it? Take a few minutes to examine it and ensure that shotgun is ready to run.
Fire Your Shotgun to Check Function
When you need a firearm, you NEED a firearm. So make sure your gun is going to go bang when you ask it to — and the best way is to drag it out of storage and make some bangs.
Does the bolt, break-open lever, or slide move freely? On break-actions, does the latch hold it securely closed but allow smooth, easy, trouble-free opening? Do extractors and ejectors work properly? Do all safeties work as they should (if present)? Do magazines fit, load and unload smoothly, and feed shells as they should? If the answer to any of those is “no,” you should probably take your scattergun to your local gunsmith for a look-see.
Lubricate Moving Parts
Use high-quality oil or grease to lubricate moving parts per manufacturer’s recommendations. This includes pivots, latches, catches, extractors, bolts, levers, pump/slide linkages, and more. Be sure you have lube where it ought to be and none where it shouldn’t. You will be repaid by a well-running shotgun.
Protect Against Corrosion
Make sure all blued steel surfaces have a light coating of rust-preventative oil to prevent corrosion, and it doesn’t hurt to do the same to other metals/alloys. Corrosion can really interfere with a firearm’s function, and an undependable shotgun really isn’t much good.
Keep it Dry
While most shotguns can be used in the rain and hunters are subject to inclement weather at times, shotguns were simply not meant to be used sopping wet and they should be dried out thoroughly as soon as possible. Supper can wait until you’ve gotten the water out of your shotgun’s innards and dried it off, followed by some of that sweet, sweet rust preventative. Don’t neglect the bore and the inside of the magazine tube; these will often rust aggressively. You won’t regret it
With some care, a well-made shotgun will outlive its owner and will always perform well when needed. Take care of your shotgun and your shotgun will take care of you.