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10 gun care tips every shooter should know

Lock, stock and two sparkling barrels - here are some handy tips for gun maintenance

gun cleaning tips


  1. Never neglect gun cleaning. A little effort will keep your guns safe, reliable and rust-free
  2. Do not put a gun in a gun slip into a gun safe. You want air movement
  3. Do not put a heater or a lightbulb in your gun safe. Your stock will over-dry, warm and crack
  4. Avoid multi-use cleaning rods and ropes. These soon get filthy and full of corrosive acids
  5. Even chrome barrels need a good clean – harmful deposits can still build up on barrel walls
  6. Black powder cartridges are getting popular, but always spend extra time cleaning if you use these. Black powder leaves highly corrosive deposits that are hard to shift
  7. Always store guns barrel down, any excess oil will drain away from the walnut stock
  8. Be careful not to handle blued metal work with bloody hands, especially duck blood – unless you want to strip the blue off your barrels
  9. Regularly remove and clean chokes, lightly grease or oil thread before refitting and tightening. The same holds for rifle moderators
  10. Make all the above a regular part of your gun care routine
gun care kit

Shotgun cleaning kit

A few commonly asked questions about shotgun cleaning

Q: How should I clean plastic fouling from my shotgun barrel?

A: Plastic fouling usually shows up as a grey film over the bright metal of the barrel and, as it is acidic, it should be removed as soon as possible. It usually comes out with ordinary cleaning solvent on a bronze brush.

Q: When shotgun cleaning, should I strip down the action? 

A: It all depends on how many cartridges you fire in 12 months, but I would suggest that once a year is quite enough for most guns – providing you have a thorough normal cleaning routine after every use and you are particularly careful if the gun gets very wet or dusty.  As far as oil is concerned, pretty well anything sold as “gun oil” in your local gun shop should do the trick.  Remember guns need only a tiny amount of oil inside the action. Too much oil can gum up the inertia mechanism which transfers the trigger to the second barrel, and also soak into the wood and soften it.

Q: What’s best for the action when cleaning a shotgun? The silver action on my Browning has gone dull and dark in places. Is there any way I can get it cleaned up? 

A: A lot of this discolouration is caused by sweaty hands and any reasonably fine metal polish should do the trick – something like Brasso on a soft cloth, or the sort in which the polish is absorbed in cotton wool. Remember, however, that it is an abrasive, and it doesn’t do woodwork any good, so be careful when cleaning a shotgun. For these reasons remove the stock, and be very careful to see that the polish doesn’t get inside the action.