Properly clean your firearms before storing until next season

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Properly cleaning a firearm will help keep it useful for generations. (Photo courtesy: Battenfeld Technologies).

Properly cleaning a firearm will help keep it useful for generations. (Photo courtesy: Battenfeld Technologies)

Cleaning a firearm doesn’t have to be a chore. With the right tools, it’s actually a short, simple process. If you can designate a cleaning station on your workbench, or at least keep your tools organized in an accessible location, the cleaning process will be much smoother, and faster.

Before you begin the actual process of cleaning, you must take every precaution to ensure safety. A high percentage of firearms related accidents occur while cleaning. By following a few simple rules, you can greatly reduce the chances of having an accident yourself.

  • Make sure the safety is on.
  • Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Make sure the firearm is unloaded
  • Always keep your finger away from the trigger
  • Clean from the chamber when possible.

Once you have taken the above precautions, begin the cleaning process by placing your firearm in a solid gun vise. Different styles of firearms require different methods of cleaning. For this article, we are going to use a bolt action rifle as our example.

Once your rifle is secure in the vise, prepare it for cleaning by removing the bolt. Look down the barrel to ensure it is clear of any obstructions. Next, you want to insert a bore guide into the rear of the receiver. A bore guide is important to use because cleaning without a bore guide can allow a rod to rub the chamber or bore, which can cause accuracy issues. Also, a bore guide keeps solvents from spilling on your firearm’s finish or into its action.

Once you’re set up and ready to go with your bore guide, select the proper jag, screw it on your rod and place a cotton patch on the end. Insert the jag into the bore guide, and liberally apply a good powder solvent through the port hole. Try to always use cotton patches, as opposed to synthetic patches, because they absorb solvent much better. Now run your rod through the rear of the bore guide all the way down the bore. You’re going to repeat this process at least five times. A good tip is to use a patch trap. Doing so will save the hassle of having to pick up your wet, dirty patches. Next, remove your jag and attach a proper size bronze brush. Run it down the bore 10 times, five forward and five back. Now, reattach your jag, put on another patch, soak it in powder solvent and repeat the earlier jag and patch process to remove any fouling you may have loosened with the brush.

Once your patches are coming out fairly clean (they’ll never be perfect), it’s time to address copper fouling. Put on a clean patch and soak it in a quality copper solvent. Run at least five patches down the bore, dropping them in the patch trap. Next, run a dry patch down the bore. Repeat until a patch comes out clean. The last step is to lightly oil a patch with a good gun oil and run it down the bore. You should now have a clean barrel.

You should also take the time to clean your bolt and action. Scrub the bolt with a quality nylon brush. Wipe it off with a common shop towel and brush the bolt lightly with gun lubricant in three places – the breech side of the locking lugs, cocking cam and the engagement surface of the cocking piece. Next, use an action tool with a powder solvent soaked cotton swab to clean the raceway and chamber. Reinstall your bolt, and that’s it, you’re done.

A properly cared for firearm will pass through generations as an heirloom. Shooting grandpa’s gun is a rite of passage every young hunter should experience. Take the time to properly care for and clean, and your firearms will be dropping deer and ducks for years to come.

See you down the trail…
Brandon Butler


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