January 20, 2022

Gun maintenance need to knows, how I deal with my shotguns / Sportsman Gun Centre Blog

This entry was posted on 22/12/2021 by Sportsman Gun Centre.

By Chris Parkin

Like any other mechanical tool, guns require maintenance, what and when they need it can vary depending on how you need it to perform and how regularly it is used. It’s critical above all else to make sure a gun is dry and cleaned after a day in the field and don’t just assume a gun dried out and locked in its cabinet is ok, it’s important to remember a cold gun brought into a warm house will immediately form copious amounts of condensation that can and will linger in all tiny spaces and crevices to cause corrosion long term. With rifles, I always remove the moderator as these are particularly prone to form condensation internally that will seep down a rifle barrel and cause characteristic internal bore pitting in the rifling a few inches back from the muzzle.

I tend to fully clean my shotguns after every use, for a light user like me, they will likely outlast my mechanical needs from bore wear and action degradation yet corrosion from combustion residues, although not necessarily corrosive, can retain moisture so it always makes sense to thoroughly clean the bores with an appropriate solvent and I tend to use the slightly firmer Payne Galway type brush as I feel this removes both powder/shot fouling, and any polymeric wad detritus from the forcing cones more easily. I separate the components and generously spray both barrels, twisting them as I go allowing the solvent to evenly coat the bore. Depending on the specific manufacturer’s guidelines, I leave it to soak for a while, usually 5-10 minutes before starting with the brush. My personal gun and cartridge choice seems to clean easily from this method and sighting through the bores against the clear sky immediately shows any residual matter that would warrant a second soak and brush. I also remove the multichokes and wipe them over with an oily cloth, some guns seal better here than others here and I always leave them slightly loose, only fully tightening them when I set off for another day of use. This is because I’m never quite sure when that will be so why leave them tight, were they to corrode, this would make them even harder to shift so left slightly slack, I feel more confident that should that ever happen, I have an easier start. On gas operated semi auto, you have internal residue in the action from the piston mechanism to deal with, on recoil operated gun, the mechanism always benefit from being clean and very lightly lubricated to ensure smooth functioning.

I always wipe the action over with a cloth carrying a light amount of cleaning oil from a spray can,

Legia has served me well for years and I always make sure the very last thing to touch the metalwork before it goes into storage is the cloth on steel or my hands on the timber, I don’t like leaving the chance of corrosive fingerprints. Call me over cautious, but I have a shotgun over 70 years sold in very good condition and as a gift from my father, want to keep it that way. Similarly, the bores will have been wiped over with the same anti corrosion spray, nothing excessive and the last factor I will mention is that I always store my shotguns pointing barrel down. You might ask why? It’s because although minimal, over the course of hours, day, weeks or years, I don’t want oil seeping down the barrel walls and through the firing pin holes, seeping into the stock and timber causing it to soften and crack over the years the gun ages. Other factors to look out for are small screws, for example on adjustable triggers becoming loose, a lost blade will stop a shooting day immediately.

Even my `new` gun is over 10 years old and looks like new, because of this treatment. I wipe over the mechanics of the hinge and locking mechanism using the same Legia oils and only occasionally give the gun full attention with slightly thicker oils from a dropper bottle into the ejector recesses if I have removed and cleaned them. Your own personal gun cleaning regimes and requirements will evolve as your shooting life does, I shoot a few thousand cartridges a year when busy, yet some will shoot that in a week quite easily. Their regime may well be far more stringent and involving as required and I won’t knock them for it as they have realised their needs though experience.

Generally speaking, shotguns prefer not to be dismantled unnecessarily, especially older hand-made guns which require special tools and procedures unlikely to be set out in an instruction manual. Leave detailed servicing of the internals to the professionals who have the experience to identify and accommodate the often-unique requirements of each gun. I would also avoid long term storage inside gun cases as they can retain moisture in the fabric or even padded foam.


  1. A feather is a handy tool for cleaning ventilated ribs
  2. a sticky ejectors is easily ignored yet usually easy maintain
  3. all products have operational preferences, get to know your own in collaboration
  4. cotton buds are great for getting into the locking mechanisms without damaging anything
  5. I must have hundreds of bottles of various potions, these are at the front of my workshop shelf for a reason
  6. make sure small screws aren’t forgotten when checking the gun over after use
  7. more clean steel for a wipe over, no more though
  8. My Father’s gun is over 70 years old, he didn’t buy it new, it’s been well cared for
  9. remember to attend to all small niches where dust will gather in excess oil
  10. signs of life, but still 100% functional after years of use and at least 2 owners
  11. skin contact leaves corrosive chemical residues, my advice would be the last thing to contact steel going into storage is the oily cloth itself, keep the woodwork dry though
  12. Standard 20 bore brush in the background, a Payne Galway 12g brush in front, my preference is the latter
  13. Standard 20 bore brush in the background, a Payne Galway 12g brush in front, my preference is the latter

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