How to clean a shotgun is an aspect of hunting that should not be undervalued if we want allies ever ready to bestow on us unforgettable experiences.
How to clean the shotgun is something every hunter should master to keep it at the highest level after returning from a hunt.
This is because hunting is made up of so many small things: emotions and adrenaline, contact with nature and respect for its wildlife, sharing with hunting companions and solitary walks in the company of your gun dog.
Shotgun cleaning is just another one of these things that make up the experience.
As every good hunter knows, it cannot be neglected and, let’s face it, taking care of your hunting rifle is something that, when you love your passion, makes you feel really good.
How to clean a shotgun: first of all, carrying out correct maintenance
There are many factors that threaten the state of hunting shotguns and maximum attention should be paid to maintenance.
Especially for newly licensed hunters, to keep your firearms squeaky clean, acquiring some good habits is necessary!
On a day’s hunting, whether it lasts just a few hours or right up to when the sun sets, many external elements can jeopardize the integrity of the shotgun.
Not only the explosion of cartridge dust, which generates residues and debris, but tree resin, leaf fragments, dew drops, humidity or rain, mud, sweaty handprints and other external agents can threaten the health of the hunting shotgun.
Here are four tips on how to carry out so-called field maintenance, to keep your hunting gun squeaky clean!
How to clean a shotgun: before cleaning, it should be disassembled
Before even starting any maintenance, it is essential to carefully disassemble the main parts of the shotgun, according to your knowledge level.
On semiautomatic shotguns, we proceed by removing the bolt, trigger group and barrel.
However, its a different story for the trigger mechanism, which, remaining inside the stock, never gets touched during field maintenance.
With over-and-unders, once the fore-end, barrel and receiver have been removed, the first step of the task is done, while semiautomatic shotguns are the simplest to disassemble, because you can push yourself to a “deeper” level.
Furthermore, the Franchi hunting semiautomatics, having the inertial mechanism inserted on the front with the recoil spring housed on the fore-end above the magazine tube, are even easier to clean.
Simply remove the fore-end and voila! Even the smallest specks of dust will be within reach of… a toothbrush!
More generally, the Affinity 3 and Affinity 3.5 semiautomatic shotguns, with the Front Inertia operating system, require less maintenance, lightening some of the hunter‘s load.
Once the shotgun has been disassembled, cleaning must be initiated carefully.
And then… how to clean a shotgun
Once the shotgun is disassembled, move on to removing all dirt deposited during the hunt. Pipe cleaners, patches, clothes, toothbrushes or brushes are all tools of the trade.
Particular attention should be paid to interchangeable chokes and barrels.
For the former, after having disassembled and removed them, they are cleaned using a rough rag and steel cleaning product, until all shot residues are removed.
It is also very important to clean the delicate barrel area housing the chokes, until all deposits are removed.
The combustion chamber of semiautos and break actions must also be carefully cleaned, because it is the first area where corrosion may be triggered.
If you have the foresight not to wait too long and to clean the barrels every two or three days of hunting, the effort will be relatively minimal.
It would be advisable to pass a cleaning rod through the barrel each time, with the final pass with a grease rod, in order to insulate the metal against the air.
Cleaning rods suitable for use in every cleaning kit found at the gun shop.
Even more attention is required if you are firing balls, as is the case with wild boar hunting, be they semi-automatics or over-and-unders.
This is because the ball causes serious dirt and so the first rule is: don’t wait too long!
Why oil your shotguns is a necessary part of how to clean the shotgun
The hunter is someone who never backs down, not even in difficult environmental and climatic situations – because the thrills of hunting are the reason why, despite the chances of wet, chilly rainy days, at the end of the day it always turns out to be worth it.
But if we’re talking about how to clean a shotgun, the chief damage culprit is always the same… water! So how do we protect our semiautomatics or break actions?
After each hunt, it is good practice to spend some time lubricating all the shotgun’s metal parts, or in any case all those parts that are subject to sliding.
Cleaning and drying the firearm is not enough because without a film of oil they do not have any kind of protection.
Even a drop of water, a humid environment, or simply storing the hot shotgun in the slip generating condensation, are all factors that can trigger oxidation.
All semiautomatic shotguns with a camo finish or -better yet – Cerakote, will guarantee greater resistance to atmospheric agents and will be ideal for extreme condition hunting activities, such as hunting waterfowl.
Cerakote is an ultra-fine ceramic-based paint, which guarantees excellent resistance to atmospheric agents.
Alternatively to blued shotguns, attentively oiling them after a day’s hunting is all it takes… and that’s it!
Last but not least: how to care for its wood
Let’s face it, shouldering the shotgun and feeling the warmth of the wood beneath your fingers always has its appeal, for hunters of any age.
There are display rifles, almost too good to be true, and then there are rifles that accompany you on all kinds of adventures.
If a hunter owns this second kind of shotgun, perhaps featuring a lovely wooden stock, some battle “scars” are to be taken into account. Diehard romantics could also see them as a map of all the hunts experienced together.
So, being a living material, the first thing to bear in mind is that wood gets damaged if you use it. While there is no magic elixir, there are small steps to take.
If with varnished woods there is no need for maintenance, but once damaged they are very difficult to restore, an oil-finished wood can still be treated by the hunter directly, without the need to visit a stock maker.
Unless it has deep cracks, using oil that can be found at the gunsmith‘s is enough for the wood to regain its original appearance and lustre.
This is exactly the beauty of oil-finished stocks… they can always be restored and made to be like new!
These are useful tips on how to clean a shotgun and take care of your hunting instrument, but it is also true that Franchi shotguns are a tool at the service of the hunter.
Because it is not a beautiful wood or a beautiful engraving that makes the difference when you are in the thick of the scrub, in the marshy waters or with the mud staining your boots… the difference is having an instrument capable of making us experience unforgettable emotions!
So, after all the work and the attention devoted to your shotgun… maybe it’s time to hit the hunt once again?