By: Chris Hoffman
The day inevitably comes every year; the day that it’s time to put the guns up after the season is through. With any luck, they’ve seen a good bit of action and will require some attention before going into storage; but regardless of how many rounds have been put through them, it is always important to take the proper steps beforehand.
Routine maintenance during the season to prevent malfunctions in the field is undoubtedly necessary, but a thorough cleaning before putting them away for months can make all the difference in the life of a firearm. The phrase “Guns Have Two Enemies: Rust & Politicians” certainly holds true, but unfortunately, we only have direct control over one of the two. Any powder or lead fouling in your barrel(s) coupled with the potential for extra humidity in the summer months can lead to rust, or worse, pitting of the steel. The fix for either one of these issues is far more involved than an “end of season” cleaning, so you’re better off just taking the time beforehand; and if you’re anything like me, you may even find it somewhat therapeutic.
First and foremost, you should always check to ensure the firearm is unloaded. Once you’ve determined that there is no live ammunition in the firearm or workspace, you can start to break it down as far as you’re comfortable with. Firearms owner’s manuals and YouTube are your best resources if you are unfamiliar with this process. While there are a number of cleaning products out there that can get the job done, we recommend an all-in-one product such as Clenzoil Field & Range for shotguns, primarily because it is safe on, and aids in the conditioning of all [non-latex] finishes including wood, polymers, camo coating, cerakote, and bluing.
First, you’ll apply your solution of choice to all parts of the firearm: the bolt, the barrel(s), the receiver, and anywhere else there is visible fouling. Using the appropriate tools & brushes, scrub all interior parts of the firearm to remove any and all fouling, including carbon, unburnt powder, lead, and plastic buildup. These contaminants will all attract moisture, so cleaning your gun thoroughly will help keep it dry. Using a dry rag/patch, wipe away the debris and excess product from the surface of the firearm. This will leave a light film of oil behind on all surfaces.
For long term storage purposes, it’s recommended that additional product is applied following the cleaning process. After the barrel(s) and bolt have been properly cleaned and treated, apply the same solution or another long term storage preservative using an applicator pad or microfiber towel to all external surfaces. Now that all parts have been cleaned and treated, the firearm can be reassembled and put away for storage. When you’re ready to use it, your gun will be flawlessly clean, fully lubricated, and rust-free with no gummy mess left behind.