After a long day of hitting the range, the last thing you want to do is go home and clean the guns you just shot. Have you ever thought, is it even necessary to clean the guns each time you shoot? I know I’ve thought this almost every time after a long day of shooting. The reasons Cleaning your gun is so important may shock you and help you reconsider not cleaning after each trip to the range.
What Happens Each Time a Gun Fires?
Whenever you hit the range and fire your gun there is residue from the bullet or shell that is left in the barrel and the action. This residue continues to build up after each shot. This is called fouling and comes from the wad, powder and bullets. The fouling combined with moisture from being outside, over time, will affect the dependability of the gun.
So you are saying to yourself, “so what if there is a little residue build up and down the road my gun may be a little unreliable?” but these reasons may make you reconsider those thoughts.
Two of the most common problems with not cleaning your gun are the failure-to-fire and the failure-to-feed. Failure-to-feed is when the gun is not properly cycling through rounds. Failure-to-fire means that the gun will properly cycle rounds but will not properly discharge rounds. This could be both very dangerous and very frustrating. It may not be a huge deal if you’re at the range but imagine you are staring down the barrel with your sights on a beautiful ten point white-tail deer. Then you go to pull the trigger and…. Nothing. Before you figure out what is going on, the beautiful trophy has already walked off.
Rifles typically are not as susceptible as other guns because of the frequency that you shoot them, but handguns and shotguns must be kept in good shape. A day shooting sporting clays, trap or skeet can mean well over 100 rounds are running through the gun. This amount of rounds can really leave a lot of residue behind. Especially since you are probably using target rounds, which tend to be lower quality and can lead too much more fouling than regular game loads.
So How Often Should I Clean My Gun?
Unfortunately, there is not an exact “cookie cutter” schedule to how often you should be cleaning your guns. Like previously mentioned there are a lot of factors that go into determining how often you should clean it. The most important factors to consider when determining how often you should clean your gun include:
- How many rounds were put through the gun
- Is the gun a bolt action, semi-automatic, pump, etc.
- What type of rounds are you putting through the gun
- How long is it going to be until you shoot it next
- What conditions were you shooting in (wet, humid, dusty, etc.)
- What is the age of the gun and how much has it been shot
Once you answer these questions you will have a better idea to how often you should clean your gun. If you have a rifle that you take to the range to sight in before you go hunting in a couple days, chances are you don’t need to give it a thorough cleaning. Most likely when you are sighting the gun i you are not putting a ton of rounds through it . , You will just be dialing it in and will be using it in a couple days so there is no need to go all out and do a full clean.
On the opposite side if you take your shotgun out to the sporting clay range and run 150 rounds through it and you don’t plan to shoot it again for a couple weeks to a month, you will most definitely want to give the gun a thorough cleaning. Especially with a shotgun for bird hunting or clay shooting you want to make sure that it cycles correctly because there is nothing more frustrating than having your gun jam up when there is a bird in the air.
What are Some Good Gun Cleaning Practices?
The first step to giving your gun the cleaning it deserves after a long day of shooting is having a kit that includes everything you need. I know for the longest time I used my father’s old cleaning supplies. They were so worn and so greasy i’m not sure they did much “cleaning” at all. After I decided to invest in my own gun cleaning kit, it made a world of difference. Not only did it have everything I needed but it also had all the tools to clean just about any gun I could ever have. Having a new kit with everything available makes the cleaning go so much quicker. We all know the quicker you can get done cleaning the gun, the quicker you can be sitting on the couch drinking a brew and that is always a good thing.
Once you have all the tools to do the cleaning it is best to get a cleaning solution that will keep the barrel and bore clean. Most bore cleaners you find online are fine. The bore cleaner will clean the bores or nearly all guns and will remove and prevent metal and leading fouling. This is a must have for keeping your guns in top shape.
Whats the Best Material to Use to Clean your Barrel?
Another key to having a good cleaning is getting a quality material to wipe away the residue with. Once you run bore cleaner through your barrel with the scrubbing brush, that you got in your new kit, you will need a good material to wipe away all of the fouling and residue you just scraped out of the bore. This is an important step because having a material that will absorb and completely get rid of any residue is crucial. For this I typically like to go with a cloth patch, there are several different material types you can get but the cloth does the best to absorb and scrub away all of the residue. It is ideal if you can get a cloth material with a weave pattern because this allows for better scrubbing to ensure you are truly getting all the residue.
Keeping Your Gun Lubricated
Lastly you will want you get a good lubricant to spray down the moving parts of the gun with. It is very important to keep the action and cycling mechanisms lubricated because the last thing you want in the field is for your gun to not cycle or fire causing you to miss your shot. For this I would recommend getting a quality lubricant/oil that will improve the effectiveness of the mechanism while also providing protection from the elements. If you plan to store your gun for a while I would definitely recommend to lubricate it before you put it away to ensure that it is properly protected and will not be dried out the next time you go to use it.
Once you have all these components together and you give your gun the care it deserves it will take care of you as well. Make sure to think ahead and think about all of the factors that go into determining how often it is needed to clean your gun. The better you take care of your gun now and after each time you shoot the longer it will last and the more effective it will be over time. Take these factors in to consideration and your gun will operate as it should. I hope this provided you with more insight to the importance and advantages of keeping your gun clean; and as always, shoot straight boys.