For bird hunters, the shotgun is their most essential tool. Having a gun that you feel comfortable with is very important. There is nothing like that feeling of hitting the field for the first time each year and hitting the mark on your first bird.

To make sure that perfect shot occurs each time, there is a little maintenance work to be done. Shotguns can become worn over time without proper care.

We’re all busy with life and all the requirements of each day, but taking just a few minutes after every hunt and every shoot to clean your shotgun will ensure that your favorite gun will last a lifetime.

Here are the basic steps for cleaning your shotgun:


Cleaning a shotgun is a very basic process. There are different variations of cleaning a gun and also different techniques for cleaning particular guns. There are different requirements for cleaning different actions of shotguns as well. For the most part, there are only a few slight variations and for this article, we’re going to focus on the basic steps for cleaning any type of shotgun you might have.

Required Materials

There are different materials you can get for cleaning your gun. The basics include:

First, oil is very important. The oil you use will clean dirt and moisture from your gun. A common oil to apply is a basic gun oil. There is also lubricant oil, which you’ll likely want to get as well. The lubricant can keep you action working and it does help over time to keep your gun operating well.

Take a dry rag or paper towel and give your gun a good once over and check it twice to make sure you get all of the moisture. There is nothing more harmful to a gun, over time, than overexposure to moisture. Corrosion and rust are not your gun's friend!

It’s best to give your gun a good wiping while it’s intact, but at this point, you’ll want to take off the various sections of the gun, including the barrel, stock and action. Now you can really dig into those crevices to get out all of the moisture.

Wipe All Parts with a Cleaning Oil

Once your shotgun is free of moisture, it’s time to apply basic cleaning oil to the visible areas. Take a new dry rag or paper towel and apply your oil to it as you start wiping down every area of the shotgun. You want to make sure you cover all areas to remove any dirt or grime present.

First let’s work on the chamber and bore, which requires the use of a cleaning rod, available in any standard cleaning kit. Each gauge of shotgun has specific-sized brushes, so make sure you purchase the right brushes for the right-sized barrel.

Next, using the proper-sized brush, add some oil to a cloth or patch and run it through a few times. At this point, you are looking to remove the surface dust and grime. Once you have done this, it is time to get to the really difficult residue. Grab the brass brush from your kit and spray it with a little oil. Then run the brush through the barrel a few times. If you have threads on the barrel for choke tubes, make sure to spend a little extra time on those to make sure they are clean as well.

Next you will want to take off the brush from your cleaning rod and attach a holder for a cleaning pad or patch. Basically, you just want to spray it down with some oil and run it through the barrel a few times to clean out any residue that the brush knocked loose. Then check inside the barrel to make sure it is looking clean and shiny.

A more modern way of doing this process is with a bore snake. They are simple to use and make the process much quicker, hopefully giving you the incentive to run it through the barrel of your shotgun more often after each use.

How Often Should You Clean Your Gun?

This question comes up often and varies from person to person. Many will clean their gun after every use and before using it again if the gun has been sitting for a long time. You should look at your gun as a lifetime investment. Take the time to make sure it is in its best condition at all times.

If you need to restock on cleaning supplies, or would rather have someone else clean your gun for you for a nominal fee, visit your local Sportsman's Warehouse, or order online at You can even have a detailed cleaning of all individual parts including ultrasonic cleaning through The Gunsmith at Sportsman's Warehouse.

P.S. - Remember, moisture is a gun's worst enemy. Even when in your gun safe, your firearm can accumulate moisture. Give your guns a little wipe-down periodically throughout the year.