I’ve been going to do an article on cleaning your shotguns for five months. But then I started shooting Eurasian doves right after the winter coyote hunting season, then I was shooting pigeons at my boss’s feedlot, and then we started decoying pigeons. So I figured it was past time to do my yearly deep cleaning project on my shotguns.
My Mossberg Waterfowler Pro Series 930 doesn’t have an easy life. In fact, ever since it left the womb (factory) it’s been all out warfare for her. As soon as I got her, I flew to Alaska and used her duck hunting and of course fell face first into a hole in the river.
Then all week she got soaked to the bone in a pounding rain as only Alaska can hand out. When she finally made it back home, she got thrown into some high-speed pigeon shooting hunts.
So it was time to deep clean my shotguns. As a kid, I’d put a few blankets or pillows on the kitchen table and try to prop my gun on them for cleaning, using rags cut off of an old worn out flannel shirt. There’s some modern items that will make cleaning your guns easier and they won’t cost you very much.
Here are the items that I used and why I like them.
MTM Gunsmith’s Maintenance Center: Sounds complex, but it’s just a plastic base with two “Y” prongs for you to set your gun on. It has a compartment to hold your oil, rags and rods. It makes life 100 times easier. I even take it in the field with me sometimes. For example, soon I’m going to be shooting a 25-06 and testing Hornady ammo to see how much cleaning your gun affects your accuracy. I’ll set up the MTM on the tailgate of my truck.
Cleaning rod: OK, I’m old school. I like to have a solid cleaning rod for my shotguns at home. I just got a REAL AVID Gun Boss Pro cleaning kit that has a three-piece brass rod. It comes with a whole assortment of tips, brushes, etc.
Cleaning oils: I can’t even begin to tell you how many cleaning solvents and oils Otis has. I bet I have 20 to 30 different ones. For this task, I used their Copper Remover, Complete Gun Cleaner and Firearm Protectant solvents. Then I also like their Firearm Protectant in an aerosol can. That way if necessary, you can apply oil in hard-to-reach spots.
Swabs: Swab-its makes some cool foam swabs and cleaning swabs to attach to your cleaning rod. I love their swabs on a stick (they resemble an ear-cleaning swab). They’re great to clean hard to reach spots.
Rags: For cleaning rags, I used some Brownell rags. As a kid, I’d try to cut the proper-sized patch with my rusty old pocket knife and that works, but it sure is nice to have a proper-sized rag.
To begin, I ran a patch with the Copper Remover down the barrels and let them soak for a minute, and then I ran down a brass brush. I followed up with a clean rag soaked with the Complete Gun Cleaner oil. Then I ran patches down the barrel with Firearm Protectant solvents until the rags came out clean. And lastly, I ran a patch over the outside of my shotguns with the Firearm Protectant solvent on it to prevent any outer rusting.
My shotguns are now clean and ready to store — until grouse season opens up in another three weeks and the cleaning will start all over again.
Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.