All too often, Alastair and Mikey in our Gun Room are presented with a shotgun that needs servicing as a result of not being properly cleaned. So we thought that during these times when many of us are at home and have a little time on our hands, it would be helpful to share with you Alastair’s top tips for how to clean your gun. 1. Preparation Find a flat clean surface with a suitable material or protective layer under the gun. This helps prevent oil stains on any table tops etc. Also by having a flat surface you ensure nothing rolls off and gets damaged or lost. 2. Barrels. a. There are many cleaning rods that give the barrels a good quick clean. These are best used straight after shooting when the barrels are still warm and the lead and plastic deposits haven’t cooled and solidified. However, after a busy days shooting, at the end of the season or if putting the gun away for some time, the traditional way is still the best. Namely cleaning your gun with three cleaning heads. Bronze Brush, Jag with 2x4 patch and Mop. b. Start off with a small squirt of gun oil down the barrels. Then with the bronze brush, scrub the barrels fully and vigorously paying special attention to the chambers and chokes. Don’t be gentle as it is this firm scrubbing that is loosening all the unwanted material. Having scrubbed the barrels, swap to the jag with the 2x4 wrapped around. Run this up and down the inside of the barrel where it will collecting all the dirty oil and loosened material. Next, swap the jag for a very lightly oiled wool mop run this up and down the barrels c. Next, you must focus on the ejector work. A light spray of oil will help to remove any debris but you can also use an old tooth brush or cotton wool buds to remove any powder residue or debris. Now focus on the muzzles, be sure to remove any powder residue and if you gun has “multi-chokes” take them out, give them a clean with an oiled cloth and then, using specialist choke grease, lightly coat the outside of the choke before putting them back in, do not over tighten them! Every year we must see at least a dozen guns coming in with the chokes seized in with dirt / rust or simple over tightened. But really you should clean them every time you shoot. d. Finally, we turn to the outside of the barrels, if you are cleaning the gun after a day’s shooting be sure to remove any moisture… gun barrels can rust incredibly quickly. But we are assuming you are giving your gun its “end of season clean” and so it is nice a dry. Give them a wipe with a lightly oiled cloth. This will ensure they are well protected when in storage. 3. Action Pay special attention to the “face” of the action. This is where the firing pins protrude from. This must be wiped with an oily cloth. Similarly using brush, bud or tooth pick be sure to remove any dust or debris in the action body. Don’t spray oil directly on the firing pins as it can get into the action body and is then soaked up by the stock thereby weakening the wood. Operate the top lever and safety catch to make sure they are smooth and free of dirt and debris and give the triggers and trigger guard a clean. 4. Stock This can be given some care using some boiled linseed oil (you can get this at a good hardware shop). Apply a very small amount of oil (just enough to cover the tip of your forefinger) onto the stock. Then to help it soak in, rub it evenly with the palm of your hand following the grain of the wood. Once applied it should be left to dry for at least 24 hours, to allow the wood to absorb the oil completely. Be sure to avoid oiling the chequering on the grip, the butt and the forend because this will fill the chequering and create a ‘gummy’ finish. However, and in all honesty, you really should clean your gun every time you shoot it. Equally if the gun is wet or is going to be stored for a length of time, if possible and secure, store it with the barrels facing downwards. Happy cleaning!