Cleaning guns is not the most fun part of shooting but is definitely a necessary evil. In fact everything from proper function to accuracy depends on it. When it comes down to it eighty percent of the problems people bring their guns to a gunsmith for are maintenance related. I’ve had complaints of the safety not working. Get inside the gun and its packed full of grass seed. Yes, the safety needed to be repaired but it malfunctioned because of the filth inside the gun.
Why does cleaning matter so much? Friction. Friction is both a guns best friend and it’s worst enemy. Too much of it and nothing works too little and it us unsafe. The best way to combat grime where you can’t reach is with a spray cleaner. Gun Scrubber, Remington’s Rem Action Degreaser, and Hornady One Shot are a few of the good brands. Don’t be afraid to make a mess. You may want to hold the action over a garbage can so it will drain in there and not on your floor. Just flush out as much gunk as you can. It doesn’t hurt, on your bolt guns, to remove the action from the stock once in a while and so triggers can be cleaned also. With the trigger clean and a couple drops of oil you will also notice a smoother, lighter feeling trigger pull. If you don’t feel comfortable removing the stock on your own by all means take it to a gunsmith and he will be happy to do it for you.
Accuracy is something we all shoot for. We all know that a dirty barrel isn’t as accurate. Everything depends on the cleaner you use. At gunsmithing school the running joke was that our wives should use Hoppe’s #9 as perfume. Now the original is great, don’t get me wrong. The Navy used it on the big guns aboard ship during WWII. It does have one flaw though. There is nothing in it to remove the copper jacket fouling in your barrel. Too much copper fouling and say good bye to your accuracy.
Here’s how we start fixing the problem. Read the label on your bottle of cleaner. If it says there is ammonia in it you are off to a good start and have less problems with accuracy. Ammonia will dissolve copper, carbon, or shotgun wad residues in your barrel. Here’s a tip to remember. Rifling is only about .005″ deep so it doesn’t take much to fill it in. Getting the copper out will restore lost accuracy as long as your bore is still good. If your bore is pitted or otherwise damaged no amount of cleaning will help. My personal favorite is Tetra Gun cleaning solvent. Though Hoppe’s bench rest does have ammonia in it Tetra Gun still has a higher concentration level. If you don’t have such a cleaner head for your local sporting goods store or Midway USA catalog (http://www.midwayusa.com) and get some. Solvents like Barnes CR-10, Butches Bore Shine, and Shooters Choice are some other good choices. Just open a window or the smell will give you a migraine.
Here is where I am going to loose some of you. I really do recommend cleaning at least your barrel after every time you go shooting. That’s how we keep the accuracy robbing copper from building up and your shoots will be more consistent. If done after every shooting session it will only take 10 or 15 minutes if cleaning with a rod or two pulls of a bore snake to get the barrel as good as new. That goes for rifles and pistols alike.
Just clean as usual with your new cleaner but before oiling spray your action cleaner we used on you inside of the action down the barrel. Then dry the bore well. This step neutralizes the ammonia. Though we need the ammonia to clean with too much of it will eat away your bore. After the bore is dried with two or three patches run an oil patch down. Finish up with another dry patch. The oil only needs to be in the pores of the metal. Any more just attracts dust and we are right back to a dirty bore.
Finally lets oil the action. Head for the medicine cabinet and grab a couple Q-Tips. Put a drop or two on the head of one and make that go as far as possible. We only want to leave a slight film of oil behind. Now here is where to oil. Ready? If it shines it gets oil. The shinier the area the more
friction is occurring. If it doesn’t shine oil (other than rust prevention, dry that oil back off though) isn’t necessary. Now like everything else we have a few exceptions. You want to let one drop roll down the hammer to the sear engagement. Then work the hammer a few times. @%!! the hammer and release it while controlling the hammer. Don’t let the hammer fly on it’s own. You could end up causing damage. The rails the bolt travels on should be oiled with the Q-tip if it shines or not. After the gun has some age they will shine. If you can get to the trigger group oil any moving parts you can reach with the Q-tip.
These tips coupled with what you already know has you well armed to take care of your guns. Happy shooting.