When is the last time you cleaned your deer rifle or shotgun? And what about those other guns in your gun cabinet? If you are like most hunters, and I include myself in this category, far too often we neglect the proper care of our firearms. They are a big investment and should be maintained regularly.
Most outdoorsmen will clean them after use and not touch them until next season, or some come out of the cold and wet woods tired and hungry and promise themselves to clean and oil them “tomorrow.” Sometimes, tomorrow never comes; but the rust and pitting does.
Now what about those other guns that you cleaned last year or that haven’t left the cabinet in a long time? They, too, need to be maintained regardless of use. Before we talk about how to properly clean your firearms and what tools to use, let’s look at what we should have with us every time we leave the house carrying our guns, especially to the woods and water.
Ever foul your gun barrel while hunting? We have all had it happen one time or another, whether it is a barrel full of snow, dirt or even worse — mud. My most memorable time was on a waterfowl hunt on Saratoga Lake in late November when I stepped out of the boat in about one or two feet of water with my unloaded single-shot 10-gauge goose/duck gun, lost my balance and the gun went barrel-first into the water and stuck in mud. There had to be about 12 inches of mud in the gun, and I had nothing to get it out with. However, because it was a big bore, I found out that a cattail, along with several swatches cut from my undershirt, did temporarily clear the barrel.
Now I carry one of Otis Technologies’ Micro Cleaning Kits. It consists of a 30-inch Memory-Flex rod, brass slotted tip, a five-ounce bottle of Otis O85 Ultra Bore Solvent, patches and a bore brush. It’s a $14.99 item that fits in your pocket and works much better than a cattail or stick. And by the way, I did get my limit of ducks, despite being soaking wet.
HOME AND RANGE
When I was first taught how to clean my guns, it was with the traditional rod, wire brushes, cloth swabs dipped in cleaning solvent, using the muzzle-to-breech approach. But a while back, I learned that what this method does is to push the dirt, residue and everything else into the chamber of the receiver. This can quickly create major problems with seating the rounds in the chamber of semi-automatic and lever-action rifles and shotguns. If you are cleaning your gun this way, then also be sure to thoroughly clean the chamber and receiver after cleaning the barrel.
When using a rod, be careful not to rub the bore with it or the tip because this can damage the bore and ultimately affect the accuracy of the gun. To clean the abrasive dirt in the muzzle, use a clean patch with solvent to flush it out. Do not re-use a patch. If you do, the dirt will be deposited in the chamber and neck, and the next time a bullet goes down the barrel, it picks up this dirt and erodes the throat. Therefore, use a clean patch every time to go down the barrel.
Never run the brush in the barrel first because it will damage the firearm. The brush picks up dirt, moisture and/or powder residue that can be pushed back into the chamber and/or receiver. Something I only recently learned was not to dip the brush in the solvent because this, too, will collect dirt. Also, never scrub or go back and forth when brushing. The bristles will bend and actually ruin the brush.
How much solvent/lubricant should you use? Many think the more solvent, the better the cleaning job. However, this will damage the firearm. Use only the amount of solvent that the patch will absorb. If you use too much, the solvent/oil will drip down into the trigger mechanism, and a gummy trigger is a problem.
Once the gun is cleaned internally, then I like to apply a thin coat of oil to the outside of the barrel and to my wooden stocks.
At this year’s SHOT Show, I stopped by the Otis Technology booth to view some of their newer products. That is where I found my new gun cleaning kit, the Elite Cleaning System. If you have a few guns in your cabinet(s), then you should look into this “all-in-one-system.” Up until then, I had quite a few cleaning rods (11) and too many brushes, jigs, etc., but I now have all I need in the 15.25 x 8.75 x 4.50-inch zippered nylon case.
This portable kit was specifically designed to service .17- to .50-caliber firearms; and that includes rifles, pistols, .410- to 12/10-gauge shotguns and all in-line muzzleloaders. The kit has over 40 firearm-specific cleaning components. This includes six Memory-Flex cables of varying length for effective and correct breech-to-muzzle cleaning.
In addition, there are 23 bronze bore brushes for removing the copper deposits and other fouling, obstruction-removal tools for jammed cases and other blockages, specialized precision tools for complete breakdown and fine cleaning of all critical and hard-to-reach areas, optics cleaning gear for care and maintenance of scopes, rangefinders, etc., and a removable tactical cleaning system that’s convenient to carry in the field.
If you own firearms, this is the most reliable and easiest-to-carry gun-cleaning kit. Everything is there that you need. The Otis Elite Cleaning System has a manufacturer’s suggest retail price of $149.99, but you can find them for less (www.otistec.com).