Flocking ducks are a magical phenomenon. Duck hunters feel a wave of Zen as the shotgun relieves itself of its 12-gauge burden. However, firearm malfunction is the last thing any sportsman wants to encounter at this moment of “Zen”. Firearm malfunction may be avoided through maintenance.
Any machine with moving parts requires maintenance, shotguns are no exception. Waterfowlers fowlers feel a kinship with their shotgun, it’s through this tool that the sportsman is connected with nature and self-sufficiency. “One of my favorite parts about traveling to hunt is cleaning my shotgun in the hotel the night before. I guess it helps me to connect with the gun and, hopefully, to coax a few more hits out of it the following day (Outdoorlife.com).” Guns must be disassembled prior to cleaning. The Sportsman simply needs to break the gun down to “its primary parts.” Shotguns possess a limited amount of moving parts and, for the most part, they’re not complicated to disassemble.
Use an aerosol solvent designed for firearms to clean heavy powder buildup. It’s important not to spray this aerosol onto springs or small moving parts. Focus on cleaning the barrel, gas chamber (if there is one), choke tubes and any areas where there is friction.
Carefully swab the gun’s barrel with a Boresnake. Most suggest using Hoppe’s Boresnake, it can be purchased cheaply and it’s effective. Use a Rifle Brush to clean excess gunk from the barrel. Once this is finished, move onto the choke tubes.
Carefully clean and oil the choke tubes. These tubes don’t require much oil, but just enough to keep the unit from seizing in the threads. Next, locate the action.
Avoid over cleaning the action. Oil and cleaning solutions can cause powder and dust buildup when used in excess, powder and dust buildup may cause malfunction.
Finally, visually inspect the gun, clean where needed, apply a thin coat of oil to the exterior surface (for rust protection) and reassemble the shotgun.
Knowing your gun’s anatomy aids in maintenance. For example, it’s not productive to look for a gas chamber that doesn’t exist. Moreover, maintenance is a form of bonding, getting to know the inner workings of your shotgun. Those who maintain their own shotgun will increase the likelihood of bagging a duck and are better educated about their own shotguns and are generally a safer operator.
Bear in mind, all new shotguns come with a manual that describes their own manufacturer’s direct instruction for maintenance & cleaning- and even for a second-hand shotgun or one where this manual was lost or tossed, this info can be found online as well. This article is just a general and very basic overview.