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How often should I be cleaning my shotgun?

How often should I be cleaning my shotgun?

It’s a question we get asked frequently this time of year. While there are no hard-and-fast rules for how often you should be cleaning your shotgun, it may be prudent to explore a few causes of buildup and let your shooting habits and preferences be the ultimate guide.

The fact is, every time you shoot your shotgun, unburnt powder, lead, and plastic residue are left in the barrel, chamber, and action. More of this fouling builds up as you shoot. If left unchecked over time, fouling can affect the shotgun’s reliability and cause malfunction. If you’re experiencing cycling issues with your semi-automatic shotgun, fouling could be the source of the problem.

As we mentioned, fouling can build up from several sources during shooting. Lead shot and plastic from wads can build up in the barrel. Powder residue can build up and attract moisture. And, we all know that moisture plus metal equals rust. This is definitely not good and should be avoided at all costs to ensure the integrity and proper action of your shotgun.

Something to consider if you happen to own a Remington 1100 or 11-87 shotgun is the rubber O-rings that are unique to these models (and a few others on the market). As time marches along, these O-rings can deteriorate and go bad, causing a multitude of performance-related issues. So, be sure to check your O-rings before hunting Ring Neck pheasants this year! ㄟ( ・ө・ )ㄏ

All said, how often you clean your shotgun is up to you. The simple facts are dirty semi-automatics will fail-to-fire and fail-to-feed more often than clean ones. A clean and lightly oiled gun is happy gun. So, how often should you clean your shotgun? Perhaps not often enough!

Curtis Butterfield
Lead Gun Repair Technician
The Bullet Stop