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Properly Cleaning Your Firearm After a Hunt: Save Yourself Heartache
I learned the importance of keeping my firearm clean early in my hunting experiences. I owned a 12-gauge shotgun that wouldn’t work well when it had a little dirt and burnt powder built up.
I can’t remember how many ducks I tried to pull the trigger on, only to realize my shotgun hadn’t cycled the last shell.
As frustrating as this lesson was, I now clean my firearm after each hunt or at least every few hunts depending on if I’m big game or waterfowl hunting.
This doesn’t take very long and keeps my guns performing as they should instead of making me cry and scream in frustration.
How to Clean Your Firearm After a Hunt
Cleaning your gun after a hunt doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal and can be pretty enjoyable.
Disassembling and reassembling guns is the adult version of being a kid building Legos and puzzles.
Most of the time, your gun won’t require much cleaning, so this process should only take 5-10 minutes.
Gun safety still applies here, so make sure your gun is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction.
Disassemble your gun.
For a quick cleaning, I only remove the bolt. This gives me access to the chamber where most dirt and spent powder get trapped.
If you’re uncomfortable doing this, YouTube videos show you how to take apart your firearm. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a Remington 270 Win hunting rifle or a Beretta 12-gauge shotgun; you’ll be able to see how to disassemble them.
Cleaning Your Firearm at the End of the Season
Now that you can clean your gun quickly in-between hunts, you should learn how to deep clean it to prevent unnecessary wear.
A single season of hunting can take a toll on your gun. I’ve been surprised by how much debris built up in my firearm's little nooks and crannies after hunting with it for a single season.
You should be prepared to set aside at least an hour to properly clean your gun, so you can put it in the safe ready to hunt on opening day. Hopefully, you’re sighting it in and practicing between now and then, though!
Ensure the gun is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction.
Disassemble your gun.
This disassembly will be more in-depth. I will remove everything I did when I cleaned it after each hunt, plus I’ll remove the trigger assembly to make it easier to clean.
I do not disassemble the bolt or trigger assembly because these parts are much more challenging to assemble and can be cleaned relatively easily once they’re out of the gun.
When I know I’m going to store my gun for a while, I try to make it look like I just took it out of the box.
My guns rarely look new because I hunt hard with them, but they look as new as possible after deep-cleaning them.
Grass, dirt, and rust get into places you would never expect, so once you’ve cleaned your gun thoroughly, do another lookover to ensure you didn’t miss anything.
Assemble your firearm.
I recommend recording yourself, so you can go back and watch exactly what you did when it’s time to assemble your gun.
When cleaning my gun in-between hunts, I use a CLP, Cleaning, Lubricant, and Preservative.
The problem is that if you don’t wipe it down well after you’ve cleaned it, the leftover oil will just collect dirt and debris, so you’ll have to clean it again shortly.
I have found you have to be careful which fabric you’re using when wiping down your firearm. Some old rags leave behind fabric pieces, so I have to go back and reclean my gun. One of my favorite rags to use is an old T-shirt.
I clean the gun barrel (inside and out), chamber, trigger assembly, and bolt carrier.
If I’m having trouble getting the debris out of the tiny crevices, I’ll pick up a plastic pick (it looks similar to what a dentist would use on your teeth) to clean those tough-to-reach places.
Assemble your gun.
Once you’ve cleaned all the dirt and debris out of the most important places, it’s time to put your gun back together.
You can watch the video you made of yourself, just do the steps in reverse, or you can watch a YouTube video to help you out.
Test your gun.
I recommend testing your gun to make sure you assembled it correctly. I would hate for you to get to the field and pull the trigger only to have nothing happen.
You only need to fire one round to ensure it’s working. Do NOT dry fire it; dry firing can cause damage to the gun, making it unsafe to shoot in the future and creating a massive gunsmithing bill.
Test your gun and safely store it.
I’ve made the mistake of not properly cleaning my gun after hunting with it for a season. Learn from my mistakes and take a few minutes to clean your weapon after each hunt, so you don’t end up heartbroken because you missed your opportunity to harvest an animal of a lifetime.
Author: Samuel Jacobs
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