End of Season Gun Care

By George Hennessy

Never put your gun in its gun safe at season’s end without the proper care and attention it requires and deserves. Naturally you will give it a thorough clean but as it may be stored for up to eight months without use, unless you use it to shoot clay targets, it requires a bit more attention than the usual.

Firstly you should thoroughly clean the inside of the barrels with the chokes in place. Then remove the chokes and thoroughly clean them. Clean and dry the outside and then apply a light coat of Teflon fishing reel lubricant (or other grease) and screw them back in firmly – oil is OK but grease is the best. You should remove and lubricate them monthly throughout the off season - failure to do so could result in your replaceable chokes becoming fixed and requiring the services of a gunsmith to effect the necessary repairs.

Apply a light film of oil to the inside as well as cleaning and oiling the outside of the barrels, including the ejectors etc.

Most importantly you should now remove the action from the stock and thoroughly clean it. This is accomplished by removing the two screws holding the butt plate or recoil pad to the butt, usually Phillips head screws but in some cases just straight slotted head screws. Tip: use a bit of spit or oil on the shaft of the screw driver where it goes through the sorbethane, rubber or whatever of the recoil pad.

You will now have access to the bolt which fixes the stock to the action. This is located inside the butt cavity and generally requires a 12mm or thereabouts socket on a long extension. I use a ¼ inch drive socket for this operation but you may accomplish it with a 3/8 or 1/2 inch drive socket or even a suitable tube spanner, depending on the room in the stock cavity. Others require a big flat bladed screw driver. Sometimes it is necessary to put the stock in the vice, well padded of course to avoid marking the timber, and use a small spanner on the shaft of the screw driver to undo the bolt.

Once this bolt is removed you can separate the action from the stock – if necessary screw the bolt back in slightly and tap it gently. The action will then separate from the stock. Be careful not to drop the action or stock!

Soak the action in a two stroke petrol and oil mix for 24 hours. The petrol will soften the powder residue and other gunk which accumulates in there - I have even found pin feathers there! This residue can build up to such an extent that it will prevent the hammer striking the primer with enough force to ignite the powder – a misfire. Once this happens it will continue – initially intermittently - until the action is properly cleaned.

Rrinse thoroughly to remove all the rubbish then drain it. The final step is to thoroughly lubricate the action – I use WD40, Inox or similar - and replace it in the stock, tightening the bolt firmly.

Reassemble the gun and store it your gunsafe. Check and clean regularly prior to next season.