How to Clean a Shotgun.

Shotguns are a valuable tool for hunters and sport shooters alike. However, like any tool, they require regular maintenance to function properly. Cleaning your shotgun after use is essential to ensure its longevity and reliability. Proper cleaning also reduces the risk of malfunctions and damage to the firearm. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps of cleaning your shotgun, from gathering the necessary supplies to storing the firearm after cleaning.

Gather the Necessary Supplies

Before cleaning your shotgun, you will need to gather the necessary supplies. You will need a cleaning rod, solvent, bore brush, patch holder, patches, lubricant, and a cleaning mat. The cleaning rod is used to push the bore brush and patches through the barrel. The solvent is used to break down the fouling and debris inside the barrel. The bore brush is used to scrub the inside of the barrel, and the patch holder and patches are used to apply solvent and remove debris. Finally, the lubricant is used to protect the metal parts of the shotgun from rust and corrosion.

Clear the Shotgun

Before cleaning your shotgun, it is important to ensure that it is clear and unloaded. This is essential to prevent any accidents or injuries while handling the firearm. To clear the shotgun, remove the magazine and check the chamber to ensure that there are no shells inside. Next, visually inspect the shotgun to ensure that it is completely unloaded. Finally, point the shotgun in a safe direction and pull the trigger to ensure that there are no shells or cartridges inside.

Disassemble the Shotgun

Once the shotgun is clear and unloaded, it is time to disassemble it for cleaning. The exact steps for disassembly will vary depending on the make and model of your shotgun, so consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions. In general, you will need to remove the forend and barrel from the receiver, and then remove the bolt and trigger assembly. Be sure to keep all of the parts organized and in a safe location.

Clean the Barrel

The barrel is the most important part of the shotgun to clean. Over time, residue from shot shells will build up in the barrel, reducing the effectiveness and accuracy of the shotgun. To clean the barrel, first apply a liberal amount of solvent to the bore brush. Then, insert the bore brush into the barrel and push it through from the breech to the muzzle. Repeat this process several times, ensuring that the entire length of the barrel is covered. After you have finished using the bore brush, attach the patch holder and run several dry patches through the barrel to remove any remaining debris.

For stubborn buildup in the barrel, you may need to use a special solvent designed for that purpose. Some solvents require soaking the barrel for a period of time, so be sure to follow the instructions on the product label.

Clean the Receiver and Other Parts

After cleaning the barrel, it is time to clean the other parts of the shotgun. The receiver, bolt, trigger assembly, and other metal parts should be cleaned with a cloth or brush and solvent. Be sure to remove all debris and buildup from these parts, as they can cause malfunctions and reduce the lifespan of the firearm. You may also want to use a toothbrush or other small brush to clean hard-to-reach areas.

Lubricate the Shotgun

Once all of the parts have been cleaned, it is time to lubricate the shotgun. This is important to protect the metal parts from rust and corrosion. Apply a liberal amount of lubricant to the moving parts of the shotgun, such as the bolt and trigger assembly. Be careful not to apply too much lubricant, as this can attract debris and cause malfunctions.

Reassemble the Shotgun

After cleaning and lubricating the shotgun, it is time to reassemble the shotgun. Follow the steps in reverse order to reattach the bolt and trigger assembly, forend, and barrel to the receiver. Be sure to tighten all screws and connections, but do not over-tighten them as this can cause damage to the firearm.

Inspect the Shotgun

After reassembling the shotgun, take a moment to inspect it and ensure that all parts are properly attached and tightened. This is important to ensure the safety and reliability of the firearm. You may also want to check the action and trigger pull to ensure that they are functioning properly.

Store the Shotgun

Finally, it is important to store your shotgun properly after cleaning. This will help to maintain the firearm’s condition and prevent rust and corrosion. Store your shotgun in a cool, dry place, and consider using a gun safe or other secure storage option to prevent unauthorized access. You may also want to store your shotgun with a dehumidifier or other moisture-absorbing product to prevent rust and corrosion.


Cleaning your shotgun after use is an essential part of firearm maintenance. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your shotgun functions properly and reliably for years to come. Remember to gather the necessary supplies, clear the shotgun, disassemble and clean the shotgun, lubricate the firearm, reassemble the shotgun, inspect the firearm, and store the shotgun properly. By taking the time to properly clean and maintain your shotgun, you can ensure that it remains a valuable tool for hunting and sport shooting for many years to come.

Final Tips and Safety Precautions

Here are a few additional tips and safety precautions to keep in mind when cleaning your shotgun:

  1. Always clean your shotgun in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes or solvents.
  2. Wear eye and ear protection while cleaning your shotgun to protect yourself from any potential hazards.
  3. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly of your shotgun.
  4. Never use steel wool or any other abrasive material to clean your shotgun, as this can scratch the surface of the firearm and cause rust or corrosion.
  5. Do not over-lubricate your shotgun. Too much oil can attract dirt and debris, which can cause malfunctions and damage to the firearm.
  6. If you are not confident in your ability to clean your shotgun, consider taking it to a professional gunsmith for cleaning and maintenance.
  7. Always store your shotgun unloaded, with the action open and any ammunition stored separately.

By following these tips and safety precautions, you can ensure that your shotgun is maintained and cleaned properly, which will prolong its lifespan and make it more reliable and safe to use.


Cleaning your shotgun may seem daunting at first, but it is an essential task that must be performed to ensure the safety and reliability of your firearm. By following the steps outlined in this guide and keeping in mind the safety precautions and tips, you can clean your shotgun like a pro and keep it in top condition for years to come.

Remember to gather your supplies, clear your shotgun, disassemble and clean each part, lubricate the firearm, reassemble the shotgun, inspect your firearm, and store it properly. These steps, when done correctly, will ensure that your shotgun performs reliably and safely for years to come.

If you have any questions or concerns about cleaning your shotgun, be sure to consult the manufacturer’s instructions or seek the advice of a professional gunsmith. With a little bit of practice and the right tools, you can become a skilled shotgun cleaner and enjoy the benefits of a well-maintained firearm.

here are 20 fun facts about shotguns to end the post on a lighter note:

  1. The word “shotgun” comes from the practice of stagecoach guards carrying short, powerful shotguns to defend against robbers.
  2. Shotguns were originally used for hunting birds and small game.
  3. The largest shotgun in the world is the punt gun, which was used to hunt waterfowl and could weigh up to 150 pounds.
  4. The smallest shotgun in the world is the Palm Pistol, which was designed for self-defense and could fit in the palm of your hand.
  5. The shot from a shotgun spreads out as it travels, making it easier to hit a moving target.
  6. The world record for the most clay pigeons shot in one minute with a shotgun is 12, set by George Digweed in 2004.
  7. The shotgun is the most versatile firearm, with the ability to fire a wide range of ammunition types and sizes.
  8. The world’s oldest surviving shotgun is the “Harquebus” dating back to 1548.
  9. The gauge of a shotgun refers to the number of lead balls of that size it would take to weigh one pound.
  10. In the United States, shotguns are often used for sport shooting and hunting, but in many other countries, they are primarily used for military and law enforcement purposes.
  11. The pump-action shotgun was first introduced in 1893 by Winchester.
  12. The first semi-automatic shotgun was introduced in 1902 by John Browning.
  13. The shotgun has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and video games, such as Terminator 2, The Walking Dead, and Call of Duty.
  14. The shotgun is often referred to as the “equalizer” because it is a powerful weapon that requires little skill to use effectively.
  15. The shotgun is the most popular firearm for home defense due to its stopping power and ease of use.
  16. Shotguns have been used to break world records, such as the longest successful clay pigeon shot, which was achieved at a distance of 1,000 yards.
  17. Some shotgun barrels are rifled, which means they have a spiral groove inside that spins the bullet, increasing its accuracy.
  18. A shotgun can be used for a wide range of activities, including hunting, skeet shooting, trap shooting, and sporting clays.
  19. The shotgun is a popular firearm for law enforcement, due to its ability to incapacitate a target with less risk of over-penetration and collateral damage.
  20. Shotguns are an important part of many cultures and traditions, such as hunting and sporting events, and have a rich history and significance in the world of firearms.

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