Tom Claycomb conducts a gun cleaning seminar at the Scooters Youth Hunting Camp. (TOM CLAYCOMB photo)
A few quick tips for properly storing your guns over the winter
This time of year many of you will be storing away your gun for the winter. But, before you put your guns away, make sure that they’re properly cleaned or they may be rusted up when you pull them out for the next hunting season.
Let’s start off with a worst case scenario. My nephew, whom I won’t name, left the deer lease, threw his gun in a gun case in back of his truck and drove home in the pouring rain. When he arrived home, he threw the gun case in his closet.
The next year I took his 12-year- old brother deer hunting. When he pulled the rifle out it was rusted — really bad. The gun case wasn’t waterproof. Oops, Uncle Tom. What should I do? We ended up basically (there’s a technical gunsmithing name for it) sandblasting it and then applied a Desert Storm finish and cooked it on. The metal is now preserved but it’s pitted horribly.
The moral to this story is — how many times do we get home from a hard day of hunting in adverse weather and feel like taking a hot bath and crawling into bed? You may be tempted to throw your gun in the corner but at least dry it off and wipe it down with oil before you go to bed and then clean it properly the next day. If we take care of our guns, there’s no reason they won’t last for four to five generations, but as we’ve seen, if improperly taken care for, they won’t make it one generation.
Fifty years ago we’d run a patch with a few drops of oil down the barrel after hunting, run an oiled rag over the outside and call it good. Then 20 years ago they recommended running a rag down the barrel with some Sweets 7, let it set for 15 minutes and then run a brass brush down it to break loose any fouling. Then run a rag down it to clean it up and repeat until the rag came out clean.
Years later I noticed that people had soured on Sweet’s 7. If you don’t remove all of it after cleaning it can hurt your rifling. Speedy Gonzales (a six times bench rest champion shooter and custom gun maker) recommends a concoction of half Sweets 7/half Hoppe’s 9.
Here’s how I clean my guns. First, make sure the gun is unloaded. Years ago we’d pile blankets on the kitchen table and lay our rifle on them to do our cleaning. Trust me on this one. Buy an MTM Gun Maintenance Center to clean your rifles and shotguns on. It will hold your gun stable and make it a million times easier. It has a V to hold your gun, slots to hold your cleaning rod, compartments for brushes, patches etc. Remove the bolt and slide in the bore guide. Then run a patch down the barrel with half Sweet’s 7/half Hoppe’s 9 and let it set for 15 minutes.
Now run a patch to remove any loose fouling. Then run a brush back and forth 4-7 times. Then run another patch. Then run a brush again with some Hoppe’s 9 on it. Then run a few dry patches through it. Then run some patches with Hoppe’s 9 through it until they come out clean. I then run enough patches with Hoppe’s 9 to ensure that I’ve removed all of the Sweet’s 7.
Then rub a patch with a few drops of Hoppe’s 9 over the outside of the gun. After you‘ve cleaned it don’t touch the metal. Your fingers have salt/oils on them. It should now be clean.
But whoa, what about the bolt and breach? Remove the bore guide and clean out the chamber. Put a drop of oil on a rag and wipe down the bolt. The bolt gathers a lot of dust while hunting and you don’t want that grinding into the action.
To clean your scope, rinse the lenses off with lenses cleaner. Use a lenses rag. Toilet paper will scratch the lenses and wear off the protective coatings.
If you properly clean your guns they will function as designed and last for many generations. If you don’t, they won’t even last for your lifetime. Take care of your guns. They’re a valuable investment.