Introduction: The Breakdown on Cleaning a Break-Action Shotgun

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If you own a shotgun, or any other firearm, it is important to keep it clean. A dirty firearm could result in injury or even death. In this intructable I will demonstrate how to clean a break-action shotgun.

Warning: Cleaning a firearm can be very dangerous. Before cleaning your break-action shotgun, make sure it is unloaded. This is easy to do with a break-action shotgun because break-action shotguns are loaded one shell at a time at the breech (the back end of the barrel) you simply need to look down the breech to see if there is a shell in there. Once you have made sure your gun is unloaded you are ready to start cleaning. Remember to always keep the muzzle (the front end of the barrel) pointed in a safe direction, either towards the sky or towards the ground.

Step 1: Obtain a Shotgun Cleaning Kit

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The first thing you need to do is obtain a cleaning kit. Kits usually come with all that you need to clean your shotgun, and can be found in your local sporting goods store. I use "Hoppe's Shotgun Cleaning Kit" which I bought from "Academy" for eight dollars. Inside the kit should be a box of patches, a bristle, a cotton mop, a bottle of solvent and a rod. You must also purchase a box of cotton swabs and a cloth rag separately. Cotton swabs and cloth rags can be found in most local grocery stores.

Step 2: Disassemble Shotgun

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Depending upon what break-action shotgun you are using, the disassembly may be different. Because I do not want you to damage your shotgun I must ask that you refer to your owners manual for disassembly. If you are unsure of where your manual is, do not fret. Most manuals for shotguns are on the manufacturers website in PDF form. Simply type the name of the model of your shotgun into Google followed by the word "manual." You should see a link for your manual in the search results. Click on the link and follow the instructions for disassembly. When you are done your gun should look like this.

Step 3: Locate Rod and Bristle

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Find the rod and the bristle included in your shotgun cleaning kit. If you are unsure what these look like, refer to step 1. At the end of your rod there should be an adapter. Screw the bristle clockwise into the adapter until tight.

Step 4: Run Bristle Through Barrel

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Now that you have attached the bristle to the rod, it is time to run the rod through the barrel. This is to clean out any hard residue that may have gotten stuck to the inside of the barrel. Place the muzzle of the barrel towards the ground, and hold the rod in the opposite hand. From the breech, stick the rod inside the barrel. Push the rod through to the end of the barrel. Then pull the rod back up towards you. Continue to push the rod back and forth through the barrel about ten times. If your break-action shotgun has two separate barrels, apply this step to both barrels.

Step 5: Remove Bristle From Rod

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Unscrew the bristle from the adapter at the top of the rod, counterclockwise. Your rod should look like this, with nothing screwed in at the top.

Step 6: Attach Cotton Mop to Rod

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Locate the cotton mop inside your shotgun cleaning kit. You want to attach the cotton mop to the adapter at the end of the rod, like you did in step 3 with the bristle. Screw the cotton mop into the adapter of the rod clockwise until tight.

Step 7: Apply Solvent to Patch

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Locate your bottle of solvent, patches, and cotton swabs. Lay a single patch out on a table. Open the bottle of solvent. Now take a cotton swab and dip it into the bottle of solvent. Then apply solvent to patch. I usually dip the cotton swab into the solvent, then smear the solvent on a corner with the cotton swab. I then apply solvent in each corner of the patch until each corner is coated in solvent. Remember, a little solvent goes a long way. Only use enough solvent to dampen the patch.

Step 8: Place Wet Patch on Top of Barrel

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Now that you have applied the solvent to the patch, it is now time to locate your barrel again. Place muzzle of barrel on the ground with the breech facing the sky. Now take the patch that you have applied the solvent to and rest it on top of the breech. The center of the patch should be covering the top of the barrel.

Step 9: Push Rod Through Barrel

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Holding the barrel, take the rod with the attached cotton mop in the opposite hand. Place the top of the mop on top of the patch. The goal is to push the patch through the barrel with the cotton mop at the end. Push the rod into the patch at the top of the breech, the patch should fold around the cotton mop and into the barrel. It is important to keep the muzzle against the ground. You do not want to push the patch all the way through, just to the end. If the muzzle is against the ground it will prevent you from pushing the patch all the way through. Now that you have pushed the patch to the end, lift the rod and take the patch off. The patch should be dirty. Take a new patch, apply solvent, and repeat this process two or three more times. If your break-action shotgun has two barrels, apply this step to both barrels.

Step 10: Get a Dry Patch

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After you have run through the barrel with wet patches you must dry the barrel. Grab a dry patch.

Step 11: Push Dry Patch Through Barrel

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Like before you will place the patch directly on top of the barrel. Run the rod with the attached cotton mop through again, just like with the wet patches. This time you will only need to run it through once. If your break-action shotgun has two barrels, apply this step to both barrels.

Step 12: Use a Cloth to Wipe Down the Outside of the Barrel, Stock and Forearm.

Picture of Use a Cloth to Wipe Down the Outside of the Barrel, Stock and Forearm.

Take a dry cloth and wipe down the stock and barrel. The goal is to wipe off any grease or fingerprints collected on your shotgun during the cleaning process.

Step 13: Enjoy Your Clean Shotgun

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