Cleaning 101...


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Dave McCracken
April 5, 2003, 07:05 AM
The HD 870 upstairs was made in 1950. Thousands of rounds lie behind it and except for a few years in California's sunny beachfront climes, it's spent its working life close to the Chesapeake.

It's seen goose pits,duck blinds,boats and canoes. It's been toted through swamps and creek bottoms. I've stood in frigid water up to my shins and watched rain turn into ice on it. It's been employed on ranges in Md Julys and handled by the sweatiest hands on earth.

There's zero rust. The bore's bright and clean. It's been cleaned/lubed/protected by everything including 30 weight, but it's been cleaned,lubed and protected. That's another gift from my folks I didn't recognize as such until it was too late to thank them in person. Lessons learned early last long.

First, the tools...

The ubiquitious three piece aluminum rod is not a bad choice as long as one protects the muzzle from it. The surface oxidizes into the stuff that crocksticks and sandpaper are made of.This can mess up the barrel crown in one swipe.

Better, find an older wood set and use that. The one's from Hoppe's ca WWII use standard tips.

The buckskinner's range rod, an extra long and strong ram rod can be used. These need an adapter to use shotguns jags and brushes.

I like brass and synthetic brushes. The steel ones are a bit hard for my taste,possibly scratching up the bore. An oversized brush for the chamber is a good investment. Many bores are in great shape but the chamber's a nasty mess.

The Boresnake pullthroughs are great for right after use,but deep cleaning or cleaning more than a few hours after requires a rod.

The trick I learned on TFL is a good one for the bore. Using something like a 3/8" wooden dowel, chuck it up in a variable speed drill with 4/0 steel wool for a fast barrel scrub. Keep the revs low.

Solvents include the venerable Hoppe's #9, still one of the best,IMO, and the divers gun scrubber sprays. Some folks use a brake cleaner, but I've not. GI bore cleaner works also.

Cleaning patches and rags can be the commercial stuff, or worn out flannel and T shirts. 100% cotton is my choice.

Lubes and rust fighters that work aren't scarce. The most important part is elbow grease. I use Break Free CLP and SLIP 2000. Remoil and the little oil can in cleaning kits are OK , but even 30 weight will do if that's what's around.

A silicone impregnated cloth is almost a must have. Kept in the gun case in its little ziplock bag, using it to wipe off the exterior after EACH AND EVERY use will keep your shotgun looking good for decades.

Now the techniques....

This is for an 870, adapt as needed.

Dismount the barrel and run a brush wet with solvent down the bore,don't neglect the chamber. If it's a tubed barrel remove the tube and clean separately, cleaning out the threads in the barrel where the tube goes also. Leaving the barrel wet, set it aside and remove the forend assembly by pressing in on the shell latches while moving the assembly forward. Remove the bolt and carrier plate and clean them, relubing after.

Using a commercial tool or a set of needlenose pliers, unscrew the large nut at the front and ease the wood off the action bars and forend tube. Clean all the metal parts and relube using the Karate Kid method, wipe on, wipe off. Reassemble.

Now, use a non marring tool like a chopstick or golf tee to press out the trigger group pins, wipe them off, and drop the TG.This is the critical part of the shotgun, and since Murphy rules, the hardest to clean and maintain due to all the parts in close proximity. Best to spray with a scrubber, shake off the excess, relube with something fairly thin like CLP and let the excess drip off. Wipe off and reinstall AFTER the inside of the receiver housing has been cleaned by wiping and relubing.Do the exterior too, including the magazine tube.

Next, reinstall the TG, action bars and forend. Once the barrel is clean, reinstall the tube if needed and put your clean,lubed and protected 870 back together.Do not forget the mag tube cap. Once the action is closed, place one small drop of lube on each action bar right before the receiver and pump it a coupla times. Now use the silicone cloth or a patch wet with lube and wipe off all the exterior metal surfaces.

You're done. Admire the thing for a minute and put it away, touching only the wood.

Note: Some gun cases simulate sponges. Do not store any firearm in a case for long. The non rust GI sleeves and dissicants like silica gel help but do not guarantee protection.

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riverdog
April 5, 2003, 09:56 AM
I clean the barrel following each range session (100 or so rounds), but the receiver I just wipe down to remove the paw prints. The receiver doesn't seem to need much cleaning other than a quick wipe down inside. How often do you recommend stripping down the forend and trigger group?

sm
April 5, 2003, 10:11 AM
Dave, another excellent write up, thanks !

If I may add:

The best tip is the steel wool , especially for chambers. 0000 works , if one cannnot find ,the finest grit of Scotchguard[tm] pads will substitute.

I have used the Otis pull through system for a lot of years, before the Boresnakes hit the market. Though we are primarily speaking of the 870, the Otis is good for those pumps (J.C. Higgens) where the bbl is fixed. I also keep one afield in the event of a stuck wad or mud should find its way inside a bbl. Murphy's Law will occcur , the ability to clear a bbl and get back to shooting, is better than pulling the trigger and finding out bbl was obstructed. Or if one should fall in, as I did not once but twice on a hunt, it was nice to be able to clear the bore , and get back to shooting. A small bottle of BF CLP /Otis cable and I continued. Less space used than the munchies I took to the blind.

Dave McCracken
April 5, 2003, 01:51 PM
Thanks for the responses, folks.

Riverdog, I clean like you do each session, and do a deep clean like this every 1000 rounds or once yearly.Also, after employment in nasty wet conditions.

'73,I've heard that about Scotchbrite pads for years. No direct experience, though.

I've a cleaning kit in a can, given me by Best Buddy. It's a pull through system with adapters for different brushes and jags. Advertised as suitable for firearms from 22 Short to 12 gauge.

It's kept with the hunting stuff, never needed it but nice to know it's there in case of mishap.

I wrote of the 870, because it's what I know the best. I know 37s are harder to strip like this, and maybe others also.

sm
April 5, 2003, 02:21 PM
Dave,
Your kit in the can sounds like mine. They don't come in can anymore...so I think we dated ourselves:D In fact mine is now in the new soft container( hey its hides my age).

I didn't mean to get OT. Before non-toxic shot, a hunting buddy was getting his JC Higgens out of its case--worn case I might add. Plop! action was open , but he found the mud and but good. Used the kit to clear the bore, sprayed out the action with WD 40 and at least he continued the hunt. One must do what one must do when shooting time is close. afterwards he did have a gunsmith go through it. Due for a thorough going over.

If one is careful with rod the Scotchbrite can be cut and wrapped around a nylon brush. Easier to remove than the steel. Grocery stores , have it. And for married fellows, momma don't suspect its gun stuff. ;)

Sir Galahad
April 5, 2003, 03:22 PM
Excellent post, Dave. To me, a clean weapon is one of life's truths. It HAS to be kept clean.

Guntalk
April 6, 2003, 10:22 AM
For what it's worth, today (April 6), Marten Niner, of M-Pro-7, will be talking about the secrets and techniques of gun cleaning on the radio.

You can call and ask him questions about gun cleaning.

His web site is www.mp7.com

If you don't get Gun Talk locally, you can listen on the net at www.guntalk.com

He is scheduled for 2:00pm CENTRAL time. The show starts at 1:00pm Central and runs three hours, live.

Dave McCracken
April 6, 2003, 02:33 PM
'73, to some newer shooters I must seem like the last dinosaur. But, at that time there were lots of good reasons to keep shotguns clean and to clean them immediately after use.

Corrosive primers and powders dirtier than modern ones meant corrosion could start very quickly. Combined with Md's moist climate, this meant trouble if one was less than obsessed about getting them clean.

Thanks, Galahad.

Tom, thanks for the headsup.

nezumi
December 10, 2007, 03:27 PM
Okay, so I just got my new gun. I'm looking at it and, low and behold, not all the bits are labeled, nor does the book tell me what they all are. So I'm going to need the idiot's guide to what you wrote, and I'm going to apologize in advance for asking what must be the most basic questions you know. I haven't even gotten my barrel off yet, so a lot of this feels like learning about the female reproductive system - a lot of mysterious stuff you can't see, all of which has names you won't remember.

So let me walk through this with baby steps and see what we get...

The rod - can I be cheap and just get one of those long brushes like what you get for cleaning musical instruments or fish aquariums? Can I attach a plastic brush to a coat hanger? Or do I actually need to put down money and pay for something? Can I use a toothbrush for the chamber?

"The trick I learned on TFL is a good one for the bore. Using something like a 3/8" wooden dowel, chuck it up in a variable speed drill with 4/0 steel wool for a fast barrel scrub. Keep the revs low."

So it would be a good idea to buy a long wooden stick, wrap steel wool around the end, stick it on my cordless drill, jam it in my gun and run it until I feel it is sufficiently clean??

"Solvents include..."

How do I recognize a good solvent from a bad one? Just the name? Can I get these at wal mart? Do they have any purpose other than cleaning guns (and apparently brakes)? Its job is to just break down the powder in the barrel, right? Are they in the hardware section generally?

"Lubes and rust fighters that work aren't scarce. "

What's the difference between a good lube and a bad one, a good rust fighter and a bad one? I'm guessing if I go buy some oil for a car and use that, that would be bad (maybe that's what the '30 weight' term you used refers to, viscosity. I don't buy oils normally, so I don't know.) Are these things in the Tools department, or just the Firearms department? Is this like the lube you'd use for a musical instrument? Are lubes and rust fighters the same thing?


"A silicone impregnated cloth ...using it to wipe off the exterior after EACH AND EVERY use will keep your shotgun looking good for decades."

Why would I do that? Is it to brush off dust? Or is the danger finger prints? Should I wipe it off after I dry fire/use snap caps, when I'm moving it from house to house, or just when I'm actually shooting?

"Dismount the barrel"

This is the step I'm on :P Darn thing won't come off.
Should I clean my gun before I use it the first time? I'm guessing since it's a new gun, I don't need to use the solvent but I DO want to use the oil. Is that right?


Okay, now I'm going to just walk myself through and define terms, to make sure I'm following along. You jump in if I got anything wrong. Like I said, my gun doesn't come with labels, nor did the manual explain anything. I looked online for videos of cleaning shotguns, but didn't see anything.

"If it's a tubed barrel remove the tube and clean separately,"
a tubed barrel is a barrel with a choke tube. So if there's a little thinger in your muzzle you can remove by screwing, do that first.

"Leaving the barrel wet, set it aside and remove the forend assembly"
I believe the forend assembly is the front handle you pump forwards and backwards to put the next shell in the chamber. Once you get the barrel off, you should be able to take this off. Correct?

" by pressing in on the shell latches while moving the assembly forward. "
The shell latches are little grabbers inside the magazine. When I pull back these little grabbers inside the magazine and pull the front handle forward, it'll come clear? (By reading ahead, I think it has a bunch of stuff that comes with it, including the action uh bars.) I hope all these pieces don't fall out all over the floor...

"Remove the bolt"
The round part inside the chamber that moves forward when you push the pump forward

" and carrier plate "
I'm not sure what this is. Is it the part that holds the bolt in place?

"and clean them, relubing after."
Right, brush them off with my little brush, gently apply oil.

"Using a commercial tool or a set of needlenose pliers, unscrew the large nut at the front and ease the wood off the action bars and forend tube. "

Action bar is the bit the forend (front handle) slides up and down on? I'm hoping this step will make more sense to me when I'm actually doing it, because at this point I'm not following.

"Now, use a non marring tool like a chopstick or golf tee to press out the trigger group pins,"

So inside the chamber now are little bits connected to the trigger and I want to dump them all out. Presumably I want to take a picture first so I know where to put them back.

"drop the TG."
TG is trigger guard, yes?

"Best to spray with a scrubber, "

You mean solvent?

When I'm done, I sweep up the area of any residue and thoroughly wash my hands and change my clothes to avoid lead dust, right? Anything else? During this whole process, I wear eye protection, as the manual says?

I really am sorry for all the questions. Like I've said elsewhere, I have almost 0 experience with guns (Dave doubled it last week), and less than 0 with cleaning them or anything else mechanical. I just have images of shooting pieces of gun across the room or losing them, or breaking something so I have to pay $200 for someone else to fix it for me.

Dave McCracken
December 10, 2007, 11:26 PM
Rolling up sleeves....

First, did you get an 870? If so, this is straight forward. Haven't taken a Mossberg apart since the 80s, so I'm foggy there.

There's a jillion ways to clean a shotgun, the common ingredient is elbow grease.

A Poorboy method is a piece of string, some rags and a nail. Tie the nail to the string, drop it through the barrel from the hind end. Tie a cleaning patch soaked in Hoppe's 9 to the other end. Stand on the nail end and pull the patch through., Once the barrel is clean, use a oil soaked patch to give rust protection.

Oil, in moderation, is good inside and out. Old toothbrushes work.

Don't buy a dowel yet. I've some here and I'll give you one next time we get together.

My favorite solvent is Hoppe's #9. Available in gun shops and box stores. Others may work also but I've less experience with them.

Lubes I use include the above mentioned SLIP 2000, Breakfree CLP, and Mobil One automotive oil. The last is cheapest.

Any of these lubes can be used on the exterior as well as the interior. The key is a thin layer. Wipe one, wipe off.

Do not use WD40.

The silicone cloth is protection from lots of things, including finger prints. A thin layer of oil wiped on/off also works.

If you have an 870, disassemble by removing the magazine cap and then pulling the barrel forward. Pull the forearm forward as described and the bolt and the carrier plate it rests on will come forward from the receiver. Note how they go together.

Drop out the Trigger group. Disassembly of this is not a good idea nor needed.

Now soak everything in oil and leave it for 30 minutes or so. Wipe it all off, put it back together and take it shooting.

Note:

Getting the whole thing together the first time may cause you to use words your kids shouldn't hear quite yet.

Cleanup after includes removing oily rags and washing up.

HTH.....

nezumi
December 11, 2007, 11:21 AM
Gives me the right idea. I realize I'm asking a ton of questions and probably sweating the small stuff. Realizing it won't be as easy as I initially thought (putting it back together) is a good thing to know in advance.

Yep, a Remington 870, 20 gauge magnum, 18.5" barrel though, but renting from PGC isn't too expensive. The wife liked it so I liked it.

Superreverb
December 11, 2007, 04:53 PM
For routine barrel cleaning, I use one of these:

http://www.gunaccessories.com/Outers/TicoTools.asp

Mine has an extension in the handle, which it great for cleaning a 34" bbl. I've been using the Tico for years. Love it.

As for more "in-depth" barrel cleanings, I only do those with barrels that have choke tubes. I'll pull the tubes every 500-rounds or so and soak them in Hoppes and scrub-scrub-scrub to get the crap out of them (fouling, plastic, etc.). I'll also clean out the threads and lightly relube them with some old turntable grease that I had for Lord-knows-how-long....

Yep - I'm lazy :D

Packman
December 11, 2007, 08:56 PM
I just got a used 870 about 6 weeks ago, and I've put perhaps 500 rounds through it. Problem I'm having is that I can't get the durn choke tube out. It's a modified choke, and I've never taken it out or put it in, and that thing is in there TIGHT. what's the best way to get that tube out? I'd assume I need to soak it in some kind of penetrant and then use a tube wrench on it, but are there any tricks? I've already bent a quarter trying that little trick.

Dave McCracken
December 11, 2007, 08:56 PM
Good choice, but you KNEW I'd say that....

If you're off Friday, come on out. And you should still have my number. Call if there's anything else.

SR, see you Friday, you can clean ALL the guns since you're so hitech.....

Packman, KROIL is your friend. Submerge the muzzle and leave it for a couple days.

Packman
December 11, 2007, 09:01 PM
Excellent, thank you.

Superreverb
December 11, 2007, 09:33 PM
SR, see you Friday, you can clean ALL the guns since you're so hitech.....

Yup - I'm really, really hitech

http://photos.imageevent.com/wiley/stuff/websize/IMG_3115%20copy.jpg


Seriously..... I am :neener:

http://photos.imageevent.com/wiley/stuff/websize/IMG_3114%20copy.jpg

Hope to see you Friday!

Markbo
December 11, 2007, 10:28 PM
The ubiquitious three piece aluminum rod is not a bad choice as long as one protects the muzzle from it. The surface oxidizes into the stuff that crocksticks and sandpaper are made of.This can mess up the barrel crown in one swipe.

1. If you keep all of your equipment clean, lubed and protected oxidation will not be an issue

2. Of the many shotguns I own, not one has what I would term a barrel crown.

FWIW the best anti-rust I have found in the last many years is CorrosionX. In the forever wet climate of Houston, Texas it keeps many guns as well as garage located reloading equipment and tools patina free.

If you enjoyed reading about "Cleaning 101..." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!