Clean your shotgun???

1000 shots before it was cleaned.


Check out a summary of this past seasons informal test BWB did on a shotgun.
Last year I was speaking to a counter guy at a local sporting goods store. We were talking
about waterfowl hunting and what guns we each ran. He decided to enlighten me with his
knowledge of why I need to clean my gun every time I go out. Full break down job top to
bottom. The sales rep for a gun cleaning company must have done a bang up job on this guy
because he was even using pitch phrases for them. At this point I decided to help him get

some prospective on what he was talking about. I let him know the pitch speech he was using I





 You can see the fouling build up on these parts after 1000
shots and then after it was cleaned

had developed years ago for the company he was talking about. I questioned him on how
much he actually shoots in the field? You can't be an expert if you don't do it enough to have
an informed opinion. Most people have learned there cleaning regiment from a mentor they
have hunted or shot with and from that point forward it is gospel. There is a comfort in being
confident in what you've learned and folks don't like to change or be proven wrong. I believe
instead of always taking the word of someone else you should actually test things out for
yourself. You'll be amazed how wrong you may have been. We need to stop learning from
marketing and learn from actual experience in the field.

So here was a test we ran. In 2014 I took a Winchester SX2 manufactured around 2008 and
ran it for a whole season without cleaning it. This gun retailed around $900 dollars and
represents about the middle of the road in quality and function on semi auto shotguns in the
industry. This gun never got a drop of oil in the action nor did I punch the bore all year. The only
maintenance was wiping it off if it got wet and muddy. It hunted from boats in the St.
Lawrence to potholes in North Dakota and everywhere in between. I will admit I did not use this
one for a boat paddle ( which has been done before) so I guess that means I did treat it with
some care. I will report there was not one misfire or issue with it for 1000 shots. Starting the
year with warm temps going through extreme winter cold of minus -20 and ending up in early
spring on snow geese with rain and snow. You could tell it was running a little slower by the
end of the season. That said you pulled the trigger and it still went bang.

So what did we learn from this. One positive                                                  
result was I did not have to waist any time
cleaning or getting nasty chemicals all over.
Another is actually knowing what my firearm                              
will do and not taking someone's word for it.
You can see from the barrel picture it really
doesn't hold much fouling at all. The
chamber area and choke tube treads do get
a good amount of build up. So when gun
cleaning company's focus on cleaning the
bore all the time it really doesn't mean much
when it comes to shotguns. Even the
"dreaded" plastic build up from wads really
wasn't there at all. If your gonna clean it,
concentrate on the gas system, bolt system
and choke tubes. These areas hold a lot of
carbon and can cause issues. I had a Kicks
High Flyer choke tube in and it was locked
up pretty tight when I finally took it out. The chamber area
and bolt were the worst as expected. Although even with
that many rounds it wasn't that bad. The corners and any
90 degree edges was where most carbon built up. I did use
a pick to get into all those little spots getting it back to
factory clean. The bolt slides was pretty grimy and
that's what was slowing the action down. Once that was                                                    
cleaned it started cycling like a champ once again. No ill effects
from the test. These are known to be fast actions for semi's and it's true.

My take on this experiment is I probably could have got some more rounds through it without a cleaning but why chance it for the new season. I probably pushed it pretty close to failure. I hate cleaning as much as the next guy. Why go though the hassle if you don't have to. Today's guns will run pretty dirty as compared to some older models. You know your particular firearm the
best or you should learn what it can do. By all means protect them from rust by oiling if you

don't have a dura or new age coating. Realistically and for my own peace of mind I am
gonna do a full clean after every 2 cases of shells.  That's 500 rounds. My reasoning
is not because I don't feel the gun will run but rather it will take a lot less time to clean it
than letting it build to 1000 shots again. Your number will be different but put some
science behind it instead of just going on what someone else has told you. If you feel
you need to clean every time because you don't want to risk your gun not working
on a hunt that's fine. I know guys who love cleaning them it's like a Zen thing. If that's
you great. If you ever run low on guns to clean let me know I'm sure I've got a few you can
scratch that itch with.

As a final note in saltwater all bets are off. That stuff eats parts up and you               
better do a really good cleaning each time out or you'll learn the hard way.   

Matt Ferland

Director of Business Development