Shooting and cleaning go hand-in-hand
There’s little Chisholm Trail Outfitters owner Craig Dodd hasn’t seen when it comes to guns that are in poor condition. However, a farmer recently brought in a rifle he carries in his truck, and it’s proved to be a real head-shaker.
“That is the grimiest, worst gun,” Dodd said. “I have never seen one this dirty. It’s like felt with oil and grease. I’m surprised it even shoots.”
Dodd carries guns in his truck, too, and he knows how easily they can get fouled.
“Go out there and look at the dashboard of my truck,” he said. “It’s filthy. My wife won’t even get in it because it’s dirty. I have three or four guns in there all the time. I take them out and clean them about once a month.”
It doesn’t take much work to keep guns in top condition through regular cleaning, but gun owners often fail to get into a set routine.
“When you go out hunting you’re all excited,” Dodd said. “Shooting is the easy part. When you get home, you’re tired. What’s the last thing you want to do? Clean your gun. I learned a long time ago that when I go home at night, I feed my horses first, because then it’s done. When I get home from shooting, I clean my gun first and then I don’t have to worry about it.”
About a month before various hunting seasons begin, Dodd said he gets a rush of customers coming in to buy ammo.
“They haven’t bought shells since a year ago, so I know that that gun probably hasn’t been out for a year,” he said. “Have they cleaned it? Nine times out of 10 if I ask them, they cleaned it last year when they put it away, or they didn’t clean it at all.”
Guns that are infrequently used or stored as collector’s items should still be cleaned every one to two months, Dodd said.
“One of the worst things to happen is that people throw their gun in a safe, throw in the closet, they pick it up and they go shoot three or four times, then they put it back in the closet and it starts to rust, it starts to get grimy, the ejectors won’t function,” he said. “A lot of the guns I sell today have to be oiled. If you don’t oil those when you’re using them and clean them when you’re finished, they hang up. That oil absorbs dirt, grease, grime, and pretty soon it won’t function anymore.”
Dirty rifle barrels will affect the accuracy of the gun.
“In your rifles, they’re grooved to make that bullet spin,” Dodd said. “If those riflings start getting rusted and pitted, then your bullets won’t shoot straight.”
While using time-tested rods and patches is always an option, Dodd uses and recommends a cleaning “snake,” a tool developed about 10 years ago.
“A lot of people don’t even know about them,” he said. “It’s a lot easier because it does everything in one pull. When I sell a rifle or a shotgun, I educate people on these. They’ll last forever.”
A weighted string attached to a length of woven cloth and wire accomplish the task. With cleaning fluid and oil applied in the right places, the weighted string is placed into the bolt end of the muzzle, and the snake is pulled through.
“You’ve cleaned it, you’ve oiled it, and you’ve wiped it clean,” Dodd said. “I don’t clean a gun unless I use one of these.”
Dodd emphasized that the first step in cleaning is to make sure a gun is not loaded.
“I get people who come in here and hand me a gun to clean it and there’s a shell in it,” he said. “You never clean it if it’s something you haven’t checked.”
Cleaning should be done in a well-ventilated area, as cleaning fluid vapors are toxic, Dodd said. It should also be an area isolated from other people, particularly children, to avoid any unintended handling or mishaps.
“A gun by itself doesn’t kill people, but people who are foolish and make mistakes kill people,” he said.
Dodd cautioned against using too much oil, and recommended following up any oiling by wiping with a clean swab to leave just a thin layer of oil.
“A gun is not cheap anymore,” he said. “A gun is a valuable tool that’s going to appreciate if you keep it in good condition.”
Last modified Oct. 5, 2017