Bird Dogs Afield host Paul Fuller is the gun dog columnist for Northwoods Sporting Journal. The Journal has granted permission to re-print Paul’s articles. Thank you Northwoods Sporting Journal.

Northwoods Sporting Journal

Gun Care

Ideas for writing this column often come from emails or Facebook friends. For the 12 plus years I’ve been writing the column, content has always been either gun dog training or upland hunting. This month will be a diversion from those two topics. I received an email asking me how and when I clean my shotguns.

I’m not a gun expert. I suspect many of my readers are more knowledgeable. However, I have been cleaning guns since I was nine years old so I have some experience. Since I use several different products, I’ll mention the brand for most of them.

My wife, Susan, and I use our shotguns for two purposes…clay bird shooting and upland hunting. I’ll address both activities.

Let’s begin with clay bird shooting (skeet). In the month of August, we shoot about four rounds of skeet at a local gun club. We don’t shoot in the rain so that’s not an issue. After each round, I break down the guns (Susan shoots an over/under and I shoot a side x side). I run an Otis cleaning patch through each barrel to pick-up the heaviest powder residue. I then run a Hoppes bore snake twice through each barrel. Next I wipe down all metal parts with a silicone cloth. Finally, I insert shotgun snap-caps, pull the trigger and put away the gun.

Next is actual hunting. We have a gun cleaning kit that we prepare for most occasions while in the field. In that kit is a bore snake, Rem Wipes and a small cotton cloth and a silicone cloth. Before we leave for a hunt, I rub Birchwood Casey gunstock wax on the stocks of each gun. This really helps if we hunt in the rain.

After each hunt and after unloading, I look down the barrels to make sure no debris has become lodged. I then wipe down all metal parts with a silicone cloth. Depending upon how many hunts we make in a day, I may go through that process five or six times throughout the day. If we encounter rain, I don’t use the silicone cloth…I use a small cotton rag with gun oil.

At the end of the day, back at camp, I spread a blanket across the eating table and completely disassemble the guns. For side x side and over/under guns, that’s a fairly easy process. Simply remove the fore-end and remove the barrels from the receiver and stock. If the guns were shot during the day or we had rain, or both, I begin with the barrels. As with cleaning after clay bird shooting, I run a patch soaked with bore cleaner through each barrel. I then run the bore snake twice through each barrel.

Next is the exterior. I carefully wipe down all metal parts with either the cotton cloth with oil applied or a with a silicone cloth…your choice. I then put the guns in the corner of the cabin and look forward to the next day of hunting.

I mentioned above that I’ve been cleaning guns since I was nine years old. My father had a hunting friend who used to tell me that it was only the inside of the gun that counted; don’t fuss over the outside. I never bought into that argument. At nine years old, I had never heard of a London best so fancy guns weren’t anything with which I was familiar. However, I appreciated a nice looking gun. At ten or eleven, I took an old .22 rifle my father used for rats and completely refurbished it. Sanded and stained the stock and used an inexpensive bluing agent on the barrel. I was so proud of that gun after finishing the refurbishing. Ever since, I’ve tried to keep my guns looking good both inside and out.

Copyright 2021 Paul Fuller

Paul and his wife Susan are co-hosts of Bird Dogs Afield TV ( Paul can be contacted at