How Do I Clean My Shotgun Barrels?

Advice on how to clean shotgun barrels after using cartridges with biodegradable and water soluble wad cups.

All types of cartridges leave a residue down the barrels of your shotgun, that’s why it’s important to clean your gun and chokes after each use. However, the level of residue can differ depending on the components within the ammunition. 

The new steel shot game loads or any cartridges featuring modern biodegradable, water soluble wad cups, can deposit a residue that’s different in nature compared with that left by a traditional lead shot and fibre wad cartridge. So as we move away from using lead shot, gun cleaning methods are just one of the ways that shooters will need to adapt.  

The number one priority when using steel shot is the complete protection of the barrel, hence the requirement for the use of a full cup wad. Plus, land owners require wads that are biodegradable and water soluble, enabling them to quickly degrade in the field. Wad cups of this nature can leave more residue in the barrel of your gun. 

After using cartridges with any type of biodegradable and water soluble wad cup, first use a bronze wire brush to remove the excess wad residue whilst dry. Next, spray a mild, water-based household cleaning product such as glass cleaner down the barrels and leave for a few minutes to allow the breakdown of any stubborn residue. Use the bronze wire brush again to remove any remaining streaks, followed by a rag or dry tissue to wipe away the remaining cleaning product. Dry the barrels thoroughly before applying a gun oil.

As with any type of cartridge; barrels and chokes should be cleaned after each use to avoid excess build-up of residue.

It can take a little more time, but it’s worth the extra effort for the level of barrel protection and performance gained over the fibre and plastic wads of the past.


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