A properly cared-for hunting rifle is key to having it work the same every time you take it into the field. Here’s how to treat your hunting rifle right so it lasts for many hunts.

How Often Should I Clean My Gun?

First – let’s tackle this age-old question: “How often should I clean my gun?”

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. Not cleaning your gun for several hundreds of rounds might not cause permanent damage, but you’ll run into reliability issues, and accuracy will suffer. Cleaning your rifle after every trip to the range has downsides too – namely running through cleaning supplies quickly and running the risk of damaging your bore. So, we recommend trying and shooting for a healthy middle, like after 300 or so rounds. Wipe your gun down with an oiled rag after usage to keep it in good shape, and after 300 rounds or when you notice accuracy or reliability issues, you know it’s time for a thorough cleaning.

Tips for Caring For Your Hunting Rifle
Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

To do the job right, you need to gather the right supplies. First and foremost, getting a vise to secure your hunting rifle horizontally is a good idea. Is it absolutely necessary? No, but it’ll make the process a lot easier. A vise attached to a workbench in your home will work fine, or you can consider purchasing one online.

Onto the cleaning supplies you need. To properly care for and clean your hunting rifle, you’ll need:

  • Cleaning rod or snake. You’ll want to add a single-piece cleaning rod to your kit. The screw-together sectional cleaning rods can be cheaper, but they can damage your bore and should be avoided. Single rods are usually polymer coated, meaning they’re softer than the steel of your rifle bore and won’t scratch it. Also, a cleaning rod guide is good to have on hand to ensure you enter your gun’s chamber straight on. If your rod didn’t come with a bore brush, purchase one for your rifle’s caliber out of nylon or bronze.
  • Cleaning patches. If you’re using a cleaning rod, you’ll need cleaning patches as well. They can be made out of any absorbent cloth materials, meaning no paper towels, please. You can purchase them from any sporting goods store or from online retailers. A fine cheaper option is to cut old T-shirts into patches.
  • Solvent. This is for cleaning away the nasty stuff inside your bore. We recommend Hoppe’s #9, but there are plenty of options out there. You can pick solvent up at a sporting goods store or online.
  • Oil. Once your rifle is clean, it’s best to add a little oil. Remember – less is more. Apply only small amounts at a time.
Clean the Bore

The first step in cleaning your hunting rifle is to clean out the bore. While there’s nothing tricky about cleaning this part, you do need to handle it with some care.

If you can, you want to clean your rifle’s bore in the direction that the bullet travels. If it doesn’t allow for straight rear entry, you’ll clean from the direction of the muzzle to the chamber. Whichever option you choose, soak a patch with solvent and run it through the bore.

Make sure the entire length of the barrel is covered with solvent, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before running a bore brush through. This will help loosen the fouling. There’s no need to vigorously scrub away during this step as it can damage the lands and grooves of the bore. Run the brush through and then move on to the next step.

Push another patch wet with solvent through the bore and let your rifle rest for one to three minutes. Then, grab a dry patch and run it through the barrel. Continue to run dry patches through until they come out completely clean and dry. If the patches keep coming out dirty, repeat this process again with more solvent.

Clean the Chamber and Action

While there isn’t too much work to be done on the chamber and action, wiping these areas down with a clean rag is a good idea. If there’s dust and grime in hard-to-reach places, you can use a cotton swab to clean those areas. Just be careful the cotton swab doesn’t leave any wisps behind, as this can cause malfunctions and attract dirt.

Clean Stock and Barrell

When you’re cleaning your hunting rifle, take a clean rag and wipe down the rifle barrel with a very light coat of gun oil to finish everything up. This helps remove any water or fingerprint residue that may have gotten on the rifle during the cleaning process.

Store in a Dry and Safe Place

The last step in caring for your hunting rifle is ensuring it’s stored properly. Rust can be an ever-present enemy to rifles, and proper storage is essential to keeping it at bay. So choose a gun safe that fits your rifle and consider placing some sort of dehydrated within your safe if it’s not humidity and temperature controlled.

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If you’re ready to try Colorado hunting at its best, book a guided hunt with Soap Mesa Outfitters.

Let’s Get Hunting

Keeping your hunting rifle in tip-top working condition isn’t difficult, but doing it right can help make sure you’re enjoying your rifle while on hunts for years to come.

If you’re ready to try Colorado hunting at its best, you’ve come to the right place. Soap Mesa Outfitters offers exceptional elk and mule deer guided hunting trips in the mountains of Southwest Colorado. Above all else, we are dedicated to giving you the experience of a lifetime. Let us show you what you’ve been missing.