How to Clean a Pump Shotgun

A pump shotgun on a white background.

The pump-action shotgun is perhaps one of the coolest guns ever. The only exception may be the sawed off, but those aren’t always exactly legal. The pump is one of the guns that I would definitely want to have when it comes time for the zombie apocalypse. It is versatile and extremely effective at relieving zombies of their brains. Of course I would also want a couple of pistols and a bat, but I think I’m getting off subject.

There are other uses for pump shotguns, like hunting birds, which is fun and rewarding. Duck is a tasty critter. But one often overlooked component of shotgun ownership is cleaning it at regular intervals, primarily when it’s been fired. This article attempts to break down shotgun cleaning into 8 steps, which include tips on the most useful tools to use. Gun cleaning is quite simple with the proper tools. In fact, it only takes a few minutes to fully clean your gun. Continue reading and see for yourself.

Steps to Clean a Pump-Action Shotgun

  1. stock screwBreak the pump shotgun down. Do this by twisting off the end-cap at the top of the pump next to the barrel. If the barrel is sticking, move the pump arm down and open the breach. This should release the barrel. The forend (a.k.a. the forearm) does not need to be removed. In the case of this Remington 870 express magnum, it doesn’t even come off. At least not without disassembling the receiver, which is not recommended.
  2. moping barrel with solvent and patchMop the barrel with solvent. Use the ramrod with the cloth wad attached. Dip this cloth tip into the solvent. Let it drip for a few seconds before you put it in the barrel. Push it in the breach end all the way through and out the other side. Then pull it back all the way. Do this 2 to 3 times. Let the solvent work on loosening the fouling for 10-20 minutes before moving onto the next step.
  3. wire brush in barrelLoosen the fouling with the wire brush. Push the wire brush in from the breach end all the way through until it comes out the other side. Then pull it back all the way through. Do this 10 to 12 times, depending on how much fouling is stuck inside the barrel, which will also depend on how much shooting you have done with the shotgun.
  4. clean patch and jagRemove the fouling and solvent with a clean patch and a jag. A jag is a round metal tool that attaches to the ramrod. Each jag is specific to the gauge or caliber of its respective weapon. The jag works best because it fits perfectly into the barrel and removes the solvent and fouling evenly. If you don’t have a jag, use the round hoop attachment that comes with all cleaning kits. Fold a patch in half and feed it through the eye. Make sure to use the right size.
  5. looking down barrellCheck to make sure you got all the fouling. Hold one end of the barrel up to the light and look down it. If the inside looks like a polished mirror, put some gun oil on a patch and run it through to protect it from rust. If there is still a little fouling inside the barrel, repeat the previously outlined process until it is gone. If there is only a small amount of fouling left, sometimes it can be removed with just a dry patch. If this doesn’t work, use the brush and solvent.
  6. brush on shotgun receiverClean the shotgun receiver. Brush the receiver parts with solvent to loosen up the fouling stuck there. Then wipe away the solvent and fouling with a dry cloth, preferably a microfiber cloth so it won’t leave any fuzz. Use the toothbrush-like brush and scrub away at the inside parts of the receiver. Be careful not to scrub so hard that the brush’s bristles break off because then you would have little plastic bits inside your receiver and that’s not good.
  7. wiping down outside of gunReassemble and oil the exterior of the shotgun. Put the shotgun back together by opening the breach and putting the barrel back on. Then twist back on the end cap and close the breach. To finish, apply a thin coat of oil with a microfiber cloth. Make sure not to leave any excess oil on the weapon as this can gum up the works. For long-term storage, put your weapon in a hardshell case. Cloth cases can absorb the protective oil and leave your shotgun vulnerable to rust in extended storage scenarios.

Tips for Cleaning Your Pump-Action Shotgun

  • Never use abrasive material on the blued metal or wood of a gun. The bluing helps reduce rust, and when guns are properly oiled, the chances of rust are almost none.
  • This solvent is strong stuff, so do your gun cleaning in a well-ventilated area. Ventilation is a prerequisite when working with chemicals.
  • Always make sure you are cleaning an UNLOADED weapon. If you are too dumb to know better, maybe you shouldn’t have a gun. Or at least get smart quick, before something bad happens.
  • Storing your gun in a fabric case for long periods of time may cause rust. The fabric will absorb the oil on the gun, leaving it vulnerable to moisture and rust. Try a synthetic foam hardshell case. They are far superior to cloth cases anyway. Plus they are stackable!

Gun Cleaning Products

Bottles of Hoppe's 9Hoppe’s 9 gun oil and gun solvent are some of the best on the market. They have been around for over a hundred years, and it is the stuff my family uses, so it must be good. It is readily available at sporting goods stores. It’s a good product. You can get these things and more if you try the Hoppe’s No. 9 Deluxe Cleaning kit from Amazon.

silver bore snakeA bore snake is a really cool idea that someone came up with a while back. They appear to work well for cleaning out the barrel of shotguns. I haven’t tried one myself, but they do come highly recommended. They are best used on a regular basis, immediately after you finish shooting.

a jag kitThe jag kit plus the regular cleaning kit. Not all cleaning kits come with a jag kit, but they are sold separately for around 13 dollars. The jag is far superior to other methods of removing solvent and loosened fouling. Just make sure to use the proper caliber/gauge. And always keep your tools clean.