I paid for this shotgun over a year ago. It was one of many firearms that my recently deceased friend left behind as part of his estate. It was one that I truly admired, too. So, when death finally took my friend after a long illness and he passed, I realized I needed something of his to remind me of our times together.
He had this sweet Spanish-made 26-inch barrel, 20-guage side-by-side, with double triggers and fixed chokes, which wouldn't necessarily be ranked among the top manufacturers of shotguns. But it was my friend's, and that made it special. We hunted for pheasant plenty of times, even quail, and I remember him with that lightweight side-by-side field gun while I carried my heavier SKB. I always admired that gun. Finally, I recently picked it up and it's now among my collection. I look at that gun and, as crazy as it sounds, as I clean it out and wipe it down, I am reminded of him, and I am glad I bought it. And I am glad to have something to remind me of him.
But the gun wasn't fired in a few years and so when I first broke open the action, I thought, "Uh-oh, this thing needs a good cleaning." At first, it was so stiff I thought the gun had been damaged somewhere along line? Even the shell ejectors labored against my effort and it seemed I couldn't even get the action open all the way. Not a good beginning for a great side-by-side that I admired for so long. Realizing all my cleaning kits were in my Tennessee home, I emitted a long sigh and mumbled an expletive under my breath for moving all my hunting gear down there too soon and prepared myself to make a trip to my local gun shop for my fourth cleaning kit. I didn't need another kit that's for sure. But I rationalized that having extra brushes, cleaning solvents and patches isn't a terrible thing either.
So immediately upon entering my local gun shop there they were, the gun cleaning kits, solvents and oils; just what I needed and easy to find. I will say, too, I've used a number of different solvents and cleaning kits over the years. For my purposes, I submit that they're all comparable. But I believe cleaning kits, solvents or kits, like guns, or even cameras, for example, are a personal thing. So, if I tell you that I have used mostly Hoppe's products over others, it's only because it was one of the first kits that I was introduced to over 30 years ago and it's out of habit that I continue to buy that brand. However, I have also used Shooter's Choice Rust Prevent Preservation/Lubricant Gun Treatment and G96 Gun Treatment. And the Otis Wingshooter Cleaning System, RedHead Premium Universal Gun Cleaning Kit or Outers 62-piece Universal Gun Clean Kit are all quality kits and products that will do the same job.
Regardless of the cleaners or kits that you choose, my formula for cleaning a gun is pretty simple. In my case, the first thing I took care of was the break-action on the gun. The recommendation is to never over-oil your gun. That's a good recommendation, too. You don't want to clog the action up with accumulated dust or dirt to only grind away on the metal. But this gun had been sitting for a while. Careful not to over due it and to practice some prudence, I carefully oiled the hinge and injectors and worked them well. Incidentally, I used the G96's Sportsman's Silicone Gun & Reel Cloth. I wiped off the excess oil and slowly worked the hinge and the injectors to my satisfaction. Some would argue an old t-shirt would do the same job, but I'm a purest in some ways, so I use a silicone cloth intended for firearms.
Next I looked down the barrels to see what kind of shape they were in. And, surprisingly, they were in good shape. Not knowing the last time they were cleaned, though, I started with a soft wire brush and ran it up and down each barrel a couple of times. I could definitely see a rise of dust, probably old power, so I felt good I was doing the right thing. I then changed the tips of my cleaning rod to hold a swatch cleaner, loaded it with two swatches and dipped each tip into Hoppe's No. 9 Powder Solvent. After one swipe I could immediately see the dirt lifting off and it felt good to see it removed. I changed the cloths out a couple times until the swatches came out clean and I was satisfied. To add my own personal touch, I then took another pair of swatches and lightly touched them with Hoppe's Lubrication Oil and made a last couple of passes on the tubes. The final step included a complete and detailed rubbing down of the outside of the barrels, action and stock, and Voila! I felt I had brought this baby back to life!
We all know the rewards of hunting and the lessons and values they teach. But taking care of your equipment, especially your firearms, requirements a special respect, too. The rewards are immeasurable.