Shotgun maintenance: How to clean your gun at home

In the latest edition of our series on how to clean your gun at home during lockdown 2, we’re moving onto the receiver and action.

Clean inside receiver

The receiver houses the mechanisms that lock down the barrels to form a strong, serviceable unit, as well as the trigger mechanism and action parts that make the gun operate.

Barrels mate with the receiver by two common methods. The Browning method is also used by several other brands, most notably Miroku and older Winchester and Nikko guns.

This has a large breech block under-lump that hooks into a full width hinge pin through the front of the receiver, upon which the barrels rotate to lock and open. The contact points of the hook and hinge pin must be kept in good condition.

Keep them clean and lightly greased. Locking is performed by the large, flat locking bolt, operated by the top lever, that emerges from the standing breech face. This bolt has a wedge shaped front that engages with a matching full width slot in the breech block, directly below the bottom barrel.

This is another heavy duty item which must be kept clean and lightly lubricated. Ensure the locking wedge in the barrel is kept free of detritus so that the bolt can engage correctly with it. Brush out the groove with an old toothbrush, wipe clean and apply a light coating of grease.

The bolt will, over time and many thousands of rounds, ‘wear in’ to its locking groove. If yours is getting close to this do not wait for the action to become loose! If a gun continues to be used when just a small amount of play is evident, the wear rate will rapidly increase and repair becomes more difficult and more expensive.

Clean debris from locking recess

The tell-tale sign that the locking bolt is showing signs of wear, with any shotgun with top lever opening, is that the top lever, instead of sitting a few degrees to the right (on most guns, but to the left on some true left handers) will now sit almost in-line with the top strap when the gun is closed.

This means the locking bolt is no longer pressing as hard as is desirable into the locking recess and some tightening is required. Done early a gunsmith can often do this easily and inexpensively.

Leave it too long and a new, thicker, locking bolt could be required. This will also need fine fitting and so makes for a more expensive repair – but it’s still a worthwhile job that will put a great many years of life back into your gun.

Useful links – cleaning your gun during lockdown

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