Ask the expert: Keeping clean

I have heard from several friends that Vaseline is good for cleaning your shotgun, and that it can even be better than using some gun cleaning products on the market. Is this true? Or is it better as a temporary solution if I happen to run out of my regular cleaning kit?

Colin Gatoshy, in Stockport


 I have been using WD40 as a barrel and choke cleaner for about 6 months now and find it great for removing all the plastic wad streaks, lead etc. I was at my local shooting ground today and was told by the gunsmith to stop using it as he has had trouble with it affecting the solder that holds the top rib onto the barrel and in some cases them coming off. The question is, do you think WD40 can have this effect and could I have weakened the solder? I would like to keep using it if possible as I think it’s great and I can get hold of it for nothing through a friend.

Mark, via email


Hi Colin and Mark,

I hope you will forgive me for answering your two questions together, but both of you are enquiring about using non-gun related products for cleaning your gun.

I would like to start with Colin and Vaseline: This is, I have to say, a new one to me. I have heard of shooters using Vaseline for lubricating their guns and the gun trade has used it in the past, mixed with turpentine to form a runny paste, as a waterproofing and rust preventative agent in the inside of sidelock actions. The problem I have with Vaseline is it has a very low melting point and often turns to liquid on hot days and can run into the head of a stock, like oil, and soften the wood causing discolouration and possible weakening the area. As a petroleum-based substance it might indeed have some effect on the plastic and lead left in a barrel after firing but I would still recommend using the correct solvents for the job, such as 009 or Phillips Gun Barrel cleaner. However, I will take some time over the next few months to evaluate Vaseline as a cleaner and report back.


Mark, with reference to using WD40 as a barrel and choke cleaner, once again I would tend to use the proper cleaners for the job as already stated but, I will let you into a secret: I have been using WD40 for years to dispel water on actions and barrels. Whether my gun has been out in the rain or the barrels and action have just come out of the blacking process, WD40 is excellent for removing water and as a rust inhibitor. I was also told by a client that it can damage the solder on a barrel, so I took a piece of the solder we use and put it in a jar of WD40 for a year. There was absolutely no change to the surface or mass of the solder in the jar. I have found no evidence that WD40 affects the finish or the construction of barrels, although I also do not feel it is ideal for cleaning barrels.

Tim Greenwood


For more information and tips on cleaning read the next edition of Clay Shooting

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3 comments on “Ask the expert: Keeping clean
  1. Thomas Attree says:

    I have found that vaseline is great for keeping chokes lubricated. Deposits that find their way around the choke seal and get caught in the baseline which can be easily wiped off when cleaning. Have never used it on the action though.

  2. Roger Miller says:

    lets put it this way any oil is better than none!

  3. Liam Bowers says:

    I think the myth with WD40 and solder comes from the fact WD40 isn’t great on Printed circuit boards and can break them down and cause issues. This may be a source of the confusion/myth that it breaks down solder where it actually breaks down the board things are soldered to.

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