I have a nephew and some shooting buddies that rely almost totally on bore snakes for cleaning their shotguns. While a bore snake is a great choice for a quick cleaning or in-between complete cleanings, it should not be a replacement for a thorough brush and mop session.
There are a few main gun-cleaning concepts that demonstrate why the gun snake cannot possibly compare to brushes, patches and mops. Sure, the gun snake might do better than any one of those, but it does not come close to all of them.
Everyone has their own routine. Mine is to:
- Run a solvent-saturated patch on a conventional patch pusher thingy (do those have another name?) through each of the barrels of my over-and-unders.
- I then run the largest barrel brush I can push through ten times in each barrel using the three-part cleaning rod we’ve all become familiar with over the decades.
- Wrap a large dry patch on a mop and run it through a two times in each barrel, reversing the patch for each barrel
- Soak a cleaning brush (looks like a tooth brush made of nylon or wire) in solvent and scrub the chamber and forcing cone .. plastic residue – bleh
- Now, cleaning patches on a mop run through the barrels until the come out pristine white
- Put a good amount of gun oil on a patch and run it through each barrel to put a light anti-corrosive coating inside the gun
- Remember that brush? More solvent and attack the receiver, the whole thing, a lot
- Scrub the firing pin hole area, the floor, the sidewalls
- Clean the hinge pins on the receiver and the pivot points on the barrels – grit here will mean a loose gun sooner than necessary
- Unscrew your chokes if your gun has removable chokes
- Use the brush to losten deposits inside and out on the chokes
- Clean the threads at the end of you barrels with the solvent-laiden brush
- Use a clean patch and wipe up all the dirt you just found that a bore snake will never find
- Now, a clean patch with light oil to everything you just cleaned
- re-install your chokes after applying oil or grease to the threads (I prefer synthetic grease here)
- Put light oil on the hammer rod (long rod that goes from fore-arm and into the stock that re-charges the hammers when you open the action)
- Use oil or grease on the hinge pin and pivot point (I prefer synthetic grease, but oil is just fine. In fact, if you don’t clean your gun after every session, oil will gather less dirt)
- The insides of you gun is now in good condition, now on to the outside
- You can use a lightly oiled cloth or patch to remove fingerprints or other corrosive agents from the metal and wood exterior of your gun. I use Hoppe’s Silicon cleaning cloths on my guns every time someone touches them. Do not let oil or solvent get near the wood, it will turn it into mush over time. Silicone on everything is fine.
- Put the gun into your safe and lock it up
That may seems like a lot of steps, but think about what you paid for your shotty. Caring for it properly will help you maintain its usefulness and value for decades to come.
*Update* – Admitting I was somewhat wrong
Now that I have started shooting almost 1,000 rounds per week out of my over and under, I have started using a bore snake more often. I use them right after each practice or shooting session and do a thorough cleaning once or twice a week.
When I was shooting 100-300 rounds a week, a full cleaning after every session wasn’t a big deal. But shooting this volume of shells to prepare for my first competitions would create an impossible demand on my time.