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Shotgun Maintenance 101

By 2023-05-09BLOG

Syren pro-staffer Kate Ahnstrom runs through tips for shotgun maintenance 101. This is a great how-to for newbies and a refresher for seasoned shotgunners. Take care of your shotgun and hopefully, it will perform well for you when you need it. ~BB

Flat black, polished stainless, Cerakote, synthetic, Turkish walnut, Triwood, Hand-rubbed oil finishes. So many options are available for the finishes and materials used to create your perfect shotgun. Even though there are so many choices in creating them, there are just a few simple things to care for them and extend their lives for years to come.

Personally, I’m always super-extra dedicated to the care and cleanliness of my shotguns – for the first month or two. I admit that my care and maintenance is not the top shelf experience for my guns as I wish it would be but, there are several things that I do that are absolutes in their regular care. Gun care and maintenance doesn’t have to be a pain-staking chore.

Bringing Baby Home

Ahhhh, that new gun smell. Way better than new car to us true aromatherapists. All new owners are over the moon when they bring home their guns. I’ve had several ladies tell me (jokingly, I think), they have spent several nights cuddled up to their new Syrens.

Before you bring baby home, find a location for your new shooting partner to stay safe, preferably in a safe. A proper gun safe is the ideal location, particularly one that is rated for 90 minutes in case of a fire. A rod or dehumidifier for in the safe is a great idea, especially for the humid south.

No gun safe? No worries. You can always padlock a seldom-used closet and alter the interior to accommodate your gun, shells, cleaning kit, vests, etc. Hubby and I converted a small walk-in closet in our butcher shop into our “hunting closet.” It holds a smaller safe, all our hunting clothes, ammo, etc. It works perfectly and is easily locked and secured.

Wherever you decide to keep your shotgun stored, make sure that it is secured, away from extreme heat and cold and try to find the driest place possible.

Initial Care

Gun manufacturers typically ship all new guns either “dry,” which means literally no oil, lubricant, grease, etc.; or, a few will ship “wet,” which means the gun is coated in anti-corrosion protectant but NOT greased and oiled and ready to shoot. This means that your brand new beloved needs to be broken down, lubed and greased and then put back together.

There is also a “break-in” period for your gun. Everything about your gun is tight and stiff and needs to be loosened up to make it easier for you to manipulate while shooting. Simply put a dab of gun oil (NEVER WD-40!) on the moving parts for semi-automatics such as the Syren Waterfowler and the hinges of break-actions such as the Syren Tempio. Work the slide a handful of times on the semi-auto and it will “loosen” up. With the break-action guns, just open/close them repeatedly to help relax that initial stiffness.

[Shotgun Hack: Place the buttstock in the middle of your thigh so you are looking down at the top of the receiver. Push the lever to the right with your right hand and release it as soon as the barrels crack open. Then you can use your left hand to reach farther out on the barrels, making it easier to open.]

Oh! For anyone that has been told you need to first run 100 rounds of some hot, nasty and heavy load through your semi-auto, that’s just wrong. And, unnecessary. Today’s better firearms only need you to lightly grease and oil them and shoot the recommended loads per the manufacturer.

[Syren provides a number of helpful and thorough “how to” videos for cleaning and maintaining your over/under and semi-auto shotguns. It’s recommended that you peruse the playlist on the page and get familiar with these as soon as you bring home your new gun.]

Clay Shooting Care

One would think that the clay course is a pretty safe environment for your shotgun, compared to a hunt field. Unfortunately, complacency runs rampant. I’ve watched a shooter misjudge turning around in his golf cart beside a tree with his gun in the scabbard. I’ve seen someone lay a shotgun across the back seat of a golf cart and drive through a set of concrete stanchions just far enough apart for the cart. Not particularly wide enough for those 32-inch barrels that shifted to one side when he haphazardly hit a bump.

This doesn’t begin to take into account all of the dropped guns that have been leaned against the shooter’s box or cart instead of being left securely positioned in a proper gun stand/scabbard. All of these could have been prevented with just an extra moment to secure the gun or slow down.

[Syren offers a protective gun-slip made of heavy-duty ballistic nylon that comes in handy for transporting your gun between stations on the clays course. If you’ve ever had a dropped gun from a golf cart, you know just how important a protective soft case can be at the range. These protective cases are available in both black and purple and in various sizes to accommodate any of the Syren sporting clays, trap, or field models.]

While enjoying your favorite pastime, take those extra few moments to protect your investment. You both deserve it. And, after each outing, at least run a “fuzzy wuzzy” or a “snake” down the barrel(s) and wipe down all metal with a silicone rag, or an oil based complete gun control product like G96 (per Syren’s suggestion below). If it’s been particularly humid or even raining while you were out, you may want to use a soft, cloth diaper or some other very soft rag to first wipe down the entire gun. Remember to add a few drops of oil to a set of fuzzy snap caps before you put your gun into storage, too.

[Syren recommends using a soft non-abrasive cloth and a complete gun oil treatment product like G96 sprayed on the cloth, NOT directly on to the gun as it is an aerosol product, then use the coated cloth to wipe down the entire gun (barrels, action, wood, everything) before putting your gun away. Wiping your gun down vigorously with this coating helps to remove potentially harmful elements like sweat, sunscreen, oils from your hands, carbon residue, etc. and provides a protective coating of oil to all surfaces of the gun. Syren recommends doing this after every outing to help keep your investment in top condition between more thorough cleanings covered in the “how to” page of the Syren website.]

Field Gun Care

Most of the time, we are walking for several hours (upland or woodland) and shooting a little; however, we are getting into some rugged terrain. This is the exact reason I’m adding a field cocker to the string next year. I’m almost 50 and tired of crawling around bent over in the thick stuff for my birds. A good flusher makes anyone’s hunt better.

Unless you’re in Argentina, or perhaps out in the flyway for waterfowl, your gun isn’t going to get particularly dirty from carbon. It will get scratched, nicked, dinged and worse, unless you take proper precautions. When walking with your gun, use a sling for semi-automatics so you don’t wear your arms out and perhaps lose your grip. For break actions, always keep the barrels to the front – never to the back of you. You have better control of the gun and will be able to tuck it under your arm when wading through thickets to prevent scratching.

After your hunt, be sure to wipe it down. You’ll be surprised how easily mud and muck get splashed on it. I keep dog-grooming wipes in the back door of my truck in case a lucky pup is given an inside seat instead of the dog box. These work great to softly and gently remove any dirt and debris on my gun as well as my pup’s feet! Follow the same rules for aftercare as in clay sports and you’ll enjoy that gun for years to come.

Steel versus Water

Certain things intrigue me. Well, lots of things of intrigue me, but particularly water. We can’t live without it. Depending on the condition of the water, though, it can take us out of this world. Some waters are incredibly therapeutic. Some are even regarded as mystical and for us Catholics, water can even be holy.

For our guns, water is a death sentence. Yes, there are those that brag they’ve used their old pump for a boat paddle or a walking stick to pull themselves up a muddy bank. Please don’t be this person. And, for some reason if you have to be, absolutely take care of your gun afterwards.

Water, even just in the form of humidity, will literally eat your gun. Corrosion, rust specifically, is indeed a cancer for your gun. It is difficult to get out and, in some cases, irreversible. Water can cause pitting on or in the barrel. It can cause rust along the rib and all of those tiny welds. It will lurk in the receiver just to rear its ugly head when you least expect it, but then it’s too late to stop it.

Use a silicone sock. All of the time. For those of us that live in humid areas, it’s a must have item. Wipe your gun down with a silicone rag after every hunt, practice or shoot. Or use Syren’s recommendation in the clays care segment above for an oil based product like G96 complete gun treatment. Be careful where and how you store your gun. Don’t inadvertently create a water trap using plastic or some other material near your gun.

Splintered Subject of Wood

The stock and forearm of your gun may be either synthetic or wood. There are different levels or grades of wood available, and some are truly a work of art. The Syren Julia is crafted with a deluxe grade of Turkish walnut that is finished in a semi-gloss oil. It is stunning. Again, protect your investment – no matter which Syren you have in your safe.

Wood is easy to care for, but for some reason it is often overlooked. Once a year, it’s a good idea to go over all of the wood on your gun with a stock wax or conditioner. This will help protect against cracking, especially from harsh temperatures (like leaving your gun in your car!) and weather. It also adds a water repellant to the finish.

As to stripping the original finish so you can use a linseed or tung oil, that’s above my paygrade. I highly recommend seeking assistance from a professional, such as the phenomenal group of gunsmiths at your disposal at Syren and Caesar Guerini.

[Note the videos below are for Syren guns with a hand-rubbed oil finish such as the Syren Julia, and Syren Tempio models. Not for guns with Triwood enhanced finish such as the Syren Elos models, or Syren L4S Sporting as these have a different type of finish.]

Travel Kit Set up and Home Care Kit

The path of least resistance is the easiest to follow. Makes pretty good sense and so does keeping a basic stash of cleaning and care items for your shotgun and if you have them on hand, you’re far more likely to put them to use. I like to keep a small kit with a silicone rag, high quality gun oil, a cleaning rod and a few Q-tips.

The home care kit has all of those items plus cleaning patches, a nice big bottle of Q-Max 4-in-1, all manner of dentist tools (great to get into those tight spots), gun grease and soft towels and rags to lay my gun on when I have it disassembled.

We all have our favorite sport or hunting style with our Syrens. The common denominator is that we LOVE these guns and want to enjoy them for years to come so take a few moments to clean and properly store them and you’ll enjoy it all that much more!

Questions on your Syren gun maintenance? When in doubt, never forget that the knowledgeable team at Syren USA is just a phone call or email away. Unlike most places you call, an actual human will pick up the phone on the other end and if you have a question for the Syren gunsmiths or customer service team – they will be happy to answer it for you. Have a question or concern? It doesn’t matter how big or small, Syren is always there to help.

Enjoying this post? Read more just like it on our Syren Savvy Blog HERE.

*This article was originally posted in our column on and edited by WON Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird.