There have been quite a few questions from new shooters about gun cleaning, malfunctioning guns, gun disassembly, etc. and some comments that indicate pictures of the process might be helpful. So here is a description of the way I clean my shotguns with some photos. Other methods that accomplish the same end result are fine so don't feel that my suggestions need to be followed to the letter.
This info might also help people who are having problems with their gun not working properly. Everybody must know how to disassemble and clean the main parts of their guns to keep them working properly. Read your manual for the names of specific parts and assembly/disassembly instructions. Gun manuals are also available online at most manufacturer's websites. Remington gun manuals can be downloaded at:
http://www.remington.com/library/downlo ... anuals.asp
I am using a Rem 1100 Competition in this post but the general cleaning methods apply to any shotgun:
New guns should be field stripped and thoroughly cleaned before shooting them for the first time. Two good reasons for this: You will learn how the major parts of the gun work and go together while it is still new and working correctly and you will prevent any problems that may be caused by the protective grease or dirt from packing and shipping. Thereafter, I feel that guns should be thoroughly cleaned every time they are used, especially semi-autos. The process I describe below is what I do each time I shoot the gun. Takes me about 15 minutes. More extensive cleaning should be done at regular intervals. I completely disassemble and clean my guns extra carefully about every 10K rounds.
What you need: Cleaning rod(s) to push cleaning patches and bore brushes through the barrel. Patches, bore brushes, jags etc to apply solvents and scrub plastic, burnt powder residue, lead deposits and other gunk out of the barrel. Hand drill and cleaning rod section for power cleaning barrel (absolutely essential to get plastic wad build up out of barrel and choke tubes). Fine grit ScotchBrite pads or steel wool or copper pot scrubbies to remove built up plastic wad residue from barrel. Bore cleaner or other solvent to remove burnt powder residue, plastic and lead from barrel. Oil and grease to lube gun.
As to specific cleaning and lubricating products use anything you like. Any bore cleaner from any gun store will work fine as a solvent. Any oil or grease from any gun store or auto store will work fine for lubrication. Do what you like but I would strongly recommend that you not use Carb Cleaner, Brake Cleaner or any other dangerous product of that sort. They work fine but they might give you cancer or cause some other health problem. I use MPro7 gun cleaner and MPro7 CLP (cleaner, Lube, Protectant). They are almost odorless and non toxic. And they work fine.
Rem 1100 cleaning procedure
FIELD STRIP THE GUN:
1) Remove the magazine cap and the forearm will pull off toward the front of the gun:
2) Pull bolt back and lock to rear. The barrel will then pull off to the front:
Note the black oily dirt on the magazine tube now that the forearm is off. This dirt is from 100 shells fired that day. I shoot my gun wet (meaning a light film of oil on the piston and magazine tube) with CLP so this black goop wipes off easily with a paper towel. If you shoot the gun dry (perfectly OK) you will need solvent to get the black powder residue off the mag tube and other parts. Powder residue builds up and it is somewhat abrasive which is why I like to clean it off my gun every time I use it. If you leave it on the gun, it becomes much harder to remove and eventually the gun will malfunction and the moving parts will wear prematurely.
3) Pull the operating handle straight out of the bolt. Then remove the O-Ring and piston assembly from the magazine tube. Be careful with the O-Ring so you do not stretch it, break it or nick it. Slide it up front and then roll it over the threads at the end of the mag tube.
4) Remove the action bar and bolt. Put your finger inside the receiver by pushing up on the carrier release and press in the feed latch on the right side of the receiver which will then allow the action bar to slide out to the front. This can be a little tricky so fiddle with it and you will see how to do it.
5) Tap out the 2 pins that hold the trigger assembly. I use a little tool specially made to knock out gun pins but any small wood dowel or plastic tip drift pin or punch will work fine. Be careful with hard steel punches that might mar the appearance of the pins.
6) Pull the trigger assembly out by grabbing the trigger guard and pulling down from the back end.
7) Remove the link that fits into the action spring tube from inside the receiver. You can take this part out with your fingers or needle nose pliers or big tweezers (I use a hemostat).
8] Periodically remove the magazine follower, mag spring and spring retainer from the mag tube (I do this every 4-5th cleaning).
OK, the gun is now ready to be cleaned. Use paper towels or whatever rags you like with solvent and wipe all the black oil, powder residue, burnt on carbon and other goop off as best you can from all parts:
Now we will look at specific parts and complete the cleaning process.
CLEAN RECEIVER, ACTION BARS AND BOLT
The inside of the receiver will be more or less dirty depending on the ammo you use and how many rounds you fired. Wipe out all visible powder residue, unburnt powder flakes, old oil, etc with a rag. Be careful not to get dirt, grit or anything else under the feed latch on the right side of the receiver or under the interceptor latch on the left side of the receiver. The front of the feed latch gets pushed into a groove to release shells from the magazine. Also make sure the interceptor latch operates smoothly over its full travel. I use compressed air and an old tooth brush to get dirt out of the receiver and the 2 latches. If you use compressed air do not blow dirt/grit behind the latches or into the magazine tube.
Some parts of the action bar assembly and bolt will have baked on powder residue that needs more effort to remove. I use a wire brush or Scotchbrite pad (fine grit) and bore cleaner to clean this stubborn dirt. Don't get carried away. It is not necessary to get every trace of burnt powder or heat discoloration off the internal gun parts and you don't want to remove any metal or change any dimensions. Just get the black burnt powder build up off the gun.
CLEAN MAGAZINE TUBE, SPRING AND RETAINER.
The magazine internals should be checked and cleaned periodically. The interval depends on how much you use the gun and how dirty it gets. After a couple of inspections you should get a feel for how often you need to do this maintenance. The gun will not cycle rounds from the magazine properly if the mag follower and spring are binding or sticking on dirt or other gunk inside the tube. Another thing to check for is burrs or other rough spots inside the tube which might restrict the free movement of the follwer or spring. After removing the follower and spring push a clean rag or big patch through the tube with a cleaning rod. If the second patch does not come out clean apply solvent and run it through a few times. Then follow with a clean patch until the tube no longer shows dirt on the patches. Wipe the follower and spring with a patch and solvent to clean them thoroughly. It might be easier to use a tooth brush on the spring to be sure there is no grit held on by old oil. Place the clean follower in the mag tube and make sure it freely slides all the way back and forth through the tube. If it hangs up at all, find out why and fix it. Then install the spring and follower and check for free movement again by pushing the follower in with a dowel rod.
CLEAN THE PISTON, PISTON SEAL AND O-RING
These parts get a lot of press and seem to cause a lot of trouble but they are, in fact, easy to take care of, last a very long time and should never cause any problems. Just keep them clean and don't put the piston on backwards!
First, let me say that the O-Ring is only a gas seal. It is not a moving part and it will last practically forever if you don't mangle it taking the gun apart. The O-Ring just sits in the gas cylinder to prevent gas from leaking out the front of the gas cylinder. When you take the barrel off the receiver, you will see the O-Ring sitting in its groove on the magazine tube. Simply roll the O-Ring off the mag tube being careful not to force it or tear it on the threads at the end of the mag tube. Wipe it off with a rag with solvent to remove the powder residue. Don't get carried away and stretch it or break it. I have never needed to replace an O-Ring even after many thousands of rounds.
The piston parts get quite dirty. Simply slide the piston off the mag tube, noting which way it goes on. Sharp side toward the O-Ring, flat base toward the receiver. My piston is in 2 parts. Don't know about older 1100s. If you have one like mine, pry the outer ring off the inner ring with a screwdriver. Then clean the burnt powder residue off the parts with a wire brush or ScotchBright pad and solvent. Don't get carried away, don't remove any metal or change any dimensions. Just get the built up powder residue off so it is reasonably clean and you can see the metal again. Put the outer ring back on the inner ring, just snap it back on with your fingers. Make sure the outer ring rotates freely on the inner ring. It does not matter where the split in the outer ring is located. Then put the piston back on the mag tube and run it all the way back and forth. Make sure the piston slides freely with no roughness or binding whatsoever.
The piston goes back and forth on the mag tube when the gun is fired. You can imagine that if the mag tube is covered with dirt and goop and the piston is filthy that it will not slide freely. That is one reason why guns jam or fail to cycle properly - dirty guns do not work well. Keep the gun clean and it will operate
perfectly and last a lifetime.
CLEAN THE TRIGGER ASSEMBLY
The trigger assembly must be clean and free from unburned powder flakes or other debris that might get into the inner workings and interfere with the operation of these parts. Do not pull the trigger and let the hammer slam down, you will probably wreck something. Hold the hammer with your fingers, then pull the trigger and slowly lower the hammer. While the hammer is cocked, put the safety on so you don't slam the hammer down by mistake. I blow the trigger assembly off with compressed air or clean it with a tooth brush. If super dirty you should spray everything with solvent and then use compressed air or a brush. When clean, lightly oil the moving parts. Not much oil is necessary, only a drop or two. Excess oil collects dirt. Operate the hammer and all the levers and the carrier to make sure every part is working smoothly and that nothing is bent or binding. The carrier latch often causes trouble. Examine it an learn what it is supposed to look like when operating properly. When you push the carrier latch rearward it should lock in the rear position, then when you push it forward it should snap back into its normal position. A small metal finger holds the latch in its rear position. Sometimes this finger gets bent out of position and then the gun will not cycle correctly. The finger is easily bent back into the proper shape.
CLEAN THE BARREL AND GAS CHAMBER
Cleaning the inside of the barrel seems to be controversial. I say clean it thoroughly every time you use the gun. Some folks go many hundreds of rounds, maybe thousands, between barrel cleanings. It is your gun, you choose. But you must clean the gas chamber on the 1100 regularly or eventually the gun will not cycle properly or at all. I like my gun to go bang when I pull the trigger and cycle reliably so I clean the barrel and the cylinder every time I shoot. Wipe the inside of the gas cylinger with a rag with solvent and let it soak in for 5 minutes or so. Wipe again, let it soak again and wipe again. The cylinder should be pretty clean at that point and not much more dirt should come off on a clean rag. If the gun is super dirty you may have spend more time on the cylinder and you may need a Scotchbrite pad with solvent to get all the built up powder residue off. When the inside of the cylinder is clean the piston should fit inside and go all the way in and out smoothly. If not, keep cleaning as the piston must be able to slide freely into and out of the cylinder.
Next insert a drill bit into the gas ports and push/pull and spin the drill bit with your fingers to remove all the gunk that gets stuck in the ports. Use the biggest drill bit that will fit into the port holes. A pile of gunk builds up in these ports and when the gas cannot flow freely through them, the gun will not cycle properly. My ports are filthy after 100 rounds and a pile of black gunk falls out into the barrel when I clean them.
I clean the barrel after the gas chamber so I also get the gunk that falls out of the ports.
If you decide not to clean your barrel well or regularly consider this story:
I occasionally work on other people's guns. I recently cleaned up a gun that had about 8K shells through it since it was bought new. The owner said the gun was cleaned after each use. The barrel in fact looked perfectly clean and shiny when I held it up to the light and looked through it. To test it I put a patch through the barrel with solvent and let it sit for 5 min. When I looked through the barrel again I saw some dirt rising up. The solvent loosened the dirt. I then ran a bronze brush through the barrel with a cleaning rod a few times. More dirt became visible. The brush was lifting up more dirt. This dirt was in fact plastic wad residue and it was located in an area about 6 inches long just in front of the choke tube. There was also some residue in the forcing cone right in front of the chamber. I soaked the dirt in solvent again and had to use a scotchbright pad on a bronze brush chucked in a drill to get the plastic off. A huge pile of plastic wad strings came out of the barrel and the choke tubes. This job took well over an hour including numerous soakings with solvent to lift the plastic. I had a big handfull of plastic goop when I was done that had built up over months and months. Somehow the plastic gets stuck in the bore but it is almost impossible to see during a light cleaning. The only way I can see this plastic is to soak the bore in solvent that wicks under the layers of plastic and lifts it up. If you let this plastic build up for too long a bore brush on a cleaning rod will not remove it. You must use a drill to get it out. To me it is easier to clean the gun right every time I shoot so I don't have to go through marathon cleaning sessions or have malfunctions with the gun.
Cleaning the barrel is easy. I cut up paper towels in quarters and use one quarter for a patch. Fold the patch in quarters, wet with solvent and push through the barrel several times with a barrel jag. I use a 20ga jag in a 12ga gun. The first patch is wet with 409 - works pretty good and is cheap. This patch comes out filthy jet black. Next patch is wet with MPro7 gun cleaner. This one comes out dirty but not black. Then I use a bronze bore brush on a cleaning rod. Ten in/out strokes. Then another pass with the same MP7 patch using the reverse side. This patch is filthy black again because it removes the dirt loosened by the bore brush. Then a new patch wet with MP7 which should come out pretty clean. Let this soak a few minutes while you do something else. Examine the barrel holding it up to the sky or a strong light. At this point the barrel is usually perfectly clean. Sometimes I see more dirt, usually plastic wad residue near the forcing cone. I then use a bronze brush wrapped with a Scotchbrite pad on a cleaning rod to remove those last wad particles. Sometimes the plastic will not come out manually and I have to chuck the cleaning rod in a drill and use the power removal method which always works. Then reverse the last patch and run it through the barrel again and it will come out pretty dirty but the barrel should be perfectly clean. One more clean patch with Mp7 though the clean barrel to remove any remaining dirt and you are done. If the gun is going to be stored more than a day before use, I then run a bore mop through the barrel with oil on it to protect the barrel from rust.
Note that the barrel is not perfectly, absolutely clean when I am done. If I continued to run clean patches and solvent through it, they would keep coming out with black or gray dirt on them. It is not necessary to get the barrel surgically clean. When cleaned as per my suggestions the barrel will look perfectly clean and bright when held up to the sky or a strong light. There is absolutely no plastic wad residue in my barrel when I am done but there is always a slight residue of gun powder. If you kept cleaning the gun or used an abrasive barrel cleaner or something like Remington Bore Brite you could get it dead clean but that would be a waste of time for routine cleaning. The problem that I see with some guns is that the barrels and internal parts are not reasonably clean and these guns generally malfunction sooner or later.
The final step is to check your choke tube(s), if you have them. Plastic wad residue tends to build up in choke tubes big time. It is also a good idea to remove the choke tubes periodically to make sure that they do not get stuck in the barrel. I remove and clean my chokes every month which is an interval of about 2K shells. I use the drill with the Scotchbright pad on a bore brush to remove the plastic build up. Super fast and easy. Put a light coat of grease on the choke tube and threads and reinstall it. Make sure the threads in the barrel and on the tube are clean when you install the chokes. I clean them with a toothbrush.
CLEAN INSIDE OF FOREARM
Don't overlook the forearm. Black powder residue builds up fast on the inside of the forearm near the gas chamber on the barrel which vents to the outside through groves in the forearm. Clean this goop off with a paper towel wet with bore cleaner. If you leave the burnt powder residue on the wood for a long time it will be difficult or impossible to remove. I suppose the gun could even malfunction eventually if the powder built up thick enough to prevent venting.
The gun is now clean and ready to lubricate put back together.
REASSEMBLE AND LUBRICATE THE GUN
To reassemble simply reverse the disassembly steps listed above; here is a summary with lubrication hints:
1) Wipe receiver interior with oily rag to very lightly coat all surfaces.
2) Install link in receiver.
3) Install trigger assembly and retainer pins.
4) Install mag follower, spring and spring retainer, if necessary
5) Wipe oily rag on mag tube (optional).
6) Wipe action bars with oily rag and install action bar assembly and bolt in receiver.
7) Install operating handle in bolt.
8] Install piston assembly on mag tube. Make sure it is oriented correctly. Thin edge toward O-Ring. Put a drop of oil on the piston and on the mag tube and work back and forth to spread the lube (optional). Install O-ring in groove.
9) Pull bolt back and lock to rear.
10) Install barrel. Gas chamber goes over the mag tube, barrel hood goes inside receiver. When all the way in, the vent rib will almost touch the receiver and the mag cap will thread on.
11) Install forearm. Install Magazine cap. Close bolt. [Don't allow the bolt to slam shut. Hold operating handle and press carrier release and slowly allow bolt to close.]
12) Wipe all metal surfaces with an oily rag.
You are done!
If anybody has any other cleaning tips, ideas or suggestions please post them. If I made any mistakes or left anything important out, please let us know. Thanks.