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How to Clean Your Shotgun with Swab-its

How to Clean Your Shotgun with Swab-its

When it comes to maintaining firearms, Swab-its’ Bore-tips offer improved barrel cleaning and lubrication while the Gun-tips line offers four distinct sizes and lengths of swabs to ensure cleaning and lubrication of the harder to reach areas that are often neglected. Reusable and easy to clean with soap and water or mineral spirits, Swab-its products are more thorough, quicker and easier to use than traditional methods of firearms cleaning and do not leave the residue or lint left behind by patches, mops and cotton swabs.

Before You Clean Your Shotgun

Visually and physically inspect to insure the firearm is unloaded. No ammunition should be present while cleaning. It is advisable to have your manufacturer’s owner’s manual handy for reference for proper disassembly and maintenance procedures. If you purchased your gun used, many manuals can be downloaded by accessing the manufacturer’s website.

What you need: shotgun rod, solvent, lubricant, Swab-its Bore-tips in correct gauge, Swab-its 9 piece Gun-tips, a rag or paper towels. In this article, we address cleaning the Over-Under Shotgun. To demonstrate, we will clean and lubricate a Beretta Silver Pigeon.

Disassemble the firearm according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Essentially, you should have three pieces: the receiver with the stock, the barrel and the forend. Select the appropriate gauge Bore-tip, they are available in 12 gauge, 20 gauge, 28 gauge and .410, and apply solvent/cleaner. Keep in mind that the Bore-tips are quite absorbent and require less fluid than you may normally use with a mop.

Working from the breech end, push the Bore-tip through the chamber, forcing cone and barrel. Wait for the solvent to soften the fouling. Most solvent manufacturers recommend 10-15 minutes.
Brush the barrel with the appropriately sized brush and then use the Bore-tip to reapply additional solvent. Repeat the process.

Using the same Bore-tip, mop out the fouling by running the swab through the barrel and blotting off on a paper towel or rag. Most of the fouling will have been removed. At this point, thread on a clean, dry Bore-tip and run it through to remove residual solvent and fouling. This will dry the barrel. Take the remaining Bore-tip and apply lubrication, if desired. Remember, this must be removed before the next time you fire your gun.

Bore-tips are washable and reusable. To save hassle, the lubricating swab can be placed in a zip lock and continued to be used for lubrication only in the future, as long as it is not contaminated by solvent. The swabs that were used for application of solvent and removal of fouling are easily cleaned by either dipping them in mineral spirits, blotting and allowing to evaporate dry, or, washing with a degreasing dish soap, such as Dawn. If using dish soap, allow sufficient time for complete drying before reusing. When using a bio-based product, cleaning with dish soap will work best.


The 5” large surface Gun-tip (olive green handle) can be used to clean under the ejector/extruder. Accessing the locking lugs and recesses is most easily achieved with the 3” precision tip Gun-tip (grey handle).


The same swabs are ideal for swabbing the frame and frame recesses. The 3” mini tip Gun-tip (brown handle) can also be used on the frame recesses.
Be sure to clean beneath the forearm bottom metal, using the 5” Gun-tip.


Remember: If you are storing your firearm and coat the barrel with light lubrication, this lubrication MUST be removed prior to shooting your gun.


By Michele Makucevich, Firearms Products Territory Manager of Swab-its. She oversees the Rhode Island CMP and is a long-time youth coach and competitive shooter.

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