Shotgunning Tip: Don’t Over Oil

Some oil is good for guns. Too much is bad. I was reminded of this once again at the Iowa high school state trap shoot this past weekend. One of our kid's guns quit working in the middle of his second round of 25 targets. The gun was a fairly new 870 trap gun, and about every third shot the firing pin wouldn't even dent the primer. He finished the event shooting one of my guns.

Meanwhile, we took his gun apart to see if there was anything wrong. Mechanically, the gun was fine, but it was awash in oil. Grit, dust, and powder residue stick to oil and gum up the insides, and that can be enough to make a gun stop shooting, even in 80-degree weather. When it's cold, it's even worse, as some oils will thicken. Often, brand new guns will misfire a time or two because there is still grease on the firing pin.

Over-oiling can damage a wood stock as well. If you soak an action in oil then store the gun standing up, oil runs down into the wood, soaks in, and turns the wood dark and soft. I have only seen one extreme example (on an 870 in a used gun rack at a store) but it's not pretty. The wood turns very dark and swells at the head of the stock.

When I want to clean a pump or semi-auto thoroughly, I make sure to get all the old oil off first. I'll either blast it with Gun Scrubber or wash the parts in hot, soapy water and let them dry. Spray it very lightly with oil, and then wipe some of that off.