Most modern shotguns are easy to disassemble if you follow the directions in the owner’s manual. Once the action is removed, use compressed air—available at most hardware or electronics stores—to blast away any residue. If any buildup remains, use a bristle brush, cotton swabs or dedicated firearms cleaning products such as Swab-its foam swabs to get into all the little crevices.
Baked-on debris may require an aerosol-based product, such as Birchwood Casey’s Gun Scrubber, to blast away the residue. Afterwards, use a brush or swab to clear away any remaining loose particles.
Once the action and all other exposed metal is clean, it’s time to lubricate—but don’t overdo it. Excess oil attracts dirt and other particles that can mire your shotgun’s action, resulting in failures to cock or cycle, or outright misfires. Only a dab or two of gun oil should be applied to the operating rails and the slot that the bolt travels through on semi-autos and pumps. For break-actions, a drop of oil on the pivoting points and a dab of gun grease on the hinge pin are all that’s generally required. In all cases, any excess oil should be blotted up.
Bonus tip: Storage smarts
Before storing your shotgun, ensure it is not cocked to avoid weakening the tension on the springs. Also avoid storing your shotgun in a sealed plastic case that can trap moisture inside, or in a soft case that can absorb moisture. In either situation, you may find surface rust the next time you pull out your shotgun. Locker-style gun safes are best, with the guns stored barrel down so any excess oil runs out rather than accumulating in the action.