It’s time gun-cleaning myths were debunked
WHEN I WAS A kid, I saw part of a murder mystery movie in which a man claimed he shot his friend accidentally while cleaning his gun. I stopped watching it then and there. You see, I like realism in movies and clearly the screenwriter had never cleaned a gun.
If he had, he would have realized that guns are unloaded before cleaning and the only way someone could be killed during gun cleaning would be if they were clubbed to death after providing unwanted advice on what part went where during reassembly.
Every good gun cleaning starts with the best intentions – and several bystanders. We initially decide to wipe down the exterior and action and run a patch through the barrel, knowing full well that’s all that’s really required.
The problem is very few of us can leave well enough alone.
After cleaning the barrel and exterior, we quickly decide that if the exterior of the gun was that dirty, the interior is probably so much worse. It never is.
Then, and I blame boredom, we take our guns down right to the last part
and clean each lovingly. Soon, however, the gun owner wakes from a foggy haze and realizes that this group of scattered parts has to go back together too.
Is putting a gun back together difficult?
No, it is not. But reading the manual is.
In fact, reading a manual is so difficult that we leave them at home in a drawer filled with all the other unread things – which also happen to be manuals.
What follows then is only slightly less complex than solving a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded.
I watched this last week at duck camp when my son, against my strong advisement, decided to take his shotgun right down to the last screw to clean it thoroughly mid-week. He had four experienced hunters around him who owned the same shotgun model for a combined total of 100 years or more and had each professed expertise at disassembling and reassembling the gun.
Yet, despite listening to their other stories for the last few days, my son believed them.
A few things should have provided clues that this was not a good idea. For one thing, not one of them had brought that particular gun to camp.
For another, as they took it apart they said things like, “Oh, so that’s where that part goes” or “I remember when mine used to look like that.” Most tellingly, they referred to their guns in the past tense.
In the end, they each provided entertaining and conflicting accounts of how the shotgun should be reassembled. Arguments broke out. Complex theories were floated. Explanations were suggested as to why the breech block and firing pin should face rearward. There was even a vigorous debate as to whether the barrel was a necessary part.
Three hours later, I finally did something I’m not proud of. I looked it up on YouTube and found several good videos that clearly explained reassembly. Then we got his shotgun back together in less than five minutes.
Interestingly, each of the four hunters said we did it wrong citing the fact that a) the gun worked and b) there were no leftover parts.
Each of them approached later and also asked me to send them the link.
If you ask me, there should have been a clubbing.