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Official Montana Hunting Safety Course Link to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Hello, hunter! Montana's online hunting course has moved. Click here to go to the latest version of the Today's Hunter in Montana course—the official hunting safety course of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

The following course material is for reference only. Please go to the new course to complete your Montana certification.

Cleaning and Storing Your Firearm

Cleaning Your Firearm

Firearms must be cleaned after every use to keep them in top condition. Every hunter should own a complete cleaning kit.

Work on a cleared table or bench. Always give cleaning your full attention. Never clean a firearm while doing something else.

Follow these basic steps to clean your firearm.

  • Point the muzzle in a safe direction, and make sure the gun is unloaded.
  • Remove all ammunition from the cleaning bench.
  • For the most thorough cleaning, field strip the firearm as directed in the firearm owner’s manual. Then clean each part separately.
  • Follow the instructions in your cleaning kit. If possible, clean the barrel from the breech end, using a bore guide and a cleaning rod holding a bore-brush or patch, wetted with solvent. Pass the brush/patch all the way through the barrel. Repeat several times with fresh patches. You may need a larger brush for the chamber. Use a hand brush to clean the crevices where powder residue accumulates. Follow with a dry patch, and finish with a lightly-oiled patch for the barrel. Use cloth for other parts.


Cleaning Kit

  • A stand to hold the firearm securely in a horizontal position
  • Cleaning rods
  • Assorted rod tips—brushes, mop tips, slotted tips, jag tips
  • Patches appropriate for the caliber or gauge of the firearm
  • Gunsmith screwdrivers
  • Gun oil
  • Solvent
  • Gun grease
  • Dental mirror
  • Toothbrush
  • Bore light
  • Clean cloths
  • Dental picks
  • Pipe cleaners

Use a flexible “pull-through” cleaning cable when cleaning firearms with lever or semi-automatic actions to prevent dirt, grime, or debris from being pushed into the action area.

Use cleaning solvents in a well-ventilated area and only as directed.

If cleaning from the muzzle end, use a muzzle protector so you don’t damage the rifling near the muzzle.

See a detailed diagram (PDF format) showing the supplies and procedures for cleaning both a rifle and a handgun.

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Official hunting safety course for Montana hunters last modified: November 16, 2011
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