It's natural to get excited about the prospect of buying a new gun and I find that even after all these years the thought of a new gun can still speed up my heart rate. Feeling that gun go to my shoulder, how it balances in my hand and squeezing off that first shot are all exciting.
The same goes for trying a new shotshell or a new turkey choke. It may well be that the new gun, new choke and new shotshell will be the absolutely perfect combination that we've been seeking. That perfect pattern in which you can't put your thumb without touching a hole made by #6 shot is finally there, time after time.
As strange as it may seem, I still get excited about tearing down one of my guns to do a thorough cleaning. I become very familiar with each gun that way. I can see exactly what part interacts with the other parts to make it function. I can look for points of wear and if I'm thorough, I can get every little piece of grit and gunk out of every nook and cranny. It's a good feeling.
For many years I've used Hoppe's #9 as a cleaning staple for all of my guns. It works well, it's always available and it's very reasonably priced. When I wrote the article “Cleaning a Shotgun Barrel” many years ago, I included the recommendation to use Hoppe's as a cleaning solvent. I found after trying several other products that Hoppe's was the best choice for me. The combination of agitation with a good brush and its chemical action was the perfect recipe for getting a squeaky clean bore.
I was reminded just today by a reader who has become a good friend over the years, of something that I used to discuss quite often but had not really mentioned much, if at all, lately, regarding cleaning shotguns. He ordered a turkey choke for a new gun that he's building and also ordered 3 bore brushes. In his email to me, he said that he was following my advice of regularly replacing bore brushes and only using the highest quality brushes available.
I remember when I stressed the importance of replacing bore brushes when they get worn and the economy of buying only the best brushes because they do a much better job and last so much longer than the inexpensive “box store” variety. I remember writing about seeing a competitive shooter with a very expensive shotgun cleaning it with a worn out brush and probably scratching the bore because it was so smashed and uneven. He was cleaning a $3000.00+ gun with a $1.98 bore brush that had long since seen its better days.
It's funny sometimes how advice can make that full circle and come back to you at unexpected times. It's kind of like the advice we give to our children and then when they are grown they give back to us. I always smile when one of my sons tells me to drive carefully on the way home, or calls to make sure that Doris and I made it home safely. I smiled this morning when my friend reminded me of the advice I'd given him many years ago.
So, this afternoon when I get ready to clean several guns as I prepare for some range time, I'll pull out a couple of new brushes for the 12 gauge and 20 gauge guns. I'll use the old ones to wrap cotton patches around for final cleaning and toss the older ones that have given good service but now need to be permanently retired. They go with all the rest of the metal to the recycling bin.
With those new brushes I will be trying a new solvent, Hoppe's #9 Synthetic Blend. I'll compare the results that I get with it to what I've always seen with the original Hoppe's #9 and I'll let you know what I find.