Monday, August 17, 2009

Care and Use of Firearms in the Field

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Many of us have guns that rarely leave the safe, and when they do, are only taken to the range for plinking in a pleasant, sheltered environment. But many more of us have guns for hunting and use in the field. These firearms are exposed to the elements and harsh conditions of field use, and this can lead to malfunctions and excess wear and tear on the firearm.

Water and Moisture

Water and moisture are the number one enemies of firearms. Prolonged exposure to high humidity, rain, or even total immersion in water, can quickly cause rust to form. For pistols, full flap holsters can help protect a gun from direct exposure to rain. Rifles and shotguns should be kept cased until you are ready to use them. Silicon-impregnated wipes should be kept with you and used to wipe down the firearm before and after you venture out. They work by coating the firearm’s surfaces with a fine film of silicon that repels water and moisture.

Should a firearm become fully immersed in water, care should be taken to make sure that the barrel is drained of water before firing. Simply tilting the barrel down to allow any water to drain out is usually sufficient. While a few droplets of water in the barrel won’t hurt it, catastrophic malfunction of a rifle can occur if it is fired while there is significant water left in the barrel. If a firearm becomes soaked through, it should always be detail stripped and cleaned as soon as possible afterwards to mitigate any rust or corrosion of delicate internals.

Finally, let your firearm air out overnight. Don’t just slide it into the case at the end of the day; leave it out with the action open so that any moisture that may have accumulated can evaporate. Even the smallest amount of moisture from the ambient humidity can cause rust to form in a firearm overnight.

Dirt And Mud

Dirt and mud are pretty well unavoidable out in the field. While protecting from dirt and mud is important, it is also nearly impossible. Don’t fret small amounts of dirt and mud on your firearm, but do use caution that the muzzle stays clear of obstructions. If you fall while carrying a firearm, or if the firearm is dropped, the bore should be inspected to make sure that there is no obstruction. Don’t wait to clean a gun that has been dropped or otherwise been covered in mud or dirt, field strip it right there and clean it as best you can. You should always carry a field cleaning kit including a rod with brushes and jags with bore patches so that you can quickly clear any obstructions and clean the gun.

Dust and Sand

Dust and sand can make short work of a well-oiled firearm. When in a dry and dusty environment, consideration must be given to the type of lubrication used on a firearm. Well-oiled firearms are great in a clean or moist environment, but oil in a dry environment will attract dust and sand, which will quickly gum up and possibly jam the action of a firearm. There are a number of dry film lubricants on the market (23372) that, when applied properly, leave a dry film on the firearm. This film effectively lubricates the action while not attracting dust and sand.

Muzzle Protection Item arr-128 Shoot-Through Muzzle Cover

One of the easiest ways to seriously damage or destroy your firearm is to have a foreign object in the muzzle. Dust and sand can blow into and down the muzzle increasing wear and tear on the rifling, and it could get into the action as well causing jams and other malfunctions. There are many types of shoot-off muzzle covers (ARR-128) available to protect your rifle and keep dust and grit out of your barrel and action. These covers are also useful for keeping water, dirt, and mud out of the barrel.

Cleaning After Use

So you’ve just gotten back from the field, you’re happy, tired, and your firearms are wet and dirty. They can wait till tomorrow to be cleaned, right? Wrong! It is imperative to completely disassemble and clean any firearm that has been exposed to inclement weather, water, dirt or mud as soon as possible. Don’t just field strip and clean like you normally would, detail strip the firearm and remove any wood furniture to completely clean and dry the entire firearm. When exposed to water and moisture, wooden furniture can become moist and swell up, trapping dirt and moisture between the metal and the wood. This can cause corrosion and rust on the metal, eventually causing considerable damage to the firearm.

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