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The Importance of Firearms Maintenance in the Wintertime

by Jeremiah Johnson, Ready Nutrition:

Many guys and gals may wonder, “Why do we have to maintain firearms in the wintertime, since we’re not using them as much?” Well, there are different conditions to deal with in the wintertime that may affect your firearms adversely. Many will just wrap them up in plastic after coating them with Cosmoline or some other lubricant-preservative. This does not necessarily protect them from changing conditions during the wintertime that may go unnoticed.

First, I stress that you should clean and inspect your weapons at a minimum of once per week. If it is done less frequently, then you must take several factors into consideration: temperature, change in temperature, humidity, sunlight, and location your firearms are kept/stored. If you happen to have a temperature/climate-controlled gun storage safe or the equivalent, then you can “whittle” your time down for disassembly and inspection of your firearm. For the rest of us (myself included), a regular maintenance program is essential.

Depending on where in your house you store your firearm and how you store it (in a gun safe, or a moisture-controlled case, for example) will dictate the challenges you’ll face. Alternating temperatures cause some problems. If you have a home that (when you’re inside of it) the temperature is kept at 70 degrees F or such, if the temperature drops to say 50 or 60, you may have problems with moisture. The weather (and the relative humidity) will also be a factor.

Metal tends to “sweat” with a change in temperature, that is for condensation to build up, especially when the change is drastic or sudden.

You’ve been outside all day hunting that deer with your Winnie ’94 30-30. You just came into the house, and after kicking off your boots you hung your Winnie ’94 up on the gun rack. Guess what? In about ten to fifteen minutes, even if you were as dry as dust coming through the door…the weapon will have condensation all over it from the sudden change in temperature.

Another scenario is that you must vent out the house a bit: your woodstove has been on “overdrive” and you need to air out the place just a tad. It’s raining outside and humid. When that cold air and moisture wafts inside, guess where it’ll go? Yep, right onto the barrel and mechanism of that trusty rifle you have hanging over the mantelpiece.

Another one is that you have a rack in your bedroom, and you opened the drapes to allow a little sunlight into the room…and it just happened to hit your rifle on the rack. The rifle gains about 20 degrees from the sun, and then when it leaves, the coolness of the room and the weapon’s proximity to the window causes the sweating.

During the wintertime, it isn’t enough just to pack it all up and wait until the springtime. As far as things are with me, the only time I would ever pack one up is if I’m transporting it somewhere and it needs to be encased and protected for a few days to a week. Other than that, I stick to my regular maintenance schedule. First thing you do, is wipe off any excess moisture on the weapon. Then completely disassemble it and carry out an inspection of all your parts. You are looking for any debris and any buildup of ferrous oxide (that’s rust!) from excessive moisture. There shouldn’t be any.

The reason there shouldn’t be is that there will not be…if you carry out a regular program of maintenance. You haven’t fired it; however, you can still run patches through the bore with a light coating of lube on them. Clean off any rust and oil all your parts. It protects from rust or moisture.

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1 comment to The Importance of Firearms Maintenance in the Wintertime

  • Craig Escaped Detroit

    All that hassle, is why I recommend that all new guns purchased, should be all stainless steel & poly to avoid almost all the problems (only the springs or inner parts may need some attention.)

    True, there are older guns and things not available in stainless, but when adding any gun to the team, make it something that even the neglectful grandson will be able to shoot right out of 30 years of neglectful storage.

    And if you ever need to grease up your gun, seal it in a container and bury it for 10 years, you’ll be glad it was stainless.

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