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Rain. Rust. Ruined.

Tips to Protect Your Firearms from Foul Weather

Foul weather is part of the outdoor experience. Regardless of the forecast, we’ve all been sitting in a deer stand, duck blind or turkey woods and had an unexpected rain cloud mysteriously blow in right over our favorite hunting spot.

Rain rejuvenates the earth and can turn a previously uneventful day into a circus as game emerges from the shadows to enjoy the refreshment.

While this is a perfect time for hunters to be in the woods or on the water, the same can’t be said for the tools of our trade, firearms.

The Antagonist

As is Lex Luther to Superman, if firearms have an ultimate antagonist (aside from anti-gun politicians), moisture would be it.

Moisture maliciously opens the grain of unprotected wood, ravages the fit of wood to metal and deviously erodes even the hardest of blue steel. Left unattended, a $1,000 shotgun or rifle can be degraded in a matter of weeks and require hundreds of dollars of repairs to restore it to its original beauty.

We Can’t Help It

Why would anyone subject their firearms to this torture? Because we’re hunters, and hunters are not afraid of getting a little wet in order to experience the hunt to its fullest.

Since most hunters refuse to get out of the rain, firearms manufacturers have developed a variety of “weatherproof” models. Combining synthetic materials and stainless steel, modern firearms are virtually impervious to moisture as well as changes in temperature.

But what about us, the purists, who love the look and feel of wood and blue steel? Are we left in the shelter of our trucks or camp only to dream about sunnier days?

No, we can protect our guns from the moisture and tread out into the wilderness knowing that one day, we will have a story to tell our grandchildren.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Crud

Gun oils and protectants applied before the hunt will help the firearm shed water before it has a chance to cling and cause damage. Synthetic and naturally derived oils and protectants all work to prevent moisture from penetrating wood and create a barrier to prevent rust on steel.

Some of the most common pre-game conditioners are Rem-Oil, Barricade and Armadillo. All work in different ways to prevent moisture from reaching the goods of the gun.

Remington’s Rem-Oil and Birchwood Casey’s Barricade are petroleum-based treatments designed to displace water and provide a protective film that blocks moisture. It also protects steel from corrosives found in the oils of your fingers.

Blue Wonder’s Armadillo works in a different way. It’s a polymer-based “wax” that is applied to steel and wood then buffed to a shine. The polymer fills in the microscopic pores, creating a near permanent barrier to the elements.

Along the lines of Armadillo is Scent Control Systems’ Extreme Cream. A lubricating/corrosion barrier, it is applied before heading into the elements and works to protect both wood and steel. It’s also great to protect your firearm during long-term storage in your gun safe.

To create a protective barrier, all of these products must be applied prior to venturing afield.

Wet, but Not Washed Up

What do you do if that magic cloud stops directly over your deer stand, and the last time you oiled your rifle was about the time you bought it? Relax and enjoy your hunt, but when you get home, take immediate action.

For rifles and shotguns, it’s best to remove the barreled action from the stock and spray down all of the metal parts with water-displacing oil. Some of the best are Kroil, Barricade, Inhibitor’s V80 and Scent Control Systems’ Weatherlock lubricant. Good, old-fashioned WD-40 works well, too, just try to keep it off of your wood, if possible. Run an oiled patch down the barrel a couple of times and make sure you remove your threaded choke and wipe down the threads inside the bore and on the choke.

The wood’s a little easier: Dry it with a soft cloth and set it aside to completely air dry before reassembling.

If you’re hours from home and didn’t bring any tools to disassemble your firearm, the Weatherlock water-displacing lubricant is perfect for flushing between the stock and metal. This super-light, mineral-oil-based product not only displaces water, it provides a fine barrier to prevent the rusting process from starting until you can get home to do a thorough cleaning.

Dry the wood as quickly as possible to prevent swelling and possibly irreversible damage to the stock’s fit and finish. Travel with the barrel down, if possible to let any moisture trapped between the stock and the steel flow out. If state law requires you to case your wet gun while traveling, do not forget about it when you get home: It only takes a day or two for rust to form. Leave the case open to completely air dry before using it again.

Wrapping it Up

Once the season’s over, it’s important to give your firearms a good scrub down and lubrication before storing. Never store your firearms in a soft case for long periods. These cases absorb moisture from the air and put it in contact with your firearm. It’s best to store them in a safe with adequate moisture/humidity control such as a Golden Rod or desiccant, preferably in the climate-controlled portion of your home. Coating with a long-term protectant such as Extreme Cream, V80 or Barricade adds a second layer of protection.

A semi-annual wipe down, or monthly in the more humid areas, is recommended to maintain the beauty and integrity of your firearms for a lifetime.

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