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Protect Your Firearms

When it rains, it pours. It also seeps into the pores of your favorite firearm and can cause serious damage if left unprotected.

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. If this hasn't happened to you, you just haven't hunted long enough.

Protection from moisture does not end with the exterior, waterproof interior parts as well.

The Antagonist

Beautiful walnut grain and lustrous blue steel is no competition to moisture. 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 costly repairs.

We Can't Help It

Why would anyone subject firearms to this torture? Because we're hunters, and hunters are not afraid of getting a little wet or dirty experiencing the hunt to its fullest.

Since most hunters refuse to get out of the rain, firearms manufacturers have developed a variety of weatherproof models. They are virtually impervious to moisture as well as changes in temperature and altitude.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

So, what can we do to protect our non-weatherproof guns and to keep them from becoming history instead of heirlooms? Simple, apply an invisible shield before heading outdoors.

Gun oils and protectants applied before the hunt will help shed water before it has a chance to cling and cause damage to your firearm. Synthetic and naturally-derived oils and protectants all work to prevent moisture from penetrating the surface of the wood and provide 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 withstands moisture as well as corrosives found in finger oils from handling.

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 works to protect both wood and steel. It's also great for 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 you can't remember the last time you oiled your rifle? 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 the wood, if possible. Run an oiled patch down the barrel a couple of times, remove your threaded choke and wipe down the threads inside the bore and on the choke.

Wood care is a little easier: Dry it with a soft cloth and let it air dry before reassembling.

If you're far from home and didn't bring any disassembly tools, 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 rust barrier until you can get home for a thorough cleaning.

One of the most ingenious new products takes firearms care to a new level. Birchwood Casey's CopperTect gun cases are lined with Corrosion Intercept, a special copper that actually reacts with the air to remove the most common catalysts to rust. Slip your wet firearm in the case, put it in your truck, and don't worry about it until you have the chance to do a thorough cleaning. No rush, you have up to 20 years to make the time. I haven't had a chance to test that statement, but from what I've seen of these cases, they are amazing, and truly work for months. I'd highly recommend quickly drying the wood to prevent swelling and damage to the stock's fit and finish.

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 often absorb air moisture 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 dessicant, 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. And to completely eliminate the possibility of corrosion, store each firearm in it's own CopperTect sleeve or case.

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.

— Matt Lindler




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