The Importance of Firearms Maintenance in the Wintertime
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.
Also, want to save a little money? You don’t have to bankrupt yourself on those stingy little bottles of lube/gun oil…a 3 or 4-ounce bottle…for 7 or 8 dollars. Go buy yourself a quart of 5W/30 Mobil Synthetic oil. We used to use it in the service, and I still use it now. Does the job just as good and (most of the time) better than those cheap, thin, junk oils such as Hoppe’s or Remington’s or the like. A quart will last you a long time, and then you just refill the small bottles that you normally use with it.
Same for patches. Take an old t-shirt, sheet, or pillowcase. Cut out your squares on your own, and also cut yourself some 1’ squares for general purpose weapons cleaning rags. These can be washed and then reused a couple of times. Use a bristle brush of some kind and brush the oil vigorously all over your working parts, and then wipe off any carbon and/or rust you have. Then give it a fresh coat (thin), and reassemble the weapon. Voila! Your weapon is good to go. Make sure that when you reassemble it that you perform a functions check on it, and ensure that it has been reassembled properly without any glitches.
One thing you can also do is to “shroud” your weapons. This is merely covering them as they are on a rack with a sheet of some kind. Try to match the surrounding colors of the room. If you have a white wall, then a white sheet would be a good thing. This keeps dust from settling on the weapon, and any ash/soot from the woodstove, as well. It also keeps your weapons out of sight for when some “snoopy” human comes over to the front door, such as the ever-present, never-reliable neighbors, or some door-to-door sales clown, or some other pest. The less they see the better.
Minimum of once per week per firearm. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as Ben Franklin once said. Protect them within a case for when you’re traveling, and remember to give them a good wiping down and a thorough lube when you reach your destination. Maintain that firearm at all times, and it’ll see you through, whether you’re hunting deer or stopping someone from breaking into your home. Keep that powder dry and stay in that good fight! JJ out!
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.
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