Keeping your gun clean and maintained is an important part of gun ownership. When the weather drops below freezing, there are a few extra steps to gun care.
While it may not be too cold in Denver, it's still pretty chilly up in the mountains. Whether you're going up to shoot for fun or you've been putting off your cleaning from hunting season, it's important that you take care of your gun properly and take a few extra steps to keep it safe from the cold.
Keep it Clean
The number one thing you can do to protect yourself from firearm malfunctions in cold weather is making sure the gun is clean. Extra gunk is made worse by cold weather. Many gun owners don't clean their guns during hunting season unless they really need it. If the temperature is going to drop below freezing, though, it's important to thoroughly clean every gun you use. Otherwise you run the risk of the gunk inside freezing, solidifying, and causing some serious problems.
In warm weather, it's vital that you keep your gun lubricated to protect the moving parts and keep it shooting properly without overheating. However, this can cause a problem when you take a gun into freezing temperatures. Lubricants used to keep moving parts from creating too much friction can freeze in the gun's action, causing the weapon to gum up and stick. Condensation can quickly freeze on the metal surfaces and cause the weapon to lock, creating high stress on the internal structures. It's important if you're hunting in winter to make sure there's nothing that could freeze up inside the gun and cause a malfunction. Be sure you're moderating the temperature of your guns and wipe away condensation before it has the chance to freeze.
Another important part of gun care in winter is making sure your scope stays clear. If it gets misty, you could miss the shot of a lifetime! It doesn't matter how fancy your equipment is; if you have metal that's warmer than the air outside, you're going to get condensation.
Scope covers are a pretty solid option to keep your scope clear. Aluminum covers that are spring-loaded can pop out of your way very quickly and keep your scope clear. Rubber scope covers are also very effective -- make sure they fit snugly but are fairly easy to remove.
You can also carry alcohol swabs with you. They aren't the best solution for cleaning off your scope, but they will get rid of the water and evaporate quickly without freezing. In an emergency, they can also be lit on fire easily.
Snow in the Barrel
If you've ever had snow in the barrel of your gun, you know what a pain it is. Unless you carry a field-cleaning kit, your best option is to prevent snow from ever getting in your gun in the first place. One option some people use is to place a piece of scotch tape over the end of the barrel. It comes off quickly and easily when you're ready to shoot, and it's easy to crumple up and stuff in your pocket when you're done with it. The only problem with this is that scotch tape is notorious for not being sticky enough on... well, anything other than paper.
A great alternative to tape is to use a single finger latex glove! These little gloves have elastic bottoms, meaning they stay put on the barrel of any gun. If you don't think you need to worry about snow getting in your barrel, take a look at what can happen:
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You may think these tips are common sense, but it never hurts to have a reminder! Make sure you know exactly how to protect and clean your gun, so you can avoid missed shots, damaged weapons, and injuries to yourself or others.