Keep Your Firearms Running And Running Well.
“He’s hard on equipment.” When I was a kid, I’d hear grownups use this phrase to sum up a man’s character. It was a harsh criticism. It implied carelessness, poor judgment, slipshod workmanship, lack of foresight. I’ve often thought of the saying when I see how some people handle firearms.
I’ve known people to put more nicks and scratches in a gun walking across the yard than I will in 10 years of use. A fellow I sometimes hunted with long ago couldn’t pick up a gun and set it down again without adding a scratch.
On the other hand the only way to keep a gun looking new is to not use it. On some of my older hunting rifles the blue on the bolt knob is worn away from hours of dry fire practice. The slides of my old IPSC match pistols show the wear of thousands of draws from the holster.
Such wear doesn’t concern me at all. To me the handsomest firearm is one showing signs of years of careful use. I can see brand new guns at the gunshop.
I learned gun care habits in the era of blued carbon steel and wood. Synthetics and stainless steel are easier to maintain but still need care, especially under harsh conditions such as high humidity and salt air.
Many nicks and scratches occur during transport. Even a $10 soft case bought on sale is better than nothing. I think it is worthwhile investing in a couple of strongly made, well-padded soft cases. Even when traveling by plane, with the rifles in hard cases, I bring along a soft case for each rifle for use in the hunting vehicle.
Gun cases are for traveling, not for storage. Stored in cases, guns can rust from condensation formed by temperature changes. The best way to store guns is in a gun safe. If the humidity is high, especially if you live near the salt air of an ocean, a dehumidifier in the safe is essential.
Gun safe nicks are a pet peeve. I avoid them for the most part by being very careful while storing or removing firearms. Cloth “socks” are available to reduce the chance of nicks, while allowing air through to avoid condensation. Brownells has 6-packs of “Gunnysocks” for around $30. Remember to have a label on each one or you’ll go nuts looking for the gun you want.
Decades ago I started using G96 Gun Treatment (mainly because it was what a local dealer had available) and it has never let me down. When I got a new gun, early on I disassemble it and wipe it down with a soft cloth generously sprayed with G96.
Maybe it’s my imagination but it seems to me after several treatments the chemical bonds with the metal. At least I can say, with one exception, I’ve never had rust appear on any of my guns. The exception was a Browning Safari Grade rifle bought in the 1970s, which turned out to have one of the “salt wood” stocks. I still recall the horror of seeing rust on the underside of barrel and action. Thank goodness I found out before rust appeared above the stock line.
I’m open-minded though, which is fortunate, as many other fine products have come along. Some I’ve used and recommend include Prolix, Break Free CLP, M-Pro 7, Hoppes, and Gunslick. KG Industries has a whole range of gun care products, everything from solvent/degreaser to copper and powder cleaners, dry lubes, specialized trigger lubes, and gun grease. Excellent products and highly recommended.
Seal-1 is another new name with a fine array of cleaning products. The makers proudly claim these were all carefully developed to be non-toxic and environmentally friendly. It might come as a shock to hunter-haters, but those of us who actually spend time in the outdoors do care about protecting it. Green-friendly advantages aside, these products do a fine job. Smell good, too.
When handling a rifle or shotgun handle it by the stock rather than the metal. Fingerprints on metal can turn to rust. Have a soft cloth well impregnated with G96, Sheath, RIG, or any other good rust-inhibiting product. When finished using the gun for the day, wipe down all exterior metal with the cloth before putting the firearm away.
If I have one regret about my gun-care history, it is not acquiring a set of proper gunsmith screwdrivers early on. I figured screwdrivers borrowed from a tractor toolbox were good enough. It embarrasses me to look at the damaged screw heads on some older guns.
I’m a huge fan of screwdriver kits from Brownells. Today I have the complete set and wish I’d bought it before acquiring my first gun. But most shooters only need to maintain a few guns and are well served with a basic, relatively inexpensive set. Brownells has a whole range of well thought out options. The nice thing is you can buy a basic set of bits and a handle, then add more as needed.
For bore cleaning I like Dewey rods, available from Brownells in various sizes and lengths. They are high quality, coated rods with smooth operating swivel handles, with all sorts of brushes and other accessories available. I’m not saying there aren’t others as good but I know of none better.
Along with the rod you need a bore guide to fit the action and ensure the rod is centered in the bore, and doesn’t bend to rub the barrel ahead of the chamber. They are available in various styles and price ranges. I’ve used an inexpensive plastic guide made by MTM. Although your serious benchrest competitor wants something more precise, I’ve found these MTM guides are perfectly satisfactory on my hunting rifles.
For use in the field, say on a hunting trip, or a varmint shoot, I like BoreSnakes. Pulling a BoreSnake through a couple of times every 40 or 50 shots on a varmint shoot helps prevent buildup of carbon and copper fouling, maintains accuracy longer, and makes cleaning at the end of the day faster and easier.
Otis gun cleaning kits are one of the best things to come along in years. These kits are compact, cleverly designed, very well made, and neatly packaged in quality cases, handy to take along on range or hunting trips. There are gun-specific kits (for AR rifles, for example), for pistols, rifles, shotguns, or for all three. The strong, plastic-coated, braided wire pull-throughs can be wiped clean so as not to pull dirt or grit through the bore.
There is such a thing as over cleaning. I know shooters so zealous they probably clean more than they shoot. Personally I never carry a freshly cleaned gun, either for hunting or for defense. Guns in use, after cleaning, get one more careful group fired. It confirms point of impact, fouls the bore, and reassures me I didn’t leave any parts out during reassembly.
I’ll wipe down the exterior every day, but won’t clean the bore until it comes time to put the firearm away. Obviously there are exceptions. A shotgun shot a lot in a day, especially a semi-auto, needs cleaning to ensure proper function. A gun well soaked due to rain, or because the shooter fell into a lake, needs to be thoroughly cleaned.
Any firearm used with ammunition with corrosive primers needs to be cleaned with water, water-based solvent or good old Hoppe’s No. 9 very promptly, certainly the same day. I’d thought the day of corrosive priming was long past but in recent years lots of surplus rifle ammunition with corrosive primers has been imported. Often this is excellent ammunition and I don’t hesitate to use it. No harm will result provided the rifle is cleaned properly and promptly.
By Dave Anderson
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Birchwood Laboratories, Inc.
(Sheath, Gun Scrubber, Bore Scrubber)
7900 Fuller Rd.
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
13386 International Pkwy.
Jacksonville, FL 32218
200 S. Front St., Montezuma, IA 50171
Bushnell Outdoor Products
Overland Park, KS 66214
M-Pro 7 Weapon Care Products
225 W. Deer Valley Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85027
KG Industries, LLC
P.O. Box 1098
Taylor, TX 76574
G96 Products, Inc.
85 5th Ave., Blg. 6, Paterson, NJ 07524
6987 Laura St.
P.O. Box 582
Lyons Falls, NY 13368
1 ATK Way, Anoka, MN 55303
P.O. Box 1466
West Jordan, UT 84084
SEAL 1, LLC
1033 B Ave., Ste. 101-187
Coronado, CA 92118
FrogLube Weapon Care Products
P.O. Box 60581
San Diego, CA 92107