Rifle and Scope Care Made Easy

Ron Spomer |

That keeps you on target every time.

If you can’t afford such a “super rifle” just yet, consider these options for up armoring the rifle you do own, even if it’s a standard walnut-and-blued classic.

  1. m70_stock_channelSeal that stock. Remove the bedding screws, pull the barreled action off the wood stock and seal the interior wood with the best waterproof sealant you can find. We’re talking linseed oil, varnish, epoxy, even paint. Just be careful to keep paint off the external surfaces where it will show.
  2. Reseal the external stock. Older stocks tend to lose their finishes. Touch yours up. Don’t leave any bare spots for moisture to sneak in.
  3. Wax that wood. Any wood or car wax can do the trick. Use whatever you think will do the best job of shedding water. High-grade, oiled walnut stocks should get a fresh rubbing of oil rather than wax.
  4. Wax the barrel, too. Yup. Instead of trying to keep a film of oil on all metal parts, strip the oil with alcohol and cover every bit of bare metal with wax. If wax can keep a car’s finish waterproof, it can do the same for a rifle.
  5. Oil and grease internal parts. Working metal parts need lubrication. Coat interior metal pins, levers, etc. with a light sheet of gun oil. Don’t overdo it because oil attracts dust and grit. Use a heavier grease on locking lugs and heavy cams that absorb a lot of pressure. Sub-freezing temps suggest a really light oil formulated to not freeze up. Powdered lubricants might be required in deep, below zero cold.
  6. tape_muzzleTape the muzzle. Experienced wet weather hunters place a single layer of black electrician’s tape over the muzzle and secure it with a wrap around the barrel. This keeps water from dropping down the bore and rusting the rifling.
  7. Cover the scope. Any scope cover can work. I like the new neoprene ones. Many provide a bit of umbrella effect over the rifle’s action, too. They can be ripped free in a split second.
  8. Carry a towel for wiping scope lenses. Should your scope fill with rain, snow or fog, you’ll need to wipe it free when its shooting time. Train yourself to carry a dry towlette or paper towel in an easily reached pocket for emergency wiping.
  9. Oil sling swivels and mounts. Grease is even better. Do the same for your scope bases/rings if they aren’t aluminum. Virtually all modern scopes are anodized aluminum and rustproof.
  10. Dry thoroughly. At the end of every damp hunt, dry exterior surfaces with a towel. Run a dry patch through the barrel. Even if you covered the muzzle, water may have entered through the breach. Follow the drying patches with a light penetrating oil patch, just a thin film will suffice.
  11. To drive moisture from internal parts, heat the rifle over a stove or heater vent. A small hair dryer works beautifully for this, the forced air aiding quick drying. Don’t overheat scopes.
  12. Re-oil as necessary.

These 12 steps should keep any rifle high and dry and functioning perfectly for decades. Take care of your rifle and it will take care of you.