How to Take Care of Your Rifle
Russ Chastain 07.10.18
Firearms are wonderful things, and like all machines even the simplest rifle requires care and maintenance. Here are some pointers on how to take care of your rifle.
Keep Your Rifle Clean
A dirty rifle is more prone to corrosion and malfunction than a clean one, so it’s a good idea to keep that shootin’ iron nice and clean. This includes the bore, all moving parts, and even the exterior of the barrel, receiver, and stock.
Nooks and crannies can be cleaned with a toothbrush, if need be. Clean embedded crud out of checkering on the stock and any other areas of the gun’s exterior. It goes without saying to clean the bore and action to remove gunpowder residue and other fouling.
Clean gunk off using non-abrasive methods; mild solvent and a rag from an old t-shirt can work wonders, and won’t mess up your gun’s looks. Just make sure you don’t use any hard-core solvents that might damage plastic, wood finish, and/or painted metal parts.
Examine Your Rifle
It’s important to make sure your rifle works properly, so be sure to dig it out of storage from time to time to check it out. Old lubricants can turn to goo and gunk up the works, or maybe you forgot to clean it last time you used it. A few minutes of fondling and examination will show you its condition, so you’ll know it’s ready to go next time you need it.
Fire Your Rifle to Check Function and Zero (Aim)
You need to know your firearms will function whenever you need them, and hitting your target is pretty dang important, too. So fire your rifle to make sure it’s zeroed in and hitting where you aim, and to make sure everything works as it should. Does the bolt or lever move freely? On break-actions, does the latch hold it securely closed but allow easy, trouble-free opening? Do all safeties work properly (if present)? Do magazines fit properly, load and unload smoothly, and feed ammunition as they should? If the answer to any of those is “no,” you have a problem and should probably visit your local gunsmith.
Lubricate Moving Parts
Use high-quality oil or grease to lubricate all moving parts, per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Pivots, latches, catches, extractors, bolts, levers, the list goes on and on. Just make sure you have lube where it ought to be and none where it shouldn’t. Your gun will thank you by always functioning well.
Protect Against Corrosion
Make sure all blued steel surfaces have a light coating of rust-preventative oil to prevent rust, and it doesn’t hurt to do the same to other metals/alloys as well. Corrosion is never a good thing for a firearm, and your rifle needs to be kept in good shape in order to remain dependable, and an undependable rifle isn’t much good to anyone.
Keep it Dry
Rifles were not meant to be used sopping wet. I’ve certainly done so while hunting, but the moisture is not good for them and your life will be happier if you dry your rifle thoroughly at the earliest opportunity. For hunters, this often means doing some work at the end of a long hunting day when you’d rather be eating supper, but it’s worth the work. Dry out your gun’s guts, lubricate it, wipe it down to prevent rust, and you’ll be glad you did.
Rifles are valuable tools and with some care, most rifles will far outlast the lives of their owners. Take care of your rifle and your rifle will take care of you.