Chances are you’ve invested enough money in your rifle that you’d rather not bring home a rust bucket after your next hunting trip.
Some hunters have the advantage of hunting in dry climates where it rarely rains and corrosion isn’t an issue. (Though, even with that, salt from sweat can mar a gun.)
Many of the hunts I go on are very wet—in some cases raining or snowing for a week straight. I imagine it is probably the same for many of you.
In order to keep my rifle functioning, and in somewhat respectable shape, I’ve had to learn a few tricks.
1. Oil Soaked Rag
I like to bring either a rag soaked in rust-inhibiting oil or keep a few individual oil wipes readily available. Even if it hasn’t been raining, I wipe the rifle every night, concentrating on parts that are prone to collect moisture, like the face of the trigger, and anything that isn’t coated. Even if a rifle isn’t very wet, condensation can cause a thin layer of rust to build overnight.
2. Protect the Muzzle
From your first hunter-safety course, you learned to keep debris out of your barrel, but moisture can be a big problem as well. The most effective protection is to cover the muzzle with electrical tape. Stretch the tape tight over the muzzle and just shoot right through it. It will not affect bullet flight whatsoever. Wrap extra tape around the barrel so you always have some on hand.
3. Scope Caps
It’s pretty much a no-brainer to invest in a good set of scope caps. I prefer the spring-loaded flip-up style, which are available for pretty much any scope you can imagine. Even though a good waterproof scope will not fog up, it can be tough to draw a bead on a sheep in a snowstorm with water droplets all over your lenses.
This one is less obvious, and I have to credit my buddy Steve for teaching it to me. Before you hit the trail, and during your trip, use ChapStick to fill the screw heads on your scope rings, rifle, and sights. This will prevent the common problem of rust developing in these spots where moisture likes to collect.