Pre-Season Maintenance On Your RiflesThis Article Originally Appeared in Sinclair International’s The Reloading Press.
Pre-Season Gun Maintenance,
by Ron Dague, Sinclair International
I give my rifles a pre-season check before the shooting season starts. This starts with a general inspection starting with the butt-plate or recoil pad and making sure that all the screws and adjustable parts (on an adjustable butt-plate) move freely up or down and side to side. If you got caught in rain some of these screws and adjustable parts may not move when needed. I disassemble parts as needed and put rust preventative or a light oil and/or grease on threads and sliding parts. On rifles with recoil pads and fixed butt-plates, make sure the screws are tight and that holes in the stock aren’t stripped out. Make sure there are no cracks in the stock and around the butt-plate. If the recoil pad is glued-on, just make sure it hasn’t come loose.
Next I take the action out of the stock and check for cracks and wear marks. I look at the bedding to make sure that oils and cleaning solvents have not damaged the bedding. While the action is out of the stock, I look for any surface rust or dirt/dust in the recoil lug area and magazine well. Clean as needed and repair or re-bed if needed.
Trigger Assembly and Action
With the barreled action out of the stock, it is a good time to spray out the trigger with cleaner. I use Ronson oil or lighter fluid. [Editor's Note: Some trigger-makers advise against using any kind of lubricant, grease or oil -- so plain lighter fluid is preferred.] After the trigger is cleaned you may want to check the trigger pull weight. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, take it to a gun smith and have it checked. It is worth every penny to not have a trigger issue and/or a safety malfunction. I also take the bolt apart and clean the firing pin spring and bolt housing with Gun Scrubber or automotive brake cleaner. Then lube the firing pin-spring and firing pin with light oil. I use Kel Lube and/or Butch’s gun oil. Put a small dab of gun grease on the [bolt locking lugs] and cocking ramp.
I will also spray the outside of the action and barrel and give that a light coating of oil for rust prevention. I clean the action with Sinclair’s action cleaning tool. Don’t forget to clean the bore. Even though you didn’t fire the rifle, this makes sure nothing obstructs your barrel.
Checking Metal Fixtures and Fasteners
Next I look at the trigger guard and hinged floor plate and make sure it works as designed. Make sure there are no cracks in the trigger guard from an accidental drop. Check guard screws and /or action screws for tightness and tighten to proper spec. There are torque specs for this, but on wood stocks the wood can crush and this should be checked throughout the year as weather change can affect this. My entire collection of rifles are bedded and I just tighten them just snug with screw driver or Allen wrench. The rimfire rifles have a spec of 55 to 74 inch/lbs and I think would carry over to center fire as well. I would caution you about torque wrenches as you need a good quality wrench, and read the directions on how to use it. You can over torque if not careful. Check the swivel studs and bipod to make sure there tight as well. You may want to take scope off and check the base screws and check the rings.
Test Fire the Rifle After Maintenance
After all cleaning and is done and everything is reassembled, take a few rounds out to the range and test fire to make sure everything works as it should. Don’t forget to run 3-5 rounds through the magazine at least two times for function. I look at this as preventive maintenance on the rifle. If you give it a look over you shouldn’t have any trouble during the rifle matches or hunting trip.
Certified Reloading Instructor
Certified Range Safety Officer
Email: rond [at] sinclairintl.com
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