December 1st, 2015

TEN TIPS for Winter Firearms Storage

winter gun storage tips

It’s December already. That means winter has definitely arrived — no doubt about it. If you plan to put away all or some of your firearms for the winter, here are TEN Tips for winterizing your firearms.

Barrel Crown1. Bore Cleaning and Coating — Clean your barrels and neutralize any solvents you may have used. Then run a couple patches with a corrosion-fighter down the bore. We recommend Eezox or CorrosionX. Eezox leaves a glossy dry film shield with excellent rust resistance. CorrosionX is more like a conventional oil, but with special anti-rust additives. Other products may work well too. Just be wary of the “all in one” products that have a strong solvent, and don’t use any fluid that contains ammonia — this can actually promote corrosion. Here’s a test of various anti-corrosion products: Rust Block Comparison Test.

2. Crown Inspections — After cleaning the barrel, inspect the crown with a magnifying glass. If you see any unusual wear, abrasion, or “shark’s teeth” at the very outer edge of the rifling, make a note — it may be wise to recrown the barrel next spring. Before you place your rifle in the safe, we recommend putting a piece of electrical tape or blue masking tape loosely over the muzzle to protect the crown. This is just to protect the delicate crown during handling — you are NOT trying to seal off the bore.

Bore-Store Gun Sacks3. Optics Storage — If your gunsafe is crowded, you may wish to remove the optics and rings from your rifles before winter storage. You can use a white crayon to mark the ring position (on the rail) for next season. We recommend that you store your optics inside a warm part of your house, where temperatures and humidity are relatively stable.

4. Trigger Group — Inspect your trigger assembly. Trigger housings accumulate dirt, grit, and oily gunk over the course of a season. If you have some basic mechanical skills, you may wish to remove the trigger from the hanger and clean it per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Don’t flood it with any kind of thick oil.

5. Bolt and Action — Clean the gunk off your bolt and raceway in your receiver. Put a thin coat of anti-corrosion product on the bolt, and re-grease the lugs and camming surfaces as recommended by the manufacturer. Don’t forget the fasteners and pins on the action and scope rail — these may not be stainless even if you have a stainless steel receiver.

Bore-Store Gun Sacks6. Use Thin Gloves — When oiling firearms during the winterization process, we recommend you wear thin latex or nitrile gloves. This will prevent you from leaving skin oils and acids that can actually promote corrosion. This will also protect YOU from any chemicals in the corrosion-blockers you put on your guns.

7. Applying Surface Protectants — For blued firearms, put Eesox or other rust-fighter on a cloth and wipe the barrel and exposed metal. Eezox works best with a couple light coats. Don’t forget iron sights, bottom metal, trigger guards, bolt handles, and sling swivels — they can rust too if not protected. Use Q-Tips or small swabs to reach small, internal parts.

Bore-Store Gun Sacks8. Use Gun Sacks — We put rifles and pistols in Bore-Store Gun sleeves. These thick, synthetic-fleece sacks cushion your guns, preventing nicks and scratches. The breathable fabric wicks away moisture, and the fibers are coated with corrosion inhibitors to help fight rust. Bore-Stores are offered in a wide range of sizes, so you can find something to fit everything from a Snub-nosed revolver to a 32″-barrelled 50 BMG. Rifle-size Bore Stores can be purchased for $9.00 – $22.00 from Brownells.com or Amazon.com. While we prefer Bore-Stores for regularly-used guns, if you have heirloom firearms that will be kept in storage for very long periods without seeing any use, you may want to grease them up and place them in the thin, but rugged three-layer storage bags sold by Brownells. Here’s one VITAL bit of advice for using these bags. Be absolutely sure, before you seal up the bags, that your guns are DRY and that all metal surfaces have been coated with an effective rust-blocker, such as BoeShield T9 or Eezox.

Foam-lined hard case9. Take Your Guns OUT of Foam-lined Cases — These common foam-lined cases are Rust Magnets. This may be the most important Tip in this article. Just about the worst thing you can do in the winter (short of leaving your rifle outside in the rain) is to store firearms in tight, foam-padded cases. The foam in these cases actually collects and retains moisture from the air, acting as the perfect breeding ground for rust. Remember, those plastic-shelled cases with foam interiors are for transport, not for long-term storage.

10. Make Your Gun Safe Ready for Winter — If you don’t have a Goldenrod (or equivalent), buy one. Sold as a “dehumidifier”, the Goldenrod is a simple electrical element that can maintain temperature in your gun vault. This helps prevent moisture in the air from condensing on your guns. A small incandescent light-bulb can help as well (just make sure it cannot touch any flammable fabrics or objects). In addition, you may want to purchase Dessicant packs to put inside the safe to absorb moisture. If you have an electronic keypad for your safe, we recommend replacing the batteries at least once a year.

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December 2nd, 2014

Cheap Tricks — Ten Low-Cost Items for Reloaders

Useful reloading gear does not have to be costly. Here are ten handy (and very inexpensive) items that belong on your loading bench or in your range kit.

magnifying glassMagnifying Glass – We use a flat, 2″x2″ pocket 4x-8x magnifier. This folds up on itself. Very handy, we use it to inspect bullets and brass. Use this to check your flash holes for burrs, and check the meplats of your bullets before loading.

Clear 35mm Film Cannister – Use this to transfer the thrown powder charge to the little measuring cup that sits on your scale. That way you don’t get any kernel splash. Also if the charge weight is obviously off, it’s easy to dump back in the measure. A film canister works pretty well as a trickler too.

Compressed Air in a Can -- Get these at office supply stores. Use the can (with tube attached) to blow crud out of cases after cleaning the neck with a brush, and blast loose debris out of primer pockets.

Pin Vise – A simple $7.00 pin vise with a #53 bit is perfect for deburring Lapua PPC and BR flash holes without reaming the flash-holes any larger. The Lapua PPC/BR flash-hole diameter is 1.5 mm, or 0.059″. eHobbyTools.com sells a 1.5mm pin vise bit. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). You can find pin vises and bits at hobby stores.

Bounce Dryer Sheets – The common dryer sheets will eliminates “static cling” on your plastic reloading parts such as powder measure cylinders, powder funnels, and reloading press plastic bins. Thanks to Doc76251 for this tip.

BallistolBallistol Aerosol – Try using this versatile lubricant/solvent for full-length sizing. Spray some on a patch and you can wipe the carbon of your case necks. Then, continue to apply a very small amount of Ballistol on the case bodies — just thin sheen is all you need. Ballistol is super slippery, and easy to remove. For general full-length sizing (on small cases) it works great and doesn’t leave a gooey, waxy, or chalky residue. For heavier case-forming jobs, we recommend Imperial Die Wax.

Shotgun Mop – Stick this in the chamber when using Wipe-Out foaming bore cleaner. This will seal off the chamber so the foam doesn’t flow into your action. For long chambers screw on one section of cleaning rod to aid extraction.

Colored Sharpie Marking Pens – Mark your bullets ahead of the bearing surface, and the color transfers to the target. This way you can shoot multiple loads at the same point of aim and discern which load shoots the tightest. (Recommended for 300 yards and beyond). With colored bullet tips you can test multiple loads “round robin” to equalize wind effects. When testing seating depths for example, you can mark the longer-seated set of bullets red and the shorter-seated set green and shoot them during the same sequence. Just look at the colored marks on the target to see which grouped better.

Sharpies Pens

Thin Latex Gloves – You should keep a box of inexpensive, disposable latex gloves (the kind doctors use) in your loading room. These will prevent contamination of primers or powder kernels that you handle directly. Also, use the gloves when handling fine blued tools or firearms to prevent transfering body oils and salts that promote rust.

Plastic Washers for Neck Mic – If you use a Sinclair Neck-wall Micrometer Gauge with integral stand, you can use thin plastic washers to adjust the height of the case on the mandrel. This makes it much easier to measure the same point on the case neck every time. Thanks to MikeCR for this tip (and photo).

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June 2nd, 2013

ES Too High? Here’s a Factor You May Not Have Considered…

case lube cleaning bullet handsHow would you like to lower your Extreme Spread (ES) and Standard Deviation (SD) significantly by a simple procedure that takes seconds and costs almost nothing?

Here’s all you need to do. After lubing your cases for full-length sizing, be sure to clean your hands (removing ALL residual lube) before you handle your bullets. As an extra measure to avoid lube contamination, slip on thin Latex gloves before you handle and seat your bullets. Will this make a difference? Let me tell you a story.

Keep Those Greasy Fingers Off Your Bullets
I recently loaded a couple dozen cases for a 6mm Dasher. We were in a hurry to leave for the range so I was loading faster than normal. When we started shooting the ammo I noticed that the 5-shot ES was bad — really bad — 48 fps. I was shocked because this was a known good load that had previously showed ES in the teens. This one had me stumped. What could have resulted in this high ES? What did I do different while reloading this time?

Then a lightbulb went off. I realized I had been seating bullets (round by round) immediately after lubing and sizing each case. My fingers still had some greasy lube on them which obviously got on some of the bullets, “polluting” them. My normal reloading procedure is to lube and size all cases, clean them off, then place the brass in a loading tray. Then I would clean my hands BEFORE adding powder and seating bullets. This time, in my rush, I sized a case, wiped it off, then immediately added powder and projectile. I did not take the time to clean off my fingers carefully before handling the bullets.

Big Drop in ES When I Avoided Bullet Contamination with Case Lube
The next day I went back to the loading room. I loaded the same brass with the same powder, same primer, same bullet type, same bushing — same everything. But this time, I washed my hands thoroughly with a hand cleaner, dried them with a clean paper towel, and I even put on thin latex gloves before handling the bullets. I loaded 10 rounds and fired them over the chronograph again in the same rifle. The 5-shot ES was 14 fps and the 10-shot ES was 22 fps (That’s normal for this load/rifle). Compare that to a 5-shot ES of 48 the day before. I had reduced my 5-shot ES by 70%! We were back in business. (By the way, the groups were also very small).

Greasy Bullets 5-Shot Extreme Spread = 48 FPS
Clean Bullets 5-Shot Extreme Spread = 14 FPS

Lesson Learned — Keep Case Lube Off Your Bullets
Your results may vary of course, but now I always make sure to remove ALL residual lube from my fingers before handling bullets or doing anything that can get unwanted lube inside the necks.

What about gloves? I don’t think the Latex gloves are essential (if your hands are dry and clean), but they just cost a few pennies when bought in bulk. You can buy a box of 100 latex gloves for under $7.00 on Amazon.com. I suggest the non-powdered type.

Use Your Common Sense
Before the critics launch a tirade, let me be the first to acknowledge that many champions have loaded perfectly good ammo (and shot great groups) without paying much attention to greasy fingers. We’ve all seen short-range benchresters loading ammo between relays. They work fast and may not take the time to clean all lube off their fingers before seating bullets. And we’ve seen some of those guys go out and shoot itty-bitty groups in the ones and zeros. So I am NOT claiming that careful “reloading bench hygiene” is essential to shooting small!

All I am saying is that I observed and recorded a significant drop in my ES when I made sure to avoid contaminating bullet jackets with case lube. This is a simple precaution that is easy to follow when loading at home. It may help you cut your ES/SD. It may help avoid that one “mystery flyer” that ruins a group. Cleaning your hands before seating bullets may seem obsessive. But the smart reloader knows that paying attention to the small details, in all respects, is the key to making ultra-accurate ammo that exhibits low ES/SD on the chronograph.

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