View Full Version : What's the problem with shooting in the rain?

March 25, 2012, 09:40 AM
In the thread "I gots the good stuff!!" two members (arcticap & deerslayer303) express the hope that it doesn't rain Monday when they plan to go shooting. Then keybear asks the question, "Your (sic) going to shoot in the rain?" I followed that with "What's wrong with shooting in the rain?", and Beagle333 sent me a pm suggesting that might be a good thread topic, and I should start it since I'm the one that asked the question.

So, this thread was born.

What's wrong with shooting in the rain?

Well, at first glance there's the obvious problem that some of us are so sweet that we would just melt away like sugar crystals when rained upon. Not a good thing. So those of you who meet that criteria, stay inside.

But the rest of us should have no fear of shooting in the rain. Now I'm talking here about a gentle drizzle, not a 100 year downpour. There are some rain conditions in which no human should be attempting anything, much less shooting. But if you'd have no problem walking out to the mailbox, taking the dog for a walk or going on a short hike to the store, you should have no problem going shooting.

You do need to take are of your equipment, of course. My guns are waxed and oiled as a normal course of business when first obtained and cleaned, and they're maintained that way whenever necessary. That should be all the protection they need, especially since they'll get thoroughly cleaned, dried and oiled after the shooting session.

Part of your equipment needs to be a good leather possible bag with waterproof protection, or a good shooting box that keeps out moisture.

Loading: or rather charging; charging refers to inserting powder and ball. Loading refers to priming or capping, since technically the gun isn't loaded until it's primed or capped. Charging should be done under cover. Don't count on your big brimmed hat to cover the muzzle while you load, because that puts your nogging too close to the business end for comfort. Find a good tree or do it on the porch, or even inside.

Loading: this time I mean priming or capping. This can be done in the rain if you're reasonably dextrous, shielding the pan or nipple with one hand or your big brimmed hat while using the other to pour the primer or set the cap.

After loading: I use a cow's knee over the hammer (and frizzen if it's a flintlock) when carrying in the rain. A cow's knee is a fairly large piece of waterproofed leather loosely shaped like a cup with two short thongs to tie under the trigger guard; it fits over the hammer in the nipple or touch hole area and keeps that critical area dry. They're available at any good sutler.

So, what do you do? Stay dry inside and wish you could go shooting, or gather the gear and head out regardless?

March 25, 2012, 09:52 AM
I specifically go to the range when it IS raining......

that way, I have the place to myself, and can train how I like to train (up close and personal...)

Many years of Infantry training led me to not mind training in poor conditions!

March 25, 2012, 10:05 AM
I can go outside and shoot anytime I want to so I don't usually do it in the rain but hunting in it is a whole nuther story.

March 25, 2012, 10:11 AM
When it is heavy mist/drizzle, I will shoot, but only my inline or my revolvers. Supposedly the breech system on the inline is waterproof, and the stock is synthetic. Once loaded, it could probably go for days in the humidity and be okay. With a good tight patch, everything is sealed, top and bottom.
And the revolvers get fired in a matter of minutes of exposure, so nothing gets to sit and soak. They are heading to the sink after a good shooting anyway, so I don't mind them getting wet. I wouldn't take the sidelocks out, because I am not sure of the possible water damage to the stocks, under the barrel and behind the locks and tang.
Loading powder in anything is done indoors and capped when I get outside. As far as reloading outdoors, I am leery of even high humidity with my powder. I don't know "how wet is too wet" to have it exposed.

Caps do not seem to be affected by light drizzle or heavy mist. I have not sat out for a while with my revolvers before firing them, but I have gotten the pistol quite wet before firing and they have always worked.

March 25, 2012, 10:13 AM
I have wondered how the flintlock shooters deal with this. Could you even sit under a shed or in an old barn and shoot for any extended period before your priming powder might be compromised? And if you were in a hunting situation, how long could you just be outside, even with your leather cover, before the humidity might wreck your shot at "the big one"?

March 25, 2012, 10:37 AM
The shooting lanes are covered at the gun club, so shooting in a light rain is not a problem. I shoot for the enjoyment, so I hope for a nice sunny day. Would I go shoot in the rain? Sure, but I would probably not take the side locks. I guess what I'm trying to say is its just like riding my Harley, of course I would ride it in the rain, but I wouldn't enjoy it as much as a pretty sunny day! :cool:

Lee McNelly
March 25, 2012, 11:17 AM
wish i could be there

hope u have agreat day out w your tools

dont come back w o pics

March 25, 2012, 11:28 AM
how long could you just be outside, even with your leather cover, before the humidity might wreck your shot at "the big one"?

Humidity isn't a problem, actual water is.

When it is heavy mist/drizzle, I will shoot, but only my inline or my revolvers

I'll bet my Hawken will shoot just as long if not longer than your inline.

Old Grump
March 25, 2012, 11:31 AM
Coach said rifle matches don't get called on wind or rain and if we wanted to be on his team we by damn well were going to practice in the rain. It paid off on 3 different occasions including the SW regional championships and at All Navy championships where us rain and wind shooters just kept shooting close to our regular scores and the shirt sleeve guys sort of fell apart. Only rifle match I ever saw called was because it was sleeting so hard it was taking our targets down. Hunters don't pick their weather when they go hunting and handgun hunters had better be able to put up with a little drizzle and know how to ignore wind if they are going to hunt. That is all I got to say about that. :)

March 25, 2012, 11:35 AM
When it is heavy mist/drizzle, I will shoot, but only my inline or my revolvers. . . . . . I wouldn't take the sidelocks out, because I am not sure of the possible water damage to the stocks....

I wasn't questioning whether or not they would fire. ;)

March 25, 2012, 12:01 PM
possible water damage to the stocks, under the barrel and behind the locks and tang.
Not a problem.

Remove the barrel, breech plug or tang, lock, trigger guard, nose cap, any wedge escutcheons and any ramrod ferrules. Apply 3 or 4 coats of a good oil finish (tung oil, linseed oil, etc.) to the inlet areas, being sure they dry completely between coats. Finish with a good coat of paste wax. Should last forever since exposure to the elements will be very limited.

Metal parts that mate with the inlet areas should also be waxed and/or oiled. That won't last indefinitely, however, so once every 6 months or so, depending on how much the gun is subjected to moisture, clean and rewax those areas.

March 25, 2012, 12:34 PM
View shooting in the rain, bout the same way as riding my motorcycle.

If I'm shooting (or riding the bike) and it starts to rain...well, I keep shooting. If it's already a downpour, I don't set out to shoot nor set out on a bike ride.

I've hunted in many bp seasons with the Hawkins when it rained from start of season till end. Staying a week in a tent, seems most everything got at least damp. Keeping powder/primers in a sealed container as well as unloading rifle nightly, swabbing /plugging bore and nipple, misfires were non-existent. Also, while hunting keeping a small balloon or tape over end of bbl. helps out quit a bit with keeping bbl dry.
Some will argue clearing the bore nightly in heavy rain is not necessary.
I say, do what works for ya. ;)

Our shoots at the club were never called due to rain. We were aloud to charge our rifles under the shelter house. Capped at line and shot. Never seemed to be an issue with most of the regulars. It just usually prolonged the length of time the shoot lasted. Mostly due to guys BS'ing under the shelter more then usual between shots.:rolleyes:

March 25, 2012, 01:04 PM
Could you ellaborate a little on this waxing procedure. You've got me interested.

March 25, 2012, 02:00 PM
Fold up a cotton cloth into about a 1 1/2" square and dampen it with water. Use it to scoop out a layer of paste wax from the can and apply it directly to the wood rub it around to ensure that all surfaces are coated - thickness doesn't really matter but the thicker you leave it the longer it will take to dry. Allow the wax to thoroughly dry then rub all surfaces with a clean dry cloth. Buffing isn't necessary; all you need to do is remove excess dried wax.

Since the inlet surfaces will be a bit rough you need to be fairly careful to be sure the wax covers all exposed areas. You're trying to apply a layer of moisture protection, so don't be concerned with how it looks, just be sure to leave no holes in the layer.

That help?

4V50 Gary
March 25, 2012, 06:27 PM
I have shot my Ruger Old Army in the rain. Reloaded several times and kept firing. Down on the firing line was a fellow with a Colt AR-15, the older triangular hand guard model. He had numerous jams. :p

March 25, 2012, 08:01 PM
That help?

Indeed Sir, that helped alot. I'll have to do this to my rifles. I especially want to do it to my Sidelocks and my old Glenfield. As they will probably see some rain this hunting season.

March 25, 2012, 08:46 PM
Don't forget to apply a good oil finish and let it dry first. That's more important than the wax. The oil provides the seal; the wax protects the oil.

March 25, 2012, 09:04 PM
The first obvious option, is visibility. Any rain falling can reduce your visibility considerably. Which can be good and bad on the range. The good is if it's light enough to see the target and you still group well or close to what you normally hit, then you're getting better. The downside, aside from having to take extra precaution is being uncomfortable in the weather. Personally, I like the rain, like the infantry individual, the army is like the posty office. "Neither rain nor snow, nor sleet nor dark of night shall stay..." But some could find it unpleasant.

March 25, 2012, 09:29 PM
I just don't like standing out in the rain.

March 25, 2012, 10:21 PM
I recall hearing that during the black powder era, sometimes when it rained the opposing sides would agree to a truce or temporary cease fire until the weather improved.
I think that it was a fairly common practice.
I guess that the opposing officers either believed and/or were taught that waiting for better weather was the right thing to do.
Maybe both sides figured that since they were going into a life or death battle that it would be better for everyone if the men and their equipment could perform at their best.
Simply try to stay warm and keep their clothes and powder as dry as possible.
What's the problem with waiting for better weather? :rolleyes:

March 26, 2012, 05:31 AM
What's the problem with waiting for better weather?
It's an opportunity lost.
Any rain falling can reduce your visibility considerably
Yes, it limits your range. But limited range isn't a reason to stay home, is it?
Simply try to stay warm and keep their clothes and powder as dry as possible.
I just don't like standing out in the rain.
The downside...is being uncomfortable in the weather.
I'll grant you that, at some point, the discomfort outweighs the desire to go shooting. Some days I only get a few shots off before the fireplace wins the battle. Other days just being alive outside in the weather keeps me loading and shooting; the rain is actually an incentive on those days.

Age has something to do with it. When I was a teenager we intentionally went camping (with tents, snowshoes and backpacks) in below zero weather. I have to admit I don't do that any more.

March 26, 2012, 07:25 AM
On a related note, I have a rig that I set up specifically for hunting in the rain. I wanted something that could get totally soaked and not get hurt, plus be super easy to get completely dry when I got back. I settled on a stainless T/C Encore with a stainless 30-06 bbl and a Bushnell 3300 scope with the Rainguard technology.

Unlike a bolt-action that would require me to remove the action from the stock in order to fully dry it out, I can completely field strip it in about a minute. A blast of compressed air will get into the nooks and cranies and I'm done.

One more thing. Hunting in the rain presents a problem in that blood trails get washed away too quickly. To solve that problem, I use 180 grn bullets. If that doesn't knock them down right away, I stand a really good chance of a through-and-through shot with big holes to leave lots of blood.

Doc Hoy
March 26, 2012, 07:29 AM
...because I get wet.

I think wet people belong in the shower (Or maybe the swimming pool.)

Andy Griffith
March 26, 2012, 06:28 PM
The only disadvantage to shooting in the rain that affects me is the fact that it washes all the salt off the bullet...which I need to preserve game at such long range, until I get there. :cool:

Sure Shot Mc Gee
March 26, 2012, 07:03 PM
Critiquing my own thread. Reason: To much info left the first time not relevant to question. So my answer to "Shooting in the rain." ---Rain or shine the weapon or weapons still gets cleaned after supper regardless. The only problem I have with rain of any sort is with my eye glasses getting water spots. Pain in the butt wiping them all the time in-between shots taken. I dislike the wind more so than rain. Many best days without wind playing a factor in my accuracy. Are enjoyed during light rainy/misting days. I try and take advantage of them days. Whenever they occur. :)

March 27, 2012, 05:04 AM
That constitutes rifle abuse. Shame on you.;)

charles isaac
March 27, 2012, 01:48 PM
Real operators with tactical platforms don't operate in the rain, do they?

Andy Griffith
March 27, 2012, 01:54 PM
Real operators with tactical platforms don't operate in the rain, do they?

Only if it can be done from an armchair while eating pizza.

March 27, 2012, 09:23 PM
Real operators with tactical platforms don't operate in the rain, do they?

Well, I have been known to fire a few rounds during the rain out the window from the kitchen table. :o...

...does that constitute 'tactical platforms'.

March 27, 2012, 09:40 PM
Well, I have been known to fire a few rounds during the rain out the window from the kitchen table. ...

...does that constitute 'tactical platforms'.

Yes, yes, yes. You got to fire your rounds at whatever AND didn't get wet. Tactical victory.

March 28, 2012, 06:13 AM
If I were to use SWMBO's kitchen table for a bench rest I'd carry a permanent impression of a patch box on the top of my head. Using her dishwasher to clean a revolver once many years ago established a clear line of demarcation beyond which attempting certain activities is met with deadly and accurate force.