View Full Version : Cleaning wet rifles

November 25, 2013, 08:06 PM
Wanted to yalls opinion on something here. I've always, always cleaned my bolt action hunting rifles if they've gotten wet during a hunt. I'm talking about taking it out of stock, dropping trigger group, cleaning and lightly oiling.

This deer season I'm building a new house in my spare time and hunting is limited to mainly just days when it's raining too much to work my regular construction job or work on my house. The rifle I usually take on a rainy day is a rem700 Sps in 300 win mag. Got the synthetic stock and matte barrel and action.

So, I've having to take it down and clean everything basically every time I go out which has been probably once or twice a week. What I was wondering is would any of y'all dare to let it go for a couple weeks till seasons over? I was thinking maybe just wipe off any visible moisture and run oil and bore snake down the barrel.

I definitely don't mind taking it down because I'll be danged if I let a gun rust. Just looking for second opinions.

What do y'all think? Thanks

Art Eatman
November 25, 2013, 08:50 PM
If I had to deal with that, I'd spray liberally with WD40 so that it's under the barrel and receiver as well as on top, protecting scope lenses and being aware of the potential for gummy buildup in the trigger group and maybe inside the bolt.

I've hunted in light drizzle, but never in "real rain". Never had a rust problem with blue steel in wood, using WD40. I never liked to do a full disassembly and serious cleaning before season's end.

November 25, 2013, 09:32 PM
Never thought about wd40 as preventative type maintenance. I guess I'm so used to using rem oil that I just always rub a light coat of that on as I'm putting back together.

Yeah I'm not big on taking action out of stock repeatedly during season, but I've literally been in some downpours. Shot 2 doe this morning in heavy freezing rain. (btw. Just finished cleaning rifle. Can't take chances).

Got a real pretty wood/blued 700 in 308 that I hunt with when weather is pretty. Of course I got caught In some rain with it earlier this season. And I hate to take it out of the stock. Its my most accurate rifle but also the prettiest. Hard to find that 308 in a 700 bdl. Kind of look at that 300 win as my foul weather rifle I guess. Rarely need to track em.

November 25, 2013, 11:06 PM
Wow, I never do anything more than dry the gun off and wipe and spray the gun down with G96. I have never had any issues of any kind with rust. Good ventilation is more important when your gun is damp or super cold and has condensation on it. Never ever put it in a case or even a gun cabinet. Let the gun dry in a well ventilated open room, then spray it down and run a patch through it.

November 25, 2013, 11:16 PM
I won't take an action out of the stock during hunting season.
I don't want to take the chance of screwing up the way the action is seated, allowing water/snow to get into areas it hadn't already found, or allowing water to find spots in the inletting that weren't fully sealed.

I dry everything as well as I can, clean if necessary (get that gummy crap out of there), and add some protectant to the metal again.

When the season is over, I'll pull the action out of the stock, disassemble as far as I feel necessary, ensure it's completely dry, clean thoroughly, re-lube, and make sure every square inch of metal has some kind of protection (wax, oil, whatever), before reassembling.

A few years back, I had water dripping out of the action of my rifle, 3 hours after I got back to camp ... nearly every day for 9 days straight. When I pulled the action out of the stock after the hunt, it was just fine, because of the oil I had applied before it went back in the stock earlier in the year.

And, just a note...
Seal the action inlet in wood stocks. If you don't, your biggest worry should be ruining a hunt with a shifting point of impact, due to stock swelling/warping, before any significant rust can show its ugly face.

November 26, 2013, 08:53 AM
I keep the muzzle taped to prevent water in the barrel.

http://i1129.photobucket.com/albums/m513/jmr40/001-6.jpg (http://s1129.photobucket.com/user/jmr40/media/001-6.jpg.html)

I've been doing this for 40 years in the rain, but over the last few years have started taping it before the season starts and just leave it there. Pressure ahead of the bullet blows it off long before the bullet reaches the muzzle and it does not effect accuracy at all. I keep spare tape on the barrel to retape in the field. It prevents any other debris out year round and would prevent a clogged barrel if I were to drop the gun muzzle down in mud etc. Cheap insurance really.

I hunt in any weather so I prefer SS. With a SS gun I'd remove the bolt and place the gun in front of the fireplace overnight. On a blued gun with a fancy wood stock with some real value I'd disassemble and clean it properly. I'd feel a lot better if I could get in a few practice shots before hunting with it again. But I wouldn't let a really nice rifle set up wet. I wouldn't be hunting in the rain with it either.

On your gun I might try to dry it with a blow dryer etc. to get as much moisture out as possible without disassembly. Coating the metal ahead of time with some type of car wax is a good preventative measure.

WD-40 was not designed as, nor ever intended as a gun lubricant. There are products out there that are much better. WD-40 has a tendency to collect in small nooks and crannies and harden into a thick gummy wax like material. Not a good thing to have in the trigger mechanism, firing pin, or safety.

November 26, 2013, 10:34 AM
I also won't take an action out of the stock during the season unless I can shoot the rifle to ensure it is still zeroed. If the gun is wet I'll wipe it down with oil inside and out, then wipe it down again with a dry cloth, and leave it out so that any water left under the stock can dry out. After the season I'll take it apart and do a real cleaning.

I've used tape to protect the muzzle in the past but this year got onto using finger cots. They are pretty cheap and don't leave any sticky residue on the end of my barrel. Beware though, in camp the jokes about them can be pretty bad :D

November 26, 2013, 11:14 AM
I've put tape over the muzzle of my rifle for 30 years. I feel it's good insurance, whether or not it rains or snows.

I also take my rifles apart every 2-3 years and put paste wax on the wood. I forget what brand it is, but it's not the automotive kind. I do put automotive wax on the metal, particularly the stuff that's in the stock. Rust has not been an issue.

November 26, 2013, 01:13 PM
Thanks for all the replies guys.

I also tape the muzzle. Been doing that for a long time. My main concern was the water getting between the stock and barrel/action. I hate taking one out of the stock without getting to shoot again too even though it's never been an issue on either of the 2 rifles I mentioned.

I do like the hair dryer/ fireplace idea. Probably just start doing that in the future with the Sps. Now if that bdl gets wet, it's getting taken apart. But, like I said i usually only take it out when it's a nice forecast.

Have any of y'all ever used one of those silicone rags? I usually wipe all the metal down with one of those before reassembly. I've probably got nothing to worry about if I let it dry out good outside of a case. Just wanted to
Pick yalls brains. Thanks

November 26, 2013, 03:21 PM
I keep the muzzle taped to prevent water in the barrel.
I never had good luck with any kind of tape. It always found a way to come off while hiking.

On small diameter barrels, water balloons work well.
On larger barrels (like my .444), regular 'party' balloons work nicely.
And, if you turn them inside-out, you don't have to worry about the talc getting in the barrel or letting the balloon slide off the muzzle.
They tear easier than electrical tape. So, it's a good idea to keep some spares in your pocket.

I picked up a 50(?) count bag of black 'party' balloons for $1 in about 2008. I use them on my rifles, and take plenty of spares as replacements and for other people to use. Unless they get brittle, that package will probably last another 5-7 years.

In a pinch, I've just cut the tip off one of the fingers of the latex gloves in my field dressing kit.

There's one thing to keep in mind, though...
If you carry the rifle level or muzzle-down, at all, water can seep through the chamber and into the barrel. With the muzzle covered, the water will build up in the barrel.
A few years back, I didn't even realize that I was carrying my rifle level (probably slightly muzzle-down), while hiking through some soaking-wet pine trees. When I got back to camp, the entire barrel was full of water. Had I pulled the trigger on the round in the chamber while hiking, there would have been a loud boom and lots of my blood.
And it wasn't even raining that day, so the water wasn't really on my mind... :rolleyes:

November 26, 2013, 03:44 PM
Depends on the gun. Next time you are shooting for fun or pratice take along some tools and pull the thing apart and put it back together and see what kind of group you can shoot with it. On my favorite deer rifle I would not hesitate to take it down and dry it out, put it back together and shoot it knowing it's ok and still on zero. But like I said it depends on the gun. An action that fits right will return to zero, IMHO.

November 26, 2013, 06:59 PM
Fluid Film

November 26, 2013, 07:57 PM
Not the WD-40 internet old wives tale again!

WD-40 was made for USAF rockets, and it never gummed them up and it never gummed up any gun.

It displaces water and I used it by the gallons on my Cessna 185 Seaplane. The only time it could possibly "gum" anything up is if it dissolved bunch of crud and then was left to dry. That is caused by poor cleaning and maintenance, not WD-40.

Heavy Metal 1
November 27, 2013, 12:08 AM
Well, here in Oregon we sometimes need to hunt in the rain or we don't get to hunt so... for the gun I use for those occasions gets a coat of Johnson's paste wax on the all the wood and metal. I run a bead (of sorts) along the wood/metal seam and water is repelled effectively. A few days of airing out after application and the solvent odor will be gone.

November 27, 2013, 08:57 AM
I would take mine apart for a complete cleaning and oil down. If you're rifle is bedded and the barrel floated it should be good. Watch out getting too much WD40 around areas that could soak the primer area of your ammo. It is penetrating oil after all.

Tom Matiska
November 27, 2013, 11:06 AM
Every work bench should have a small compressor under it. Cans of compressed air commonly sold at Radio Shack are great for when you're away from your bench..... no stink, no film no disassembly required.

November 27, 2013, 11:18 AM
I only disassemble once after season is over and coat with rem oil.
I have traded almost all my blued/wood guns for ss/syn. I use either a hair dryer or air compressor to dry them out after a wet hunt.

November 27, 2013, 01:10 PM
There's one thing to keep in mind, though...
If you carry the rifle level or muzzle-down, at all, water can seep through the chamber and into the barrel. With the muzzle covered, the water will build up in the barrel.

That is an excellent point FrankenMauser, and something I never thought of.

November 27, 2013, 01:22 PM
you have a synthetic stock so it's not going to warp from rapid changes in humidity and temperature shifts. just bring it home and stand it up near the fireplace/stove/radiator/etc and let warm air do it's thing. just pull a bore snake through it to make sure there's no wet debris in your bore and you'll be set til the end of season.

November 27, 2013, 02:21 PM
I would clean every time it got wet. You should know what your action screws are set to in inch lbs. Synthetic stocks could be from 45-65" lbs. A torque rench is a must if your going to be taking the stock off. When wet I wipe the steel down with Ballistol, the trigger assembly flushed out with lighter fluid wish would clean & lightly lube at the same time. Go with your normal cleaning for the barrel and bolt. Scope base, rings & action screws should be torqued to the proper settings, then when ever you want to take the rifle apart it will go back the same exact way. Hope I helped Chris

November 28, 2013, 10:13 PM
I use CRC 2-26 . It leaves hardly any film residue and it will displace the water. Spray it good and let the excess run off. Can't hurt a synthetic stock. Wipe it down with an old sock or something.

8MM Mauser
November 28, 2013, 11:09 PM
I ended up caught in a thunderstorm the other week while hunting with a 100 year old Mauser. It's not the first time I've dealt with it either. I have been caught skeet shooting more than once by rain and I remember a time a buddy and I had a shootout with our Ruger rim fire pistols and we kept going for a good 1/2 hour into some pretty gross rain.

When I got home, I used a hair dryer and a can of compressed air to dry it out. Then I sprayed WD-40 into every nook and cranny, then wiped it all down and sprayed it with canned air again. After checking it was dry everywhere I could get a cotton patch I gave it a light oiling and the gun was as clean as it has ever been. I did the same thing in the past with my shotguns and pistol.
I actually recently tore the Ruger completely apart and the inside looks great; no rust.

It's a bit redundant to use three different methods, but it ensures a thorough cleaning/dry out.