Tips for protecting your rifle from rain damage

rsh spurts june rain

rsh spurts june rain - Credit: Archant

Can I use my rifle when it’s raining? Should I be worried about getting my rifle wet? Chris Parking replies...

Q: I have a pathological fear of getting my rifles wet as a result of my youthful battles with rusty barrels on airguns – it was a nightmare. Should I be frightened of the rain?

CHRIS PARKIN replies: Modern steel purity shows slightly better anti-corrosion properties than older alloys, but surface coatings have moved on leaps and bounds ahead of that, too. Stainless really does only mean it stains less, but one of the most corrosive substances you can ever apply to any gun is the natural oil and sweat from your own skin. Any gun given a healthy wipe over with an oily cloth to remove fingerprints is already on the ‘front foot’ in terms of warding off corrosion, but if you do get a gun (of any type) wet and dirty, clean it up at the earliest opportunity and try to dry off as much moisture as possible with paper towels.

If the gun is likely to see immediate re-use then it’s better not to remove the stock; but after your hunting trip is fully over and you have the chance to recheck your zero, I would take the gun to pieces to make sure the stock and barrel channel are fully dried out and clear of debris. Whenever I reassemble a gun, the very last thing that I touch the sealed metal parts of the gun with is an oily rag, for the aforementioned reasons, and I never stand anything on or near a heat source or in direct sunlight.

Any woodwork, if wet, must be allowed to air dry as gently and slowly as possible, but pay special attention to it – modern sealants have done wonders to prevent stocks soaking up moisture and warping but it is always good to know how your gun reacts to such environments. Internal cleaning of the bore is an entire subject of its own but I would, as a minimum, run a bore snake or dry patch through it at the earliest opportunity before a full clean and zero check.

Don’t leave excess oil in the barrel or any part of the gun (a little goes a long way) and always remove sound moderators to let them dry out separately; never leave them screwed on the bore where condensation can form and cause havoc hidden away from plain sight. Don’t forget to carefully clean your riflescope; lens caps hold water and it can also linger inside adjustment dial caps. Remove the sling too; anything absorbent will retain moisture, and in storage, that is a definite no-no.