Storing your rifle
Updated: Nov 10
Hunting seasons are coming to an end. All calls, ammunition, and clothes are stored away. The harvested game is packaged, labeled, and frozen. The task of cleaning your rifle is completed and you are getting ready to put it away until next season. Here are a few easy things you need to do before you lock the gun safe.
Gun safes are the best way to protect your firearm from theft, fire, damage, and unintended use. If you do not own a gun safe, my first recommendation is to buy one. Your budget and level of protection needed will determine which safe you buy. However, anything with a lock is better than nothing at all.
If a safe is not in your future, then consider purchasing trigger locks. There are many different models, choose the one that fits your needs. Many firearms are actually sold with trigger locks included.
What about storing the rifle in a case? If you do not own a gun safe or have a closet with a lockable door, then yes, this is an option. With two important requirements:
1. Anything metal on the firearm is oiled.
2. The rifle case is dry.
I have seen it happen; a hunter finishes out the season on a “wet” day and puts their firearm in the case for the off-season. They have great intentions of “getting to it later” but life gets in the way. Next season, they have a rusty surprise.
Gun Safes do a good job of protecting your firearms from theft, fire, and damage but many do not protect from rust. Most of us know to lightly oil anything metal before storing for any period of time. This coating insures no water can interact with exposed metal starting the rusting process. However, the way we oil is important.
Do not spray the oil directly on the metal. Instead, spray the oil on a soft rag then rub into the metal. This not only protects your wood and optics from splatter, it also allows you to work the oil into all areas of the metal.
For my last barrel cleaning of the season, I use Wipe-Out with Accelerator. This foaming cleaner does a good job cleaning carbon and copper plus it leaves a conditioner in the barrel. This conditioner replaces the oil in rust prevention. If you use a solvent with no conditioner, run a clean cotton patch with a light coat of oil down the barrel.
Protect your Scope
There are many different scope cover manufacturers that make great products. Find the one you like best and use them. These covers are important when storing your firearm because they keep any foreign particles off the glass. This will ensure that the clarity of the scope will be as expected the next time you use it.
I am a fan of Scope Shield scope covers. I have used many different products and find their products second to none.
Think twice about inserting the bolt and camming it over in the action. This compresses the firing pin spring. Over time, this will weaken the spring causing inconsistent ignition. Essentially, bad juju.
Personally, I do not even store the bolt in the firearm. I lightly oil the bolt and store it in a small, labeled bag. This bag is then kept on a shelf inside the gun safe.
Most shooters store their rifle butt down in their gun safes. This is fine as long as a cotton ball is in the chamber. Over time, any leftover oil or cleaning solvent will travel downhill into the chamber and eventually make its way to the trigger. A gummed up trigger is a huge headache. Prevent the pain with a large cotton ball in the chamber.
If the rifle is stored muzzle down, you can skip the cotton ball step. However, the important crown should be protected. I do this with a rubber cap found at some hardware stores in the tubing isle.
If I ever get the chance to build a walk in gun safe, I will strongly consider storing my rifles sideways. This is, most likely, just for peace of mind. Like the old saying goes...If it doesn’t hurt but might help, I am probably going to do it.
Hunting season is over. It is time to enjoy the last few days of winter and get ready for upcoming spring activities. Just make sure your rifle is properly taken care of and ready for the next adventure. Until next time, enjoy the experience.