by B.B. Pelletier
Of all the weather types, wet weather is hardest on guns of any kind. Airguns are particularly susceptible to problems.
Wood stocks are the hardest hit
You hear about wood swelling in wet weather, but I remember a field target match where the constant drizzle cracked one stock and rendered several underlevers uncockable. The stock that cracked apparently did so because the wood swelled so much there was no place to go.
After the match, shooter’s guns rusted in their cases before they got home. Eggcrate foam that’s typically found in gun cases attracts and holds moisture like a sponge. Shooters removed their rifles from the stock after they got home to properly dry both wood and metal.
Optics are affected, too
Nearly everyone had impact shifts that day (from stocks that swelled), and a number of scopes fogged up so much they couldn’t be used. Normally, scopes are filled with dry nitrogen at the factory, but sometimes it leaks out and the air that replaces it will fog under the right conditions. Since the fog is on the interior lens surfaces, where you can’t wipe them, there’s nothing to do but wait for it to dry out.
What can you do?
If your gun gets wet, tend to it right away. Waiting even a day allows rust to form and take a hold. Even if you clean it off, there will be loss of finish and possibly pits on your gun. To remove water, an absorbent cloth like a towel is best. A blow dryer speeds the drying process, and a blast from an air hose displaces water rapidly. This is the one time WD40 can be used on guns. It sheds water well. Just be sure to remove it entirely before it has a chance to turn to varnish.
You can also protect your metal parts with a silicone-impregnated cloth. When you wipe your gun with this cloth, silicone bonds to the metal. If the metal gets wet, the silicone sheds water like a duck!
Don’t forget the bore
Normally, I never clean the barrel of an airgun. I make an exception when there’s a water problem! Dry the bore completely, then run a silicone-soaked patch through it. You can buy either special airgun silicone spray or just get some at the local hardware store.
Watch for water in all its forms
It’s pretty easy to know you have a water problem when you’re in the constant drizzle of a hurricane, but water comes in more subtle ways. Snow is just cold water, so don’t forget to clean your gun after an outing in the white stuff. Those who live near the coast have problems with salt air attacking their guns. And, if you live in a humid climate, NEVER store a gun in a case with a foam liner. The foam absorbs moisture from the air and is in tight contact with the metal on your gun.
Yes, of all the weather problems, water is number one. Protect your guns from its ravages.