Wilderness Survival: Fight Back Against a Frozen Firearm

An excerpt from The Ultimate Winter Survival Handbook

Possessing a firearm is a game changer in a survival situation, and it’s an instrumental part of a self-sufficient life in a remote area. Whether you are hunting for food or defending yourself against predators, you can’t afford to have a frozen firearm at that critical trigger-pulling moment. Use these tips to keep your weapon operational, and avoid being left out in the cold!

Lubricate And Wipe
Firearm lubricants are necessary to limit the wear of moving parts. Under normal conditions, both natural and synthetic gun oils keep the parts moving freely and help to dispel the heat of the firearm’s action. Few lubricants, however, are a match for sub-freezing weather. When the mercury drops, most gun lubricants begin to get gummy and some can even freeze solid. Prevent this by lubricating your firearm components and then wiping away all excess oil. This still leaves a protective film on metal parts, but it removes extra oil which could become problematic in the cold.

Keep it Down Out There
Whether slung or hand-held, a common practice among foul-weather hunters is to carry their rifles muzzle down. This prevents rain, ice, snow and even debris from entering the barrel.

Wrap it Up
Even with the muzzle down in bad weather, parts such as bolts and triggers are still exposed to the elements. One option to protect these parts is to carry the weapon in a sleeve or scabbard for protection, though this adds extra weight to your carrying load and it dramatically slows down a shooter when they have to take the time to remove this covering. One silly but effective option for weather protection involves ordinary kitchen plastic wrap. Grab a roll from the cupboard and wrap up the parts you need to protect. This clingy material is easily to remove when setting up for a shot and it conforms to the specific shape of your weapon – without adding weight or bulk. Quietly unwind the clear wrap when you’re ready to take the shot, and stuff the wrap in a clean pocket to give you the option to reuse it later.

Tape Your Muzzle
As an added precaution against moisture and precipitation in the barrel, place a small bit of tape over the muzzle of your weapon. Electrician’s tape is a great choice. It should be removed before firing, and it can be replaced after you’ve taken the shot.

Keep it Cold
If you’ve been out in the freezing cold with your firearm and go to a warm place for a break, leave the weapon out in the cold. The sub-freezing metal will form condensation in warmer, moister air, just like a glass of ice sweats on a hot humid day. Condensation inside the weapon will freeze when you take it back outside, causing actions to jam, triggers to freeze, and many other potentially dangerous problems.

(Top Photo: When you need to make the shot, the last thing you need is a frozen weapon)

These tips, and many more survival skills, are available in MacWelch’s books:

The Ultimate Winter Survival Handbook

How to Survive Anything

Prepare For Anything

Hunting and Gathering Survival Manual 

And if that’s not enough, you can:
Follow Tim on Twitter @timmacwelch

Take one of his survival classes at www.advancedsurvivaltraining.com
and check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles at Outdoor Life Magazine’s survival site, The Survivalist ( link http://survival.outdoorlife.com )

And check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles in Outdoor Life Magazine.


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2 Responses to “Wilderness Survival: Fight Back Against a Frozen Firearm”

  1. Randy McBride

    A black balloon over the end of the barrel works for me on any hunt with a muzzle loader. No need to remove as the pressure will blow it off at the shot. Also works on Rifle hunting.
    Regards, Randy

    • CMS

      A Marine sniper I worked with years ago told me to carry a small box of finger cots (like a condom for finger injurys) from bandaid section of stores…comes in a box 1/2 the size of pack of cigerettes and has 10 – 15…been carrying them since…no need to remove to fire they almost disintergrate and handy if you cut one of your digits…wish they come in camo…