Storing your rifles isn’t the most interesting topic, neither is it one that’s going to excite anybody. Putting away your weapons at the end of the season is the most depressing day of any hunters season, and for this reason, most people put little to no effort into it.
But failing to prepare for the off-season is going to cost you in both time and money next season. Storing your weapons poorly will warp them, cause rust and leave dirt to engrain into the rifle. Instead, you need to ensure that it’s efficiently stored so that when you pull it out next season, you can give it a quick once over and head out to start hunting.
Don’t Leave it Until Later
The biggest mistake of all, which most of us have made at least once, is to tell ourselves that we will do it later. Rather than putting the rifle into the safe and promising that you will clean, maintain and store it properly then, do it now before you forget or convince yourself that it’s not as big of an issue as you thought.
It’s easy to convince yourself to be lazy, but this procrastination is only creating more work for yourself down the line. Instead, put your favorite album or TV show on and start cleaning and oiling your weapon before you step into the house. It shouldn’t take longer than half an hour but will save you hours and hundreds of dollars in years to come.
Clean Your Rifle
Although you should be cleaning your rifle after every time you take it out, it’s particularly important that you do a serious clean at the end of the season before it goes into storage. When you’re not regularly moving and shooting the weapon, even small amounts of dirt has the time it needs to harm the material of the rifle.
At the very least you will need a cleaning rod to clean out the barrel, a cleaning patch for smaller sections and solve for cutting away at fouling inside your bore. If you’re on a tight budget, a ripped up an old t-shirt or dusting cloth can be attached to a rod or used as a cleaning patch.
The first and last inch of your barrel is the essential parts to clean because these tend to be the dirtiest and also have the most significant impact on your accuracy. After, clean the chamber, action and moving parts using a clean rag and a cotton swab for hard to reach areas.
Oil the Rifle
Perhaps the biggest mistake the amateurs make when it comes to cleaning and oiling their rifle is to overdo the oil or lube. The problem with these materials is that they attract dirt and grit, so you want only to lubricate the areas that need it and avoid lubricating those that don’t.
The only areas that should be lubed are where two parts of the rifle rub or slide past each other. The lugs on the bolt of the rifle, the underside of the rear bolt, along with the ejection port and around the firing pin are examples of where lube is needed.
Use a Gunsock
With the best will in the world, dirt is going to get onto your weapon when you leave it in a storage area for many months of the year. To prevent this, you need to cover it with something to prevent water and dirt from getting onto the metal. The best option is a gunsock which can be quickly pulled on and off, and are available at an affordable price.
Optimize the Temperature and Humidity of the Safe
Presuming that you store the rifle inside of a safe, which you should for long-term storage, it’s important that you optimize the temperature and humidity of the safe. High humidity and heat can cause the metal to warp and rust over time, leaving you with a ruined weapon come next hunting season.