"If you take care of it, it will always take care of you."
Many seasoned hunters across Alberta abide by these wise words, cleaning their firearms after each use. They know what they're doing-a firearm that is properly cleaned and stored will work the same every time you take it into the field. No need for costly repairs. Treat it right, and your rifle will last a lifetime or more.
Take your firearm out of its travel case as soon as you get home from the field, and let it warm to room temperature. Hunting in the cold can cause frost and moisture to appear on metal parts of the gun.
If you were hunting in the rain or snow, make sure to wipe all parts of your firearm with an oiled cloth. A little gun oil on a cotton cloth will wipe away moisture and ensure a thin coating of oil is left on metal parts. The oil prevents rust or corrosion from forming on the metal, and wood finishes from cracking or lifting.
Always clean blood from the barrel or stock, as it can discolour or cause pitting. Clean any checkering on your stock with a soft toothbrush to keep the crafted edges and design of the woodwork.
The accuracy of any rifle is closely tied to the barrel. Powder residue and metal, like copper from the jacket of your bullet, foul with the rifling (the grooves in the barrel that grip and spin the bullet). Overlooking these deposits leads to build-up that destroys accuracy and is very difficult to remove down the road. Cleaning the barrel regularly ensures your rifle shoots as optimally as possible. Here's how:
Remove and clean the bolt on your rifle with cleaning solvent and a cotton cloth. Ensure the bolt face is free of fouling. If you're hunting in freezing temperatures, let the bolt dry completely before reinserting into your rifle. Moisture can slow moving components of your bolt when you want it to fire. A slow or sticky bolt may not allow the firing pin to strike the primer of a cartridge to ignite the powder. If you know you are going to be hunting in freezing conditions, try cleaning your bolt with brake or carburetor cleaner, and allow it to dry completely before using it.
Remember: Never store a damp firearm in a case, even for a short time. Keep an oiled cloth in all of your gun cases or bags for quick and easy field maintenance.