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Time to make firearms ready for hunting

October 4, 2018

A surefire way to tempt trouble heading into the dove, waterfowl and deer seasons is to not check out firearms and optics well ahead of the openers.

Although temperatures are still pushing into 90s, now is the time to pull the trigger to get ready for fall hunting seasons.

If there are problems that require the services of a gunsmith, latecomers must get in line and risk their firearms not being ready in time.

Gunsmiths say that every year shortly before hunting seasons open people bring in rifles and shotguns that malfunctioned last year and expect them to be good to go in days. Work starts flooding in by mid-August.

Firearms that were problem-free last year may not be now.

Storage in the offseason gives plenty of time for oil and grease to get gummy and cause problems with triggers and firing pins.

While firearms should be cleaned and lightly oiled before storage, many are not and need attention with the proper solvents and oils while preparing for the upcoming season.

One of the biggest problems gunsmiths see is too much oil, which can drain down into trigger mechanisms and gunk up the works. Some recommend storing firearms with the muzzle down so it will run out of the action and barrel.

While many seasoned hunters know how to remove the firing pin from the bolt, clean the assembly, oil lightly and put it back together, many are not mechanically inclined and will need help.

To be sure a rifle is functioning properly and still sighted in, a trip to a gun range is in order — but they, too, begin getting busy this time of year. By October, there can be a long wait for a table.

Before loading, run some dry patches down the bore to make sure there is no excess oil or any debris in the barrel. Be sure the jag and cleaning patch come out with the cleaning rod.

One gunsmith has a disaster displayed on his wall — a rifle barrel splayed apart from the muzzle almost all the way to the chamber.

The owner didn’t notice that the jag and patch detached from the rod. When he fired a round at the range, the barrel exploded. Luckily, no one was injured.

Rifle scopes may need to be re-zeroed with the hunter’s favorite ammunition.

While going over the scope, don’t forget to clean the lenses and turn the magnification, focus and parallax adjustment rings to make sure everything’s OK.

Shotguns need attention, too.

Just like rifles, trigger assemblies and firing pins may suffer after storage from gumming up after too much oil.

Shotguns with semi-automatic actions may need more care than pumps because fouling can prevent them from cycling.

A thorough cleaning and proper lubrication is in order for any type of shotgun.

Also consider applying an anti-seize compound to the threads on the choke tube to prevent it from getting stuck or rusted.

Rusting threads can cause a bulge and rupture the barrel when fired.

Also check the skirts on choke tubes to ensure that they are not bent and causing an obstruction.

The main thing is to play it safe and, if there are any doubts, contact someone who knows what they are doing.

John Goodspeed is a freelance outdoor writer. Email him at john@johngoodspeed.com.

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