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Waterproof your guns!

Whenever you find yourself hunting or trekking through snowy or rainy country, here are some "frontier livin'" tips that could be helpful to you. Wet weather is awfully tough on firearms, especially those who have lost much of their original protective finish. It doesn't take too much exposure in a damp climate before signs of rust appear on the metal parts of your firearm. For this reason, I prefer carrying a nickel-plated revolver as my sidearm. Many times when camping in the open, I've gotten up in the morning to find my guns wet with rain or dew. While blue finishes can rust and spot quickly in undetected areas, a nickeled gun is protected against a thorough soaking without any ill effects. I generally make it a habit to check my guns first thing in the morning, and in doing so, I wipe them off with a dry cloth. My standard sidearm has always been a Colt Single Action Army, generally in either .44-40 or .45 Colt chambering. I've been carrying a 4-3/4-inch barreled, nickel-plated "forty-five" for some time now and have found it much more durable and practical for outdoor use than a blued model. I've heard the complaint that a nickeled, or bright gun reflects too much light and, in a hunting situation, could reveal your presence to game. I don't believe this is a serious consideration since I carry my six-shooter in a deep-seated, old-time style holster by Red River (8348 Foothill Blvd., Dept. GA, Sunland, CA 91040). The 19th century style gun scabbards were made so that the major portion of the revolver was covered, thus protected, leaving just the grip and hammer area exposed. A full-flap holster also accomplishes this. Another important factor is that since most hunting is done during the colder seasons, I find myself with a jacket, or heavy overcoat over my gunbelt. This of course, eliminates any chance of reflection, while sheltering the gun from the elements. However, if this still does not suit you, then you might consider packing a stainless steel six-shooter. The non-glare, satin finish found on these arms is without a doubt, practical for hunting in wet country.

If you're totin' a cap and ball revolver, you can waterproof it by melting beeswax over the capped nipples as well as over the mouth of each chamber. This method was employed countless times in the heyday of black powder arms and is just as useful today as it was back then. Beeswax is not difficult to work with and by simply heating it to a liquid state, it can quickly and easily be applied to the appropriate areas of your favorite sixgun.

Whenever a blued, browned or no-finish firearm, be it hand-gun or longarm, is employed in wet weather, here are a couple of handy hints that will safeguard it against rusting. This first tip, I must confess, comes from Art Ressel, owner of the Hawken Shop in St. Louis, Missouri. Art's suggestion is to thoroughly wipe all metal parts of your firearm with neutral shoe polish (paste wax). I tried it recently while hunting with Warren Johnson's "Hell's A' Roarin'" outfitters in the Absaroka wilderness in southern Montana. We hunted for several days in rainy and snowy weather, and a quick coating of shoe polish each morning protected the gun during the day's hunt. I was using a Hawken percussion rifle that had virtually all of the browning worn off of the barrel and furniture, yet this shoe polish covering protected every area that was covered. If you find yourself in the back country without shoe polish and suddenly need a protective covering, try using tallow, or any other muzzle-loading gun grease you may have with you. A heavy coating of gun oil will protect the metal, but it comes off with the slightest handling, where the shoe polish and other thicker greases will wear better.

As you know, the lock area of any muzzle-loader must be kept dry. One easy way to accomplish this is to carry a piece of heavily greased and waterproofed canvas--say about a foot square--in your shooting bag. If the weather turns foul, wrap the covering over the lock of your rifle. This will greatly aid in keeping any rain or snow away from your percussion's nipple, or flinter's pan and vent.

A modernized version of this lock waterproofing is available from Blue and Gray Products, R.D. 6, Box 348, Dept. GA, Wellsboro, PA 16901, and is called the "Weatherguard." It's a moulded pliable plastic form-fitted covering that fits over the rifle's lock area. The Weatherguard is made to fit most of today's replica muzzle-loading rifles, flint and percussion. If it doesn't fit your rifle in the form furnished by Blue and Gray Products, simply soften it further by placing it in boiling water, then hand mould it to suit your firearm.

Blue and Gray products also offers a handy item called the "Cap Guard," which is simply a small plastic sleeve that the shooter slides over a capped nipple. This performs the combined functions of waterproofing the nipple while keeping the cap from falling off. When the arm is fired, the Cap Guard splits, allowing for easy removal of the spent percussion cap.

Butler Creek, P.O. Box GG, Dept. GA, Jackson Hole, WY 83001, offers their own waterproofing device they call the "Nipple Cover." This accessory fits over an uncapped nipple; however, it has a separate compartment built in for holding a No. 11 percussion cap. When carrying your gun, the hammer rests on the Nipple Cover; when you are ready to shoot, bring your hammer to the half-cock position, remove the Nipple Cover and cap the rifle.

If you're hunting on horseback, and you carry your rifle in a saddle scabbard, here is a handy way to keep rain or snow from collecting in it. Take a cloth, preferably a heavily greased canvas sack, about the size of a large bank money bag, and split the bottom seam enough to fit over your rifle's butt. A drawstring can be added and laced in around the split to pull the cloth tightly around the stock if desired. Be sure that the opening of the bag is wide enough to go over the scabbard for maximum protection. If it will not, simply stuff it snugly around the rifle inside the scabbard. This will keep snow out of the scabbard and away from the firearm. If the rifle is needed for a quick shot, it should be no problem to simply yank the cloth sack off, yet for those long hours in the saddle, the rifle is kept free of rain, snow or other harmful foreign objects.

Here's one last idea that can aid in comfort. When hunting on horseback, often you will dismount for a rest, or perhaps to hunt an area on foot. When you dismount during rain or snowfall, throw your stirrups over the saddle seat and tie them with the rear saddle tie strings. This simple procedure only takes a couple of moments and can keep your seat dry . . . and if you've ever ridden very far on a wet saddle, or with a soaked bottom, you'll appreciate this tip!

Wet country is rough country. If you find yourself hunting or traveling in it, try these ideas. I know they've worked for me, and I feel that any way you can make yourself more comfortable, or better protect valuable equipment, will make the time spent in such terrain healthier, more enjoyable and much safer . . . and that's what it's all about, isn't it? BURNSIDE CARBINE CASES

Did you know that Dixie Gun Works stocks brand new manufactured cartridge cases for Civil War Burnside carbines? If you've ever tried to shoot a Burnside, you know how tough it can be to locate shootable original brass. Then when you find it, the price per brass case is enough to make you consider going back to your old BB gun! Fortunately, Dixie's brass cases are made exactly like the originals. These high quality drawn brass cases are made to accommodate the .557 size bullet, which was the most popular bore size of the 1860s-vintage Burnside carbines. Dixie's Burnside cases retail for $3 each, and if kept clean, should last for many shooting sessions.

Also available from Dixie Gun Works is a Burnside conical bullet mould which sells for $10.95, and a Burnside round ball mould (also $10.95). Of course you can also purchase cast bullets for your Burnside carbine from Dixie for $10.25 per 100 rounds. For further information on these, or any of the thousands of black powder related guns, accessories and books found in Dixie's catalog, write to them at: Dixie Gun Works, Dept. GA, P.O. Box 130, Union City, TN 38261. If you haven't got the catalog, send $3 ($4 if sent out of the U.S.A.). If you shoot black powder guns, you'll find it of great interest.
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Author:Spangenberger, Phil
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Oct 1, 1984
Previous Article:Black powder loads for "sharpshooters!"
Next Article:Reloading; premium game bullets.

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