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Tips on Using Weapons in Artic Conditions

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Racebannon, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. Racebannon

    Racebannon Well-Known Member

    I'm looking for tips on operating semi auto rifles in artic conditions, i.e. Alaska, high mountains in winter, a temps around -10F to -32F. What is the best way to lubricate an AR type rifle? What special steps are useful for caring for and keeping the rifle in operating? Does the temperature affect zero or performamce of the rifle and ammunition? What special equipment is needed, shooting gloves, etc? Finally, how does low temperature affect tactical optics like ACOG and EOtech?
  2. jhnrckr

    jhnrckr Well-Known Member

    a milspec gun should run fine at sub zero temps. extreme cold will affect batteries and some optics, namely lasers go with a adjustable scope, it is better suited for longer shots.
    Cold air is dense air that will affect ballistic but that can be balanced out with altitude. your POI will change marginally if you sight in at sea level on a dry summer afternoon so recheck your zero when you get to base camp. If you reload use Hogden Extreme powders to make up your load. Your biggest challenge will be high winds and longer shooting distances and shivering.
  3. Abel

    Abel Well-Known Member

    We used Arctic CLP, LAW, to lube our weapons @ Ft. Wainwright:

    Below 0 degrees Fahrenheit-use lubricating oil, arctic weather (LAW). Oil lightly to avoid freeze-up.
  4. Vaarok

    Vaarok Well-Known Member

    Strip it of any and all grease and oil, they will get gooey with cold, if not gel outright. Be prepared for short-stroke on semiautos because of cold powder and thicker air. Use graphite lubricants if anything.

    Caribou should be along shortly to provide firsthand advice, but those are my insights from shooting on occasion in very cold CNY winters of -20 or so. And at -40 a SKS won't even work.
  5. PigButtons

    PigButtons Well-Known Member

    Silicone gun lube is the only way to go at those temps. Any petroleum based lube will begin to gel and the action will freeze up. If your rifle will tolerate it going dry is also an option. Tolerances open up at those temps giving the action a little more freedom to move. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will get hot enough to change that much unless you have some sustained rapid fire.

    There are mittens that have a trigger 'finger'. Good option if you are going to be out for very long.

    If you reload, make sure your powder is stable at those temps. You'll need the advise of experts in the reloading area. POI will definitely change somewhat if you have a 50 to 60 degree change in temps. Sight in appropriately.

    I recommend putting tape over the muzzle. It will not affect your shot and it prevents moisture in whatever form from getting in the barrel and freezing. Carry some with you and retape after shooting so the barrel is covered as you move between sets.

    Goggles are nice because the water over your eyes will freeze. Mainly when you first go from a warm area to outdoors. But if a breeze catches you just right it can happen anytime. Just makes your vision blur until your eye compensates with more blood flow. Goggles prevent most of this.

    Cover ALL exposed skin if there is any wind at all. Your skin can get frostbite in under a minute and you won't know it until the next day when it looks like you stayed out too long on the beach in Florida. Two days after that all of your skin will peal off of the affected area.

    Stay well hydrated. Even more important than in moderately hot weather. You'll get really cold really quick if you don't. If you start shivering you will sweat in your clothes and then the sweat gets really cold really fast.

    Have fun and good hunting.
  6. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Well-Known Member

    Don't lick the barrel, your tongue will stick to it.

    Other than that, I don't do much of anything different. (in Alaska, Michigans Upper Penninsula, Wisconsin, Pa, Ohio) My lube mix stays decent in cold weather. You'll need a quick release Larue type optic mount and backup irons when your optic fogs over and you have to tear it off.
  7. Six-Gun

    Six-Gun Well-Known Member

    I suggest running the gun pretty much *free* of all lubricants when the cold gets extreme. I did enough hunting in sub-zero temps in Nebraska during duck/dark goose season to realize that virually any lube that isn't thin as water will seriously inhibit proper cycling in a semiauto. Someone on a forum suggested that I start running my Benelli completely dry in these conditions and guess what? No more sluggish cycling; the gun ran perfectly.
  8. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Well-Known Member

    Alaskan Cold Weather Firearms Lube Test.
    Negative 10 to Negative 65 F.

    Shooter Choice FP-10..........Works very well in ARs and bolt guns. Good to-50
    Terta Gun Lube...........Thicker, works well on crew full auto weapons Tried at 62 below
    Mil Issue Arctic Brake Fluid.......Worked well on M-2HB and M-240 at 56 below
    G-96 Gun treatment............Comes as a spray, very light, bolts guns to -65
    Penn Synthetic Reel Oil P/N 92340..... Very Fluid, Extremely slippery good to -65
    Marvel Mystery Oil..... Very fluid, Very slippery good to -40

    3 in 1 Oil.......Fairly fluid, somewhat slippery gums at -20
    LPS-2.........Fairly Fluid, somewhat slippery gums at -20
    Klean-Bore Formula 3....... Some separation, fairly fluid, somewhat slippery

    Tri-Flow.......... Separated, does not adhere or film on metal
    Break-Free Mil Issue....... Separated, somewhat tacky and semi syrup like
    Mil-Tech........... Thick, somewhat tacky, syrup like
    Outers Gun Oil.....Very thick syrup. Tacky
    Mil spec MIL4-46000c Lube Oil.......Separated, some was in thick jell state.
    Rem Oil..............Thick jell, tacky below minus 20
    Boe Shield T-9.......... Thick Jell, tacky, leaves wax like film
    Corrosion X HD......... Thick jell, tacky
    Ballistol.............very thick jell. TOTAL Separation
    Exxon Elite 20-50 Syn Av Oil.......Very Thick, glue like
    AeroShell 15-50 Semi Syn Av Oil.......Very thick, glue like

    The coldest temps that I have personally used a weapon was 76 below zero at Fort Yukon Alaska during Jan-Feb 1983. I had to clean all the oil out of my revolver with acetone and then lubed it with One Puff silver graphite lube. My 1911A1 and my buddy's Beretta (or his Mni-14) would not work most of the time since the metals would contract at different rates as soon as we pulled them out of our Parkas. I let the patrol car idle all the time but it was so cold that the exhaust pipe eventually filled p with carbon since it could not stay hot enough to exit the tail-pipe. So it just quit while it was idling..... Then I broke off the door handle trying to get the door open...
    It is so dry at those temps that your pee (no indoor plumbing) looks like a yellow C02 fire extinguisher going off.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  9. reppans

    reppans Well-Known Member

    Leave your rifle outside in the cold if you pop inside to warm up.... warm air holds humidity and cold steel with condense it inside the gun. If you bring your rifle from cold to warm to cold again, the condensed moisture will freeze and may cause jams.

    Get an air-tight plastic bag and put your cold rifle in it before bringing it inside for cleaning/storage. Let it sit for a few hours inside the air-tight bag to bring it up room temp before taking it out... again, to avoid condensation.
  10. Chris-bob

    Chris-bob Well-Known Member

    Yup, stay away from petroleum based oils.
  11. baylorattorney

    baylorattorney Well-Known Member

    Make sure you can fit your trigger finger in trigger guard gloved.

    Mark, esquire
  12. caribou

    caribou Well-Known Member

    Winter Arctic maintainace.....Clean it, keep it clean, lube it, wipe it off, use and maintain that way.

    In summer , the Arctic is damp, Rain, river, tundra in general and the Ocean, where most people are....... oil it, oil it, oil it, let it shine, the only problems then, is with sand, and since theres not much sand around, its not that much of a problem.

    If its clean, keep it outside and frozen, or be prepared to detail strip and wipe.
  13. Skyshot

    Skyshot Well-Known Member

    +1 for shooters choice FP-10. Several of us went on a late January deer hunt a few years ago and the temps would only get to about -18 as the high and down to -31 for the low. We keep our rifles in the cold the entire time which was for 5 days. A couple of the guys were shooting semi-autos one was a Browning BAR and the other was a Remington 742 and the rest of us had bolt guns. Before the trip we all degreased the firearms and us the FP-10 exclusively and all the firearms worked very well.
  14. reppans

    reppans Well-Known Member

    Try the plastic bag trick in post #9
  15. Ranger30-06

    Ranger30-06 Well-Known Member

    :D You sir, are a winner!

    +1 on the complete removal of oil/grease and either graphite lube or arctic CLP. The bigger concern though would be staying warm enough to make a steady shot...
  16. caribou

    caribou Well-Known Member

    #9 Ive seen, but I use corrosive and the cleaning is a routine inside after I get home...... when I dont shoot, I leave it in the shed with all my other rfiles.
  17. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    holy crap. i get my cold weather gear out when it drops below 40* in TN. you guys are nuts. give me 100*+ any day
  18. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Well-Known Member

    The Sov AK manual I have called for rifles used in artic conditions to be stripped of all old lube and thier version of LAW to be applied. Under (I think) -50C they called for diluting the gun oil with kerosene.

    I'll post a copy of the .pdf tonight after I get home.

  19. mortablunt

    mortablunt Well-Known Member

    For cold weather conditions, use viscosity controllers and also remove all water from the gun, especially the moving parts.
  20. d2wing

    d2wing Well-Known Member

    Another lube is powder molydenum disulfide of "moly". I use it in subzero temps with no problems. Although it has been used to reduce friction in gun barrels I would avoid getting it in the chamber or barrel as heat causes it to bond with the metal.

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