Runnin’ and Gunnin’ with the Twins: Baby, it’s cold outside and your gun knows it, too — tips to keep shooting hot in the cold

Winter is here! Or if it isn’t yet, it’s right around the corner. More often than not this means inclement weather, rain, snow, hail, cold, etc. Many hunting seasons are still going and many have yet to start. If you’re one of those people who braves the cold to have a go at ducks and geese, or if you’re bundled up on a deer stand, or tracking elk through a foot of snow, you might want to consider some maintenance to your rifle or shotgun before you go out into the field. Proper maintenance can avoid devastating jams, inaccurate shots, and destructive rust.


Lanny Barnes competing in Biathlon World Championships. Photo courtesy of NordicFocus


Cold greatly affects the accuracy of your rifle. Both the barrel itself and the ammunition can be affected by the cold.


It’s important if you are going to hunt in colder temperatures, that you test your ammunition in the cold. When testing your ammunition in the cold, make sure that the ammo and rifle are the temperature of what you’ll likely hunt in. Don’t just take your ammo and rifle out of your truck and shoot it right away in cold weather. Set the ammo and rifle outside in the cold for a while, as if you had been sitting in the tree stand for a while with your rifle on your lap. Ammunition fired in colder weather may develop inadequate ignition, resulting in low pressure and reduced velocity. Most factory ammunition has a pretty wide range of temperature, and chances are you’ll have no problem in most conditions. But testing your ammunition in the cold to make sure that it shoots properly in your barrel is a good idea to avoid any missed opportunities in the field.


Speaking from experience, the dirtier your barrel is in the cold, the more likely your groups will spread. I’m specifically talking about a real dirty barrel. All rifles are different and you may find that there is a difference in accuracy from your first shot in a clean barrel versus a barrel that has had a “fouling” shot versus a barrel that hasn’t been cleaned all year.  By clean, I mean that your barrel has been cleaned and contains little to no oil from cleaning or gunpowder residue.  By fouling shot, I am talking about the first shot that is fired through a clean rifle. Many people take a fouling shot as they find there is a difference between when you take a shot in a clean rifle and after that first initial shot.

Lanny Barnes elk hunter

Here’s Lanny practicing what she preaches about knowing your firearm and how to operate it in the cold. Her diligence paid off, with a fine cow elk that filled her freezer with organic meat for her training purposes. Photo courtesy of Tracy Barnes


If you are hunting deer or elk and you are likely to take just one shot at an animal, a fouling shot is not a bad idea. You can take the fouling shot at the range when you are sighting in your rifle. Sight in your rifle as normal, then run a patch(es) through it to get it clean, and then shoot one more shot to “foul” the barrel. Now … you’re ready.


The Barnes’ twins love hunting in their home state of Colorado when they’re not training for the next biathlon competition. They are wearing Prois Hunting Apparel. Photo by Jason Baird

Lubricating the slide on your shotgun is a must, but some lubricants will freeze and gum up in colder weather, leaving you with a rough slide on your pump shotgun. The same goes for a semi-auto. If you are using the wrong kind of lubricant, extraction or ejection of the shell can be compromised, leaving you with a jammed gun and the ducks with a safe fly-over. When we are in the cold and want moving parts to function, we use Otis Technology’s Dry Lube. Otis’ Dry Lube was originally made for Special Forces and troops in dusty or sandy areas where normal lubricants would collect dirt and sand. Otis’ Dry Lube sprays on as a liquid and then dries quickly to leave a dry lubricant that binds with your gun. This lubricant won’t leave a drippy mess and won’t collect dust and other debris that will foul up your gun. One of the best discoveries we made for this versatile lubricant is its exceptional performance in the cold. Most lubricants leave behind residue that will freeze. The Dry Lube doesn’t. It also helps to repel moisture (great for those wet days hunting ducks) and it inhibits rust!

cleaning kit otisTo make sure that your gun is properly functioning in the cold, we suggest you use the Otis Technology Cleaning Kit. It has the most advanced technology packed inside a compact kit that you can take with you into the field. Otis Technology’s kit provides everything you need to properly maintain any caliber rifle or shotgun on the range and in the field. For more info visit Otis Technology online.

Follow the Barnes’ twins adventures at Twin Biathletes.




Runnin’ and Gunnin’ is brought to you, courtesy of Advanced Technology International.