Before heading into the field this rifle season, here are a few simple items to double-check on your firearm system to ensure downrange accuracy and consistency.
- Rifle Bore
There are many trains of thought when it comes to cleaning the bore of your rifle. Removing fouling might cause a point-of-impact shift and alters the internal dimensions of the bore, but it needs to be done. That being said, I’ve been trained to keep cleaning simple by only removing carbon fouling from the barrel until the barrel begins to show a loss in accuracy. At that point, copper needs to be removed because of the bullets I shoot. This, of course, will vary depending upon the type of ammunition you’re shooting. Note, too, that carbon fouling and copper buildup generally require different solutions to remove.
- Rifle Chamber
A cotton bore mop works great for regular chamber cleaning. Keeping your rifle chamber clean from foreign debris and dirt will help prevent bolt lock-up.
- Double checking that your rifle doesn’t have any loose fasteners or cracks in the construction of the stock. It’s especially important to check the torque of your action screws.
- Use a dollar bill to ensure that your barrel is free floated and no debris is lodged between it and the fore end.
- Build up a cheek weld with tape and foam if necessary (or pursue an after-market stock) to ensure that you’re not “floating” on the cheek weld. Your eye should line up with the ocular axis of the scope without muscling your head into the correct position.
- Make sure your rifle sling stud is properly attached to the stock. The last thing you want is to drop your rifle, causing damage due to a faulty sling stud.
Although aftermarket stocks are an option for most rifles, you can alter the stock with foam and tape to attain the perfect cheek weld.
- Double-check that the scope's eye relief is correct for the intended shooter.
- Make sure all scope rings and bases are tight and have correct torque specs applied.
- The turrets on the scope elevation and windage should easily adjust and track correctly during sight-in.
Always use a torque wrench to tighten and check the screws on the scope's rings and bases.
- External Ballistics
- Zero your rifle on the optimum max point blank distance (maximum distance you can terminally engage your target without adjusting your hold or turret) for your caliber/bullet combination based on the size of game animal you’re hunting.
- Secure a drop chart to the stock of your rifle for quick in-field reference.
- In The Field
- A supportive gun case is a must for transit of your rifle. This holds especially true when transporting your rifle to and from hunting areas on bumpy roads.
- JB Weld is great to bring along in the event that your rifle sling stud comes loose.
- Torque wrenches for your action or scope rings/bases. Wheeler makes a great set for about $45.
- Compact cleaning rod and cotton patches to remove moisture from the barrel.
- Bring along your manufacture recommendations for torque specs on action screws, scope rings and bases.
You can get a ballistic chart nearly anywhere for your caliber, from ammo boxes to smartrphone apps. Tape the chart to your stock for quick reference.
Good hunting to you all … and shoot straight.