Barrel Wet From Rain

Len Backus

Staff member
May 2, 2001
The forecast is for rain on the first day of my Montana deer hunt. Does a barrel wet from water throw a bullet significantly off-target? I shot a Coues deer at 666 yards in the rain a few years ago. We were moving around in pickup trucks, though, and I can't remember whether my barrel was wet. Certainly I would expect a barrel wet from cleaning and before firing fouling shots to print to a different spot but I never tested one wet from water.

And, on a cold day, if you use a barrel condom or a balloon to keep the inside dry...will you end up with condensation making the inside wet anyway?

Inquiring minds want to know!!!
I kind of grew up in Oregon where rain was normal. I have hunted packing a rifle that had a plastic bag wrapped around the scope and action area. Held in place by a small piece of duct tape so it could be pulled off in seconds.

I always walked with the barrel down. I guess that if your barrel was straight up and a rain guage collected one inch of rain your barrel if you had a bullet in it might collect some water

I would say that a small amount of water would not make a huge difference at common hunting ranges.

That said, if you are stretching things out past 500 yards, I would expect some change in impact.

Most of the serious hunters in my area of Montana will put a small piece of electrical tape over the bore to keep any moisture out of the bore in the rain.

At the shot, the air trapped in front of the bullet will blow the tape off before the bullet reaches the muzzle.

I have heard this is a common practice in Canada and Alaska as well in wet climates.

Good Luck here in Montana!

Kirby Allen(50)
Len--just put a piece of tape over the muzzle, or a rubber glove finger--then you wont have to wonder

Kirby and JB, thanks.

I have used the tape before but I wonder if I end up with condensation inside?

I agree that it won't matter much before 500 yards but that's just the range where my preferred shot opportunities seem to start.

[ 10-15-2004: Message edited by: Len Backus ]
Len (Don't you hate if when I start like that.)

How about not having a round chambered, mag loaded but no round in the chamber.

Get some of those dental cotton plugs (like Sinclair sells for cleaning an action) and thread a piece of Pink Andy or other heavy fishing line through it... make a big knot. Have the line long enough to extend the full length of the barrel. Pre load the chamber with the cotton plug and have the line hanging out the end of the barrel. Tape the barrel as folks suggested to hold the line in place and keep the barrel relatively dry. When you're doing your setup, pull the cotton plug through the barrel to remove it, check the barrel clear (**** cotton), chamber and fire the round. You may be able to use two cotton plugs in that big 7mm Magnum Thingy you shoot.

P. S. If the string breaks or this doesn't work I will state I never suggested it!
I doubt if you are going to get cold enough temps for condensation inside the bore to be significant. Taping is essential if you are crawling around in snow or muck.

I like to make an X on the muzzle, then one ring around those pieces to keep them on good. Then spin about six or eight revolutions of tape at the midpoint of your barrel so you have some spare tape to replace if you fire a shot.

Your biggest concern should be the effect of each water droplet hitting the bullet on differing axis - understand that needs a lot of research and was going to ask Dave King if he would help me do a study - maybe we could get some serious grant money and do the work this winter in Florida or on a tropical island somewhere

Worries the hell out of me, does the nose tip downward if a water droplet hits the top tip of the bullet, how many droplets would it take hitting one particular spot on the bullet to start it leaning to that side, would water droplets hitting the rear of a bullet have a different effect on flat-base bullets compared to boat-tails. We need answers here... Big problem with the tests might be repeatability - could get expensive if we have to while away the sunny days fishing etc. Might need some help here if anyone is interested
Ok, you guys. I get the message.

I'm having my weekly lunch with my 89 year-old mom in 20 minutes and I'm going to tell her you guys are picking on me!
Yeah, well don't forget to tell her that you asked for it!

Maybe the only consideration here is similiar to an oily or slightly wet bore, from the bench. Might open up the group, slightly, might not?

But, driving a bullet through a driving rain after it has left the barrel is probably more of a challenge, than the wet bore?

I've hunted in rain before, and my only consideration was rain drops on the ocular lens. The visibility in general is so restricted because of the sparkle, looking through the scope. Once it really starts coming down, most of your quarry is seeking shelter, anyway. But, I'm a firm believer in subjecting the rifle to the elements it has to operate in. I wouldn't keep it in a hermetically sealed case, and pop it open on the spot.

We used to get a plastic cap that slid over the flashguard, back in my war hero days, but holding your rifle with the barrel down is just as effective, if you don't have one handy.

Just do the best you can with what you have, and don't worry about it.

Oh! and good luck! LB
Hunting in the wooly north, I will share my thoughts.

Electrical tape over the muzzle - must do.

Keep rifle outside if temp is cold. This ensures you don't get thermal shock, better known as fogging when you take it outside. do check your action screws because going from hot to cold several times may cause the stock to move enough for the screws to loosen.

If you wear glasses and are truck hunting, wind down the windows to keep the cabin temp relatively cool. Nothing more frustrating then stepping out of a warm cab and having your glasses or scope fog up then freeze. That would be good for America's funniest videos.

Avoid stocks that are unstable in varying temps/moisture. Some walnut stocks are stable, most are not. Lam or composite.

With the action closed and muzzle taped, condensation is not going to collect in the bore unless you are in West Coast rain, also known as underwater.

If you are stuck in a downpour, keep the rifle level or muzzle UP. Because your muzzle is taped, the concern is water getting into the action/chamber. With the muzzle level to up, water will run out the trigger group. Another good reason to have synthetic lube on your trigger group. Keeps things from rusting and freezing.

I use synthetic oils and lubes. They don't freeze or thicken in temps I am ever going to hunt in - that still gets pretty **** cold.

For lense fogging, consider the Elite 4200 scopes. The Rainguard is supposed to work.

Good luck with the hunt and hopefully you will have decent weather.

Len, an educated guess says you'll be in a warm dry pick up cab most of the time. I don't think you need to worry too much about the rain. However if the roads turn to gumbo that may put a serious damper on things. Oh and btw a pard of mine killed one of the bucks I've been watching and video taping. He got it with his bow last week less than 20 miles from here. It grossed 189 and nets 183. Like I said there are definitely some big bucks around this year.
A Marine friend told me about the electrical tape a number of years ago. I wondered if it would affect the accuracy and change POI so I shot some groups with it on----no change. Now I don't have to worry about rain, snow, dust, dirt, pine needles, twigs, etc........ I've never found any moisture in the barrel after a wet hunt either. And it's cheap!

Pat S.
Yes... The RainGuard works great but the reticle adjustment on the 4200's leaves a good bit to be desired (inconsistent) and they have an incredibly small amount of total adjustment available.

Therefore I use the Mil-Dot models and don't adjust the reticle AT ALL when I'm "in the field".

Oh yeah... And I use the Burris Zee Signature rings with offset inserts to position them dead center, with crosshairs at mechanical center, at 100yds with a good bit of elevation available (front of scope tilted down a bit).

Zero is typically at 3-400yds with a 300WSM and 2-300 with my 308's.

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