Hunting in New Zealand – Getting your Rifle Ready.
Whether you are planning that New Zealand hunt or getting ready to chase your favourite local quarry, success means keeping your hunting rifle in tip-top order. Respecting your hunting gear is as essential as respecting the species you pursue and the land you hunt on.
Dirty barrels will not help you bag that dream New Zealand Red Stag. This article is designed to help you get your gear ready for the trip and keep it that way. For some, it will be a case of telling you what you already know, but for others who are newer to the rifle hunting game, the techniques described below will be useful – to say the least.
Many hunters come to New Zealand to specifically hunt red stag, but regardless of target species – you still have to keep your gear up to the task. Hunting in New Zealand is it’s own unique beast in that we have a maritime climate, swift, mobile animals and challenging terrain. Moisture is never far away and the risk of foreign object contamination is always present. Take a look at our rifle preparation techniques below – we follow these religiously after hunting in New Zealand’s challenging environment.
1. Clean your rifle regularly
To maintain your rifle’s optimal performance, it’s important to routinely clean all of your hunting gear. It doesn’t matter whether you are hunting in New Zealand 365 days a year, or every second season or so – gear will deteriorate without regular attention.
It’s worth mentioning that when you are chasing ‘lifetime’ trophies, every shot should count – so we recommend a full clean, or at minimum a bore snake after each volley.
Always ensure you are in a well ventilated area to clean your rifle.
2. Unload and disassemble
Always check your gun is unloaded. You do not have to disassemble your rifle right down to the last screw and spring in order to clean it. In fact, we recommend you don’t take your gun completely apart, it may seem simple, but reassembling a gun is harder than you think. . Cleaning your rifle can be done in the following quick and easy steps.
3. Follow the owner’s manual
First take a look through the owner’s manual for specific gun model instructions, different models require different cleaning techniques and the order of which certain parts are disassembled can vary.
Make sure you use the correct sized rods and calibre specific brushes (that are clean) for the optimal result.
4. Strip the gun’s exterior
Remove all clips and take out the bolt in a rifle, or lock open the action of a semi-auto rifle, shotgun or pistol. Brush with the bolt with a specific gun solvent, clean, dry off and lightly lube the bolt. Ensure you brush the extractor and/or the ejector as well.
5. Swab Bore
Set aside your cleaned bolt and working from the breech or chamber end only, run a cleaning rod with a gun solvent soaked bronze brush attached down the barrel and out the muzzle. You may have to repeat this action several times if the barrel is particularly dirty. Let the barrel sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the solvent to dissolve and soften bullet jacket material, lead and powder fouling.
6. Scrub and polish
Soak your cleaning brush in the gun solvent and then brush down the barrel again several times to loosen any gunk that is stuck in the barrel. After a couple of runs, we would recommend finishing by polishing the bore with a cloth to push any excess carbon out the muzzle. Make sure you don’t pull the cloth back out, and instead pull it through the chamber end so you are polishing in one direction only.
You should run several solvent soaked cloths down the barrel and out the muzzle end, each time use a new cloth until you are satisfied with the relative cleanliness of the cloth. The solvent will turn a lot of gunk in the barrel blue or green (carbon & copper), and although it may never come out 100% white, keep cleaning if the cloth comes out black, blue or green. It all depends on how many rounds were shot since the rifle’s last clean.
7. Apply oil
Your rifle does not need to go swimming in oil – the barrel and bolt just need a light coat of lubrication. The best way to apply is using a clean cotton cloth with oil to wipe down all the metal surfaces of the gun. It’s best to use gloves for this step as not to leave fingerprints on your rifle.
Always store you ammunition separately to your gun, and do not store any firearm in a sealed case for a long term. If you do, you should add a packet of moisture desiccant in the case. The best place to store your firearm is in a securely locked gun safe.
As for storage, travel with your rifle separately to your ammunition. The recommended way to travel with your rifle is via a lockable, knock-proof hard case, custom-prepared to hold your particular rifle and scope securely while in transit.
Remember, most baggage handlers really don’t care about the success of your trip and won’t always afford your gear the respect it deserves.
Given your rifle case may have been ‘chucked around a bit’ in transit, it always pays to check your gear over before heading out and hunting. By this, we mean get to a range and verify your rifle and scope is in alignment and is shooting where it should be. You don’t need a dozen shots (unless there is a problem) – the point of this excercise is to ensure you are confident to get out there and make that first shot count.
If you look after your rifle, it will look after you.