While growing up in the frozen tundra, Upstate New York, I did not do a lot of shooting during the winter months. Now that I live in the south I wear a badge of honor to shoot all year round, even if it is a balmy 24 degrees. The cold has a way of exposing issues with your gear. I have not heard too many people say “it was so hot my gun would not run”, but I have heard “it was so cold my gun would not run”. Most of the time, with rimfire guns, it comes down to ammo. Most rimfire ammunition has a bees wax, paraffin, or combination of petroleum based coating on the bullet to protect the bullet as well as provide a level of lubrication. If there is excess wax, when it is cold, the wax has a higher level of viscosity which means it is tougher to move in magazines and feed into a gun. Wiping excess wax off with a brush or towel will help your guns run. Another good strategy is to place a warming device in with your loaded magazines or ammo such as ‘Hot Hands’ or Zippos new electronic hand warmers while at a match.
While shooting at the 2018 Georgia State Steel Match this weekend, a competitor was having an issue with his gun. On the very first string there was some sort of gun malfunction with his rifle after the first shot. He spent ten seconds or so, which probably felt like 5 minutes, to clear the jam. He appeared to have a live round finally chambered and then he finished the string. He was able to shoot four more flawless strings of fire, going one-for-one after the malfunction. I was impressed with his level of concentration and he shot some fantastic times.
When he returned from the firing line I asked him what happened and he said the gun would not chamber the round. He asked me what I would have done. I told him every time I have a malfunction I try to clear it quickly and if I can’t I look to diagnose what is going on, try to fix it, and finish the string. It is VERY important to clear whatever malfunction happened and make sure the gun runs. This is important because if you clear a jam and don’t test the gun (while on the clock), subconsciously you will wonder if the gun will go bang when you pull the trigger. It is unfortunate if you have one malfunction; you cannot afford two strings on a stage where you have malfunctions. At a high level of competition, it will certainly take you out of contention from a spot on the podium.
I too had one issue on the very first stage of the match. It looked like a feeding issue. I put in another magazine, chambered a round, and finished the string. The thought of “this is going to be a long day” did flash into my mind! Fortunately, I brought six magazines to the firing line and finished the stage without disrupting my concentration. I did not have another single issue during the match with any of my gear. After returning home, I took the magazine down with the TANDEMKROSS 10/22 magazine take down tool and I found a little bit of wax in the magazine. It must have been just enough wax to harden and negatively impact the rotary magazine from spinning at the correct speed with the correct force creating the feeding issue. A good reminder to clean your magazines before they actually need it!
See you out on the range soon!