Rifles in Cold Weather

This is a discussion on Rifles in Cold Weather within the Misc. forums, part of the Sniping Related category; Hello. I've never posted here before, but this seems the place to get an answer to a question I haven't found much about online. I'm ...

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  1. #1
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    Rifles in Cold Weather

    Hello. I've never posted here before, but this seems the place to get an answer to a question I haven't found much about online.

    I'm an author, and the end of a story I am writing has a man heading into the extreme north where he intends to operate as a sniper. I am wondering if there are any concerns with rifles having operational problems in extreme cold. Specifically, where he's headed is expected to have a temperature of -30 F (or C, they cross around there), which seems a good deal colder than most military equipment is intended for.

    I haven't been able to find anything online about rifle operation in extreme cold aside from concerns about cold-weather clothing interfering with using a gun and a need to use less lubricant or a dry lubricant.

    Do most sniper rifles fire normally regardless of temperature, and are there any specific rifles that are designed for cold-weather use?

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Senior Member DaddyX's Avatar
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    I know the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare rifle family has a few unique features that help it perform better in arctic conditions. for instance the bolt has tiny grooves etched in it to help with cycling the bolt (problems arose when to bolt would freeze shut in extreme cold weather) it is also fitted with larger than normal hardware.

    From Wikipedia: The rifle now featured special de-icing features allowing it to be used effectively at temperatures as low as −40 °C (−40.0 °F). The stockhole, bolt, magazine release and trigger guard on the AW are large enough to facilitate use with heavy Arctic mittens.

    other than the hard ware of the rifle needing to be a little different, when firing from long ranges the bullet behaves differently. factors may include Air density, bullet temperature, and probably taking a cold bore shot i believe would be much different.

    I'm no sniper, just an enthusiast, so don't hang on my words. good luck with the book.
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    Senior Member doug308's Avatar
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    Cold weather at that extreme can certianly have an effect on both the mechanical operation of the rifle and the bullet flight.

    Rifles with tight tolerances and very smooth surface connections between components can easily freeze together, AI placed those groves, and in fact looser tolerances, for just that reason. It makes freezing less likely and easier to break loose when it does occur. Which it will even if you weren't a sniper laying around in the snow all of the time because of blowing snow, freezing condensation and what-have-you.

    Also extremely cold air is less dense which causes a bullet to travel faster that it would in warmer air. That in turn would cause the bullet's POI to be a little higher that it would be zero for a warmer climate. The thinner air of higher elevations would cause a similar effect.
    Actions speak louder than words but not nearly so often.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Stormrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doug308
    ..Also extremely cold air is less dense which causes a bullet to travel faster that it would in warmer air. That in turn would cause the bullet's POI to be a little higher that it would be zero for a warmer climate. The thinner air of higher elevations would cause a similar effect.
    You got that backward. Cold air is more dense.

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    Senior Member doug308's Avatar
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    Oops. How more molecular movement making them further apart.
    Actions speak louder than words but not nearly so often.

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    Thank you, that's exactly the information I was looking for.

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    Senior Member scotts1w's Avatar
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    Another issue:
    Moving from cold air to an indoor atmosphere around here(OH) will cause moisture in the air to condense on the rifle and optics. I wonder what the humidity is inside building in the ant/arctic?
    I always keep mine cased for at least 12 hours to allow it to warm slowly so as not to have the issue. I am only dealing with 18 to 25 degree temps here. Today the outside humidity was 51%.
    Taking it back outside after exposing it to the indoor climate could expose it to high levels of moisture ready to freeze.
    I'ld be interested in the book when it's out.
    IDPA, High Power Plinker, hoping to put it together on the long range stuff

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    Senior Member landcbeitner's Avatar
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    I understand that durring the "Winter War" the Finns were mixing gasoline with the oil used to lubricate their rifles to keep the actions from freezing up (the Russians may have been doing the same... I dont' remember). Both sides were using Mosin Nagants which are definately far from tight tollerances.

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    Senior Member fortyhourdays's Avatar
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    I remember reading that during the Korean War, In the winter, the GI's would always leave their weapons outside rather than bring them inside with them to warm up, or they would condensate and then freeze as soon as they walked back out.
    Jon

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    Junior Member TTS22's Avatar
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    Re: Rifles in Cold Weather

    Quote Originally Posted by micah
    Do most sniper rifles fire normally regardless of temperature, and are there any specific rifles that are designed for cold-weather use?

    Thanks for your help.
    From my experience my rifles shoot fine in the bitter cold. Up here where I live you get used to shooting in the winter or its a long 6 months off. I have not shot in -30 celcius but its been close.

    These pics were taken on a -14 celcius day.




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