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Help: Prevent frozen riflescope?

Marmuzz

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2021
Messages
341
Location
Pennsylvania
Going rifle hunting in some NY Adirondack wilderness with a buddy later this week. We will be “tenting” in a capped truck bed. We’ll have a campfire and the truck cab for short-term heat, but nothing warm and enclosed for a long period of time. Forecast calls for rain Thursday, then overnight dropping to 20-30° F which will remain for the next few days. (Yes, it’s gonna be very cold for camping.) My concern is my rifle scope… since we’re planning to still hunt/hike (i.e. not standing still where I can cover the scope), I’m imagining a scenario where the scope gets wet Thursday, then sits overnight in the truck, and freezes. At best, the scope fogs up… and I can’t see to shoot. At worst, the water freezes in the scope, expands, and ruins the scope. I’m trying to figure out how to prevent either situation if possible, but especially the latter.

Do you guys who hunt northern woods in freezing temps have solutions for this? Although I’ve hunted in PA rain/sleet/snow plenty of times, I’ve always had a warm cabin to rest the rifle in overnight.

My only thought to avoid the worst-case scenario is to—
a) not hunt Thursday, or
b) meticulously dry off the entire rifle and scope end of hunt Thursday, let it sit with me half an hour so in the warm truck cab to help draw out moisture, and then cuddle it in my sleeping bag while sleeping.

Any suggestions? Or am I overanxious about this?
 

Vtbow

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2018
Messages
4,986
Going rifle hunting in some NY Adirondack wilderness with a buddy later this week. We will be “tenting” in a capped truck bed. We’ll have a campfire and the truck cab for short-term heat, but nothing warm and enclosed for a long period of time. Forecast calls for rain Thursday, then overnight dropping to 20-30° F which will remain for the next few days. (Yes, it’s gonna be very cold for camping.) My concern is my rifle scope… since we’re planning to still hunt/hike (i.e. not standing still where I can cover the scope), I’m imagining a scenario where the scope gets wet Thursday, then sits overnight in the truck, and freezes. At best, the scope fogs up… and I can’t see to shoot. At worst, the water freezes in the scope, expands, and ruins the scope. I’m trying to figure out how to prevent either situation if possible, but especially the latter.

Do you guys who hunt northern woods in freezing temps have solutions for this? Although I’ve hunted in PA rain/sleet/snow plenty of times, I’ve always had a warm cabin to rest the rifle in overnight.

My only thought to avoid the worst-case scenario is to—
a) not hunt Thursday, or
b) meticulously dry off the entire rifle and scope end of hunt Thursday, let it sit with me half an hour so in the warm truck cab to help draw out moisture, and then cuddle it in my sleeping bag while sleeping.

Any suggestions? Or am I overanxious about this?
I"ve been hunting in the cold in VT since I started. even growing up at deer camp if you're planning on hunting again in the next 24 hours, the rifle never comes back inside. It stays on the unheated porch, never to really warm up or create any moisture. I do the same thing at home. Iv I"m hunting over the weekend and its cold, wet, whatever, I put the rifle on my unheated porch on Friday night, and it and the ammo stays out there until I am done hunting for the weekend. If it gets wet, I wipe it down.

You shouldn't have an issue with a good scope. I"ve never had an issue with any of my Leupolds or Vortex.

Butler creek scope covers are also great for the foul weather, just need to remember they make a "pop" when opening them and to open them slowly if you can and its dead quiet....
 

Jtaylor

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2018
Messages
1,503
Get some anti-fog spray/wipes, it helps shed the water off. Cover the side of the scope that's up when hanging the rifle on stand, saran wrap and a rubber band will work in a pinch. Keep the gun cold when done hunting as said before to minimize condensation.
If you're wearing a face mask, pull that down before looking through the scope. Face masks always seem to direct my breath up and out right by the scope and end up fogging them up.
 

woodsdog2

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
2,525
Just keep your firearm in a cold truck or in the back of your truck where there is no heat. Once it acclimates to the weather conditions you will not introduce heat to it which creates condensation. I've hunted in NY my whole life with average temperatures during hunting season in the low to mid 30's with rain, snow, sleet, etc. During season I never bring my gun inside where its warm. And I also agree, quality scopes are typically nitrogen purged to keep the internals from condensing but the exterior lenses may fog up if you keep introducing off and on to heat. IF you're a ML hunter never bring your gun inside unless you want to clean it every night. The condensation will form inside the barrel of the ML and moisten your powder charge.
 

woodsdog2

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SH Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
2,525
Forgot to mention the exterior of the scope lenses..... I like the rubber bikini covers (silent) or the Butler creek caps.
 

Exhumis

Well-Known Member
Vendor Rep
SH Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2019
Messages
1,952
Location
Northern Virginia
@Vtbow and @woodsdog2 are correct. Keep the rifle cold, don’t let it heat up and the scope should be fine. It should be sealed with o rings to prevent that anyway and modern optics are nitrogen filled as well to prevent condensation and fogging but I’d leave it outside just in case. I grew up hunting in Alaska and that’s what my dad always did.
 

Marmuzz

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2021
Messages
341
Location
Pennsylvania
Thanks for input everyone. Looks my solution was barking up the wrong tree! I’ll keep the rifle oiled and cold.
 

michigandrake

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2019
Messages
221
Location
Whitehall, Michigan
Like everyone else said and I like to put a bag of desiccant in my rifle case (I avoid foam cases) .... some minute rice will do. As it warms during the day your rifle gets warm and can gather moisture as temps drop at night. I have seen a few weapons that froze in the bed of a truck and needed a trip to the woodstove and some G96 to function again. Proper oiling probably would have prevented those but moisture inside your weapon during freezing temperatures is a bad thing.
 

Jagger0502

Active Member
SH Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2020
Messages
168
To add, if you do plan to hunt freezing rain or snow and not have a place to warm the rifle up get some finger condoms or electrical tape to cover your barrel opening. Getting rain or snow down there and then freezing could get you into a dangerous situation. Shoots right off when you pull the trigger and doesn’t cause any issues with the shot. Just take a few, mine always seem to fall off while I am walking around.
 

raisins

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SH Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
3,005
i've rifle hunted at near the highest elevations found in wv for most of my life, with temperatures from 0 to 20 F common and with heavy snow at times, you just have to use a semi decent quality scope with caps, keep it cold, and try to avoid getting anything on the scope or down the barrel

zero problems even with scopes that only cost 200 or 300 bucks, you just need something above wallie world tasco quality (an entry level burris is just fine)
 

Topdog

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2020
Messages
1,219
Going rifle hunting in some NY Adirondack wilderness with a buddy later this week. We will be “tenting” in a capped truck bed. We’ll have a campfire and the truck cab for short-term heat, but nothing warm and enclosed for a long period of time. Forecast calls for rain Thursday, then overnight dropping to 20-30° F which will remain for the next few days. (Yes, it’s gonna be very cold for camping.) My concern is my rifle scope… since we’re planning to still hunt/hike (i.e. not standing still where I can cover the scope), I’m imagining a scenario where the scope gets wet Thursday, then sits overnight in the truck, and freezes. At best, the scope fogs up… and I can’t see to shoot. At worst, the water freezes in the scope, expands, and ruins the scope. I’m trying to figure out how to prevent either situation if possible, but especially the latter.

Do you guys who hunt northern woods in freezing temps have solutions for this? Although I’ve hunted in PA rain/sleet/snow plenty of times, I’ve always had a warm cabin to rest the rifle in overnight.

My only thought to avoid the worst-case scenario is to—
a) not hunt Thursday, or
b) meticulously dry off the entire rifle and scope end of hunt Thursday, let it sit with me half an hour so in the warm truck cab to help draw out moisture, and then cuddle it in my sleeping bag while sleeping.

Any suggestions? Or am I overanxious about this?
Another dark to dark day for me today still hunting the dacks, I do this all season, have most of my life, if you have any detailed questions send me a PM, my rifle had so much ice and snow on it today, the spruce are heavy with snow higher up and every one I ducked under was raining snow down my neck, you just get used to it eventually, I have probably hunted more than 30% of the Park, there is a good chance I’ve hunted wherever your headed.
 
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