Off-Season Gear Inspections

By Josh Horowitz - 21-Feb-2017

For those of us in New England, the the winter is now the 'off season.' Sure, some folks go shoot in the snow and cold, but most stay inside.

Just because you aren't out at the range, doesn't mean that you can just leave your gear to sit and collect dust until the snow melts. This is the perfect time to inspect, repair, and (if needed) upgrade your equipment in advance of the upcoming season. Some items to consider:

Clean and inspect your competition guns

  • Take everything apart, clean well, and do a visual inspection. You are looking for wear and damage.
  • Have your guns been having any reliability problems during the season? Fix any outstanding issues before the Spring.
  • Check your round counts for periodic maintenance. Items like springs need to be replaced after × number of rounds.
  • Disassemble and clean your magazines

Pistols

  • Replace recoil spring every 3000-5000 rounds
  • Inspect and replace recoil buffers as needed
  • Check sights for security, replace fiber optic light pipes as needed
  • Inspect slide stop for engagement, bending and cracking
  • Check sear/striker engagement
  • Dry fire a lot? Check the firing pin and firing pin stop for wear and damage.
  • Disassemble and clean your magazines

3-Gun AR-15s

  • Every 5,000 rounds replace your extractor and ejector springs
  • Verify carrier key security
  • Make sure your adjustable gas block still adjusts (isn't frozen with carbon)
  • Clean your optic(s). (I like this cleaning kit from Peca Products)
  • Make sure that hardware is tight, and all screws have Loctite applied
  • Disassemble and clean your magazines
  • Verify zero / check groups. No one likes to find out unexpectedly that their zero shifted or the barrel is nearing the end of it's life.

3-Gun Shotguns

  • Gas operated: Throughally clean the gas system components
  • Check and repair as needed: Carrier latch
  • Replace: Magazine tube spring (it's cheap insurance)
  • Clean barrel and choke tubes
  • Shot in the rain? Make sure you take off your stock and check for corrosion
  • Verify slug zero

Check your holsters and pouches for security and wear

  • Check all your Kydex gear for cracks, especially at sharp angles and screw holes.
  • Make sure that hardware is tight, and all screws have Loctite applied
  • Changed anything recently? Make sure your equipment is legal for the shooting sport(s) that you participate in. Rules change all the time, it's up to you to make sure that you are setup properly.

Supporting gear

  • Check your shooting glasses for cleanliness and servicibility. I end up using cheaper glasses and replacing them annually.
  • Clean your earmuffs! They get gross after a summer of sweating in them. Most manufacturers offer 'Hygeine Kits' to replace the ear cups and foam.
  • Empty your range bag of all the small strips of pasters and old score sheets that accumulate during the season

Doing a few of these items a week over the course of the snowy time of year will pay off when you are ready to go in April, and all your squad mates are trying to reemmber when the last time was that they lubricated their rifle.