RETIRED SGT. 1ST CLASS JAMES ROONEY
Redstone Arsenal, Alabama
Cold temperatures can greatly affect the maintenance, functioning and employment of infantry weapons. To properly handle and care for your weapon under a variety of adverse conditions, you must take temperature into consideration. Your weapon is only as good as its maintenance. This is especially true when the mercury falls below freezing.
It is very important that you never let condensation form on your weapon. Condensation, often referred to as sweating, forms on weapons when they’re moved from extreme cold conditions to any type of heated environment. When the weapon is reintroduced to the extreme cold, the moisture refreezes and causes the internal mechanisms to freeze together, causing stoppages. For this reason, it’s best to leave weapons outside during freezing temperatures.
When left outside, weapons should be readily accessible, guarded and sheltered to keep ice and snow from accumulating in the working mechanisms, sights or barrel. Because the condensation process will continue for about an hour after bringing it into a warmer environment, wait until the sweating stops before attempting to clean the weapon. Once you’re inside the shelter, keep your weapon near the floor to minimize condensation. In addition, keeping the interior of the shelter close to 32 F will minimize condensation.
Once you move back into the cold, operate your weapon manually by pulling the charging handle to prevent the internal parts from freezing. Drop the magazine, ensure the weapon is clear and then charge the handle several times during the first five minutes after leaving a warm shelter.
When you clean your weapon, completely strip it and use a non-residue solvent to remove all lubricants and rust-prevention compounds. Once it’s clean, use a lubricant that won’t thicken and cause the weapon to operate sluggishly or jam. Use Lubricant, Arctic Weapon rather than Break-Free CLP in all weapons except the M249 squad automatic weapon and the M2 .50-caliber machine gun. Remember to use lubricants sparingly.
Another consideration is your battlesight zero. You should battlesight zero your weapon in the area where you’re going to use it. Temperature, elevation and atmospheric pressure all affect how the weapon operates and where the round hits. A common error occurs when Soldiers battlesight zero the weapon at home station and then deploy to a different area. This may affect the weapon, leaving a Soldier to wonder why it isn’t shooting to the point of aim. If you want to engage your enemy with precision, battlesight zero your weapon in the area of operation.
These are only a few tips you should consider when operating your weapon in a cold climate. The Army will continue to operate in cold weather environments worldwide, so we must be able to maintain our weapons in any climate. Including these basic lessons in your pre-deployment training plan will help ensure you and your Soldiers are battle ready.FYI
Have you checked out the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center’s Range and Weapons Safety Toolbox? It was developed to aid leaders in the management of range operations and safe weapons handling. The toolbox provides a centralized collection of resources to establish and maintain safe and effective ranges and training programs for military and privately owned weapons. To learn more, visit https://safety.army.mil/ON-DUTY/RangeandWeaponsSafetyToolbox.aspx
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