All exposed metal surfaces of weapons must be free of lubricants, or they will freeze the action mechanisms. Instead of a liquid lubrication, opt
instead, for the graphite based lubes. There are several excellent sources for this fine product.
Firearms should never be taken inside of a warm tent. Even a slight temperature fluctuation will create moisture, and cause the weapons to freeze.
It’s always best to keep weapons outside of the tent, at the same temperature as the conditions outside, but u=insure that the weapons is protected
from blowing snow.
Handguns can be taken inside the tent, as long as they are carried inside the park when going outside. It’s a difficult lesson to learn; that when
you need your Colt .45 handgun, and the action is frozen, and it don’t work.
If you’re going to carry a handgun, keep one in a covered holster on your equipment , and another one inside a pocket of your parka. Taking a warm
gun outside, is paramount to suicide in the events the weapon is needed.
Check every screw, nut, and bolt on every weapon, every day. Cold weather can snap these little screws, and your weapon sis rendered useless.
Likewise; keep the ammunition dry, and ice free. If you drop a bullet in the snow, and your fortunate enough to recover it; then don’t replace it
into the magazine. Instead, store it next to your chest inside your park, at least until it dries out completely. Never use lubricants on the
ammunition either. Same principal applies, as with the weapons itself.
Keep all of your firearms protected from wet snow. A cap on the end of the barrel keeps snow from freezing in the barrel. You don’t want to fire a
weapon that is clogged with an ice plug. The Old way is to use a prophylactic (Trojan Rubber). But there are many ingenious ways to accomplish this
If your weapon is dropped into the snow. Stop what you’re doing, and take everything apart. Dry out the weapon, and lubricate with whatever graphite
formula you are using. Don’t make the mistake of just drying out the outside surfaces, make sure the action is dried out as well.
Stay away from wood stock weapons in cold areas. Wood has the capacity to absorb moisture. Factory finished stocks are just as bad, as untreated
stocks. Even the smallest crack in the wood will create moisture buildup. Composite Nylon stocks are best suited for cold weather environments. Wood
will contract and expand with different temperatures. This changes the point of aim. Synthetic stocks remain constant, and they offer less weight, but
increased recoil in heavier caliber rifles.
In cold weather, only a minimum amount of magazines should be loaded. Sub-zero weather will actually deform the springs inside a loaded magazine. If
you need to carry several loaded magazines, then don’t load them to their full capacity. Leave a few round out, and that gives the inner spring some
Cold Weather Tactical Considerations:
If you all alone, then guard duty is out of the question. You’ll be dog-tired at the end of each day. Shelter, warmth, food, drink, and plenty of
sleep is the answer to the days problems. There is no substitute for any of these.
If however, you have other people with you; then it might be necessary to post a guard for potential intruders, if the situation warrants it.
The guard shouldn’t be outside for more than two hours at a one time. The cold, being tired, and watching the endless snow fall or blowing wind,
will soon lull the guard into a state of relaxation and eventually he will fall asleep. Change the guard every two hours. More so, if the weather is
below -40 degrees. If there are enough people in your group, then have two people on guard duty. One outside, and one inside the tent. The guard
changes position every thirty minutes. This allows the outside guard to get out of the extreme cold, and helps to insure that the inside guard
Arrange sleeping areas in definition to the guard duty roster. The first man is the first sleeping bag near the door, the second man on duty, is the
second sleeping bag near the door. In this way, the next guard always knows who to awaken for duty. There’s never any question of who’s next.
If your group is using a wood burning stove inside the tent, or a fuel fired heater; then a “fire guard” duty is also the responsibility of the
“inside guard”. He keeps an eye on the heater, adding fuel or wood, and insures that there are no fires present to burn down the tent.
A large group would also use a “ready force” in addition to the two guards. The ready-force is normally 2-3 people that though asleep, they remain
fully dressed, and lay on top of their sleeping bags. Their job is to respond to perimeter intrusions. There are allowed to continue sleeping, and
sometimes are excuses form guard duty for the night.
One of the most important duties that each guard (inside and outside) must perform, is to keep an eye on noise and light discipline.
At night, in treeless frozen areas, such as found in Alaska; light is visible for miles. Even brief light, like flashlights, or opening tent doors,
will pose a security issue. Hostile (enemy) elements using night vision goggles can quickly pin point even faint occurrences of lights at great
distances. That goes double for spotters and pilots of aircraft flying the night skies.
One of the outside guard’s duties, is to insure that no light is visible. Every hour he should walk around the tent, and make sure that snow is
piled up along the edge to keep lights from disclosing the camp’s position. He should also make sure that loud noises aren’t present. Laughing,
yelling, the clanking of cooking ware, and radio transmission are some of the violation of noise discipline that each guard should be aware of.
The inside guard has the added burden of insuring noise is kept down, and maintaining light discipline. Every time that the doorway to the tent is
opened, every light inside the tent must be extinguished. He should also be aware of loud noises, and take protective measure to insure that noise
inside the tent is kept to an absolute minimum. That doesn’t mean all talking must cease, but it does mean that personal discipline must be used by
every member of the group.
Use a double-red lens on every flashlight at night. It both protects your naked eye night vision, and prevents lights from revealing your position.
Travelling tactically in an extreme environment is possible, but nonetheless, its difficult. The group must be alert at all times in open areas, as
well as wooded areas. The clinking and clanking of loose gear, the sounds of sleds being dragged across ice and snow, and in some cases, even the
labored breathing, can give away a groups position and direction of travel.
The best bet is to travel in a well defined, but loose formation. Weapons are kept ready, and scouts are sent ahead, and to the flanks, when terrain
dictates, or allows it. Even then in flat treeless areas, enemy forces can easily spot you, or the group, just by sheer movement. Whiteout suits, help
to conceal your form, but do little to conceal body movements. Snow cammie clothing is great for hiding yourself from people far away, but up close,
it’s pretty easy to identify people moving about in the snow.
Survival in extreme cold weather situations takes both practice and skill, as well as forward thinking survival strategies. Even though you might live
in areas that do not recreate the Alaska winters. There’s a good chance that these conditions will occur in the Northern US states. From Washington
State, across the top of the USA, all the way to Vermont/Maine, weather conditions can change within minutes, and most times with little or no
warning. Lake Effect snow, blizzard conditions, white out conditions; all of these weather phenomena will have a adverse effect on your
Having a plan, and working the plan, as well as the right gear will insure that winter will not kill you. It will surely make things difficult, but
at least you will be prepared for enduring the worst that winter storms and sub-arctic weather can throw at you.
Mod Edit: All Caps – Please Review This Link.
[edit on 7-10-2009 by Gemwolf]