Question of the Day: Too Cold to Shoot? by Robert Farago | Nov 16, 2014 | 78 comments facebook twitter linkedin email It’s a wee bit nippy outside at the moment, even here in Texas. Is the cold cramping your style hunting and shooting-wise? What do you do to keep yourself ballistically satisfied during the winter months? comments El Mac says: November 16, 2014 at 12:02 Ignore the cold and shoot anyways. Reply Accur81 says: November 16, 2014 at 12:05 Cold is 8 below zero with 20-25 winds. Bundle up, fire up those cheapo handwarmers, buy decent thermal skivvies, wear a hat and an underhat, hood, jackets, and wool socks. And hope your fingers aren’t too stiff to pull the trigger if you see a deer. Adrenalin helps. Reply Scrubula says: November 16, 2014 at 13:37 So do thick gloves. Take the right one off when it’s time to shoot? Reply Accur81 says: November 16, 2014 at 13:54 Our shots come fast in my neck of the woods. Flapping off a heavy glove, to take a poke at a deer 25-75 yards off, is a good way to turn a walking shot into a running shot. If I was covering a field, that could be a good option. I like quality lined leather gloves – acceptable warmth with decent trigger dexterity. Gore Tex makes a lot of crinkly noise in the cold on close up deer. Reply Jeff the Griz says: November 16, 2014 at 19:58 Last year I switched to the fingerless gloves with the flip mittens. Allows trigger finger to come out quick, and if it is too cold those hand warmers can tuck into the mittens. Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says: November 17, 2014 at 03:23 I wish I could remember to go check on my comments for replies when I ask questions. I seem to recall adding about the feasibility of a cable release trigger for a rifle. It would be great for mittens, but possibly would only be useful while prone, if at all. Garrison Hall says: November 16, 2014 at 15:45 Or, you could take another sip of Oban, stare at the fire, and reflect on the meaning of life . . . Reply Accur81 says: November 16, 2014 at 16:33 Oban is great stuff. Mcallan and Glenfiddich tend to go very nicely with a Cuban Cohiba. Reply JSIII says: November 16, 2014 at 12:06 Tossed my Tavor and VP9 in the snow this morning for a torture test. It was uber fun. Reply Swarf says: November 16, 2014 at 12:07 I’m actually going out to the range with a few friends today. First chance I’ve had in a couple of months, so cold be damned. Reply Tim Freeman says: November 16, 2014 at 12:12 Was out shooting in the cold and rain for several hours this weekend. It felt great. Reply Pascal says: November 16, 2014 at 12:18 Cold never stopped my family. Hunting in the cold and snow is no big deal. The range I belong to never closes and we snow blow a path to pin up targets. I am also part of a trap and 5-stand league that goes all winter long unless the roads are not passable which is rare. Short of a blizzard or ice storm, the cold never stopped me. Reply DaveL says: November 16, 2014 at 12:19 I was out in a tree stand yesterday with temperatures in the 20s. A little colder than average for this time of year, but really a fine day for hunting, all things considered. Reply Dyspeptic Gunsmith says: November 16, 2014 at 12:20 I took this week off from hunting here in Wyoming. -15F at night, 0 during the day down on the flats – 10 to 20 degrees colder than that up at 7K ASL (before we talk about wind) tends to dampen my enthusiasm a bit. It also makes for problems with batteries, starting engines, etc that could make a routine outing into the mountains a survival crisis without even trying to. Reply Accur81 says: November 16, 2014 at 13:22 That’s seriously cold. It’s one thing to type it, and another not to freeze to death. Glad you can still use your fingers. Some will never know the temporary or permanent effects of frostbite. Reply Todd says: November 17, 2014 at 14:42 Just got back from Lewistown Montana. Stalking the cow elk herd lost a little of it’s allure when it was -15F at 7:00 a.m. Was there for a week, never got above 5F Reply Ralph says: November 16, 2014 at 12:20 Shoot at an indoor range. Or shoot your Mosin 91/30 outdoors and let the barrel be your own personal heat source. Reply JeffR says: November 16, 2014 at 12:37 Last winter, I picked up a Type 53 and just had to go shoot it after I got all the cosmoline off. I don’t think I made many friends at the indoor range that day. Reply Ralph says: November 16, 2014 at 13:32 Everybody wants to try my M44 when I shoot it outdoors. Everybody wants to put me on trial when I shoot it indoors. Location, location, location. Reply Jeff says: November 16, 2014 at 12:21 Nope, love shooting out in the cold, especially in the snow. However it can test some firearms. A couple years back I was hunting in Montana, and we went higher up into the hills to try and find an elk herd. It was already cold, but the higher elevation dropped the temps well below zero. When I returned to the truck and went to empty the internal mag of my rifle, the follower spring simply exploded into pieces. 70s manufactured BSA rifle, the spring had finally had enough. Reply Davis Thompson says: November 16, 2014 at 12:22 It was 15 degrees yesterday morning where I was hunting. Up on a tree stand, in the wind. Thankfully, my buck showed his face only 90 minutes into the hunt. But I was prepared to stay all day if needed. I had so many layers on I looked like the Staypuff Marshmallow man. Reply OODAloop says: November 16, 2014 at 13:55 When I went out this morning it was 9°F and 11°F when I got back in 2.5 hours later. Lots of does and fawns, no bucks. We’ll see what this evening brings… Reply Davis Thompson says: November 16, 2014 at 15:46 Good luck to you. Reply John M. says: November 16, 2014 at 12:32 Cold? What cold? It’s currently 67 degrees here and the sun is shining. Reply jwm says: November 16, 2014 at 13:35 Yep, I can tell when its winter here. My wife puts on socks. Reply former water walker says: November 16, 2014 at 12:36 I’m old and can’t handle cold like I used to. And it’s snowing right now. I’m with Ralph. Reply Ralph says: November 16, 2014 at 13:36 fww, you raised an important point. Old guys like us can take all kinds of punishment, but cold weather isn’t one of them. I used to snowboard and snowblade — I couldn’t wait for cold weather and snow. Freshies! Now, I can’t wait for winter to end and it hasn’t even started yet. Reply Don Nelson says: November 16, 2014 at 12:37 Dyspeptic Gunsmith, I was in Clark, Wyoming picking up a horse last Wednesday and it was -22 degrees. Anyway, during the summer I hike the mountains and don’t shoot a whole lot. Winters keep me off the trails, so that’s when I get the most shooting time. Not keen on it when below 10F or with high winds, but I’ll usually go anyway if I’ve got loads to test. Reply Ralph says: November 16, 2014 at 13:37 I was in Clark, Wyoming picking up a horse Was it a small horse or are you very, very strong? Reply Gunr says: November 16, 2014 at 12:40 The worst part of shooting in the cold is trying to keep your trigger finger from freezing. Gloves are OK for non precision shooting. Last year I bought a propane heater (My Buddy) I keep it real low, and every 15 minutes or so. I turn it up and hold my hands close to it for a couple of minutes. Then I’m good for another group. Works great! Reply Ralph says: November 16, 2014 at 13:47 @Gunr, I use shooters mittens for cold weather outdoor shooting. They look like regular mittens except that the mitten part covering your fingers folds back to create fingerless gloves. For precision shooting, fire your groups with the mitt folded back (it stays that way with Velcro), with the last two digits of your fingers bare. After you’ve fired, fold the mitt part back over your fingers for a toasty mitten with full coverage. But you’re right — nothing beats a propane heater on a cold, cold day. Well, maybe bourbon, but we don’t drink and shoot. Reply Tom in Oregon says: November 16, 2014 at 13:52 I’ve got a pair of those. They are perfect. I call them “glittens” Reply Gunr says: November 16, 2014 at 14:38 Ralph, Have you ever tried any Battery operated heated gloves? Seems like I have seen them advertised before. I’d like to have a pair of those gloves you mentioned with the trigger finger covering heated. or what would be neat is some gloves with the trigger finger portion cut off, and a little heated cap thing that slipped over the end of your finger, like a long thimble. The cap thing would be easy to slip on and off as needed while your shooting. Reply Tom in Oregon says: November 16, 2014 at 12:40 Heading to the range to shoot a few out of the Sako .375. I’m a worry wort, and I want to make sure the scope is still on for elk and bear in the coast range next weekend. It’s finally above freezing here. Reply Accur81 says: November 16, 2014 at 13:23 I can’t wait to read your trophy elk story. Good luck, sir. Reply Toby in KS says: November 17, 2014 at 08:43 Me too. With pictures! Reply Dale_ ND says: November 16, 2014 at 12:40 Cold weather shooting has one advantage – the barrel cools quicker. Reply Davis Thompson says: November 16, 2014 at 15:48 And if hunting, no worries about cooling the meat. Reply Toby in KS says: November 17, 2014 at 08:53 I actually don’t like hunting unless temps are below freezing because it cools the meat quickly. Coldest I’ve hunted is -10. Don’t know what the wind chill was, but the snow was almost horizontal. It wasn’t fun. I saw deer, but they were always running full bore like they were freaked out by something. Nothing got shot. Reply emfourty gasmask says: November 16, 2014 at 12:49 Only salt we got here in Arizona is the salt on the rim of our magaritas! Haha! We lucked out here with some seriously nice weather. Reply John M. says: November 16, 2014 at 16:50 If I want freezing, I’ll look in the freezer. Reply Azman says: November 17, 2014 at 06:26 Must be from the valley. First snow above the Rim here. Reply Chris says: November 16, 2014 at 12:53 I shoot with my friends on public land so we just build a big fire. Reply Michael says: November 16, 2014 at 13:12 I keep a hand warmer in my dominant hand glove….helps keep my trigger finger warm. Silk underwear …I will NEVER go back to “thermals”. Reply brian says: November 16, 2014 at 13:19 Are you kidding? Cold/snowy days are the best times to go to the range. You have it all to yourself! Reply mountocean says: November 16, 2014 at 17:54 Yep, there was only one other diehard there yesterday and he let me shoot his PS90! Reply Wayne says: November 16, 2014 at 13:21 I’m in Canada (A.K.A. the Great Frozen North) If we didn’t shoot in the winter, our shooting season would be like our motorcycling season; 3 1/2 months long. I don’t really have a temperature limit…cold is cold; if you’re not properly dressed for it, 20 can be as dangerous as -40. For me, if I have to snowshoe to shoot, my shooting is going to be limited. It’s a PITA to haul gear onto the range with them on, it’s a hassle to shoot with them on, and if you’re just going out to plink rabbits or grouse, it’s more dangerous hauling a loaded rifle around on snowshoes than just wearing boots Reply 0351 says: November 16, 2014 at 13:28 If you can’t feel your finger, you can’t anticipate your shot… I kid, that’s ridiculous. Anyway just jog around a bit, get the blood pumping. U love cold weather. Reply KCK says: November 16, 2014 at 13:37 The deer hunt in Wisconsin would not happen if this was a problem. Reply KCK says: November 16, 2014 at 13:43 Duh! Reply Anonymoose says: November 16, 2014 at 13:44 Just get thinner gloves and some glove-warmers. Reply RockOnHellChild says: November 16, 2014 at 14:25 Deer come into my backyard, I can shoot from warmth of my easy chair out my back window, if I were so inclined. Reply KCK says: November 16, 2014 at 19:38 You mean “If you were so reclined” Reply RockOnHellChild says: November 17, 2014 at 07:47 This guy gets it Reply Joe says: November 16, 2014 at 15:00 Lots and lots of toe warmers (the ones with adhesive). -one in each boot -one in the hat on top of the head -one on the chest -two in each glove, one on the top of the hand and one in the palm You can call me a wuss, but not a cold wuss. Reply Joseph Quixote says: November 16, 2014 at 15:38 The best hunting I have ever had was when it was cold. Warm days have never been kind to me. (Colorado hunting where I am from) I prefer layers and wool with lots of money spent on quality boots. Reply jimmy james says: November 16, 2014 at 15:40 Too cold to shoot? Never. Thats why they make ECWCS underwear and outer wear among other things to keep your butt warm in cold weather. Reply HJ says: November 16, 2014 at 16:40 Well, I was out practicing for my next IDPA match in the rain just an hour ago. It’s not cold enough to stop me, wet or no. Reply Evan says: November 16, 2014 at 16:45 The only things that the cold changes are my choice of lubricant, my point of impact, and my length of pull. Reply jwm says: November 16, 2014 at 17:47 Just to be clear. we’re still talking about firearms? Right? Reply RockOnHellChild says: November 17, 2014 at 07:45 My point of impact never changes during cold weather, I always land center mass. Reply Senna Marpat says: November 16, 2014 at 17:48 The colder it is, the fewer idiots will be at the range and in the woods. I go out of my way to go shooting when it’s crappy out. Reply Pg says: November 16, 2014 at 18:04 Jumpsuit, balaclava, and THICK gloves and socks. Worked for me just a few days ago when it dropped bellow freezing. Not quite the yeti hunting weather they’ve got up north but cold enough for a Florida boy to be uncomfortable. Reply Aubrey says: November 16, 2014 at 18:13 Cold doesn’t bother me but when the snow is deep I shoot indoors. Trudging through the snow sucks. Reply cknarf says: November 16, 2014 at 18:23 This is Mosin weather. Reply Fuque says: November 17, 2014 at 11:29 Not for me, loading rounds in a Mosin magazine in the cold, is finger torture! Reply gp says: November 16, 2014 at 18:38 I went out target shooting yesterday at 16F, light wind, and shot the best string of teeny groups ever in my life. Wore lots of layers. I’d like to ask you guys: how do you keep your safety glasses from fogging up in cold weather? I tried to shoot without them once and the RSO climbed right up my @ss, so gotta wear them. Reply 2hotel9 says: November 16, 2014 at 19:45 Wearing scarf/bandana over lower face? Not much you can do. I wear MSA sunglasses style safety glasses, well, all the time, and spend a great deal of time outside(2 hours today walking electric fence, same tomorrow, ad infinitium) and the only remedy I have found is not pulling face cover too high. Which means cold nose. I know guys who use ski/snowmobile goggles, I just never found a set that was comfortable. Reply Geoff PR says: November 17, 2014 at 00:39 “how do you keep your safety glasses from fogging up in cold weather?” Scuba divers use anti-fog treatments to keep the inside of their dive masks from fogging over when diving in cold water.. Realize I live in Florida and can’t positively say it will work in cold air, but it might. Reply 2hotel9 says: November 17, 2014 at 07:31 I have tried a couple different things in the past with little success. Always snorkeled in warm water so the dive mask fogging was never an issue. Reply 2hotel9 says: November 16, 2014 at 19:36 I love to shoot in crappy weather. Guy got a pic of me shooting the Garand a few years ago, snow covered boonie hat brim, stream rising off the upper and metal. He dropped the camera when going in his front door and whole day’s pics got scrubbed! As a couple people above have said, range is empty when it is raw out, and some of my best hunting has been in hard cold and snow. Love to stand and listen to the snow fall. Its Zen-like. Reply RLC2 says: November 16, 2014 at 20:00 Grew up in the Dakotas. One winter walked the mile and a half to high school in a January where every day the thermometer started off at -30. Thats 30 below zero, 62 below freezing. I remember a fox hunt with my bro, like one of those slow motion dreams in the movies, that is clear as day 30 years later- same kind of weather so cold everything is in HD compared to real life… – watching a fox bust out of ice shrouded weeds ten yards away to bound up the opposite slope- leaving puffs of breath hanging in the air frozen ice crystals… he stopped at the top to look over his shoulder- a perfect white pelt, shrouded in a cloud of breath in the sun – so beautiful I was frozen in admiration. Reply Icabod says: November 16, 2014 at 21:44 Recall going to the range in Alaska. It was -30 Reply uncommon_sense says: November 17, 2014 at 08:53 For hands in extreme cold, I wear fairly thin liner gloves inside of mittens with chemical hand warmers. When it is time to shoot, you take your hand out of your mitten then proceed to grip and pull the trigger when appropriate. The liner glove provides just enough insulation to keep your hand warm long enough to shoot and then put your hand back in the mitten. Even then, I tend to hold my hands between my legs or under my arms for extra warmth. Reply uncommon_sense says: November 17, 2014 at 09:23 If you employ ambush hunting (sitting still in one location for hours along game trails), it can be almost impossible to have enough insulation to sit for several hours in extreme cold. I have had some success with multiple layers and insulated coveralls. My layers start with thin silk or spandex, then extreme cold thermal underwear, then down-filled “long underwear”, then fleece shirt and pants, and then insulated coveralls. Of course you have to have an insulated seat, crazy-thick mittens, total head covering, and artic boots. Even then a fleece blanket can be necessary to actually feel comfortable — versus simply being able to tolerate the cold. When you consider what it takes for us to withstand extreme cold for hours on end, you have to be amazed at how simple and effective the fur coats of deer and other animals are at keeping them warm. Deer fur is so well insulated that they can sleep on top of snow without ever melting the snow. Reply DetroitMan says: November 17, 2014 at 09:26 Cold is just another opportunity for training and to test the reliability of your firearms. Although I have to confess that it also makes me appreciate my indoor dry fire sessions more. Reply Paelorian says: November 17, 2014 at 23:05 This is how I feel. Maybe it’s because I don’t live with it every day, but I enjoy traveling to places with extremely cold weather. It’s an opportunity to test myself and my equipment and learn valuable skills. If you buy the right high-quality cold-weather gear, which is expensive, you won’t be cold. It might be hard to be truly comfortable trudging through the snow in extreme conditions, but you don’t have to be cold. The best equipment provides a lot of warmth for the weight, a broad temperature comfort range, and encumbers one less. That said, it can be really expensive to function when it’s cold to the point that non-specialized electronics and many mechanical things are not reliable and most equipment must be specific for the arctic weather environment. If your vehicles and firearms don’t work such weather few can afford to buy all sorts of specific equipment just as a hobby. I don’t have the equipment to do much below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, but I don’t encounter such conditions. If I did, I’d buy warmer clothing and gear more reliable in extremely cold weather. Reply JoeinMich says: November 17, 2014 at 13:40 Unless I’m hunting, I’m picking from a rack of fine air rifles, and doing my shooting indoors. Reply Write a Comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.