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Over on Leupold’s Facebook page, they posted images of one of their 2-7x scopes that was lost in the Idaho Wilderness for 11 years. Still fog-free and functional, more photos and Leupold’s description follows . . .

11 Years of Surviving the Idaho Wilderness:
This Weatherby Mark V was found in Idaho at 4,000 feet of elevation. It was brought into a sporting goods store where it was later identified by the owner as the rifle he’d lost on a hunting trip 11 years earlier. The Leupold 2-7 scope is still fog-free and fully functional.


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  1. Lost on a hunting trip, it may well have had a round (or multiple rounds) down the pipe and not been cleaned before it was lost.

    If that’s the case, I’d wager the bore is shot.

    What I’d like to know, is the action salvageable?

    Looking at the scope, if this owner took care of his weapons, the light film of oil on the scope probably protected it.

    Can Dyspeptic or another ‘smith offer any opinions on this?

    • Unless he was using corrosively primed ammunition, why would the bore be shot? Rust doesn’t look too bad, but may be deep enough to have killed the action. The stock is uh, nicely ‘weathered’ now…

      • Bore will be rusted out. Chamber will be rusted out. The trigger guard apparently dissolved in the mud. Like the owner did, I would just hang it on the wall.

        Really not worth the effort to me to try and reuse the action, if it were mine.

      • “why would the bore be shot?”

        The last thing I run down the bore when cleaning is a *lightly* oiled patch.

        If it was fired, the projectile will strip off that protective film as it engages the lands and moves down the bore.

        The heat of the combustion gasses may burn the rest of it away as well…

        • Still not seeing how the bore would be in any worse shape than the rest of the rifle. “Lost in the woods” is not the ideal storage condition for any part of a firearm.

        • @krog
          If the receiver or barrel gets wet when it is dry it will quickly evaporate off; but a bore full of water may take a very long time to dry out of both water and humidity. When it rains water would likely ingress in the little nooks and crannies that would take a lot longer to dry out than the external exposed portions. Ultimately rust (red rust – hydroxides and hydrates) form by a reduction in the presence of water. The longer they are exposed, the more the reaction would take place.

    • You might be able to salvage the action. But who would want a new gun built on this action?? The rust will have likely affected the fit of the components. The bolt face might be totally corroded. A budget barreled action would likely perform better.

    • The scope body is aluminum, so the fading that you see is the dyes within the anodizing fading under UV exposure. Really cool look, though! I would totally put it on a new hunting rifle.

      On second thought, it would look better on a well-weathered rifle, maybe on a battlefield pickup AK.

    • Would the barrel be salvageable? I dunno. Depends on whether there was water sitting in the bore, or water getting into the bore, drying out, and new water getting into the bore, again and again.

      The action? It depends on what the corrosion looks like under the wood. From what I’m seeing in the pictures, all I can say from here is “I’ve seen worse turned into custom rifles” – by taking a corroded Mauser 98 action that had sat in a pile of surrendered weapons in the Russian snow & rain for several years, polishing out the surface rust, TIG welding up the pits, etc. Bolt face corrosion? Usually simple to fix. Put it in a LaBounty fixture, put it in a lathe, dial it in, set up the toolpost with a Foredom in a toolholder, put a carbide burr in the Foredom chuck and take a light cut on the boltface with the lathe turning at maybe 100 RPM, the Foredom doing its 15K RPM or whatever. Corrosion inside the bolt is a often bigger issue.

      The Mark V action has nine locking lugs, as opposed to the more conventional two. This might present some issues in corrosion. If the lugs are corroded badly, then it would require a new bolt.

      The bottom metal (trigger guard, magazine, floorplate, etc) look like a write-off. Call Weatherby and order new, or get custom bottom metal and fit it.

      I wouldn’t bother trying to lap out corrosion in the barrel. Just order a new barrel blank, and fit it to account for the new headspace imparted by the cleaned-up bolt face.

      The larger question is “how much would you be willing to pay for restoration?” You’d be amazed at what a skilled gunsmith can accomplish – if you give him an unlimited budget. Most clients want everything done on the cheap, so in this case, I’d say “turn that one into a wall hanger and go get a new one.”

      • “The larger question is “how much would you be willing to pay for restoration?””

        Pretty much as I expected. Either way, way out of my league in metal working skills or fiscal resources.

        Yeah, wall-hang it.

        Pablo mentioned the nice patina on the scope (and I agree), and the article related the glass is in good shape, if I owned it, I might look for a well-used rifle and mount the scope on it.

        Thanks to all on the insights…

  2. Well, I was about to suggest it be cleaned up just enough to get it working again while retaining it’s weathered “charm”, until I noticed the crack across the grip that can’t be easily repaired. Up to that point I was going to say I loved it’s look.

  3. Digging the patina on the scope for sure, I wonder how difficult it would be to intentionally match a new rifle to the scope since it’s almost certain that the rest of the package is toast

  4. Sell it to Leupold for advertising display at shows would be the best use for it but how does one forget or lose several thousand dollars worth of gun and scope in the woods that way… (was it insured and did the owner collect on it? in which case it belongs to the insurance company.)

    • Easily. You’re not a person responsible enough to have a rifle.

      I have never lost a rifle, let alone a fishing pole in the 30 years I’ve been doing it.

    • It’s my experience that many people have a terrible sense of direction.

      So if they lean the rifle up against a tree or put it down and walk away they probably can’t navigate back to it.

      • When I was 15 or 16 I found an M16 lying on the ground on the Eglin AFB reservation. There was also a zip lock bag that had a wallet, Ranger handbook, a notebook, and a map there. The ID in the wallet was for an Army 2nd Lt. There was a manned radar site a few hundred yards away and I took the stuff and rang the buzzer on the gate and a couple of AF guys came out and collected the stuff. We figured it had been lost the night before somehow.
        Always wondered how he managed to do that what they did to that poor Lt. I guess he was in the final phase of Ranger school. I’ve also wondered why the Cadre and the rest of the class weren’t beating the bushes for it but I didn’t see anyone else that day.

        • Don’t give a 2LT a compass. Good way to lose both and good compasses are hard to come by.

  5. When I was in the the Army Infantry in Colorado in the 90’s, some headquarters guy lost his rifle during night land nav training. The whole battalion was on lock down for three weeks. Nobody, not even married off post housing guys went home.
    We spent all day every day walking through the training area at double arm intervals until it was recovered. The guy who lost it needed a 24 hour guard, to keep him from getting beat up.

  6. Clearly we need some images that show the condition of the barrels bore. Not particularly hard to do, if only to clear up conjecture.

  7. I just had to replace a Barrel on a Howa 1500 for a friend after he went hunting in the rain for 2 days. Then put his Rifle in a silicone sock till next hunting season. He never shot the Rifle so he figured it would be ok to put in the safe till next season. He thought wrong. Moisture was trapped inside the sock, due to the silicone in the sock. Rusted all the lands Andrews groves. So bad the bore wasn’t safe to Shoot. Clogged with rust. It had light powder rust on the outer sufaces everywhere. But it came off with ultrasonic cleaning and scotchbrite band Bistol. And this Rifle was cleaned with CLP before the hunt. Any protected short of cosmoline is only going to hold up 90 days in that enviroment.


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