Bourjaily: Stop New-Shotgun Misfires with Break Free CLP

This really is about gun care, but I will begin by digressing: my 13 ½ year old English setter Ike (pictured here hard at work guarding my hunting clothes last year) went completely blind two weeks ago. When I go pheasant hunting, Ike still gets to ride in his crate to the field and back. I let him out to wander around sniffing things as I get ready, then I put Ike back in the box, get Jed out, and that's the extent of Ike's "hunt."

In 12 full seasons Ike had a bunch of pheasants, a few quail, half a dozen woodcock and two Hungarian partridges and a snipe shot over his points. He has been a beloved house pet, too, and now is a blind, beloved house pet. I have few regrets about his life as my dog.

Here is one regret I do have: last fall, on what turned out to be his last point in the field, my gun misfired and it was my fault. Ike was good for about 20 minutes of hunting a day last year. One morning he pointed the only covey of quail I saw in Iowa all season. It was in a foodplot of standing corn, and I could see the birds on the ground and my dog downwind and locked up, tail held low in that old-timey setter way of his. I stepped into midst of them, the air filled with bobwhites, I picked one, and my new gun went "click."

What happened? Guns come from the factory covered in grease, which you have to clean off with a cloth and a spritz of oil. Often, there's grease on the firing pins of new guns, too, and it can slow the pins down, resulting in a few light strikes on the primer when the gun is brand new. The problem cures itself quickly, but if you don't want to experience it at all, the remedy is simple: a drop of Break Free CLP down the firing pin hole(s) as you're degreasing your new gun is all it takes.

Unfortunately this tip falls under the heading of "Do as I say, not as I do," because I keep forgetting my drop of Break-Free when I clean up a new gun for the first time, and that's what happened when Ike pointed the quail.