Guns And Gear For OHVs
The Dust Can Be A 'Devil' When You're Riding
June 1, 2018
Four-wheeling is a blast – there are so many places to explore in this beautiful state, and many of them are hidden treasures that you can only get to on extremely rough roads. I've always had a 4WD pickup, but on our last deer hunt we became aware of the benefits of having an OHV: an OHV, or quad, or side-by-side, or ATV or whatever you want to call it, can get you where even a 4WD pickup can't go.
A Quad Is Faster
For me anyway, even if I can get my truck there, a quad can get there faster. I tend to not want to damage my truck's exterior and frame. On our last hunt, it seemed like everywhere we wanted to go, we'd get passed by an OTV. It was distressing, to say the least.
So, we bought a little Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail. Since we will soon be having an addition to the family (a new French Brittany puppy), we recently traded the Cat in on a Can Am Defender – it has three seats so the pup can go with us.
Dealing With Dust
No matter what kind of OTV you drive, you are going to have to deal with dust. Lots of dust. Even more dust if you travel in groups. Our first ride was a real eye-opener – we had a full windshield, and that created a vortex that sucked all the dust into the cab.
We were literally covered with a thick layer of desert dirt all over – faces, hair, clothing, and all of our gear. Removing the windshield helped, but dust is still something you need to take into account, especially for your gear.
Otterbox makes dust-proof phone cases, and if you use your phone for topo maps like Margie does, an Otterbox case is a good investment. Iphones are expensive! You also need to protect your eyes, and glasses just aren't enough. Invest in some good goggles that fit over your prescription glasses if you need them.
What Kind Of Gun?
On a recent ride, we ran into a guy named Mike who does guided OTV rides. He was carrying a Glock, but he wasn't happy with it. Since Mike rides in groups, the dust is particularly bad, and it gets into every nook and cranny of his gun. With a semi-auto, this is a problem. That kind of fouling can prevent the gun from working.
So what kind of gun is good for carrying when you're riding dirt roads exposed to all that dust? First of all, you need to choose a reliable action for sandy and dusty conditions. This would include break-action guns, revolvers, and bolt action guns.
Break actions are reliable because they just snap open and snap shut. There isn't a lot of mechanism exposed. But they only allow you one or two rounds at a time. A revolver will give you five or more, and they are super reliable.
I've heard it said that you can use a revolver as a hammer and it will still work. I don't recommend that, of course, but revolvers have far fewer moving parts than semi-autos, and they are great for dusty conditions. A bolt-action rifle will give you five shots, so if you're hunting, they are a great idea and much less likely to jam from dust than a semi auto.
If You Prefer A Semi-Automatic
If you would rather carry a semi-automatic rifle or pistol, there are some things that will help, starting with how you clean it. For starters, clean the gun every time you ride, even if you didn't fire it. Be sure to brush or blow the dust off before wiping it so you don't scratch anything, and don't over lube. Excess oil sitting on the surface will attract dust hold it.
Wipe the outside down afterwards. With a rifle, you'll want to take special care of optics. Dust and sand can easily scratch your optics and damage the coatings, so keep those scope covers on and use a very soft brush made for lenses to dust the dirt off. The brush needs to be completely free of oil.
If the glass has smudges or spots, use a microfiber cloth to clean it (after dusting). If water spots or other stubborn spots are there, use a lens cleaning formula and lens tissues. You can get these at eyeglass or camera stores.
Another option is to keep the rifle, shotgun, or pistol in a dust-proof holder. A flap holster can keep a lot of dust out, but if you want something to keep all the dust out, you're going to have to almost go to a waterproof holster. These are very pricey – a Seahorse waterproof and dustproof holster is over $160 on Amazon, and only fits ten different pistols. A revolver in a flap holster is a lot more economical.
If you don't think you'll be needing the pistol while you're riding, you can always put it in a Tupperware container or dust-proof gun case and keep it sealed up. But, if you're carrying it for self-defense, a flap holster is probably your best option. El Paso Saddlery makes a nice leather one, and Hafner WorldWide Inc. makes a nice nylon flap holster.
Get a good heavy duty gun belt that can bear the weight. Margie likes to wear her gun belt outside her shirt around her hips.
For Rifles And Shotguns
For rifles and shotguns, a great case is the best idea. You won't be needing those guns out while you're riding, so a good box will keep your rifle or shotgun nice and clean until you need it. Some of the best are Kolpin Gun Boot, Seahorse, Quad Gear Gun Carriers, Seizmik Armory, and the Quadgear UTV Gun Case.
The Kolpin is said to keep most dust out, but get the transport kind. You can get them with brackets to attach them to your quad.
The Seahorse cases will keep all dust out and water as well. They are pricey, but worth it. You can get a large one for around $170 on Amazon, but you'll have to strap it down - no brackets are available that I saw.
Seizmik makes hard cases that easily mount to your UTV. I'd do a lot of research on the soft cases with zippers - they may let the dust in. Google "dust proof gun case" and you'll find a lot of options, but be sure to read the reviews. You'll often keep yourself from making mistakes that way.
I love my semi-automatic pistols, but I just invested in a revolver for when we're out on the Defender. I'd rather not have to worry about a gun jamming when I need it most, and a revolver is a very dependable and rugged pistol. Odds are, I'll never need to use it. But if I ever do, I want it to work every time I pull the trigger.