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I have a chained lockbox in my car where I store my LCP when I can't take it into a building. I got to thinking about winter coming up with the cold temperatures and how that might affect the plastic on semi-auto pistols.

I'm concerned that if the need arises to use the gun after it has sat in the car in the cold, that it might go BOOM instead of bang.

How cold is too cold to be storing the LCP, or any other pistol, before using it?
 

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Good question. I have a NanoVault 200 for the same reason.

The "polymers" in firearms are said to be temperature stable, their properties change very little. That said, I would be more comfortable being more careful with a plastic gun, anyway. Especially a plastic framed autoloader, which gets several different stresses in the course of firing.

Plastic shrinks when it's cold, like most any material. Cold enough, it gets brittle. I would prefer one to at least be tolerable to my bare hand before I subjected it to the stress of firing.

I don't see a problem with synthetic rifle stocks, or the LCR grip frames. They are substantial parts, and not stressed directly when the gun is fired.
 

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It doesn't get cold enough here for me to worry about but if I lived elsewhere I might be more concerned. What I have found is that the oil or grease in a gun becomes thick and will stop a gun from shooting.
 

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i would like to know more about this, also. i live in north western wisconsin and it does get cold up here! i too have a nano vault in my trucks and some times i carry my lcp i have to leave it in the truck. myhap ill shoot ruger an email and see what they have to say.
 

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I guess it would depend exactly how stressed the non-metal parts are. If they are just guide rods or something of the sort it may not be a big deal. I would suspect, since most moving parts in guns are metal, there probably wont be a problem. Although my knowledge of different firearms is very limited.
 

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My opinion is that condensation would be the bigger concern going from freezing cold to warm.....over and over. I'd hate to have some rusty internals:)

Just my thought..I might be wrong
 

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I have a chained lockbox in my car where I store my LCP when I can't take it into a building. I got to thinking about winter coming up with the cold temperatures and how that might affect the plastic on semi-auto pistols.

I'm concerned that if the need arises to use the gun after it has sat in the car in the cold, that it might go BOOM instead of bang.

How cold is too cold to be storing the LCP, or any other pistol, before using it?
Are there any lessons we can take from military who have trained and/or fought in cold climates? Or is that too much of a stretch? I don't have that sort of experience but maybe somebody here does?
 

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Are there any lessons we can take from military who have trained and/or fought in cold climates? Or is that too much of a stretch? I don't have that sort of experience but maybe somebody here does?
In real cold weather (below zero) they remove a lot of the oil and grease. I'm basing this on WWII field manuals and they didn't have a lot of plastic on guns back then and the plastic they did have was not a moving part.
 

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I've been wondering about what the cold does to the ammo also. When the temp starts to drop, at some point the trapped air inside the ammo will reach the dew point. Then you have condensation. So what keeps the primer and powder from getting wet? I'd worry more about this than the gun.
 

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I've been wondering about what the cold does to the ammo also. When the temp starts to drop, at some point the trapped air inside the ammo will reach the dew point. Then you have condensation. So what keeps the primer and powder from getting wet? I'd worry more about this than the gun.
Assuming the seal is still good there shouldn't be any moisture inside. Most ammo plants have a controled climate and the relative humidity should be close to zero when they are made.
 

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Here's some info that may be of help. Let's start with the gun itself. Most metals used in guns expand with heat and contract with cold. Because handguns typically don't have massive metal parts like a rifle barrel, long receiver, or bolt, this is never an issue. Polymer material used in handguns is pretty much immune to temperature and neither expand or contract, nor does polymer get brittle like plastic.

Oil and especially grease are your biggest enemies when it comes to function in cold weather. It's best to use the absolute minimum amount of oil ... no oil is even better and never use grease in any gun ... never, even in in warm or hot climates.

Condensation is always an issue when storing a gun in a car. As metal gets cold then warms up, moisture will form (condensation) and cause corrosion or rust on the surface of any metal parts, to include internal parts. Oil doesn't help because condensation will get between the metal and the oil and still cause corrosion. The best way to fight condensation is to keep the firearm in a sealed container ... much like a GI ammo can. This will prevent moisture from accumulating even in extreme temperature changes.

As for ammo ... not to worry about moisture getting inside with centerfire cartridges. The bullet seals with the case as does the primer. 22 LR ammo is a different story because bullets are often loose in the case and can be ruined by temperature and barometric changes that literally sucks moisture into the cartridges.

A very significant issue can happen with handgun ammo in cold weather conditions. First, all powders are much harder to ignite when cold. Magnum powders are the worst and may even squib when fired at sub zero temperatures. Besides being harder to ignite, powders for handguns are not temperature compensated like many rifle powders and will not produce normal velocities in colder climates. This is especially noteworthy for semi-auto pistols because there may not be enough pressure generated to cycle the slide. If you have an older Speer manual, they list velocity versus temperature for rifles and it is even more dramatic for handguns.

My concerns with leaving a gun in a car has more to do with theft than with climate conditions. A lockbox has "steal me" written all over it plus it's very difficult to put your firearm into service if needed when it is locked up.
 

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I concur that the risk of theft is more of a concern than temp. Though I would be concerned with the effect of high heat on the ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Moss Pawn Shop (Iraqveteran8888 on YouTube) did a video on this a couple of weeks ago.

Frozen Ammo and Guns....What if? -110 Degrees F - YouTube
Even though this video was not a scientific test, it shows that while extreme cold may lessen the power of the gun, it doesn't appear to cause the gun to break or malfunction.

As far as condensation goes, I maintain my LCP regularly and have not noticed any signs of rust, internal or external. At the range I cycle the older ammo already in the gun and spare mags, then replace with new. This occurs at least once a month.

However, I am concerned that several people seem to think that a lock box in the car is not a good idea. My job requires me to drive to several different clients every day. Some of those clients do not allow weapons in the buildings. Other than a hidden lockbox, I'm not sure what options there are. But that's a different subject.
 

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If you're that concerned about the temp and cold grease - just leave it out and run dry. I mean, just how many rounds are you going to shoot anyway?

I'd say just use a good gun oil in the way the manual specifies - LIGHTLY! I guess if you're operating north of the Artic Circle you may consider Mobil 1 or going 100% dry.

Remember: you're not lubricating a machine tool that will cycle 1000's of times between maintaince or wheel bearings that won't see service for 100K miles.
 

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If you're that concerned about the temp and cold grease - just leave it out and run dry. I mean, just how many rounds are you going to shoot anyway?

I'd say just use a good gun oil in the way the manual specifies - LIGHTLY! I guess if you're operating north of the Artic Circle you may consider Mobil 1 or going 100% dry.

Remember: you're not lubricating a machine tool that will cycle 1000's of times between maintaince or wheel bearings that won't see service for 100K miles.
Bingo. As a photographer I have had cameras cleaned and all the oil removed so they would operate in cold weather. But you can only use them for a few hundred rolls of film before you start to have problems.

At temperatures down to about 20 degrees I've had what I would call sluggish guns if I left the oil in them. I store most of my guns dripping with oil and have to wipe them down before shooting. This includes running a patch down the barrel. I live in a very damp climate.

My guess is if you store your gun in your car in the winter and then shoot it you will start to have problems after 50 years of doing this.
 

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Hmmm. I dont know about near 0% humidity in ammo production. I could be wrong. People make handholds all the time which will vary from probably 15% and up. Less than 15% is not as common, I believe.

Remember that the volume of air is a concern. Only a ~very~ small mass (remember air is about 1.2 kg per cubic meter near STP) of water will be present in the 1-2 milliliters or so of air in a casing.

Assuming the above density with different units (.0012 g/cc), a case air volume of 1cc and 20% humidity inside, the rule %hum=(mass water)/(mass dry air) gives a mass of 0.001g dry air and 0.0002g water inside the 1cc case volume of air. Typically it's assumed to have 20 'drops' per cc of water. At water is 1g/cc density, .05g per drop, means about 0.004 drops of water (for visualization) inside a 1cc casing.

So I guess thats a math perspective.

(forgive me for being a know-it-all, this is an attempt to brush up a little on thermodynamics for the FE exam in April, while applying it to a interesting subject)
 

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I think I'll try putting some of my reloads in the freezer. It's set @ -2F so I should get a good idea of what to expect if I ever have to shoot in the winter time. Some of it was reloaded back in the summer when the humidity was high. It'll be interesting to see what happens.
 
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