The last thing most hunters want to do is carry more stuff. But much like a first-aid kit can save the day, a collection of basic gun maintenance and repair items comes in handy if your firearm goes down in the middle of a hunt—especially if you’re miles (or days) away from your shop. Here are some essentials, which, except for the cleaning rod, all fit inside a 5x5x2-inch Compact Gear Pouch from TacShield and together weigh about 27 ounces.
The cleaner evaporates in 60 seconds to leave behind a thin coating of lube. Combine it with Mil-Comm TW25B Synthetic Gun Grease, part of the NRA Gun Care System, for lubricating those areas that receive heavy wear. A Silicone Gun Cloth from Tipton and a couple packs of Ballistol Multi-Purpose Wipes are convenient for removing moisture and dust, plus they provide a clean surface on which to place small parts should disassembly be necessary.
Caliber- or gauge-specific cleaning patches, along with a multi-section cleaning rod fitted with the appropriate jag, are good to carry if there’s a chance your gun’s bore will get wet. A rod is also the best tool for clearing a bore obstruction (think mud or snow) or a case stuck in a chamber. Depending on your gun’s barrel length, you may need to carry only two or three sections of rod. A more compact option is a flexible pull-through bore cleaner, like the Otis Ripcord (otistec.com). Pipe cleaners remove dirt from tight spots such as beneath an extractor or inside a breech plug.
If you’re hunting with a shotgun, carry a choke-tube wrench so you can change chokes to suit the conditions or ensure the tube you’ve chosen remains tight. A small screwdriver with interchangeable bits that fit the specific screwheads on your firearm and optic mount is invaluable should a trigger-guard or scope-ring screw become loose. It’s more precise and weighs less than most multi-tools.
Don’t neglect your optics in the field. A small spray bottle of lens cleaner and a microfiber cloth, along with a LensPen, clean scopes and binos much better than a shirt sleeve. Use the soft bristles of the LensPen to brush away dust and dirt before spraying on the lens cleaner to prevent scratching the glass.
Paracord can repair a sling or attach one to a gun if a swivel or buckle breaks. It will even serve as a makeshift replacement for the entire sling. Finally, pack a bright keychain light like the Titan from Surefire so you can see the problem to fix it.