Oh, well kinda obvious, but be sure it's clean and dry before loading (right, got that)
Temp swings are not your friend, when do for the day leave the gun outside in garage or in the trunk, temp changes will cause condesation to form insdie the barrel and yer screwed.
For muzzle protection they actually make a little rubber cup/sock that's much like a small condom, it's rolls over the muzzle and stays put. The rubber filament is thin enough you just shoot and pressure/bullet/ball goes right through without effecting anything.
I used the fingers cut off a surgical/latex disposable gloves. You can find them is Grocery or Pharmacy's for a few bucks.
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