08 January, 2013
Guest Post: Long-Term Firearm and Ammunition Storage
One of the greatest enemies of all firearms and ammunition are corrosion and rust, so proper steps must be taken to ensure you'll have a weapon you can rely on for hunting or self-defense, as opposed to a piece of metal that is little better than a blunt tool. Let's begin with the preparation phase. The first thing you need to remember is that the cleaning of a rifle, shotgun, or pistol begins from the inside. There are a good amount of moving parts inside most modern firearms which need to be well-cleaned to prevent damage and corrosion which would make the weapon unreliable at best. When you fire jacketed ammunition, copper residue and powder begin to accumulate in the rifling of the weapon, which can become a serious problem overtime. That is why anyone who has ever fired a gun and has been trained in its use knows that regular cleaning is a must. This residue can result in a loss of accuracy, at best, and can even lead to your weapon jamming, which may represent the thin line between life and death in a dangerous situation. If that residue is not cleaned properly, then the copper buildup will take on a greenish hue and, beneath that layer, other corrosive elements will continue their work to destroy the bore, which, given time, can make the damage impossible to reverse.
The trick to cleaning the barrel of your gun effectively is to be able to work with both your hands while doing, which is best achieved with a Gun Cleaning Cradle. It's nice using two separate cleaning rods – one with a bronze brush and another with a jag as this will save you time and effort. Aerosol cleaners are wonderful for the small moving parts in the trigger mechanisms. Always remember to use a rust preventative on all parts when you're done using chemical cleaners to make sure you have things covered. If you're using a bore solvent which contains ammonia, always follow up with a non-ammonia solvent, as any residual traces of ammonia can corrode even stainless steel if left to work on the metal.
When you're storing your firearms for extended durations you should avoid coating every moving part with a lubricant (oils). A light coat to the exterior will work well as long as you have the container airtight. The reason to avoid this is because of the possible temperature fluctuations in your part of the world. The lubricant used may seep onto other parts and even into a wooden stock, if it's too hot, so you should try to work with metal preservatives instead. There are some pretty good choices out there, be it the more traditional Rust Inhibiting Grease or the new alternatives, which leave a film on the parts instead of a greasy coating.
From this point on, we have two options – either storing the firearms in a location with an electric supply -- which would allow us to use a gun safe -- or in a storage cache. These caches can be against the law in your state or country, so, before you attempt something like this, you should check into the legalities in your jurisdiction. A gun safe with a heating element is preferable, if at all possible, since it will help keep moisture out and maintain a more constant temperature where the guns are stored. The worst enemies of guns are corrosive elements and temperature fluctuations so, much like anything else you'd want to store long-term, you must think of the environment you're using and adjust your plans accordingly before moving forward.
If possible, avoid storing the firearms in fabric, leather, or cardboard cases as these will attract a lot of moisture. Air circulation is important if you're storing firearms, so a small fan can also be very useful in these conditions. If you're storing the guns in a cache outside, then you'll need to be absolutely sure it is as airtight as possible and packed with some oxygen absorbers to create a good environment.
Greg is a passionate writer, dreamer and adventurer. Read more of his tips and tricks on how to organize your storage.