Storing Firearms

Practical tips on keeping client guns in good condition.

by RK Campbell

By necessity, a working gunsmith must store and secure guns. While we like to turn around a firearm quickly, sometimes this isn’t possible. Parts are sometimes difficult to obtain, the work takes place in several steps, there is finish removal involved, we wait until we blue several firearms together or any number of reasons. Refinish work takes multiple steps in polishing, all done after removing the factory finish, and this isn’t done at one setting. Sometimes the client is a slow in paying. Then there are the parts guns and long term projects kept on hand. As a result, there is ample time for corrosion to set in.

If you have a few years time in the business you have probably pulled a gun out of storage and found rust on the barrel or even damaged wood that you swore wasn’t a problem when it went in the safe. The gun was cleaned before it was stored, hopefully, but something occurred. The problem is always moisture trapped in the metal, the wood or perhaps the container. When dealing with new and used guns corrosion is a constant enemy. New guns are not immune and more than once I have examined new firearms, usually the more inexpensive types, with a spot or two of corrosion on the metal surfaces straight out of the box. It isn’t unusual for a new gun to be in the pipeline several years before the end user actually takes it home. It is manufactured, stored, shipped to a distributor and/or a retailer before it finds its way into the hands of the end user. Not all firearms are big ticket, on-demand items, although they may be steady sellers. It may be many months from the time the handgun leaves the factory until it ends up in the hands of the shooter.

Let’s look at the standard adhered to by some of the major experts on storage. These are the folks that chase down surplus firearms from across the globe. When buyers scour the continents searching out older firearms for the US market, their first concern is that the firearms were stored properly. Ideally, the arms were coated with grease and locked in an air tight container with a vapor barrier. Cosmoline or something like it and oil or wax paper is ideal for this use. Often the handguns or rifles were stored properly and they arrive in like new conditions. Other times the results are less desirable.


Read more in our November 2012 issue. Back issues are available.

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