How to Store Guns to Prevent Rust

How to Store Guns to Prevent Rust

As a gun owner, you need to know how to store your firearms properly. Guns are typically made from metals like steel, aluminum, or titanium, which can rust when exposed to moisture and other external factors. This is problematic since rust not only damages the metal parts of a gun but can also cause cracks in grips and wood stocks. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this. Here are some effective rust prevention tips.

What Causes a Gun to Rust?


Gun rusting
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Firing corrosive ammunition and guns can be extremely dangerous. But what causes this? There are a number of factors that can cause a gun to rust. Here are the main ones:

1) Moisture

The primary culprit for rust is moisture. Guns exposed to humid environments or stored in places with fluctuating temperatures are more likely to rust. Even small amounts of moisture from fingerprints can start the rusting process.

2) Humidity

Unless you live in a dry area, humidity can be a real issue for your gun. It can cause the metal parts in your gun to rust and the wood components to warp. Even if you don't live in a humid area, indoor spaces, like basements or closets, are pretty humid. These areas are notorious for causing a gun to rust especially if they're not climate-controlled.

3) Chemical Exposure

Some household cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can remove the oils and protective coatings. Even some gun cleaning solutions, if not used correctly, can leave harmful residues or strip away protective layers. All this can cause a gun to rust. To prevent this, make sure you're using solvents and oils that are designed for gun care.

How to Store Guns to Prevent Rust

Here are some effective ways to prevent gun rust:

1) Use the Right Gun Case and Gun Safe


guns and ammunition in soft case bag
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Gun cases typically come in 2 types of designs: soft cases and hard cases. Soft cases are typically made from fabrics like nylon or canvas. They provide basic protection from dust and scratches but they may not be the best option if you live in a humid area since they won't protect your guns from surface rust. If you plan to use a soft case, make sure it's where humidity is well-regulated through dehumidifiers.

Hard cases are made from plastics or metals and sometimes lined with foam. They provide physical protection and, if properly sealed, can protect firearms from moisture. When shopping for one, look for cases with airtight seals to prevent humid air from getting in.

Besides gun cases, you can also use gun safes. These are the most secure option especially if you have multiple firearms to store. The more expensive ones feature built-in dehumidifiers to control moisture properly.

2) Place the Case in the Right Area


man placing gun in hard case
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Avoid storing your guns in damp areas like basements, attics, sheds, or garages. These areas can increase the risk of rust even in airtight cases due to higher moisture levels. Instead, go for a room with a year-round temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity between 50% - 55% (recommended by the NRA Museum).

Also, make sure to keep your case off the floor, particularly concrete floors, and instead place it on a shelf or in a cabinet. Lastly, do not store your gun case in direct sunlight. Sunlight can damage the materials of the case and can affect its protective seal.

3) Use a Silica Gel, Vacuum Seal Bags and a Dehumidifier


silica gel packets
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To further protect your guns, you can also use silica gel, vacuum seal bags, and a dehumidifier. Silica gel is a desiccant that absorbs moisture from the air. Place packets of these inside your gun case. They're inexpensive and widely available, and they can be periodically dried out in the oven and reused.

Vacuum seal bags are great if you're planning to store your guns long-term. These bags remove the air from around the firearm and prevent moisture from settling on the metal surface. They are particularly useful if you live in a very humid environment or if the gun won’t be used for a while.

You can also use a dehumidifier if you live in a very humid area. They're great if you plan to store your gun in a larger room. They come in various sizes to fit different spaces, and some are specifically designed for gun safes or storage areas. They require minimal power and maintenance.

4) Clean Your Guns Thoroughly Before Storing Them Away


gun with a gun cleaning kit
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Disassemble your gun as much as your manufacturer's instructions allow. Then grab a gun cleaning kit with solvent, brushes, and patches to remove any dirt, debris, or residue from the surfaces. Pay special attention to the bore, action, and other critical areas. After cleaning, apply a light coat of oil specifically designed for firearms. Cover all metal parts, but do not over-oil. Excessive oil can attract dust and lint.

5) Do Not Use a Gun in Bad Weather


gun with moisture gathering on top
Credit: Envato Elements/ Getmilitaryphotos

Rain, snow, or even high humidity is terrible for your gun. When moisture gets in contact with a gun's metallic parts, it can start a chemical reaction that leads to oxidation, or rust. If you do use your gun in bad weather, make sure to dry it thoroughly after you're done. Focus on the metal parts but don't forget about the grips, the safety, and inside the barrel and chamber. Another trick is to use a water-resistant cover or a waterproof gun bag when you're out in the field for temporary protection.


Can I use regular oil to lubricate my guns?

No, regular oil will not give your gun the same level of protection. Gun oils are designed to withstand high temperatures and provide long-lasting protection against corrosion which is why it's recommended to use them. That's why it's best to stick with them.

How often should I clean and oil my guns?

It's a good idea to clean and lubricate your guns after each use. If you don't use your guns regularly, make sure to thoroughly clean and oil them at least every few months.

Should I store ammunition with my guns?

Yes, but make sure to follow proper storage guidelines. When storing your ammunition, keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture. Do not store them directly on concrete or metal surfaces, as they can absorb moisture. Also, leave them in their original packaging or sealed containers. Lastly, do not store corrosive ammo with guns. Make sure to discard it immediately.

Can you remove rust from guns?

Yes, you can. Start by lightly scrubbing the rusted area with a soft-bristled brush or a fine steel wool pad. Oil the area lightly before and after scrubbing. For more stubborn rust, you'll need to use a specialized rust remover. After rust removal, apply a protective gun oil to prevent rust from reforming.


Preventing rust on your guns is all about consistent care and attention. By thoroughly cleaning, appropriately oiling, and securely storing your firearms, you can keep them in excellent condition, free from rust, and ready whenever you need them. 

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