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CA Guns & Hunting: Storage of Guns

CA Guns & Hunting: After season clean-up and storage of your guns

BY STEVE COMUS/Cal. Guns & Hunting Guns EditorPublished: Jan 31, 2020

For many hunters, the gun or guns they used during the hunting seasons spend the rest of the year squirreled away somewhere, only to be revisited when the hunting seasons roll around again the following year.

Although I shoot all year long, I do not use the same guns all the time, which means that safe storage is also a factor with them. When I say “safe” storage, I mean safe for the gun itself. This may include an actual gun safe, maybe not. Depends on the gun or guns involved and how they fit into the individual shooter’s routine.

GUN PROTECTANTS FOR storage can include just about any brand, and there are a lot of them out there. Any is better than nothing. The important thing is to keep the gun from rusting.

Firearms can do very few things all by themselves (certainly they cannot shoot by themselves despite what anti-gun subversives insist). Rust, however, happens to be one thing that can beset a gun absent proper attention of the owner.

The objective in proper storage is to create a situation in which the gun will not be harmed while it is being stored. This starts with minimizing moisture. That alone goes a long way to preventing problems later. A second environmental concern is heat. If guns can be stored in cool, dry places, most of the potential problems are moot.

If the storage is to be in a gun safe, there are electric dehumidifying units on the market that keep everything nice and dry. Depending on the design of the storage space, the guns may or may not need added protection. For example, if it is possible for one gun to bang against another in the storage space, it might be necessary to put the guns in gun socks or protect them from scratches and dings in some other way.

Here is where there is a huge do not do. Do not store guns in the kinds of soft cases that they are carried in when on the way to or from a hunt. The reason is that those cases can trap moisture and assure that the gun inside rusts. And it doesn’t take long. Under some circumstances, a gun can be ravaged overnight if the moisture inside the soft case is high enough.

Regardless how and where the guns are to be stored, it is a good idea to prepare them for that storage. There are several steps involved in the preparation routine.

First, clean the gun. The amount of cleaning and degree of disassembly needed depend on a number of factors, including how much the gun was shot, did it get wet and/or dirty – things like that.

The idea is to get the gun (and bore) totally clean. Then it is time to put protectants onto both the metal and wood, (if the stock is wood), parts.

cgh_revolverdisREVOLVER DISASSEMBLY FOR cleaning and storage doesn’t have to be much. Focus on the outside metal, chambers in the cylinder and barrel.

For metal parts, at least light oil is a good idea for external metal. If storage is going to be long, it may or may not be a good idea to use some form of grease. Best plan is to use grease sparingly, if at all. The object is to protect the gun and there generally is no need to use grease as thick as some arsenals do when storing firearms for really extended periods of time.

The bore needs at least a light oil film on it. Also, it is important to note that whatever is put onto or into the gun as protectant for storage will need to be removed before the gun is used again.

For wood that has an oil finish, it is good to rub some linseed or tung oil onto it. Doesn’t have to soak – just rub on a light coating. For wood with shiny, harder finishes, a little wax can work fine.

There are all kinds of cleaning and protective products on the market and most work at least okay, some work superbly. Bottom line is that using even the least of them is better than using nothing at all.

I tend to use Hoppe’s No. 9 for both bore cleaning and to coat the bore between uses. It leaves a light oily film on the metal and helps prevent rust. When it comes to oils, the list is way too long to discuss here. Petroleum oils can work fine, except in the bores of muzzleloaders where more naturally based products like T/C’s Bore Butter come in. However, the many synthetic oils and lubes available on the market generally work better than the traditional petroleum-based ones.

When preparing a gun for storage, it also is a good idea to include some kind of a reminder of what specific load the gun is setup to shoot to the sights as they are adjusted. For example, if a rifle has been sighted for a particular brand/load, keep at least a paper reminder of what that load is so that when it is to be used later on, there is no question what it is setup to shoot. The same holds true for shoguns and loads they shoot particularly well.

Depending on individual situations, some folks simply store a box of the ammo last used with the gun when it is put into storage. That not only leaves no question later about the ammo, but also keeps the gun and ammo for it totally handy. This, however, brings up some thoughts about whether it is a good idea to store guns and ammo together. Some folks say it is a bad idea, others think it is mandatory.

SEMI-AUTO DISASSEMBLY for cleaning and storage needs to be nothing more than standard field disassembly. Clean and coat all surfaces, including the inside of the barrel.

One question in this regard is what the situation at hand is. For example, if unauthorized hands may have access, then keeping gun and ammo apart is the way to go. However, it is always prudent to suggest that unauthorized hands should not have access to the gun in the first place. This, then, is an individual decision. Safety first.

For those who do want to store guns and ammo together, there can be still another question. This comes up regarding guns that might be used in a defensive situation. The question often is: Should the gun be stored loaded? If it is stored in a totally safe manner, there remains the question about the effect on the gun of storing it loaded. This is moot with revolvers and break-open guns.

But for guns with magazines, what about the magazine spring? Will long-term storage of the magazine when it is loaded adversely affect the spring – cause it to set in a way that it no longer exerts the same force as it did when new? There are arguments both ways in this regard. For newer magazines, it is suggested that long-term storage loaded doesn’t matter. However, for older magazines, it can. When in doubt, just store it unloaded and don’t worry about the spring.

Regardless how guns are stored, always keep safety in mind. This is crucial when it comes to protecting the gun from unauthorized access. Although this concept often involves concerns about kids, the truth is that there are a lot of unauthorized adults who shouldn’t have access, either.

Common sense goes a long way in this regard. Different situations can work fine for different storage routines.

In the end, the object in long-term storage is to keep both the guns and the people around them from being harmed. When that happens, all is well with the world.

cgh_breatheableBREATHEABLE GUN SOCKS, below, help keep guns from being scratched and harmed during storage. Do not use the kind of soft gun cases used to transport guns to and from hunts. They can trap moisture and cause rust.

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