Tips for After-Season Gun Storage

The joke is that the two worst things that destroy guns are politicians and rust. Trouble is, it is not a joke, especially the rust part. As hunting seasons close down across the country, hunters are tasked with cleaning and placing their valuable hunting guns away for nearly a year of storage. A lot of things can happen to gun metal and wood during the off season.

While cleaning our deer hunting cabin this past weekend to close out the season, my cabin mate remarked, “I really have to clean my rifle this year.” This year? Based on previous experience when I usually cleaned his Ruger rifle before the opening season, I suspect it had been years since that gun was cleaned. To look at it, that was pretty obvious.

On average most hunting seasons of all types will not be open again for as long as nine or ten months around the country. That means your valuable firearms will be put away for quite a while. It matters not if it’s an old 22 rifle worth a hundred bucks or a fine big game rifle or shotgun worth thousands. They all deserve proper maintenance, care, and storage.

First, thoroughly clean any firearm with a proper gun cleaning kit using correct tools and cleaning supplies. Scrub the bore completely, especially if the gun was fired a lot. Using a soft gun brush or toothbrush, whisk away all the dust, dirt, and grime from the exterior. Use special care around the sights, scope base and mounts, bolt, trigger and housing and floor plate or removable magazine. Clean or lubricate the magazine, too. Wipe down the stock (wood or synthetic) and the recoil pad.

Assess your long term storage options. Part of it is for security purposes, but also for months of sitting idle in a modern, commercial gun safe or the back of your closet. Consider buying even a smaller steel gun case that could fit in a closet, if you don’t have a gun safe in which to store them.

Guns in a safe or cabinet can be stored without a gun case (cases can sometimes encourage rust). Metal should be fully coated with a good gun storage lubricant or even a light grease. Silicone gun slip bags are good. Open bores can be loosely covered with a small plastic bag to keep dust out of the barrel.

Periodic inspection of your guns during the year is a must. Rust can creep into the tiniest crevices especially around bolts, scope mounts, sights and sling studs. If rust shows, brush it down, then apply oil again.

These tips should protect your gun investments long term.

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