gun cleaning tips to prevent firearm rust

Gun-Cleaning & Storage Tips to Prevent Firearm Rust

With the holidays approaching, gun retailers are expecting an uptick on sales. In fact, the last three months of the year historically represent almost one-third of annual sales for firearm retailers every year. For new owners – novice and experienced alike – preventing firearm rust must be a top priority if they hope to keep their pieces in ready shape. Few mishaps are more maddening than a once-gleaming gun now encrusted with rust – and it can happen quicker than most realize. To prevent firearm rust, it’s imperative that you routinely – and properly – clean and store your gun.

Of course, we recognize you may be spent after a long day at the range or hunting in the field. It’s tempting to simply set your piece aside with the promise of wiping it down later. Problem is that before you know it, one day turns into two, weeks pass – and all the while, moisture is wreaking havoc on the metal components of your hardware. The chemical processes that lead to rust and corrosion can be further exacerbated if you’ve kept your gun outdoors – or even stored it in a case with foam lining.

Proper Cleaning of Your Gun

If you don’t properly clean your gun before and after use, you could potentially be carrying a firearm that doesn’t shoot when needed, isn’t accurate, or potentially even goes off when it shouldn’t.

Some gun-cleaning tips:

  • Read the manual. This might seem obvious, but it’s essential – and frequently overlooked. Your owner’s manual will indicate how to correctly arm and disarm the gun, as well as an exact how-to on keeping your gun in prime working order. If you purchased your gun used, you can typically still find a manual for it online. Not every firearm is disassembled in the exact same manner, so it’s critical to read the manual before you start.
  • Unload the firearm. Again, this is one of those, “seems obvious, but worth pointing out just in case.” Always unload your gun when it isn’t being used.
  • Use the right cleaning solutions. You can find a Google a gazillion do-it-yourself gun cleaning solutions. This is strongly inadvisable. There safest products are those made especially for cleaning, lubricating and protecting your gun. WD-40 isn’t enough either. Keep in mind: Your firearm has to withstand the forces of extreme friction, heat, and high-speed movement. Oils and fluids made specifically for firearms are the only products you should use. Zerust makes gun cleaner & oil solutions expressly for this purpose. We also offer barrel strips to help prevent rust and corrosion inside the barrel of your gun. These can be cut to length. Enclosed inside the metal tube, pipe or barrel with the end capped, they provide vapor corrosion inhibiting protection against rust for up to five years.
  • Remove debris. Scrubbing debris off your firearm requires some elbow grease, but it will be easier when you have the right gun cleaning solutions on hand. You never want to scrub harder than you have to to get clean the debris because you don’t want to risk accidentally scratching the surface – something that can quickly lead to rust.
  • Lightly apply your gun oil/grease. All that’s necessary is a light coating of anti-corrosion oil. This helps keeps the sliding parts in good working order to avoid sticking when you fire. Here again, the owner’s manual can provide some insight on exactly how much oil to administer.
  • Carefully wipe it down. The outside of your firearm requires maintenance as well, though it’s generally easier to clean than the inside. Giving the exterior a once-over with an oiled-soaked rag can do wonders.

Prevent Firearm Rust With Better Storage Solutions

That last bit surprises a lot of folks, but foam-padded cases (sometimes referred to as “egg crate foam”) are among the worst places you can keep your gun for any stretch of time.

Folks sometimes mistake those plastic-shelled, foam-lined cases for longer storage solutions. In fact, they’re intended for safe transport – not storage. The problem is the foam actually collects and retains moisture from the air, acting as a perfect breeding ground for rust. We’ve seen some unfortunate firearm owners and collectors grapple with serious rust issues after only a couple weeks in these cases.

To keep your gun safe from nicks and scratches, as well as fouling, rust and corrosion, it’s important to properly clean and store your gun.

For storage, you’ll need to consider model and size of your piece. Sidearms will require slightly different care than rifles. Zerust has several anti-rust storage solutions, including:

  • VCI  Fleece-Lined Firearm Bag. This is the preferred choice for rifle storage, coming in two sizes (10″ x 53″ and 9″ x 12″). The smaller bag is $10 and the larger is $17, and both are made with VCI (vapor corrosion inhibiting) technology that protects the metal inside for up to five full years. The vapor is colorless, odorless, non-toxic and won’t leave any residue on the firearm.
  • VCI Firearm Protection Bags. These are plastic bags made to protect whatever metal components are stored inside with our anti-corrosion VCI. All a gun owner needs to do is place their clean, cooled weapon into the bag, which provides protection from rust and corrosion for up to five years. When you retrieve it for the next use, you will notice zero residue on any metal, wood, or other components. These bags are good for both short-term and long-term storage of both firearms and ammo.
  • Rust Prevention Vapor Capsules. These are ideal when you’re keeping your gun in a locker, bin, closet, drawer, or safe. Capsules provide up to two years of firearm rust prevention.

If you have questions about which gun cleaning and/or storage products would be best for your new firearm, our friendly customer service team is available to provide answers.

Contact Zerust for information on rust protection for firearms by emailing us or calling (330) 405-1965.

Additional Resources:

The Holiday Season Is Big Business For The Gun Industry, Nov. 27, 2019, By Luis Melgar, American University Radio

More Blog Entries:

Strategies for Preventing Gun Rust Post-Hunt, Sept. 23, 2021, Firearm Rust Prevention Blog

preventing gun rust

Strategies for Preventing Gun Rust Post-Hunt

Prime hunting season is upon us, particularly for deer, turkey, waterfowl, coyote, black bear, and small game. But no matter what you’re hunting or what type of firearm you’re using, it’s imperative you implement strategies for preventing gun rust post-hunt, especially if you just bought a new rifle from the gun store.

The fact is that taking your gun out hunting is entirely different than the indoor firing range, both in terms of the conditions and the care you’ll need to show it afterward. For most, you’re at the gun range for an hour or two, rapid fire your rounds, and then you wrap it up because you’re bullet-broke. The entire time, your firearms go from your house, then your vehicle (presumably in a protective case), and then into another building. Aside from the oil and sweat of your hands, they aren’t likely to be exposed to moisture, which is the primary catalyst for rust damage.

But if you’re packing your rifle out into the misty woods for 6-to-10 hours on a full day of hunting, those kinds of conditions can be really rough on your rifles and shotguns. Exposure to the elements, salt spray, high humidity, hand oils/sweat, and moisture from the air, wet leaves, or rain can put your firearm and accessories like an Improved Design Muzzle Brake, at risk for rust.

As noted by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, firearms can rust in a matter of hours in extreme outdoor conditions, even when made of stainless steel. Properly caring for it in the field and before and after outings is critical.

When internal elements of the gun, such as the firing pin or trigger mechanism, are exposed to erosive elements, they may fail right when you need them to work. If you’re hunting in conditions that are extremely cold, you will need to be certain that all the grease and oil you put on the gun to protect it from rust have been carefully removed before you take it hunting.

Some tips from firearm maintenance experts:

  • Pack a small cleaning kit when you hunt. To keep your firearms in top shape when hunting, be sure to carry with you a small container of lubricant or light gun oil. You’ll also need a cleaning rod and cotton patches. A tube and barrel strip can be carried along for placement inside the barrel after use. A small roll of electrician’s tape can be used to cover the muzzle to keep out dirt and debris.
  • Clean your rifle thoroughly after every practice and hunting trip. A full day of hunting can be satisfying, but also incredibly exhausting. It’s important, though, that you do not skip this step when the day’s over. Wipe down all the metal surfaces with a clean cloth and then another with gun oil or another lubricant. If you’re hunting in the snow or rain, it will be especially important to use an oiled patch through the barrel or, better yet, utilize a vapor corrosion-inhibiting (VCI) tube and barrel strip.
  • Do not store your rifle inside a warm cabin, tent, or overnight in a waterproof gun case that is not VCI. The problem with this is that fluctuating temperatures can result in condensation. This buildup will put your firearm at risk of rust or it might fog your scope. Ideally, the best place to keep your firearm is outside your cabin or tent and inside a rust resistant case or cover, such as a VCI fleece-lined firearm bag or inside or VCI firearm protection bag.

Why does it matter if you’re using a VCI bag versus one made of typical plastics or other materials? Because VCI firearm storage products are specifically designed to offer a molecular-level shield against rust, tarnish, and corrosion without adversely impacting the electrical, mechanical, or other functional properties of the metal components. Other storage cases or covers can actually do the opposite by trapping moisture inside the case. Corrosive elements will act faster on any firearm that is stored outdoors.

If you have questions about the best VCI storage products for the environment in which you’ll be hunting, our dedicated rust prevention experts can provide answers!

Contact Zerust for information on rust protection for firearms by emailing us or calling (330) 405-1965.

Additional Resources:

Firearm Maintenance, Alaska Department of Fish & Game

More Blog Entries:

Tube & Barrel Strip Helps Prevent Gun Barrel Rust, June 28, 2021, Zerust Firearm Storage Solutions Blog

prevent rust on guns

Prevent Rust With Top 4 Gun Storage Tips

It’s estimated that about 40 percent of Americans live in a household with a firearm. But it’s fair to say a much smaller percent understand how to properly care for their firearm to prevent rust and corrosion of their gun.

Smart gun storage is an important consideration for any firearm owner. The way you store your gun is important not only to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands, but also to prevent rust and general wear-and-tear.

As our gun rust prevention experts can explain, rust is a specific form of oxidation wherein moisture and oxygen meet iron alloys. (Other types of corrosion can have similar effects on other types of metal.) Rust can render a firearm non-operational fairly quickly, and poor maintenance is a top cause.

prevent gun rust

Prevent Gun Rust: The Care and Keeping of Your New Firearm

2020 was unparalleled in many ways – including sales of firearms and ammo. The latest FBI data reveals the agency processed a record 40 million firearm background checks last year – far more than any other year. The National Shooting Sports Foundation reports nearly 9 million people purchased firearms for the very first time last year, accounting for approximately 40 percent of the total number of gun sales.

As any long-time gun owner knows, there is a learning curve when it comes to not only using your firearm, but also to ensuring its care and keeping. Ways to prevent gun rust should be at the top of that list.

prevent rust rifles

Rifle Care Rule No. 1: Prevent Rust

If you want your rifle to last, it’s important to remember one thing: Prevent rust. It’s every gun owner’s enemy, especially in the postseason.

Recently, a gunsmith in West Virginia was asked by a local newspaper reporter about the No. 1 cause of repairs he makes on guns. He answered without hesitation: Rust.

“A lot of the repairs I make are on guns that have rusted because they weren’t properly maintained,” he said. It happens at least once a week.

prevent gun rust

Prevent Gun Rust When You Store Your Firearms

Rust is the bane of any gun owner’s existence. It can eat away at the metal components of the firearm, resulting in discoloration, pits and potentially malfunction. Rust is a chemical oxidation process through which metals containing iron come in contact with oxygen and moisture. For firearms, not only is this problematic for the metal, but the moisture can create pesky cracks in grips and wood stocks. These issues can be exacerbated by exposure to fluctuating temperatures, salt and other corrosive compounds and proximity to dissimilar metals. But it IS possible to prevent gun rust when your firearm is in storage – if you take the proper precautions.

What Are the Ideal Gun Storage Conditions? 

Most often when we talk about gun storage, people immediately think “gun safes.” But there is more to consider than just keeping a firearm out of the hands of the wrong people. Rust is an enemy that never sleeps.

Curators at the NRA’s National Firearms Museum have been quoted as saying firearms should ideally be stored at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of between 50 and 55 percent.

Of course, the temperature and condition of firearms stored and displayed at the NRA Museum and vaults is consistently monitored and recorded three times every day. The museum also invested in a dedicated air handler to control both the temperature and humidity of the facility.

Of course, museums dedicate a great deal more energy, time and money to preserve their firearm collections in perfect conditions that most of us have neither the resources nor frankly desire for.

So How Can I Prevent Gun Rust While My Guns are in Storage? 

There are several simple ways you can preserve your firearms that won’t break the bank. This is true whether you’re simply placing your firearms in a gun safe or keeping them in long-term storage.

Among those:

  • Use a dehumidifier. If you’re storing your guns in a garage, storage unit or safe, you can spend as little as $30 for a small dehumidifier that can help wick moisture from the surrounding environment.
  • Properly clean and oil your firearm before storing. Zerust sells both gun cleaner and gun oil – separately or in a combo package (for just $6). These products clean, protect and lubricate firearms to help protect them against rust and corrosion. Make sure also to wear white gloves when you’re handling firearms for cleaning and oiling purposes. Not only with this prevent the transfer of your skin oils to the weapon, but it will allow you to see whether your firearm has truly been cleaned properly or not.
  • Place Zerust VCI vapor capsules for weapons and ammo in the enclosure. These capsules have adhesive backing that can stick to any surface and can prevent gun rust for up to two years.
  • Store your firearm in a Zerust multi-purpose VCI poly bag for firearms, ammo and weapons. These are just $3 each, come in different sizes and can provide up to five years of protection against rust and corrosion. We also offer heavy duty VCI rifle bags for larger weapons.

With both the vapor capsules and multi-purpose poly bags, there is no need to continuously apply oil or other greases, as you would normally need to do if storing your gun for an extended period of time without usage.

The price you pay for neglecting your firearm is serious elbow grease and cold, hard cash. If your firearm begins to show visible signs of rust, you need to address it immediately. The problem is already worse than what you can see. Bronze wool or nylon cleaning brushes saturated in gun cleaning solution – plus a whole lot of scrubbing – is probably the best way to remove rust once it’s taken hold. But it’s always better – and cheaper – to prevent gun rust in the first place if you can.

Contact Zerust for information on how to prevent gun and corrosion by emailing us or calling (330) 405-1965.

Additional Resources:

Rust-Prevention Tips for Your Guns, June 15, 2018, By Steve Adelmann, NRA Shooting Illustrated

More Blog Entries:

How to Protect Your New Gun From Rust and Corrosion, March 22, 2020, Zerust Gun Rust Prevention Blog

gun rust prevention

How to Protect Your New Gun From Rust and Corrosion

As often happens when there is political uncertainty, economic instability or people feel their rights may be infringed upon, gun and ammunition sales go up. That’s what we’re seeing today amid global concern of the coronavirus, COVID-19. Even as stores struggled to keep staples like toilet paper and hand sanitizer stocked, Ammo.com reported online orders of firearms and ammunition spiked almost 70 percent. Brick and mortar stores are selling out as well, and some retailers have even begun limiting how much buyers can purchase. There has been an uptick in requests for firearms training, which suggests a large number of buyers are first-time gun owners.

If you are the owner of a new gun (or are concerned now more than ever about protecting the piece you have), you should know that proper storage is an imperative. Guns are made with metal, and all metal has potential to rust or corrode. To prevent gun rust, Zerust has a number of gun storage solutions.

Storing Your New Gun

Gun rust is a big problem for those who store their firearms in gun safes. In fact, corrosion tends to happen at a higher rate and more rapidly in a gun safe than out of it. The reason has to do with basic chemistry.

Rust, also known as oxidation, is a chemical process that occurs when iron or iron alloys come into contact with water (or moisture) and oxygen. The only type of metal that “rusts” is iron and its alloys, but other types of metal are prone to similar chemical breakdown processes collectively known as corrosion. Most modern gun safes are constructed with a thin, steel shell, lined with gypsum board (also known as drywall) and carpet. These products are frequently made with materials such as formaldehyde and pyrite. Pyrite is an iron sulfide. When it reacts with moisture and oxygen, it can create not just oxidation but sulfuric acid, which can be extremely aggressive in causing gun rust.

On top of that, pyrite can feed bacteria known as ferrooxidans. This bacterium is responsible for breaking down the pyrite and turning it into hydroxide and sulfur-based acids. However, it doesn’t just end there and ferooxidans have been known to consume many other metals.

There are all-steel gun cabinets that might be another option, but unless they’re airtight, they still aren’t going to completely keep out the elements that cause rust on corrosion on your weapon.

Keep in mind that fluctuations in temperature can result in condensation, which is enough to pose a threat of gun rust. Senior Curators at the NRA’s National Firearms Museum say the ideal temperature for storing firearms is around 70 degrees and 50-55 percent relative humidity. But not all of us have the time, energy and money right now to invest in ensuring our firearm is kept under perfect conditions.

Zerust offers effective, affordable solutions to prevent gun rust and corrosion.

Zerust Gun Rust Prevention Products

Zerust uses patented vapor corrosion inhibiting technology to form an invisible, non-toxic, odorless layer of protection around metal components. Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors, or VCI for short, have a wide range of applications, but specific to the prevention of gun rust and corrosion, Zerust offers:

  • Vapor capsules for ammo and weapons. These provide stored guns and firearms with up to two years of protection. They’re an excellent alternative to WD-40 and gun oil. We have different sizes depending on the space of your storage unit and the amount of time for which you want to protect your items. Prices range from $1.50 to $7. Simply place a capsule inside the closed storage space, and your firearms will be shielded from corrosion.
  • Multipurpose VCI Poly Bags or Guns, Ammo, Weapons. VCI multipurpose bags are simple, effective forms of rust prevention. Just put your clean, cooled item into a poly bag and close it. Each bag – between $0.25 and $2, depending on size – is made with anti-corrosion protection that will keep any ferrous metals (iron, steel and cast iron) safe for up to five years. Another upside to bags is that because they keep your firearm dry, you can store, ship and transport without constantly having to apply oil and grease.
  • VCI Weapon Protection Bags. Similar to the multipurpose bags, these come in larger sizes and are either close tie or zip tie, ranging in price from $1 to $6.25.

If you have questions about any of our materials intended for ammo and gun rust prevention, feel free to reach out to us.

Contact Zerust for information on preventing gun rust and corrosion by emailing us or calling (330) 405-1965.

Additional Resources:

Daily Bulletin: Pandemic Fears Continue to Fuel a Surge in Gun Purchases, March 16, 2020, The Trace

More Blog Entries:

Avoid Stored Ammo Rust With VCI Technology, March 15, 2020, Zerust Gun Rust Prevention Blog

prevent rifle rust

Prevent Rifle Rust and Corrosion During Long-Term Storage

Hunting seasons vary from state-to-state, but even the most avid hunters usually place their rifles in storage at least for a time. To prevent rifle rust and corrosion during long-term storage, it’s important to keep your weapon cleaned, oiled and shielded from the elements.

Proper storage of your rifle and other hunting gear is essential if you want to ensure its extended life. Many hunters store their weapons in padded or hard foam cases. This might prevent excessive scratching, but it won’t shield your weapon from the corrosive effects of moisture – especially if the rifle isn’t first carefully cleaned and oiled.

Rust is a chemical reaction that occurs anytime ferrous metal (those containing iron) comes into contact with oxygen and water or humidity. The combined effect is something called oxidation, a corrosive process that attacks the metal surface, dissolving it into that chalky, reddish-brown substance known as rust.

Keeping metal surfaces dry is the best way to prevent rifle rust and corrosion. But sometimes sources of moisture aren’t openly obvious.

gun rust prevention products

Searching the Best Gun Rust Prevention Products for Firearm Storage

Rust is always a risk when it comes to metal, and firearms are no exceptions – particularly carry guns because of their constant proximity to the human body. The best gun rust prevention products are those that are chemical-free, tidy, inexpensive and don’t require too much time and elbow grease.

The bad news is most modern rust rust preventatives on the market don’t fit the bill. The good news is, Zerust gun rust prevention products do. We offer a broad selection of firearm anti-rust products everyday use as well as long-term storage, depending on your needs.

The Risks of Gun Rust

In the modern age of smokeless powder, forged barrels and non-corrosive primers, gun rust isn’t the plague it was for 19th Century firearms exposed to the corrosive effects of mercuric primers and potassium salt-laden black powder residue. That doesn’t mean gun owners shouldn’t take rust risk seriously, especially if your storage strategy doesn’t involve an airtight case. Time and the elements can be rough on all metals – even stainless steel and aluminum. Many are surprised at how little time and elemental exposure it takes to do real damage to a firearm.

gun cleaner

Prevent Corroded Barrels With the Right Gun Cleaner and Gun Oil

Responsible firearm owners know that proper gun maintenance and storage is obligatory. Newer models may not necessarily need to be cleaned after every use (though there is some debate among enthusiasts on ideal cleaning frequency), but it’s a given that any gun incorrectly cleaned or stored is vulnerable to damage from unburnt primer build-up, corrosion and rust due to water/humidity exposure. It’s key to choose the right gun cleaner and gun oil is key to prevent corroded barrels and other mechanisms.

There are a number of gun cleaner products that promise three-in-one treatments – Clean, Lubricate and Protect, or CLP for short. The problem is a matter of practical chemistry. A CLP product may clean most of the debris and fouling you’re trying to remove. However this type of formulation means the lubricant isn’t as effective. Inadequate lubricant will act as a debris magnet, attracting dirt, dust and sand. The result is mechanisms that are more prone to clogging and malfunction. Gun owners who solely use CLP cleaners often report their guns jam more frequently and fire fewer rounds than those who use separate gun cleaner and oil treatments.

For this reason, Zerust manufactures gun cleaner and gun oil products separately. Both are produced to offer optimal performance, keeping the weapon in prime condition and significantly reducing incidences of stoppages.

Finding the Right Gun Cleaner and Oil is Essential

prevent gun barrel rust

Prevent Gun Barrel Rust With Zerust Tube and Barrel Strip

Whether you stash your gun or rifle in the back of a closet, in the pickup truck console or an in-ground cache, taking proper steps to prevent gun barrel rust is a must – particularly if you’re using corrosive ammunition.

Many a gun lover has endured the misery of pulling their firearm from the case, only to discover that beautiful blue or matte black finish has been marred by creeping rust and/or corrosion. Even the U.S. Military has had issues with failure to prevent gun barrel rust, erosion and wear – particularly with long caliber gun barrels. In a now-unclassified report, the U.S. Army reported the negative impact of gun barrel wear and erosion can include:

  • Reduction of muzzle velocity
  • Greater risk of inaccuracy
  • Increase of dispersion
  • Unstable projectile flight
  • Damage to other sensitive components
  • Hastening of barrel fatigue (resulting from surface defects in both the bore and combustion chamber)

The report indicated that while these things might not necessarily be dangerous to anyone using the gun, they could be extremely hazardous to “friendly personnel located downrange or near the intended target.” That’s a big reason why the military takes special precaution to prevent gun barrel rust – and so should you. 

gun rust prevention winter

Chilling Out: Cold Weather Gun Rust Prevention

With the northern hemisphere now firmly in winter’s icy grip, extra precaution is critical to keeping your weapons safe from the clutches of cold weather. Gun rust prevention in winter doesn’t need to be costly or time-consuming, but it must consider several factors:

  • Composition of metal components;
  • Temperature of storage areas;
  • Humidity levels.

Proactive gun rust prevention in winter is critical to prevent degradation and breakage of the firearm. The same problems can impact ammunition. This kind of wear isn’t just unsightly. It can be deadly.

To safely and effectively shield your firearms from the unforgiving elements of winter, Zerust has an array of products to fit your use and storage plan.

gun rust prevention

Risk of Gun Rust Heightened in Summer Humidity

Gun rust has been around as long as firearms have been made of metal (which is to say, always). Sports enthusiasts, hunters, law enforcement officers and those with concealed carry licenses – they may all take great caution to ensure the gun is properly cleaned, oiled and stored in a cool, dry place. However, a gun storage plan that involves anything less than vapor corrosion inhibitors won’t guarantee your weapon stays rust-free – especially in the summer. Gun barrels and metal receivers are particularly vulnerable. gun rust prevention

Why Summer Raises the Risk of Gun Rust

Technically, your firearm and/ or its components can be at risk of rust any time of year. Guns are metal objects and any metal that comes in contact with oxygen and moisture can be exposed to potential corrosion. Carry guns have especially high rates of rust, given that they are often in frequent contact with the oils of human skin.

Sweat in particular can cause more gun rust because in addition to the moisture, our sweat is high in salinity. Salt is also corrosive. The hotter it is, the more we sweat, and if we do so while handling a piece, there is a greater likelihood it’s going to be exposed to damaging moisture and salt. Plus more people are using and handling their guns at outdoor ranges when the weather is nicer. Even if you have a favorite indoor range you use in the dead of winter, you probably aren’t sweating bullets there.

But another reason summer may be especially risky for your gun is that general humidity levels in the air are higher than usual.