prevent gun rust tips

6 Pro Tips to Prevent Gun Rust

Most firearm owners aim to take good care of their guns. However, many fall short in efforts to prevent gun rust.

The problem usually comes down to less-than-thorough cleaning, using the wrong protective products (or applying the right products improperly), and firearm storage that doesn’t take humidity into account.

Why does it matter? Because while some creative types actually enjoy the look of rusted finish on certain types of decor, the trouble with rust on guns is that it goes beyond surface level – potentially compromising safety.

How Corrosion Can Impact Firearm Functionality

Rust, of course, is a type of corrosion that involves exposure of iron metals and iron alloy metals to water (including in the form of humidity) and air. Many guns are made with iron alloy metals, such as steel. These are also known as ferrous metals. But even if your gun is made mostly with non-ferrous metals, those can still be vulnerable to other types of corrosion. Exposure to water, oxygen, salt, dirt, and high humidity are associated with accelerated corrosion on most metal surfaces – though how fast depends on the type of metal and intensity/length of exposure.

Among the functional problems of a rusty gun:

  • Magazine may fail to feed if it’s rusted.
  • Rusted slides can cause failure to cycle, extract, and/or eject.
  • Rust and/or debris in the gun barrel can cause a dramatic increase in pressure once the round is discharged. This can cause a split or bulged barrel – possibly even an explosion of the gun’s action.
  • If a gun’s moving parts are corroded, the wear between points of contact can cause drag and malfunction.

All this is on top of the fact that few firearm owners are eager for a rust-finish aesthetic. If you want your gun working reliably, it’s unwise to disregard rust – or any other type of corrosion.

Professional Insight to Prevent Gun Rustprevent gun rust storage

At the consumer products division at Zerust, our primary focus is protecting metal surfaces of your valuables – whether it’s your car or your golf clubs or your firearm. The vapor corrosion inhibitor (VCI) solutions we use are the same as those employed by the U.S. military and large manufacturers to prevent or slow rust and corrosion on their equipment and products. VCI works by interrupting the electrochemical process on metals that results from exposure to moisture, oxygen, and atmosphere contaminants. VCI molecules (too small to see) settle on metal surfaces inside an enclosure and protect against rust and corrosion. We’ve simply tailored those solutions for smaller goals. Instead of protecting the arsenal of an entire U.S. Army unit, we’re focused here on helping gun owners properly store their home protection, hunting, and recreational use firearms.

VCI is just one of the key components of gun rust prevention, though. Here are our pro tips to prevent gun rust:

  1. Manage temperature and humidity. Although extreme hot or cold won’t necessarily cause rust, sudden changes from one to the other can lead to condensation – which is a catalyst for rust. Also, firearms tend to do most when stored at about 70° Fahrenheit. Consistency with temperature is also important. Also, keep moisture at a minimum by using a dehumidifier wherever you’re storing your firearm. 
  2. Use gun oil – not a solvent. Solvents like WD 40 are water displacing – but not water shielding. They’ll get rid of water or moisture that’s already on the surface, but they aren’t going to coat and protect that metal from exposure to humidity. This is why it’s really important to use an actual gun oil (and not just a water solvent or standard lubricator). Gun oil helps actually protect the metal from the adverse and corrosive impacts of water and moisture. And make sure your gun is carefully and properly cleaned before applying.
  3. Avoid storage in a gun case. There’s really only one appropriate use for a gun case (hard or soft), and that’s to transport a firearm from one location to another. Relying on a gun case as a long-term storage solution is risky when it comes to rust. They’re notorious for trapping moisture in and around the firearm, accelerating the corrosive impact.
  4. Don’t shoot corrosive ammo. Given the price of ammo, it’s understandable that gun owners might want to save a buck by buying up someone’s older stock. The problem is older rounds can be highly caustic, as well as covered with corrosive salt compounds. Place the ammo inside your firearm, and it can be deposited on internal metal surfaces – attracting moisture and ultimately inviting rust.
  5. Store firearms with a VCI solution. We have numerous VCI gun storage products specifically designed for firearms of all types and sizes. These include rifle bags, vapor capsules to place on the inside of a safe, and VCI plastic storage bags. Ammo can be stored in these as well.
  6. Give your gun the white glove treatment. Even if your gun isn’t a valuable antique, wearing white gloves when you’re handling and cleaning can help ensure the oils from your hands won’t transfer onto the metal and exacerbate the corrosion risk.

If you have additional questions on how Zerust anti-rust and corrosion prevention storage solutions can help preserve your firearm, reach out to us!

Contact Zerust for information on VCI products to help with gun rust prevention by emailing us or calling (330) 405-1965.

Additional Resources:

8 Ways to Keep Your Guns From Getting Rusty, March 21, 2021, By Joseph Albanese, Field & Stream Magazine

More Blog Entries:

Affordable Tool Box Rust Prevention for Less Than $5, July 28, 2022, Hunting Gear Storage Rust Prevention Blog