A well-made firearm should last for decades, shooting and functioning as intended. But whether it's a pistol, rifle or shotgun, all guns that contain metal components are susceptible to rust and corrosion. When moisture comes into contact with the metal, it can trigger an oxidizing effect that eats through the metal. So, what steps can you take to protect your guns from rust and corrosion?
Watch the Humidity
The amount of moisture vapor in the air (known as humidity) can and will play a role in the formation of rust on your guns. If there's too much moisture vapor in the air, it will saturate your guns, causing them to rust.
According to a document titled “Caring for Your Collectible Firearms” by the National Firearms Museum, a relative humidity of 50% is ideal for storing guns. This means the surrounding air is contains the half the amount of moisture vapor of its total capacity. When the relative humidity increases beyond this amount, the air becomes even more saturated with moisture; thus, increasing the risk of rust and corrosion. And if the relative humidity level drops below 50%, it increases the risk of cracking and other damage involving gun stocks. This same document also recommends storing your guns year-round in an environment of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Note: dehumidifiers can be used to lower the humidity level in your bedroom (or wherever else your guns are stored).
Keep it Out of the Rain
I know this probably sounds like common sense, but it's still worth mentioning that you should keep your guns out of the rain. If you're firing off some rounds at an outdoor shooting range and it begins to rain, place your guns in a covered area to protect them from the rain. Rain can wreck havoc on guns, causing them to rust and tarnish.
Clean Your Gun... But Don't Use Too Much Lubricant
Another important step in keeping your guns free of rust and corrosion is cleaning them. We've talked about this before on the Lady in Lead blog, but it's worth mentioning again that cleaning is paramount for preventing buildups for gunpowder residue within the bore. Each time you shoot, small amounts of burnt gunpowder residue becomes caked onto the bore and surrounding components. If not properly cleaned in a timely manner, this residue will attract and harbor moisture, which can subsequently lead to rust.
Although cleaning is essential when owning and maintaining a gun, you must avoid using an excess amount of lubricant. Most gun oils and lubricants are made with special ingredients that discourage corrosion, but this doesn't mean they are immune to it. If you can see oil or lubricant dripping from your gun after you clean it, you've used to much. Only use a light layer of oil and lubricant to help protect your guns from rust.