When the snow begins to fall, that’s when you feel like calling it quits. Now, some hunters and shooters are die hard and will put rounds down range in four feet of snow, but you aren’t as crazy. You might figure that it is time to put away the guns for a month or so, or at least until that darn snow melts.
So, what is the best way to do it? Are there any tricks of the trade that will help preserve your guns until you come back to use them? The answer is a resounding “yes.”
There are several major things you need to keep in mind, especially depending on what kind of guns you own. The storage process is different between long guns, handguns, and even between a wood laminate and synthetic stock. Some storage process are more involved with others, and it is not always a matter of simply making sure that they don’t fall over if you bump the safe.
Storing Your Handguns
If you are a shooting enthusiast and you have a bunch of handguns that you regularly use, then you will want to make sure that they are stored properly when you place them back into the safe.
One of the largest enemies of guns is rust. Rust will destroy bluing and will begin to corrode the inner workings of your revolver or pistol, even while it is inside your safe. Now, there are many safes that will be able to house both rifles and pistols, but if you have a few expensive Kimbers and maybe a Colt or two, you should probably get yourself a small safe just for them. Here are the reasons:
- A smaller safe will be easier to keep dry. Remember, rust is the enemy of your guns, and if you have any moisture source in your larger safe, over time that could hurt your handguns. The best way to keep things dry is to keep them compartmentalized.
- Sapping away moisture is much easier to accomplish in a smaller safe. There are many who use devices (both electronic and chemical) that take away moisture, and it is harder to eliminate moisture in a larger safe.
- If you use a lot of oil on your handguns before storing them, often times that oil will drip down onto the wooden stocks of your rifles. This is a problem (we’ll explain why later).
Storing Your Synthetic-Stock Rifles
Rifles with synthetic and polymer stocks are quite simple and easy to store. That is actually the nature of rifles with synthetic stocks: synthetics and polymers are almost always completely waterproof and will not be affected my moisture. However, there are a few things you will want to do before putting them away.
- Make sure they are clean! Often times and dirt or grime on your rifles can be corrosive. They may not be nearly as corrosive as moisture, but dirt has a way of “settling” into the gun’s moving parts, affecting its performance when you take them out again. (Also, it is much more pleasant to take a clean gun out of storage, instead of having a chore to do before you go back to the range.)
- Properly oil your rifles, and use a lot of it. Gun oil has several interesting properties that will keep your gun protected. Not only will it lubricate it when it shoots, but it will also block moisture and preserve bluing.
- Keep them in “gunsocks.” This will add just another layer of protection. There’s nothing worse than scratching the finish on your rifles, and when they sit in a safe for long periods of time, who knows what could knock them over onto each other.
Storing Wooden-Stock Guns
These are your finer-looking hunting rifles—sometimes it’s the red wood in the stock that gives the rifle its luster. So what are the best ways to store them? All the same rules apply as the synthetic stock rifles, however there is one extra thing you need to do.
An extremely helpful tip is that you should store your wooden stock rifles upside-down, with the barrels on the floor. While this may seem strange, the reason is that oil will seep into the wood if you do not.
When the oil gets into the wood, it has the tendency to swell, causing your round trajectories to change. This will also loosen the tolerances over time, damaging your prized hunting rifle.
When you store your rifle upside-down for the winter, you will actually notice little puddles of oil developing in about two weeks. This is the oil running out of the gun and on to the floor. If you want to keep your safe clean, you should keep the barrels stored on top of disposable plastic plates or some other tray to keep the oil off the carpeting.
It is crucial that you store your guns in the “safe” position, especially if you have children. Yes, they are in the safe, but it is always best to limit liabilities when possible. If you have trigger or bolt locks, then you should use them.
Also, you might be tempted to store them in an open facility or a gun rack, but this is not a favorable option. Not only are they not in the “safe” position, but they are also exposed to the every element in the room including moisture, chemicals, and other corrosive materials.
Keep your riflescopes covered, because there is nothing worse than having dust settle on the lenses.
Last, make sure you store the ammunition in a separate area. If you separate the ammunition from the guns, it limits any safety issues that could occur. A waterproof ammo box or can should do, as those don’t pose nearly the safety hazard if your guns are safe, and it keeps them away from that darn moisture.
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