(what you should not do)
It should be common knowledge to clean your firearm after a trip to the range. But what a lot of people do not realize is that regular maintenance and inspection of your carry firearm is necessary to ensure that it will function properly if and when the time comes that it is needed.
So often one will pack around a pistol for months on end without doing anything more than putting it in a holster or tossing it in the glove box or under the seat. This practice allows dirt and grime to build up, not to mention damage that may be caused by latent moisture either from sweat, or humidity in the air.
|Moisture erodes value as well as metal
In the case of a Smith & Wesson .357 I picked up on the cheap awhile back, a window left open in the rain, combined with a gun in a leather holster left forgotten under the seat, equals a rusted revolver that was once worth $800 or better, but is now sold for $200.
The revolver was left in a sad state-the action was locked up from rust because all of the internal parts were rusted- but a little elbow grease and a refinish kit brought it back to a presentable status.
It shot excellently, but it had to be completely disassembled and wire-brushed on the inside and steel-wooled on the outside, virtually destroying the value.
All of the springs were rusted and had to be cleaned as well. It was a rarer version with a 5 inch barrel, and in perfect shape it was worth $800-$1000, well beyond the $200 I paid for it and the $350 value it was allotted in a trade. I would suggest a weekly inspection and cleaning, breaking the gun down as you would for normal cleaning after range time. .
Actual picture of the Smith & Wesson .357 showing the rusting effects of moisture when stored of the piece.
Corrosive ammunition vs. Ammonia
Another unfortunate occurrence is when people use military surplus ammo that is corrosive and do not properly clean their piece after range time. Corrosive ammunition requires that you clean the piece with ammonia to remove the caustic material left behind. I use a 50/50 (-ish, maybe a little stronger) mix of ammonia and water.
One of my favorite military surplus pistols is the CZ 52; this is a powerful handgun that fires the 7.62x25 cartridge. I recently obtained another fine example of this weapon, but unfortunately whoever possessed it before I did was obviously oblivious to the necessity of cleaning with ammonia and so the chamber was “swollen” from rust, thereby necessitating the purchase and installation of a new barrel. Fortunately one of my favorite online stores (sportsmansguide.com) has new barrels for the CZ 52 for a mere $40.
This holds true for black powder guns as well. Black powder is very corrosive and most people do not properly clean their muzzies before storage, and so often find the next deer season a rusted, and most likely less accurate, bore. Even a massive amount of bore butter will not prevent this so it is recommended to use proper solvent intended for black powder, or, if that isn’t readily available, ammonia, to get the caustic material off of the steel.
Storage vs. humidity
Another problem that arises- my friend just told me about his discovery a couple of weeks ago of a rusted gun in his safe- is that when people store guns in a gun safe or in gun cases for long periods of time they expect that when they pull the gun out it will be in the same condition as when it was placed in the safe or case.
Unfortunately this isn’t always so. That pesky humidity is up to its old tricks again.
If possible, you should put a dehumidifier in the safe or at the very least put those moisture absorbing silica packs in it as well as in the gun cases. I put those packs in all of my cases and in my ammo cans to make sure as possible that moisture does not adversely affect my guns and ammo so that they are ready to go when I need them.
Written by Eric W. Eichenberger, Carry Concealed Contributor
Sun, April 15, 2012
by CC Admin