Long Term Firearm Storage

by Gun Club of America Member Thomas Brooks

Over the years I have received numerous firearms from customers, plus some of my own collection,  that require some long term storage solutions. The length of time for storage varies from item to item of course, but the quality of preparation work must always be above and beyond professional grade. As a gun owner and gun enthusiast I recognize the investment, no matter how costly, that people put into their Second Amendment treasures.

Some customers need only to store their firearm(s) for a few months. This is common for hunters or seasonal target shooters. While to some this is “short-term”, many folks treat their firearms as if they were putting items up for long-term. This may be for various reasons. Some folks don’t know for sure when they are going to return to the designated activity. Others want superior protection for their valuable investments. People with less than desirable storage conditions may also want to have maximum protection for their firearms. Regardless the reason for long-term storage methods on short-term storage, a gunsmith must make every effort to provide the best storage protection.

Long-term storage demands some more attention, as an owner may not be inspecting their firearm as often as needed to insure preservation (i.e. see that the firearm is not rusting). These firearms may not be touched or even looked at for years at a time. Without proper protection, a firearm left alone could accrue some costly damage.

When I receive a firearm for long term storage I totally disassemble, inspect, and clean it. If repairs are needed that gets done first. If you are a non-professional doing this work yourself make sure you know how to properly disassemble and reassemble the firearm, if not (or if repairs are needed) take it to a competent and qualified gunsmith. Cleaning for me requires various methods depending on the firearm’s make, age, and use. Newer firearms usually get a good sonic cleaning and sonic oil job. The sonic oil is them removed by compressed air and paper towels in preparation for storage specific oil. Older firearms, those with gold inlay, antique firearms, specialty firearms, or customer requested firearms are not sonic cleaned but rather hand cleaned using Break-Free CLP. In either case I remove as much of the oil as possible.

Once cleaned and dry I use Break-Free CO Collector Oil over every piece, even the bore (follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applications). I use the Collector Oil because it works very well. Break-Free describes the Oil this way:

  • “Developed for military use to protect weapons for up to 5 years in storage
  • Exceeds military requirements for rust and corrosion protection
  • Unique 100% synthetic oil formulation with multiple high performance anti-rust and corrosion inhibitors
  • Will not break down to form waxy residues under heat or with age. Contains no wax or mineral oil
  • Does not have to be removed before firing; always “grab and go” combat ready condition
  • Safe for use on all metals and finishes”

I will also wear cotton gloves from this point forward for oiling with the CO and reassembly; no oily or sweaty fingerprints on any part.

Once cleaned and oiled with Collector Oil, I then fit the firearm into one of Brownells- TRIPLE TOUGH RUST-BLOX STORAGE KIT’s. The bags that come with this kit are amazing;  they are described as follows: “Tough, flexible storage bags are puncture resistant, semi-transparent and have a 0% moisture transmission rating, so rust-protected items sealed inside will remain rust and corrosion free indefinitely. Resistant to all petroleum based oils and solvents and completely non-biodegradable. So tough they will never break down, even in full contact with soil or moisture.” Included in the kit is also some “Rust-Blox” which Brownells claims “protects up to 300 cubic inches of airtight space with time-released, corrosion-inhibiting vapors. “Blox” rust and corrosion formation on steel, aluminum, copper and brass for at least one year. Will not harm or discolor the protected item.” You could also use protective gun wrap paper, but I like the Blox.

I’m sure you agree, sounds like a pretty impressive storage kit. In my previous orders of these bags I did not see the “semi-transparent” quality. They look like Mylar bags and you cannot see what is in them. Brownells does supply labels with the kit so you can keep it from becoming a mystery bag. If one so desired, you could even use food storage bags and vacuum seal the firearm. I would still use Rust-Blox or some other oxygen absorber and rust preventer. Vacuum sealing would certainly keep that gun fresh for years to come and you could see what was in the bag… no mystery there. One of the things I like about Brownells bags is that they can be sealed with an iron or taped shut. I prefer the tape shut method as it allows the owner to easily access the items in the bag without special resealing procedures or tools. Simply cut the tape, without slicing up the bag, and reseal with tape when viewing or maintenance is complete. If you do cut the bag you may want to replace it with a new one. I would suggest saving that damaged bag as you may be able to reuse it for a smaller firearm, or other items you want to protect, in the future.

With Collector Oil applied and the firearms properly packaged the item will certainly be well preserved for a minimum of one year. The oil claims five years, but the Rust-Blox claim one. I advise customers to yearly add some Rust-Blox to insure well protected firearms. When doing so I also advise customer to use cotton gloves when handling the firearm, if they take it out of the bag, so as to not apply destructive fingerprints.  The cotton gloves are advised if they want to view the firearm periodically without having to have it sent through the whole long-term storage preparation process again. I recommend the whole process every five years, based on Break-Free’s five year protection with the Collector Oil. When taking the items out of the bag at any time the light coating of oil should be checked and if needed additional oil rubbed on. I sell a bottle of the  Break-Free CO Collector Oil with my long-term storage package.

When searching for products for long-term storage make sure they come from reputable companies. Nothing could be worse than applying a product only to find out years later that it didn’t work and someone has a damaged firearm. Use quality products, and take the time to do quality work. Professional attention to detail like above will certainly set your work apart.

3 Responses to Long Term Firearm Storage

  1. I have been using break free for years now after hearing Bob Dunlap praise it on one of his video’s. I am very satisfied with it as a lubricant for most of my guns including using the collectors grade for those in the safe for long term storage. When I heard Bob say he placed Break Free on a part and threw it in the snow for the winter and retrieved it the spring with absolutely no rust on it I was sold and still am.

  2. I had seen the Break Free Collector Oil before, but never tried any. I’m going to have to pick some up! Thanks for the article!