Safe-keeping of Firearms in Australia.
The term Safe-keeping of Firearms refers to the storage of firearms, air rifles included, for a prolonged period. Having recently received two air guns that were stored in a safe for just under a year, the owner was surprised to see the rust on them; to the point that even ‘breaking the barrel’ to insert a pellet was difficult. So, what went wrong?
One problem was humidity and the resulting damage that moisture can do. Another problem was the safe was situated in a basement area with poor ventilation and a damp atmosphere. Now, these air guns had been kept in this safe for years without any problems since they were used regularly, moisture was minimised by handling and outdoor activities. Then once they were left for a long period in a damp container, rust got hold of them.
The regular use of your firearm(s) and placement in a safe etc, may not alert you to the potential damage that humidity can do, so don’t let that fool you into leaving your guns unattended for a lengthy period. To show you just what I mean here, I placed these 2 disposable humidity canister traps (below), one in each 66-gun safe at my shop in Brisbane, for 6 weeks. Now my safes each were nearly full of guns and there were no large void areas, yet the following images show you just how much water was pulled out of the inside of each safe, and no, the doors were not left open for any prolonged periods of time.
Those of you living in Queensland who want to know more about storing your guns go to the safe-keeping of firearms Qld Police.
Yup, I know Brisbane gets humid but so do other places, some less and some more. Humidity can also be formed in warm weather in cooler areas of the house, such as a basement, so don’t overlook that possibility. Cold climates can also produce air-borne moisture producing rust within a gun safe, so don’t for one minute think that because your guns are locked away, they are potentially safe from rust.
The correct Safe-keeping of Firearms and Air Rifles in general.
Guys, while many of us look after our guns and wipe them down after use, the vast majority do not! Fingerprints containing oils and moisture are often visible on guns coming through Gunroom with the resulting breakdown, minimal at first, of the bluing.
Dust and dirt are other issues as some of these absorb moisture and transfer the resulting chemical action into and through the bluing. Bluing incidentally, for those of you new to guns, is a controlled oxidisation (rusting) of the steel. It is imperative to wipe down the bluing after use with a clean cloth or one that has a small residue of oil in it to take off marks. The gun does not need to be dripping in oil, a light smear polished back is sufficient.
There is another element to protecting your firearms and that is the correct safe size. As most safes are made in China, their method of calculating how many guns a safe will store, is bizarre, to say the least. In my opinion, a 7 Gun Chinese Safe will hold 5 guns at a squeeze and 3 or 4 comfortably, allowing you to remove them without scratching or marking the neighbouring firearms on each side.
It appears to me that the Chinese have not allowed for the rifle bolts sticking out the side nor have they allowed for scopes that seriously risk getting damaged when packing a gun safe to the marked capacity. I have 66 capacity gun safes that will hold around 40 air rifles without scopes and around 36 guns with scopes. Go figure….
Long Term Storage and Safe-keeping of Firearms.
Those of you considering Safe-keeping of firearms need to take storing them one step further than the above. That is, you need to wipe down the gun and put it in a heavy plastic tubular bag welded at one end, then squeeze out the excess air and wrap it tightly around the barrel securing it with a heavy rubber band. You can pick up a bag(s) free of charge when visiting my shop or when ordering any products online.
Storage Safes at Gunroom[/caption]
Guns placed in a firearm safe without being crammed tightly together with sufficient air space between each firearm will minimise puncturing the bag and the possible frictional damage between guns. The safe used for Safe-keeping of firearms should also contain an efficient humidity trap to further reduce the risk of air-borne moisture.
Be careful with rags that have been soaked in oil or kerosene or similar as these can self-ignite when bundled tightly together. I put kerosene rags in an open coffee tin and oiled rags in a separate open coffee tin. I also place them where they will do little if any damage should ignition take place.
So, to summarise, long term air rifle storage or the safe-keeping of firearms for an extended period, you need to:
ensure the guns are wiped down,
place them in heavy tubular bags,
seal and store them in a moisture controlled gun safe with sufficient air space between each gun.
At Gunroom we individually check each air rifle, handgun or high powered rifle that has to be stored, prior to following the above 3 steps. The safe-keeping of firearms requires some attention to detail and due diligence if you are to avoid some of the above-mentioned pitfalls.