Long Term Gun Storage: How To Properly Store a Gun

handgun inside an opened lock box

Having a gun at home can make you and your family safer against outside threats. However, it can also make it riskier for your household. A gun is a danger to all people, after all, owner or not.

This emphasizes the importance of storing your gun in the right place and conditions. It should be easy to reach when danger arises, yet out of reach of children to prevent accidental shots.

You also have to consider the gun's condition when planning for long term gun storage. How do you make it safe and secure for both the people and the guns? Follow our tips below for proper care and storage.

1. Choose a Storage Location

First, decide where you want to store your gun. Since you're looking for long term gun storage, it wouldn't be your nightstand or your closet. It needs ample protection from moisture and the elements.

Your choice of storage would also depend on whether you want the gun to be always ready for firing or not. Guns you wouldn't use for a home invasion, you can store disassembled, for example.

Use a Gun Safe

Gun safes are the most secure storage for guns, and some offer flood and fire protection, too. It requires a lot of time and effort to break into; they're quite heavy, as well, so they're not going anywhere.

Different types employ different security technologies. Some have cool features like biometrics, which would require your fingerprint. Some open with a card or a key fob and some still have spin dial locks.

The interiors are what set it apart from normal safes. They have dedicated racks for the safe storage of different types of guns. The lined interiors also help protect the finish of the guns.

A gun safe is a lifelong investment, and it can cost a pretty penny. The price depends on its fire rating, steel thickness, size, and other features. You have to determine the features that are important to you before making a purchase.

Determine the Size

If you're on a budget, choosing the least space required is tempting. However, first-timers aren't the best at gauging the right amount of space they need. They often underestimate their needs.

These are the ones who'll often need to buy another safe down the road, leading to more expenses.

When calculating the size you'll need, take into account all your guns, ammunition, and other gears, like optics and magazines. Then, consider the guns and gears you're planning to buy in the future.

Are you planning to put other valuables, like jewelry, in the safe, too? Then take that into your calculations, as well.

Once you've calculated your space requirements, buy a safe that's one size larger. Your future self will thank you for the wise investment.

Take Advantage of Plain Sight

Some gun owners use clever storage locations to store their guns. They hide them in plain sight - a place a visitor would never guess is hiding a gun.

You can have a gun hiding behind a mirror, a painting, or any wall piece. You can also use furniture with hidden compartments or even a hollowed-out object, like a book, for the gun.

The advantage is that no one will even know you're hiding a gun. You can have the location in a convenient, easy-to-reach place, as well. If not for the functionality, you can also get one for the sake of novelty.

Some less creative ideas are the top of the closet or back of a drawer. They're not the most optimal places, but they're the most convenient.

Gun Cases for Portability

If you're after portability, get gun cases instead. You'll be able to carry them anywhere, even at short notice, while still under the protection of a case.

They have varying security technologies, too, depending on the model. They have different sizes and materials, but they should all be light enough for hand carrying.

This can be a security flaw, as a thief can use tools to break through or carry it away from the owner. Another flaw is that the material can lead to moisture.

They're also great for when you only have small space for gun storage. It's at least a step up from storing a bare gun in the drawers and such.

2. Avoid Moisture to Prevent Rust

Another thing you have to consider when choosing a storage location is moisture. Humidity and inadequate airflow can form moisture around the gun, leading to rust. You must then make sure the storage is dry and moisture-free.

Avoid storing your gun in a material that draws moisture from the air, like nylon, leather, or Kydex. Gun cases with soft lining are an example, and so are pistol rugs. The original cardboard box of the gun also leads to excessive moisture because cardboard absorbs moisture, too.

You can store bare guns in a safe, but you can take extra steps to make sure the inside doesn't form enough moisture to damage your gun. Use silica gel beads that you can reheat when they have absorbed all the moisture they can hold. A dehumidifier also does the job quite well.

3. Keep it Out of Reach of Children

It's important to remember that what you think is a safe and secret location isn't for children. They are almost always aware of your hiding spots, so this is a crucial factor when you're picking a storage solution.

A gun safe is the most secure option, especially when it uses biometrics. Those that use passwords are less secure, but only if you're a bit careless with yours.

If you're using gun cases or a hiding spot, make it out of reach, at the least. A high enough spot can be an effective deterrent. Your nightstand isn't as effective; a child only needs one instance of you forgetting to lock your bedroom door to get access to it.

When your children become old enough, you can teach them about gun safety, too. Should they find your hidden gun, there are fewer risks of accidents and injuries.

4. Prepare Your Gun for Long Term Storage

Picking a storage location is one thing, but storing a gun safely is another. You also have to make sure the gun is ready for storage.

Cleaning a pistol and any other gun takes priority. Swab the bore and wipe down the gun with a lubricant. Don't forget to use a quality, ammonia-free cleaner.

Clean the nooks and crannies; make sure to include the cylinder, crane, and magazines.

For the wood stocks, treat them with wax, including the inside. This will prevent swelling and cracking while in storage.

When you place it inside the safe, use gloves or even a rug; avoid touching it with your bare hands. You'll leave oily, salty fingerprints, which can corrode the finish of the gun.

5. Prepare the Storage Location

Next, it's time to prepare the storage area. You might have to drill a hole at the back of the safe for the wire of an electric dehumidifier. Some safes have pre-drilled holes, though.

You can also elect to use desiccant dehumidifiers, which only need batteries. When using other types of dehumidifiers, place them in a secure location.

If it doesn't have a rack, put one, especially if you have multiple guns. Don't place the guns in a position that will have them touching each other. Secure them in a way they won't fall.

Gun socks are a good solution for overcrowded safes, in which a rack isn't feasible. Gun socks have silicone so that they won't absorb moisture.

For your ammo, it's best to check out the SAMMI guidelines for proper storage and handling. They should also be dry, so putting in desiccants in the container will help.

6. Inspect Your Gun Once in a While

Did you follow all the tips above for proper gun care and storage? Good, now you only have to check your gun/s from time to time to make sure they're still in good condition. After all, you might need to use them in an emergency.

Check the muzzle for greenish-blue streaks. This, among other colors, is a sign that the copper jack is corroding.

Inspect for rust and pitting on any part of the gun. Test the action, too, to see if they're still working as normal.

You might have to clean your guns again and lubricate them. Make it a habit to ensure they stay in their optimal condition even in long-term storage.

Follow the Tips for Long Term Gun Storage

There are a lot of factors that make long term gun storage a bit tricky. Natural elements can corrode and deteriorate your gun if you don't store them the right way.

That's why it's important to follow our tips above so you can enjoy your guns for a long time to come. For more tips, check out our other guides for better gun use today.


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