Safe Storage

A Few Tips From An Old Gun Guy
30

Cut the odds of condensation inside your gun safe by using
desiccant bags to suck up any moisture. Save the ones that
come in boxed products, or buy them online.

By my calendar, it’s mid-winter and across the central U.S., and definitely across the northern tier states from Washington to Maine, a lot of gun owners probably should be practicing off-season gun maintenance.

I do this as a distraction from all the political anti-gunnery currently in progress in such places as Albany, Augusta, Boston, Columbus, Concord, Denver, Hartford, Lansing, Madison, Montpelier, Olympia, Portland and Springfield. Don’t have to worry much about Cheyenne, Wyoming or Salt Lake City, Utah, and probably not Boise, Idaho. Translation: Anyplace the left is in control.

Note: There are no sessions this year in Montana, Nevada, North Dakota or Texas.

This time of year, when range time might be limited or unpleasant depending on weather conditions, it’s a good time to give some attention to your prized firearms. Pull the slides off all semi-auto pistols, drop some oil on the rails and give the innards a shot of cleaner/oil. If you’re a wheelgunner, add a drop of oil to the action, and with all guns, give the bore a good look using a bore light, and brush or mop it out as necessary.

One thing too many folks overlook, however, is keeping moisture away from your guns. Don’t know about you, but about the time I was in second or third grade, I learned to never store a rifle or shotgun in a gun case. When I was older, I simply applied the same logic to handguns. This is a good way to let any moisture which might be on the gun from the last outing to become rusty. It happened to me once, and only once. Fortunately, I had a pad of fine steel wool and a bottle of cold blue handy.

Some people only think “safe storage” looks like this. They’re wrong,
of course. Proper storage of firearms reduces the odds of rust or
corrosion during the off-season.

This is where a good gun safe enters the picture, because the days are long gone when Joe or Jane outdoorsman/woman can just leave a rifle or shotgun on a rack or in a glass-front gun case and not risk inviting a burglar to smash and grab.

Many gun safes are designed to allow installation of small dehumidifiers, which can be plugged into a wall socket. Those which are not should be checked occasionally, especially in damp environments. And this is where desiccants (those little bags of silica beads) come in handy.

I save every one of these little bags when they come in boxes of other goods, such as electronics. The instructions tell you to toss the bags, but I toss them only as far as the gun safe.

You can actually purchase boxes of these packets from outfits such as Hornady, Liberty Safe, Sentry Safe, Cabelas or Midway. They’re also available from Amazon and other outlets, and I rotate them in and out over the course of the winter. The strategy has been working for years, and I live in Washington, where it is either raining or getting ready to rain this time of year!

In the summer, put them in an aluminum pie pan and stick them outside where they will be in the sun all day. We’ve got a metal storage shed for garden tools and the lawn mower, and that place gets murderously hot inside from June through September. I can also put the desiccant bags in there to dry them out.

On weekends during the winter when you’re home, crack
open the door of your gun safe to allow any moisture to escape.

Crack the Safe

Another strategy to prevent condensation over the winter months is to crack the door of your gun safe on weekends to allow air to circulate. This, of course, is a personal choice issue, and some folks may argue this will encourage condensation to build, but I’ve never seen it, and it rains sometimes to monsoon levels at my place.

Opening the safe has another benefit, sort of like impulse shopping. I confess to being unable to do it without taking out one or two firearms to give them a look-see. A little wipe with a dry cloth is invariably part of this process, and if you grab a different gun each time, all the better.

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but it never hurts to remind people about fixing scratches or scrapes on wood stocks or handgun grips. There are a couple of methods I’ve used, the first being a dab of linseed oil or a mix of warmed linseed and tung oil applied to the damaged area. Pre-application sanding may be optional.

Believe it or not, rubbing your rifle stock with neutral shoe wax
helps protect the wood from moisture damage made possible
by scratches in the wood.

A second strategy involves the use of warmed neutral shoe wax. I once refinished a full muzzleloader stock this way, sanding the surface down with various grits up to 1,000 and then buffing it with very fine steel wool. After “whiskering” the wood, I hand-rubbed the stock with the 50-50 oil compound and then applied the warmed wax. Today, the rifle sheds water like a vinyl rain poncho.

Homicides At a Glance

Statisticians will talk percentages all day long when it comes to murders in their community, but there is nothing like raw body counts to underscore a problem. I personally dislike people who talk only in percentages, because it’s like they’re trying to hide something. So, Insider did a little snooping around recently and here’s what surfaced:

• The Portland, Oregon Police Bureau reported 74 homicides in the city last year, according to KGW News. The number is down considerably from the 96 posted in 2022.

• San Francisco logged 53 slayings last year, as of Dec. 22, according to the San Francisco Standard.

• Take a long trip northeast to Detroit, Michigan. Last year, according to the Gazette, the Motor City racked up 252 murders in 2023. The “good news” is that this was the lowest number since 1966.

• Not to be outdone, Washington, D.C. gave us 274 homicides last year, according to WUSA News. It amounted to a 36% spike from 2022, the station noted.

• Seattle set a new record — 73 murders, according to Seattle Homicide — despite a special gun and ammunition tax to raise money for anti-violence programs, and increasingly restrictive statewide gun control laws.

• However, if you like body counts, go no further than Chicago. According to the popular website Heyjackass.com, last year ended with 644 homicides, including 575 committed with firearms.

• While digging around for the data, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune noted in its news columns that suicide in Minnesota “accounted for more than two-thirds of all firearms deaths in Minnesota in 2022, according to a gun control lobbying group” called Protect Minnesota.

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