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How To Stop Surface Rust on Guns | 7 Tips for Keeping Your Firearms in the Best Condition

By Maria Paiz October 23, 2023

Dark blue background with contrasting light blue text that reads How to Stop Surface Rust on Guns USA Safe and Vault logo, and a photo of rusted firearms on the right.

*This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, but it never influences our product selection process.


Table of Contents

When you own a gun, it is important to take care of it. That means not only cleaning and maintaining your firearm on a regular basis but also storing it in the best way possible so that rust doesn't become an issue. At some point, gun owners are likely to see some rust spots on exposed metal surfaces of firearms no matter how much one tries to prevent rust, knowing how to remove rust when it occurs is also important.

In this post, we'll discuss 5 tips for preventing rust from forming on your guns and how to store them so they stay in their best condition!

What is rust? Why Is It Bad?

Rust is the by-product of the process of oxidation. When exposed to oxygen and water, it appears as a brownish discoloration on iron and steel metal objects. In fact, rust can form within 24 hours!

Oxidation destroys iron, so rust makes metals weaker, more prone to unexpected breakages, corrode faster, or collapse under their own weight. 

Several rust removal products on the market today manage this job well. Use rust removers to get rid of rust as soon as it appears.

As for why rust is bad, rust weakens the metal object, making it brittle and vulnerable to breakage.  Not to mention, it looks unsightly!

Best Ways To Prevent Guns From Rusting

  • Store at the right humidity:  50-55% relative humidity at 70 degrees F.

  • Use the right kind of storage case, especially when you are transporting firearms.

  • Cleanliness is a must for good protection. 

  • Use a good gun safe that controls temperature and humidity.

  • Don't store ammunition with your guns. Some ammo can be corrosive.

  • Apply a coating

  • Use a good gun-safe dehumidifier.

7 Tips To Prevent and Get Rid Of Rust

Tip 1:  Storage at the right humidity

Keep your firearm in a dry place and out of sunlight. Sunlight can make the metal contained inside your gun react with other chemicals, which will cause it to corrode.

It is best to keep your guns stored in a cool area free from sunlight, at the right temperature of 70 degrees F and the recommended relative humidity of 50-55%, year-round. 

We recommend selecting a good gun safe which are designed to be air-tight and which can be equipped with dehumidifiers.  We recommend gun safes from well-known brands such as Browning, Hollon, Mesa, Rhino Metals, and Cannon Safes. 

Here's our favorite, the Browning Black Label Mark V Blackout Gun Safe MP33


Browning Black Label Mark V Blackout Gun Safe MP33



Invest in an inexpensive humidity meter like this one we like: it has close to 85,000 reviews.

Easy ordering, low prices, and free shipping at Amazon. Click To Buy.

Tip 2: Using the Right Type of Case

Keep your gun in its case when it's not being used for storage or if you're transporting the firearm from one location to another. The leather material inside a typical rifle-carrying case can absorb moisture and provide an extra layer of protection against existing rust. Here's one set of cases we like.  Yes, they are top-of-the-line, but your guns deserve it!

The  Pelican 1170 Protector Case is one of our favorite cases!

Pelican 1170 Case With Foam (Black)

Easy ordering, low prices, and free shipping at Amazon. Click To Buy.

Tip 3: Attention to Cleanliness To Prevent Gun Rust

If you take your firearm with you on a hunting trip or other activity where it is exposed, make sure the gun is completely dry before storing it back in its case and covering it up. This will ensure that sweat doesn't create an environment where the metal can rust.

No matter what, you must clean your gun completely before putting it away for storage. Even if you think there is no visible dirt or grime, make sure that you dry and wipe down every part of the gun, especially the trigger and firing mechanisms.  Keep your gun pointed up so any warm air that is moist can escape from the barrel and reduce the risk of rusting.

A top-quality Gun Cleaning Kit is the best way to accomplish this.

The GLORYFIRE Universal Gun Cleaning Kit is one of our top choices!

 GLORYFIRE Universal Gun Cleaning Kit Hunting Handgun Shot Gun Cleaning Kit for All Guns with Case Travel Size Portable Metal Brushes


Easy ordering, low prices, and free shipping at Amazon. Click To Buy.


Tip 4: Use Steel Wool For Rust Removal ASAP

The best storage place for your firearm is in a cloth or fabric that can absorb moisture from inside of it before those small droplets turn into big drops on the surface of your weapon.

It's important that you store your firearms in a place that doesn't have enough humidity to cause rusting. 

Use good steel wool pads and some elbow grease to remove surface rust spotting before the rust spreads! It is important that when you see the first signs of rust, you remove it and treat the area so no rust remains.

Using top-quality Cleaning Cloths is the best way to accomplish this.

The Clenzoil Saturated Wipes are our top pick!

Clenzoil Field & Range Saturated Gun Oil Wipes | Multi-Purpose [ CLP] Cleaner, Lubricant, & Protectant | Approx. 75 (5" x7") One-Step Gun Cleaning Oil & Lubricant Field Wipes

Easy ordering, low prices, and free shipping at Amazon. Click To Buy.


Tip 5: Don't Store Ammo With Guns  

Don't store ammunition with your guns if you don't want to create the right environment for rusting. Some types of ammunition are corrosive as well, which will cause more damage and quicker rusting. Corrosive ammo contains potassium chlorate primers which can break down into a salt (potassium chloride that is very similar to common salt).  This salt will eat into the metal, especially in the presence of any moisture.

Having a dedicated Ammo Cabinet is the best way to accomplish this.

The Stack-On Ammo Cabinet is our top pick!

Quick Access Safes, Pistol Style, Black

Easy ordering, low prices, and free shipping at Amazon. Click To Buy.

Tip 6: Coat It Before You Have to Remove Rust

Maintain your firearms by applying a thin layer of oil or grease to the metal after cleaning them. This will not only help prevent rust but also provide some protection from the elements and other outside factors like dust, dirt, and grime. 

If you want to go hi-tech, research applying a coating such as Cerakote (check with your local gun shop). You can also coat your gun with wax, such as Renaissance Wax.

Those looking to take firearm maintenance to the next level can also consider bluing, a process that provides a deep black-blue finish, enhancing your firearm's appearance while offering exceptional rust resistance. 

Our top pick for bluing is the Birchwood Casey Super Blue:

Westlake Market, Birchwood Casey Super Blue Liquid Gun Blue Plus 2 Disposable Absorbent Pads for Gun Restoration Projects

This double-strength bluing solution is designed specifically for highly polished steel parts and hardened steels containing nickel and chrome alloys, ensuring optimal protection against rust, corrosion, and other external factors like dust, dirt, and grime.

Easy ordering, low prices, and free shipping at Amazon. Click To Buy.

Tip 7:  Use a Good Dehumidifier To Condition Your Safe

Keeping the interior of your gun safe at a uniform relative humidity of 50-55% all through the year, when the outside temperature varies, is no easy job. With a fairly airtight seal on the safe and occasional opening and closing of the safe, the humidity will fluctuate.

A good gun-safe dehumidifier evens out the humidity inside and keeps it at the desired level by raising the temperature to the right level (physics!).  

See our review of the Best Gun Safe Dehumidifier to learn about the many types, and which one you should select to suit your gun safe and your wallet.

We like the Goldenrod Dehumidifier from Lockdown, which comes in different sizes. 


Goldenrod Dehumidifier


It is electric, reliable, and easily connected, as most safes have either an electrical receptacle or a knockout to allow a cable to exit the safe. (The dehumidifier has a removable plug.) 

Easy ordering, low prices, and free shipping at Amazon. Click To Buy.

Key Takeaways for Rust Protection and Rust Removal

Protect your valuable firearms with some straightforward steps, such as managing humidity, keeping guns clean, and storing them away from corrosive ammo. Use gentle steel wool or a specialized steel wool pad to remove early signs of rust. Maintain the optimal humidity in your safe with a dehumidifier to protect its contents. If you own more than a couple of guns, invest in a high-quality gun safe to defend against fire, theft, unauthorized access, and a frequently overlooked hazard: RUST!


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