by Bob McNally
A neighbor called me the other day in a panic. He explained the two rifles his deceased father had left him were in the death throes of rust and corrosion. He admitted leaving them in cushion-lined gun cases, zipped tight, and in an office closet, where they’d been ignored and propped against a wall for years.
He asked if he could bring them by for a quick assessment, and see what his next course of action should be.
Fortunately, the .22 semi-auto - an oldie on a Browning patent - wasn’t too bad. A little penetrating oil, a few tightened screws and lugs, and the valuable little fun gun would be great to shoot again.
The 30.06 that had been passed father-to-son, was much worse. Frankly, it may be the worst case of simple neglect ruining a rifle that I have ever seen. It was an old Springfield, likely purchased around WWII, but was mounted on a nice custom stock and had an old, reliable 3x scope. It was so rusted it took two days of oiling and working to break the bolt free. A look down the barrel showed cobwebs, and after a bit of cleaning, perhaps the inside of the barrel is pitted. The stock is cracked, and the whole outside barrel, scope, rings and bases are rusted bright red.
I showed it to another friend, who does some tinkering with guns, and he said he would get the gun in good condition, including repairing the stock, removing the rust, and re-bluing the metal for $200. It was a bargain-basement price from a friend to a friend.
The point here is to emphasize the need to wipe down with oil all firearms at least once a year, and two or three times is better. And never, ever, store firearms in tightly-zipped, insulated cases. Keep them in a cool, dry place, preferably in air-conditioned space. That removes moisture and allows gun metal to “breathe.”
It doesn’t take much effort to keep firearms rust free. And if you value them as family keepsakes, the bit of oiling they require is a work of love anyway.
In the Photo: Firearms should never be stored in zipped-closed heavy gun cases, as that leads to rusting, like this old customized Springfield 30.06 has suffered.