Rust Free Storage


Dear Bruce:

Many thanks to you and others (including all the readers that share their experiences as well as their questions) that contribute to the Shotgun Report. This site has enhanced my understanding of the sport in ways too countless to mention.

Now that the groveling is over, time for my question.

I just purchased a new Citori White Lightening 20 gauge 28 ” bbl and am in love with it. Naturally, I want to properly maintain my new shotgun. My question is, can I store the weapon in a Pelican Protector Case for an indefinite period of time without worrying about rust or other nasty things happening?

I purchased the Pelican case primarily for transporting via air. Both the manufacturer’s rep and Browning told me long term storage in this air-tight container is perfectly acceptable provided (1) I properly oil the gun (I use Sheath based on your recommendations vis a vis cleaning) and (2) I open the case, put it in the same room as the shotgun, and allow everything to reach a equilibrium (this should prevent any condensation occurring in the case since everything will be at the same temperature).

This all sounds logical, and I have begun doing this, but I would really like your opinion on this method of long term storage.

Thank you for your consideration.

Harvey from Chicago
Often in error, often in doubt.

Dear Harvey,

Isn’t that Pelican case a piece of work! I really think that you could set off a nuclear device inside it and only hear a mild “whump”. Birchwood Casey’s “Sheath” rust preventative is one of the many good ones on the market. It makes an ideal after-shooting “wipe”. It’s one of the products I use and I have been very satisfied with it.

That said, I NEVER store any gun inside of any case for a longer period than I absolutely have to. I can’t tell you all the horror stories I have heard about people who put cased guns under beds only to pull them out some months later to find them covered with rust. For me, a case is only temporary storage.

When I store my guns I prefer to wipe them down with Sheath or similar and then stand them muzzle down inside my gunsafe. I use a “Goldenrod” heating element in my gunsafe to raise the dew point. I have never yet had a rust problem in spite of the fact in my old CT basement, like most New England fieldstone basements, was tidal in nature.

The reason that I am suspect about storing any gun in any case for any length of time is that any moisture which works its way into the case is held against the gun by the sponge rubber or lining material. The gun never gets the chance to breathe that it does in a gun safe. Sure, the Sheath will do some good and postpone the inevitable, but I don’ t like to take that risk. Much of your rust risk will also depend on your local humidity. Rust is almost an impossibility in a New York City apartment with its “canned” air. In Baton Rouge or Houston, it’s much more of a problem.

“Equalizing” the humidity by leaving the case open won’t really help. If it is humid on the day you expose the case, that water is trapped in the air-tight case from then on. The sponge lining is moist and it is held against th gun. Pelicans or Browning Gunsafes are supposed to be airtight and even have an atmospheric purge valve to deal with depressurized air compartment travel. That may just exacerbate the problem with any humid air trapped inside.

The bottom line is that it’s your choice. You may get away with storing a gun in a case for a while, maybe for a long time, without a rust problem. Many do. Still, it’s not a risk I would take if there were any alternative.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC

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