Chamber Rust

Oh Great One….

After years of shooting up here in the Pacific Northwest where the only time it isn’t raining is when it is REALLY raining I have failed myself… It appears that somehow, somewhere, through some devious plot that could only be explained along with the Virgin Mary giving birth the I have managed to get some… um…. er…. uh…. well you know…. rust in the sacred grounds (read chamber) of my BT-99… Don’t ask me how this happened, because I have no idea… I’m religious about cleaning my shotgun after every day of shooting, but it has happened… <again, bowing my head in shame>…

What is important now, however is just how in the heck do I get it out and keep it out… I’ve been looking at all the “gun products” that I can find and many talk about “rust-prevention” but few talk about “rust-removal”…

You gotta help me here… I’m not sleeping well at night and I’ve taken to drinking over this… Well okay… Maybe I drank a little before this happened, but now I’m drinking the cheap stuff!!!

You humble shell shucker…


Dear Earl,

Drinking the Cheap Stuff! This must be serious. Relax and add just a small splash of water to your single malt to release the bouquet. Don’t feel bad about the stigmata of rust in the chambers of a Browning. They just do that. One of my favorite phrases is “It was raining so hard you could hear the Brownings rust.” It isn’t your fault. I’m OK. You’re OK.

Here’s what is happening. When you shoot a plastic hulled shell, a little bit of the plastic gets laminated to the chamber wall each time. It can trap moisture if shooting conditions are appropriate. That’s why the guns rust in the chambers more easily than in the barrels. Browning steel (both Japanese and Belgian) has many good qualities, but it is not particularly rust-resistant. I’ve seen chambers on a gun that was scrupulously cleaned the night before rust during a morning in the duck blind.

There are several fixes. I have a couple of Fabrique Nationale B25s made for the European market. These are just about identical to the sainted Belgian Browning B25s sold in the US. One of them has chrome plated bores and chambers. The other does not. Apparently it was an option. I have also heard that chromed chambers, were an option though I can’t verify that and don’t fully understand the process of chroming only part of the inside of the barrel. I have heard of people who have wiped a few thou out of the chambers of their Brownings and inserted a stainless steel liner. Beretta boxlock owners don’ t know what we are talking about because their barrels are chromed to begin with.

The easy way to deal with rust once you have it is simply to chuck a 12 gauge bronze chamber brush in your electric drill, slobber it up with just about anything (BreakFree CLP, Clenzoil, Hoppes, Shooter’s Choice, etc) and have at it. If the rust isn’t too deep, everything will come out nicely. It probably isn’t a bad idea to do the whole barrel. Use a standard 12 gauge bronze bore brush on the bore. If you use the chamber brush in the bore, you will wear it out faster.

Once things are well scrubbed, push a few patches or Kleenexs through to get all the crud out. Then put some rust preventative like Clenzoil or Sheath on a mop tip of your cleaning rod and push it through a couple of times, paying particular attention to “swirl” it when it is in the chamber so that everything gets covered. I store my guns muzzle down in the gunsafe just in case there is a little left over in the bore. Before you shoot your gun, you might want to take a pass or two with a fuzzy stick if you think you have been overgenerous with the rust preventative. DO NOT use the wax based rust preventatives like Pachmayr PRP as they are very thick and will clog the barrel and build pressures. PRP is a great product for other applications, but not inside the barrel.

Once you have had rust in a particular area, make sure to always check that place carefully when you clean. Rust tends to reappear where it had last broken through because of the micro fissures it creates in the metal.

The chances are that your rust will respond to the above treatment because you haven’t let it build up. If your chamber rust was severe and does not respond to the electric drill and bronze brush method, You are going to have to check it out with a good gunsmith. He may be able to lap the chamber enough to remove the rust and still stay within specs. If he can’t, then he can mill out the chamber and insert that stainless sleeve I mentioned above. That would be an extreme case though and it really shouldn’t be necessary unless your gun is pretty far gone.

I store my guns muzzle down in a safe elevated a few inches off the floor. I use a “Golden Rod” heating element in the safe to raise the dew point. So far the Golden Rod and wiping the guns down after each use has worked well. Once a year I do pull all the stocks, check the action interiors and respray with Birchwood Casey’s “Sheath” rust preventative.

One final point. Gun steel does vary in rust resistance. Brownings from both continents use steel that really isn’t very resistant. Other makers use more resistant stuff. I have a 1926 Webley & Scott which has been shot so much that there is almost no bluing left, but it never gets a speck of rust no matter what the conditions. All gun steel isn’t equal. To paraphrase some state motto “Vigilance is the price of remaining rust free”.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

This entry was posted in Shotgun related and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Chamber Rust

  1. Tom D says:

    FYI, Sheath is now called Barricade.


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