What to Do If Your Gun Gets Wet

Back in the days of yore, a wet gun meant you really had a club in your hands at best. Back in the 18th century, guns operated by igniting gunpowder, so there wasn’t much you could do with a soaked weapon. But modern advances in firearm technology circumvented that problem by creating a different firing mechanism. These days, guns fire through a firing pin striking a cartridge that contains a primer. The primer then explodes and sets off a chain reaction that forces a propellant to drive the bullet out. Since this reaction doesn’t rely on oxygen to function, it means that modern guns can get wet and still operate normally. Heck, they’ll even work while submerged.

However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore a weapon that has been soaked or doused with water. Guns are still made of metal, which can easily corrode or oxygenate if it gets wet. Water will also have a negative effect on the lubrication of the firearm and can even increase the amount of wear and tear over time. Ultimately, if you allow your gun to get wet and stay in those conditions, you’re going to end up paying for it sooner or later.

So, what should you do if your weapon gets wet? Are there treatments and methods to prevent lasting damage? Will you be able to salvage the weapon even if it does stay submerged for an extended period of time? Well, the answer to all of these questions is yes! There are actually a few methods you can use to treat and care for a weapon that has been submerged. Here, we’ve done the research for you and created a simple guide on how to care for any weapon that accidentally took a dip in the pond.

What to Do If Your Gun Gets Waterlogged

With the number of hurricanes, floods, and storms that have hit the United States recently, it’s not surprising to hear of someone whose gun got waterlogged. After all, the owner was probably busy helping family and friends stay safe and not thinking of storing his guns in a dry location. But fear not, these guns are salvageable, as long as they haven’t spent more than a day or two underwater. If it happens to be your gun that got submerged, here is what you need to do.

  • 1. Remove the weapon from the water as soon as possible. It will only remain intact for a small amount of time (a matter of days at best and hours at worst) while immersed.
  • 2. Break down the gun as much as possible, remove any grips, open anything that can be undone, and even lift off the side plates from any revolvers. If you’re not familiar with how to do this, you can find guides for specific weapons online, and there are also plenty of video sources.
  • 3. Dry off all of the parts using any means available, whether you use a hair dryer or even drop them in bags of rice.
  • 4. Now you’re going to start scrubbing off any visible signs of rust with some steel wool and either a bit of oil or some alcohol in a spray bottle. Remember to apply just enough pressure to remove the rust, because the steel wool can damage the paint job and material.
  • 5. Once you’ve done this, don’t put the guns back together right away. Instead, wait a few days and keep an eye out for any potential new rust formations that might appear.
  • 6. Plenty of people recommend WD-40 because it’s a water displacer and can help lubricate your weapon.
  • 7. Once all the pieces are completely dry and no new rust formations have appeared for a few days, it is safe to put your weapon back together. Make sure you lubricate it properly!

Pro Tip: Try not to do this with multiple guns at the same time as you might mix up the parts. Instead, do them individually, and store the components for each weapon in their own individual bags or area. Taking these extra steps will avoid confusion in the long run.

A few things to remember:

  • Pistol sights and pushers need to be cleaned and removed from the weapon as they can rust from underneath. Any additional sights, like scopes for example, also need to be removed and cleaned separately. Remove any accessories for the gun and give them the same treatment as the weapon.
  • Plastic and aluminum won’t rust, but remember that these are held together with steel screws that will rust through the accessories if left unchecked.
  • Wood stocks absorb water when submerged for prolonged periods of time. They will typically split and even warp, and there is not much you can do about it. After you remove them, make sure they stay in a separate location from the rest of the gun. Also, if you can, open the stocks and remove all the metal parts, like screws and plates, as these will need to be cleaned individually.
  • Most ammunition will be fine, but don’t count on shotgun shells to work after being soaked for any amount of time (even if it was just a dip).

There is the possibility that your gun cannot be salvaged, even if you try your best. Don’t feel too bad about it; luck simply wasn’t with you.

What to Do If Your Gun Gets Rained On

If you are a hunter, you have probably been out shooting in the nice fall weather, only to be hit by a sudden rainstorm that soaks your gun. At this point, you have two options: Go home or keep hunting. What you shouldn’t do is stop to clean your gun or attempt to fix your weapon on the spot.

You see, the stainless steel is not going to rust immediately because of some rain. Guns need to stay damp for at least a few days before they begin to rust. (This is different from weapons that are submerged in water.) Still, there are a few things you should do:

  • 1. If it rains while you’re hunting, and you continue to hunt, don’t disassemble the weapon right away. Wait until you’re in a safe place, like your home or workshop.
  • 2. Dry the weapon off and spray some WD-40 to displace any water. This will remove any water that has accumulated.
  • 3. Watch the gun for signs of rust. If you see any, remove it with some 0000 steel wool and a bit of powder solvent.
  • 4. Remove any easily removable parts—such as the bolt in an action rifle—and spray them.
  • 5. Continue keeping an eye on the weapon for signs of rust. If they are still popping up after a few days, disassemble the weapon and follow the steps given in the numbered list above for more in-depth care.

You’ll always want to check up on your weapons when they get wet, but don’t panic because of a bit of rain. More than likely, your weapon will be fine once you give it a bit of care and attention. Just don’t let it accumulate humidity, as rust can ruin any weapon that is given improper care. Remember, gun owners use the mantra “wipe, oil, and dry” for a reason.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my gun gets wet with saltwater?

There is a big difference between a freshwater rinse and a saltwater one. If you’re ever hunting near a source of seawater, you’ll want to perform maintenance and upkeep to your weapon as soon as you can. Take a can of spray oil and hose down your weapon as thoroughly as possible. You’ll prevent most of the damage by doing so, but even then, pay close attention to the weapon for the next few days in case of any hidden rust spots popping up.

Alternatively, a few people recommend giving the doused gun a freshwater rinse, wiping it down, and letting it air dry in a nice warm spot. Finally, proceed to clean it as normal.

Can general humidity affect my gun?

Yes, it can affect your weapon. If you’re in a particularly damp environment, you might be surprised to see your gun sweating. But don’t panic just yet. Just dry the weapon off and keep going. You don’t even have to take the gun apart!

Can you fire a gun underwater?

Yes, you can. But should you? No! The fact is that while shooting a gun underwater looks cool, it’s not really effective by any means. Water will slow down the projectile, and if it’s a long-barreled gun, it will travel even less of a distance.

What if I drop my gun in soapy water?

Take the following steps:

  • Field-strip the gun.
  • Rinse and flush it with hot water (and we mean really hot).
  • Clean the weapon as you normally would.

Are there guns that are more resistant to rust in the market?

Ceramic coating and Teflon provide an extra layer of protection for guns and can easily be purchased. On the other hand, you could always splurge on an all-stainless rifle as a means of having a weapon that won’t rust as easily. These protective measures will allow you to put it in storage without having to worry about rust. Of course, nothing is perfect, so be sure to inspect your gun regularly.

Does WD-40 have any side effects?

There is an old wives tale that says if you leave WD-40 without wiping it off it will turn into some sort of gunky varnish, but I’ve never experienced it personally.

What if I don’t know how to give my gun proper care?

If your town has a gunsmith or a gun store nearby, try taking it there and asking for help. More than likely, the employees will be able to help you out (for a fee or not) and give the weapon the correct maintenance.

Can I use an air compressor to spray the water out of the gun?

Positively so. As long as your air compressor has a water filter, you can’t harm the gun by spraying it with air, and it might just remove all the hidden accumulated water inside. Just remember to use a filtered air compressor. If it’s unfiltered, you might contaminate the gun with dust and other particles that will harm the weapon.

You can never predict what will happen in life; a storm might hit your place and flood the streets, or a hunting trip can turn sour thanks to the whims of mother nature. But regardless of the situation, just know that if your weapon gets wet, you can still salvage it. It’s not always going to be possible to have a submerged gun ready for use again after a few days, but you should still try. A little rain will probably not do much damage if your gun is properly handled in a safe place afterward. Just follow the guides we’ve given you here, and more than likely, your gun will be ok. Just remember to treat your weapon properly, and it’ll take care of you!

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Emmanuel "Dash the Bomber" Barbosa

Emmanuel Barbosa, AKA Dash The Bomber, is currently serving in the 7th fleet, and has over 8 years of experience in the military. A writer with a penchant for the humorous and informative, he loves to share his stories with those who would be willing to listen. Having served in deployments that have taken him around the world, Dash has seen and heard about many things that would be hard to believe. A loving father and a faithful husband, he is dedicated to protecting his family and country. For fun he enjoys cosplaying, videogames, and writing for online magazines.

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