How to Remove Rust From a Gun

Removing surface rust from a gun without damaging the finish can be tricky if you don't know how, but there's really nothing to it. Keeping your gun free of rust helps preserve your gun's beauty and value.

The key to rust removal from your gun is to remove the oxidation without damaging the finish of your gun. A few simple steps and a bit of time will result in a gun looking as good as new. Those wishing to avoid this problem altogether, might opt for a firearm with a stainless finish or the newer Duracoat finish.

The supplies that you will need to properly remove rust from your gun are basic items that aren't hard to find. There are many products on the market designed specifically for this purchase. You might find them easy and worth the cost. Though if you wish to take care of the problem without pricey products, you can do so with items from your cleaning closet.

The biggest error made in rust removal is the use of an abrasive material that can damage the finish of the gun. Never use materials such as a wire brush or sandpaper. The most effective and safest material to use to remove rust from your gun is a steel wool pad. The finer the wool the better. You can purchase Brillo Pads or even packages of fine steel wool from your local hardware store.

Improper lubrication is the second biggest error in rust removal. You must keep an ample amount of lubrication on the gun during rust removal. Nearly any type of oil will be sufficient. There are many varieties of oil avialable designed especially for firearms. Ordinary "3-in 1" oil is also sufficient. If you are in a pinch, even cooking oil can be a great substitution.

You will need plenty of paper towels and old newspapers. In the absence of those, old rags or towels are acceptable. Just be sure not to use your wifes "good towels". You might end up with bigger issues than rust removal.

Once you have all your supplies, you are ready to begin the rust removal process. Your work area should be steady and sturdy. Spread out the old news papers or towels to catch any debris that may result from the removal of the rust on your gun. A gun vice is a handy tool to have to keep your firearm steady while you are working on it, however it is not vital. Just be sure to place your gun so that it does not move while you are working.

Use the oil to lubricate the areas on the gun that are affected by rust. Apply the oil liberally. Use the steel wool to gently rub the rust away from the surface of the gun. Be careful not to use excessive pressure or to scrub vigorously, as this can damage the finish on the gun. Be certain to keep adding the oil to affected area.

After a few minutes use the paper towels to wipe off the excess oil and debris from the removed rust. This will allow you to see the progress you have made and determine how much more work you will need to do to completely remove the rust. If rust remains, repeat the above process until it is removed.

Once you have finished with the removal, give your gun another coat of lubrication. Be sure to check your firearm periodically while in storage. Once a gun has developed rust it is likely to reappear in the same areas even after removal.

In the event you damage the finish on your gun, you may opt to purchase products designed to "re-blue" your gun. Another option is to take your firearm to a gunsmith. Many simple gun repairs and maintenance can be performed at home and without much cost.

Here are methods from folks that have done it before:

  • There are a number of methods and most work and some better than others. Depending on if you want to keep it as is or have it re blued or cold blue touch up. I never have liked the steel wool approach but many do it. I have a 30-30 that was given to me and it was covered with rust and I took the stock off and put Turtle wax on all rust areas which was the entire rifle. I let it sit in the sun and bake. then wiped it down and it actually looks fantastic, some will say do do that because it's an abrasive but it's less of an abrasive than steel wool and it doesn't scratch cars. It inhibits the rust and then protects what is left of the finish and it helps repell water.

    If the rust is heavy and then there is product called evapo-rust and it is available from Gemplers which can be found on line. I have never used it but plan to get some and give it a try. It is not as harsh as navel jelly which is another rust remover but I would only use it on the worst cases as it is caustic.

  • I have discovered that this method really works getting the rust off. My friend purchased a 22 rifle that was rusted up and he brought it to me to see if I colud clean up the stock and do anything about the rust on it. I took the rifle, covered it with Kroil oil, and let it soak a little while and then took a soft brisle brass brush and went over all of the rust. It took all of the rust off and didn’t hurt the blueing. I was totally amazed and so was my friend when I showed it to him.

  • I have been using the Kroyl mixed with Butchers bore shine to clean my rifle barrels on the suggestion from some of the bench rest shooters at our rifle range. I have also used it as a release agent for my bullet molds. I will tell you, do not use the steel wool on the shotgun. I have used it before and was very dissatisfied with the results. After using the Kroyl and brass brush, I never touch another rifle with steel wool.

  • I've used 0000 steel wool and a good gun oil for years to remove light rust on blued firearms. Kroil work very well for this purpose and I use it almost exclusively now, but ATF or any good oil will get the job done.

    For patches of scaly rust bigger than freckles, lube the area with Kroil, give it a little time to penetrate, then use the edge of a true copper penny to scrape the worst of the area. Follow with the steel wool treatment.

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