NSSF offers advice on what to do with guns and ammo affected by floods

Hurrican Irma made landfall and flooded streets in downtown Miami, Florida on Sunday, Sept. 10. (Photos: AP/Wilfredo Lee)

Hurricane Irma made landfall and flooded streets in downtown Miami, Florida on Sunday, Sept. 10. (Photo: AP/Wilfredo Lee)

With people struggling in the hurricane-ravaged areas of Texas, Florida and elsewhere around the country, the National Shooting Sports Foundation is offering some advice on what to do with firearms and ammunition affected by flood waters.

The NSSF, along with the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, pointed to two documents that could be helpful when gun owners are trying to decide how to treat or dispose of water-damaged items.

SAAMI’s document, Guidance on Firearms That Have Been Submerged or Exposed to Extensive Amounts of Water, notes two major concerns when it comes to guns affected by flood waters. The first relates to parts susceptible to water damage or rusting, such as metal parts, optics, wood stocks and grips; and the second deals with action, barrel, and safety systems that have been affected by silt or other debris.

In order to limit moisture and corrosion damage, it is suggested to disassemble component parts of the firearm and to clean with moisture-displacing lubricants, such as Hoppes #9 MDL or WD-40. Wood stocks and grips should be allowed to air dry, not forced dried by exposing them to heat. As always, all firearms should be unloaded before beginning any treatment process.

Once the firearm has been thoroughly dried and cleaned, it is recommended that it be inspected and serviced by the manufacturer or a qualified gunsmith before using the weapon.

SAAMI also has a document, Guidance on Ammunition That Has Been Submerged in Water, that outlines what gun owners should do with water-affected ammunition. The document discusses differences in moisture resistance between centerfire, rimfire and shotshell ammunition and also highlights potential hazards related to drying out water-damaged cartridges. Also discussed are the potential dangers related to bore obstruction when using damaged ammunition.

As a conclusion, SAAMI recommends in the document that gun owners play it safe when it comes to water-damaged ammunition: “It would be impossible to ascertain for certain the extent of the deteriorating affect, if any, the water may have had on each individual cartridge. Therefore, the safe answer is that no attempt be made to salvage or use submerged ammunition. The ammunition should be disposed of in a safe and responsible manner. Contact your local law enforcement agency for disposal instructions in your area.”