With all the flooding in South East Texas, the first priority is to get your family to safety! Way down the list of priorities is recovering firearms. But there will be guns lost in the flood… So, what to do if your guns were submerged for any period of time? This is what I would do if I had the time…. (Note, this is just my general opinion, your mileage may vary)
Chances are, most guns will be ruined after a few days. But you can attempt to save them.
If possible…. Get them out of the the water. Get them broken down as far as you know how to break them down. This includes lifting the side plates off revolvers, removing grips, opening any part that can be opened. You tube is a great source to watch a video on how to strip a gun down to the frame. You might damage you gun by trying to take it apart the wrong way, but leaving it full of water will rust it out and eat the finish anyway. So may as well try to save it.
Dry them off (paper towels, hair dryer, bag of dry rice, whatever). Then, hit any visible surface rust with 0000 steel wool and a a few drops of oil. The super fine 0000 steel wool is still safe for polished blue and polished stainless, just use light pressure. Just enough pressure to get the rust. Then oil the hell out of it. Don’t reassemble right away. Keep an eye on it several days for any additional rust formation. If doing multiple guns, zip lock baggies are your friend for keeping parts organized. Don’t let screws and springs from multiple guns get mixed together…
Any wood stock should be removed and allowed to air dry for several days. They may warp or split, so don’t be shocked if it happens. But since they are like a sponge full of water, you have to keep them separate from the metal parts, or it will rust through them. All screws, sling swivels, butt plates/pads need to come off, and vet cleaned, dried, and oiled.
If you have a sight pusher and can remove pistol sights, get them off and clean underneath them, or rust can from in the dovetail. Scopes, red dot sights, and iron sight should also be removed and cleaned. Yes, aluminum rails and mounts won’t rust, but the screws are all steel and need to be taken out and cleaned/oiled. Pull off all the grips, let the wood dry out. Oil all the grip screws and bushings. Magazines should be unloaded cleaned inside and out. The water is full of silt and that silt is in the magazine body. Plastic and aluminum won’t rust, but that mag spring is steel, and it will rust if not cleaned and oiled.
Shotgun ammo will be gone if submerged any real length of time. But most modern factory ammo for rifle/pistol has a sealed primer, and should be fine if it sits in the water for a while. If it sits a few days? Then you may have some issues with some rounds. I would not use it as duty carry ammo, but it should still work for practice ammo. Any dud rounds will give you a chance to practice an immediate action drill. Just be wary of SQUIBS, and if you hear a pop instead of a bang… STOP and check the barrel for obstruction!
Chances are, a gun that just got wet for a few hours can be saved. But a gun sitting submerged a few days may be toast.
If you have any pics of flooded out guns, send us some before and after photos that we can share on our page. We would love to see the results. Hope this helps.