How to Safely Store and Maintain Firearms 


Store Firearms in a Fire-Insulated Gun Safe 


Purchasing and using a gun safe offers a safe way to store firearms and provide the best protection against unauthorized use, theft and fire.  


An often-overlooked part of protecting investments is preventing moisture damage and corrosion. Traditional gun safes utilize standard drywall as the fire insulator. Drywall has trapped moisture that is boiled off in the case of a fire. It performs well in fire testing but causes some corrosion issues in everyday use. The trapped moisture is slowly released inside the safe, creating an environment with potential to cause damaging rust and corrosion to the contents of the safe. This is the primary reason dehumidifier use is so widespread inside gun safes. Steelhead Outdoors safes utilize a unique, patent-pending construction consisting of a two-stage insulation system. This system is comprised of a dry ceramic fiber insulation rated to 2300 degrees F, and an interior metal panel with a radiant heat reflecting coating on the backside. This insulation system does not trap any moisture, so it does not give off moisture in everyday use and does not fill the safe with steam in the event of a fire.  


Use a dehumidifier if the gun safe doesn’t use special construction and materials to reduce humidity within the safe.  


Natural disasters and fires often happen without warning. If a fire does happen, a fire-insulated gun safe can withstand intense heat for a specific amount of time before the heat enters the safe. This type of safe is often built with thicker steel walls and may come with special seals that expand when the temperature soars to seal the safe’s door and keep fire out.  


Most safe companies will say their products come with a time and temperature rating, but there is no accepted industry standard to certify the safe for fire resistance. Because of this, manufacturers are left to self-certify their safes. Every manufacturer uses different testing methods, and every fire is different. Different places in the home are also more likely to burn hotter in the event of a fire. Examples of cooler places are exterior walls, basements and inside closets. Modular gun safes often fit better in these cooler spaces than traditional safes. Moisture trapping insulators perform better in fire testing but come with other drawbacks not found in dry insulation systems. Fire protection is very much like theft protection in that nothing is invincible, but more money usually buys more time. 


A gun safe will allow the owner to keep contents tidy and in order. Not only will a gun safe keep firearms from knocking around one another and potentially damaging the metal, wood, and the mounted scopes, a well-organized gun safe allows for quick entry and exit, if needed.  


No safe is theft-proof, but additional security features create additional difficulties for attackers and buy you valuable time. High quality gun safes utilize either a mechanical or electronic lock. Steelhead Outdoors offers both mechanical and electronic locks. The electronic locks are S&G Titan Direct Drive.  It is up to the individual to decide where the ratio of the cost-of-the-safe versus the cost-of-its-contents begins to make sense. A firearm collection could be one of the most valuable items stored at home. Coveted, collectible firearms and family heirloom firearms may mean more than just their dollar value. 


Steelhead Outdoors’ Made in USA gun safes are modular, so they are easy to move when changing residences. Modular gun safes can be disassembled into several pieces which makes it easier to move versus one heavy traditional safe. The safe is assembled with hardware only accessible from the inside of the safe, so that it can only be disassembled after the door is opened, preventing unauthorized persons from attempting disassembly. 


Some insurance companies have made it a requirement to store guns in a gun safe in order to be fully covered, especially if the firearm is of higher value. Some insurance companies provide a discount on a policy is a gun safe is used. 


Maintain Firearms 

Properly maintaining and cleaning a gun isn’t just about making it look nice – it’s about safety.  

First, set up a cleaning area with good lighting; a large, clean stable tabletop; and good ventilation to avoid inhaling the cleaning chemicals. Garages are often used for this essential task. If you must clean a gun indoors, work near an open window. Up the safety factor with safety glasses to protect eyes from chemicals and small parts like springs, and solvent-resistant gloves to protect hands from absorbing chemicals. 

Different techniques and tools may be needed based on the firearm. A caliber specific cleaning kit will include most of cleaning supplies needed. A rubber mat can keep your work surface and gun parts clean. Companies like Real Avid offer gun cleaning tools and rubber mats with handy step-by-step instructions.  


Hunter’s Education and Conceal and Carry training courses provide safety training that includes how to safely clean firearms. Always unload a firearm before cleaning and keep barrel pointed in a safe direction. Avoid the trigger when disassembling a gun. If ammunition is found, remove it, making sure it doesn’t come into contact with corrosive cleaning solvents and store it away from the firearm. Each firearm is different so follow the manufacturer’s specific cleaning instructions for each model. 


Keep the action open and remove the bolt, if applicable. Clean the bolt with a cleaning solvent then use a soft cloth to wipe the bolt clean of solvent and any grease. Dry bolt and apply lubricant. Set the bolt aside and turn to the inside of the gun’s barrel. 


Clean the bore using a bore brush coated in solvent and scrub the barrels walls to remove dirt and fouling Then use a patch or rag soaked in solvent attached to a cleaning rod to run through the bore to remove loosened fouling and residue. Refrain from pulling the rod back and forth which would re-contaminate the just cleaned area. It is best to run brushes and patches from the chamber towards the muzzle if at all possible. If you must clean from the muzzle end, a muzzle guard is recommended to avoid damage to the crown. This step may need to be repeated with new patches or rags until the patch or rag comes out clean. Lubricate the bore using a clean patch to apply a thin coat of a light lubricant – not gun oil. Some owners prefer using a bore snake to perform these tasks.  


Depending on the gun, the chambers may need to be cleaned in a similar manner as well as other parts of the weapon. Reassemble the gun, taking care to leave the gun unloaded. 


Remember to always handle guns as though they were loaded. Before storing in a locking gun safe, install a cable lock or safety device or place in a pistol lock box. Don’t store ammunition or cleaning chemicals with your firearms in the safe. Lock ammo and gun cleaning solvents and lubricants separately for safety. Solvents and lubricants are poisonous and should not be accessible by children. 


Before shooting and after shooting, inspect guns for cracks and wear and tear. It may make sense to clean a gun that has been stored for a long time before shooting it again. If the bore was oiled for long-term storage, a dry patch should be run through the barrel before firing.  


Properly maintaining and storing firearms increases accuracy and reliability by preserving the functionality. Tending to a firearm’s appearance will also maintain or increase the value of the firearm.