How to Save Your Firearms After a Storm or Flood

With the recent Hurricanes and Storms in parts of the country, many homes and shops have been flooded, leaving many of the firearms within them in need of immediate rescue and preservation.

When a firearm has been completely submerged in mucky flood water that contains silt, chemicals, and waste, you need to take fast action to save them.

In this article and the video above, I will go over how to “Triage” the firearms, and what steps you need to take to clean and preserve them after a flood.

There are 3 Main Steps in this process:

  1. Triage
  2. Deep Cleaning
  3. Restoration

In this article, we will primarily focus on the triage process.


First of all ensure the area that the firearms are in is safe and free from environmental hazards, only go and retrieve the firearms when it is safe to do so.

Secondly, always assume every firearm is loaded and take the time to safely check and clear each one appropriately.

It is also highly recommended to take photos of the firearms in the condition you found them in as these can serve as evidence and may provide assistance when working with your insurance company if restoration or extensive repair is required.

After these three steps, you can continue with the triage process. Many firearms may have been stored in bags or cases. Immediately remove them from them and set them aside for later cleaning, but in all likelihood, you will have to discard them entirely as it is almost impossible to completely clean them of dirt, chemicals, and moisture.

Next, remove any wood or other stocks from the firearm and get the wet wood away from the firearm’s actions. Then remove any pieces of hardware such as screws, sling swivels, recoil pads, etc. from the stocks. Then wipe it down as dry as possible and allow it to air dry, you want to allow the wood to dry slowly to prevent wood or other materials from warping.

Another important part of the triage process is to work on the most expensive firearms first, prioritizing them over cheaper easier-to-fix firearms.

Now that you have removed the metal from the firearm you will need to take the action and you are going to want to get into every nook and cranny you can with an oil displacement of sorts. This could be something like WD-40 which will push out the water, but it is not a great preserver, but it is common and if you have nothing else on hand it will work in a pinch.

Ideally use better gun oils such as Break Free, CorrosionX, or Ballistol. In fact, Ballistol is safe to use on wood, leather, and metal.

Field Strip the firearm at this stage, no more, because the focus right now is triaging the firearm. You also will want to displace the moisture from the firearm with compressed air either from an air compressor if you have one available, or even canned air used for dusting will work.

Some key areas to pay special attention to are deeply recessed areas such as extractor holes and wherever water will have penetrated and settled. You must get the water displaced from those locations to prevent damage.

Once you have done that take some time to swab the bore with a light cleaner to prevent further damage.

Deep Cleaning

With the triage process complete you now can take the time later when not in a crisis environment to completely detail strip each firearm and totally clean it down to the last part.

Once you have detail stripped it down to the last part use a cleaner such as Simple Green used with water and a brush to clean every part thoroughly and then allow them to dry.

Then use a high-quality lubricant or Gun oil such as Break Free, CorrosionX, or Ballistol and cover every metal part. Lastly, you can reassemble the firearm after all parts are lubricated.

If you follow the above steps, stock damage or discoloration may be one of the main challenges you face.


If firearms need further restoration there are courses that can teach you how to do it yourself, or you can take them to a qualified Gunsmith for the restoration work.

Every firearm represents freedom and many of them are collector’s items or part of your heritage. Make sure you are ready to salvage yours and help others to preserve theirs.

If you don’t know exactly how to detail strip all your guns down to the last part, get an AGI Armorer’s Course for that particular firearm that will not only teach you how to detail strip them but will also teach you all about the internal design and function so that you can truly understand how it works. You can find over 66 different Armorer’s Courses covering all the major models and variations at

Be a Hero and Save a Gun!

Gene Kelly,

Gunsmith and President, AGI.

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