What to Do with Firearms and Ammunition Affected by Flood Waters

By Dave Dolbee published on in Camping & Survival, Firearms, General, Safety and Training

You do not have to be a victim of a hurricane to experience the destructive effects of flooding. A broken pipe, ruptured water heater, or a sump pump that goes out during a storm is enough to do it in some areas. In any case, flooding and firearms are not only a bad mix, it can be a financial disaster. This leaves firearms owners who have seen their guns and stored ammunition submerged by flood waters wondering whether their firearms and ammunition can be salvaged and used safely. Fortunately, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) have the answer. Here is the full release.

Picture shows a town with flood waters.

According to ready.gov, flash floods are the number one weather-related killer in the U.S.—for people and firearms!

The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) and National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) point to two helpful documents containing guidelines to assist gun owners in making sound decisions related to safely handling and treating or disposing of these items, emphasizing to always err on the side of caution and safety.

SAAMI, founded in 1926, is an organization that creates and publishes industry standards on firearms and ammunition. NSSF is the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry.

The SAAMI document “Guidance on Firearms That Have Been Submerged or Exposed to Extensive Amounts of Water” points out two major concerns about firearms that have been exposed to water: parts susceptible to moisture and rust damage such as metal parts, wood stocks and grips, and optics. Likewise, there is water damage caused by infiltration of the action, barrel and safety systems by grit, silt, and other foreign debris.

Always unload firearms before beginning any treatment process.

It’s important to limit moisture and corrosion damage to the component parts of the firearm. This can be accomplished by disassembling the component parts and using up to two coats of a moisture-displacing lubricant such as Hoppe’s #9, MDL, or WD-40 to clean and stabilize the parts while, importantly, following the product’s directions so as not to damage parts constructed from plastic or synthetic materials. Another tip is to allow wood stocks and grips to air-dry and not be force dried by exposure to heat.

The document emphasizes that once the firearm has been thoroughly dried, consideration must be given to having the firearm inspected and serviced by the manufacturer, an authorized service center, or a qualified gunsmith before putting the firearm back in service.

Dealing With Submerged Ammunition

Vacuum sealer

Here is a creative solution for protecting your ammunition from the elements.

To help firearms owners determine what to do with ammunition that has been affected by water and moisture, SAAMI offers another helpful document, “Guidance on Ammunition That Has Been Submerged in Water.”

Discussed are differences in moisture resistance between centerfire, rimfire and shotshell ammunition, and potential hazards associated with “drying out” cartridges, including possible deterioration and damage to cartridges due to drying methods.

Another serious hazard that could result from using compromised ammunition is the potential for a bore obstruction due to partial ignition of either the priming compound or the propellant powder charge, or both. Firing a subsequent round through an obstructed barrel can result in bodily injury, death and property damage.

SAAMI provides the following cautionary conclusion: “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.

Resources

Did you lose any firearms or ammunition in the recent storms? Have you ever lost a firearm to any flooding or disaster? Share your stories in the comment section.

Tags: , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (41)

  • wolf ryet

    |

    Large bags of pet food can be gotten with resealable lips like sandwich bags and would be great for bulky items. I have seen them in 25 and 50 pound sizes. Just wipe then down to remove oil residue from the food, or they might work inside out.

    Reply

  • Jamie clemons

    |

    Send your flood ammo to me and I will test it out.

    Reply

  • Indianasteve

    |

    5 gallon buckets work for ammo, handguns, and optics. Not so well for long guns. If you are looking to protect from flooding only, and for a short duration, a couple days, you really don’t even need a lid. If you can secure the contents in the bottom of the bucket so that you can invert it and the contents will stay put you can simply place the buckets upside down and secure them so they won’t float away or tip the water will not enter the bucket. It takes approximately 44 lbs (including the bucket and contents) to keep it from floating. A big rock would work.

    If you need to protect them longer, and perhaps from forces other than simply water, you probably want lids. The lids they sell with the buckets are usually water tight. Look for a rubber seal in the lid. And always test them before you depend on them.

    If long term storage is your goal, consider packing with an inert gas. I used to use Nitrogen because I had a readily supply of it. Now I use CO2. It is fairly easy to displace the air in the bucket with the gas because it weighs more. Just slowly let the gas filter down in the bucket and it will push the air out the top. Just do it slowly and MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA. Preferably outside.

    It never hurts to include some desicant and moisture absorbers. If you need to protect longguns, you can always make containers out of PVC drain pipe. It works good for ammo and such also.

    Reply

    • HW Stone

      |

      As an emergency “fix” the inverted bucket sounds good– if you happen to have the buckets and a means of affixing the protected items to stay against the bottom while inverted– and time to do it.

      I prefer to plan ahead, to make sure things work right, and the five gallon plastic buckets with water tight lids sound like an interesting option.

      Reply

    • Indianasteve

      |

      I agree with you about planning ahead, and I personally over engineer everything. Actually, the inverted bucket doesn’t have to stay on the floor, it just can’t tip. A shelf placed so the top (actually bottom) of the is against the ceiling or another non moveable shelf would work. But as I said I overdo everything. I use the airtight CO2 filled containers (not necessarily buckets) and they are hidden not inside my home.

      Reply

    • Hide Behind

      |

      Long or short term PIC pipe, which one can actually find free or chdap at cleanup time of multi or large edifice construction sites, is the best and and least expensive means out there.
      AS a least expensive yet but better than commercial I use cheese cloth and quality cat litter
      Cat litter is also great for garage or gun bench.
      For easy access to bulk pistol ammo, glue cap on one end and apply screw on, 2 piece, on other. No need worry as screw tops will be water proof.
      Cut PIC to hold whatever amount you can afford to fill.
      I place my kitty liter in center of screw cap with just a touch of fabric glue, less expensive than super or gorilla.

      Reply

    • Hide Behind

      |

      PS. PIC PIPE also makes powder storage container and as a greAt moisture barrier if one’s reloading bench is in unheated garage or basement.
      FIND PIPE just barely larger so as not to use up bench or shelf space and buy slip over covers.
      Label contents and while I never tested water proof the caps fit so tight I had to GLUE short small pipes for leverage.
      Then of course am an old fart with arthritic hands and disappearing muscle mass, you young ones would have no problem with covers.
      Resistant in tubes good for storing large amounts of old brass that even after two years is still quite bright with no corrosion.

      Reply

    • Indiansteve

      |

      Mimi Liter (brand name) kitty liter, I believe I bought it at Wall Mart, is porous silica sand, just like in the dessicant packs you find in everything these days. I bought a 4 lb. bag for, I think about $8 a couple yrs ago. It’s reusable. I haven’t even used half the bag yet.

      Reply

Leave a comment

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

%d bloggers like this: