How to Remove Rust From a Gun

The process can be simple of you know how

Photo: trigger guard, crane, frame of Smith & Wesson Model 66 357 Magnum Stainless Combat Revolver
Photo copyright Russ Chastain

Keeping your gun free of rust helps preserve its beauty and value. However, removing surface rust from a gun without damaging the finish can be tricky if you don't know how, but it's an easy process. Most modern firearms are anodized with a coating that protects against surface rust from forming, notes Concealed Nation. But even anodized surfaces may rust.​

Of course, if you have an older gun—such as an antique firearm—you'll definitely want to preserve it by removing any rust. Read on to learn how to keep your gun rust-free without damaging the piece. You can usually accomplish the task in just five minutes.

Basic Steps

  1. Check whether the gun is loaded; if so, unload it.
  2. Find some light oil—a military-grade gun oil like Tuf-Glide by Sentry works well—fine steel wool, and a suitable work surface that won't scratch your gun.
  3. Apply some gun oil on and around any rust spots.
  4. Keep the oil handy and add some as needed, then gently rub the rusty area or areas with steel wool.
  5. Wipe the gun with an old rag or paper towel occasionally to remove rusty oil and to inspect the surface.
  6. Repeat as necessary until no rust is left.
  7. Apply a light, even coat of oil to all steel surfaces.

Gun-Cleaning Dos and Don'ts

It may be obvious, but this safety tip can never be repeated too often: Point the gun in a safe direction—and away from you or others—before ejecting the magazine.

Never use abrasives, like sandpaper or emery cloth, on your gun. After removing rust, keep an eye on the spot you oiled. It will often be the first area to rust in the future. Do not use WD-40 or similar lubricants, as these may attract dust or sand, and, while they work well for loosening locks and door handles, they are not made for cleaning or removing rust from guns. Concealed Nation explains:

"The reason why you shouldn’t use oil or lubricant is because as you scrape off the rust, the iron oxide turns into particles that are more abrasive than the gun’s coating."

Though some folks use cola to remove rust stains, avoid using the soft drink to clean your gun. "There may be small rubber or polymer internal components that degrade in phosphoric acid (contained in cola)," says Concealed Nation.

For Really Severe Rust

The previous steps work well if your gun has surface rust, or perhaps some rust in the gun barrel. However, your gun may have deep rust throughout its internal parts. For example, gun owners who live in areas ravaged by hurricanes found their firearms nearly destroyed by rust when their basements flooded.

If you find that your gun is severely rusted, you may have to disassemble it so you can access the rusted internal parts. In this case, navel jelly provides an excellent way to remove gun rust. Using naval jelly should not be your first choice, however, because it will also remove the gun's finish.

If your gun is so rusted that you are considering discarding it, instead, try taking apart the gun. Access each part that contains rust, then remove the surface rust with steel wool. After that, don gloves and apply naval jelly to all rusted areas with a brush or cloth. Let the part or parts sit to dry for about 15 minutes. Then, simply wipe off the naval jelly with a paper towel and your gun will look as good as new after you reassemble it.