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Should I store my gun butt-down or muzzle-down?

Putting your guns away for a few months? Read on.

Fausti Aphrodite shotgun

Multi-chokes or fixed, the choice is yours

Always store guns muzzle down

Which way up (or down) should you store your gun when you put it back in the gun cabinet? Well, the answer is that you should always store guns muzzle down.

Wondering why? It’s very logical when you think about it. The reason is that any oil or cleaning fluid left in the bores will run out onto the floor of your gun cabinet. On the other hand, if you put your gun away butt down, the oil will then trickle through the chamber, the firing pin holes, into the lock mechanism and finally onto the wood of the stock. Here it can soften the wood and damage the stock irreparably.

Store guns muzzle down and if you leave the barrels oily inside after cleaning with the idea that it prevents rust, oil doesn’t run back through the chambers and firing pin holes, and into the action.

Most modern over-and-unders have internally chromed bores, which don’t need to be left oily after cleaning. With plain steel bores, you can finish cleaning by passing through a patch, which is just damp with oil.

Gummed up

Gun damage caused by storing a gun butt down really happened to our contributor Mike George. He acquired a well-worn Lanber for a second-hand gun test, and discovered that the trigger would not switch to the second barrel.

When he removed the stock to trace the trouble he found the whole lock mechanism was solidly gummed up with dried oil, and the wood at the head of the stock was absolutely sodden with oil. The damage had been done not with lubricating oil, but with one of the bore cleaners based on soluble oil. The smell of soluble oil was awful.

So, if you must leave bores wet with oil or cleaning fluid, then store your guns muzzles-down. In fact, with modern chrome-lined bores the tubes can be stored dry, and these guns can be stored butts-down. Also, when oiling the moving parts of guns it is wise to use the absolute minimum. That’s why the stoppers in traditional gun oil bottles are fitted with needle-like droppers.

A thorough clean of the metal parts should be sufficient when storing guns for a long period

A couple of questions on gun maintenance

Q: How can I protect my guns in storage against rust? I am about to take up a contract that will keep me out of the UK for over a year and, fortunately, a friend has agreed to put my two guns on his certificate and store them for me until I return. What precautions should I take against rust?

A: A thorough clean, followed by a wipe-down of the metal parts with a lightly-oiled cloth should be quite sufficient for guns in storage, providing your friend is going to examine your guns reasonably frequently. If the guns have chromed bores – and most modern guns have – there’s no need to leave the tubes internally oily. If you do leave the bores oily, then make sure the guns are stored muzzle-down, otherwise oil could run back through the firing-pin holes, and possibly dry out and gum up the mechanism and, at worst, soften the wood at the head of the stock.

Q: What do you think of gun oils supplied in aerosol containers? Are they worth the money?

A: Browning Legia Spray seems to have a good reputation, but it isn’t strictly a lubricant. The same goes for bore cleaners, and stuff like WD40. Lubricating oils in aerosol containers are a waste of time: they just chuck oil all over the place, when all you really need are tiny drops on bearing surfaces, or a small amount on a rag to wipe down the exterior surfaces of barrels and actions before storage.