A reader wants some clarification

Q: I see that from time-to-time there is debate on your website as to whether guns should be stored butt-down or muzzles-down in cabinets. What do you think?

A: Mike says: The idea of storing guns muzzles-down is that any oil or cleaning fluid left in the bores runs out on to the cabinet floor rather than backwards, through the chamber and the firing pin holes and thence into the lock mechanism and from there into the wood of the stock. Oil in the stock can soften the wood, and do damage which cannot be repaired.

This really can happen. I once acquired a well-worn Lanber for a second-hand gun test, and wondered why the trigger would not switch to the second barrel.

When I removed the stock to trace the trouble I 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 the stuff. The damage had been done not with lubricating oil, but with one of the bore cleaners based on soluble oil – I suspect Young’s 303. 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.

Another quick question on gun maintenance

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

A: Mike says: 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 as far as I am concerned: 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.