Your firearm may be manufactured with plastic or wooden parts, but it certainly has metal components. And most metal is prone to oxidize or rust if left untreated. Rust on the metal of a firearm is not a good sign. While a small spot of rust on the outside of a barrel may not necessarily affect a rifle’s performance, it may mean there’s rust in or on other places of that same rifle. Rust on any of the mechanical workings of a firearm may have adverse effects on its performance and safety. You should take preventive measures and make sure your firearm is rust-free. Here are a few tips and tricks to make that happen.

1. Realize Lubricants Evaporate, Dissipate and Migrate and Simply Need to Be Replaced From Time to Time

Not all firearm lubricants are created equal, and some people prefer to use lubricants that are not necessarily meant for firearms. That’s a topic for another day. The key idea to realize here is that lubricants tend to evaporate, dissipate and migrate over time. These occur for various reasons. Heat and heavy use can, of course, contribute to a firearm’s lubricant diminishing over time. Additionally, even simple gravity can pull very light lubricants right off the metal of a firearm. Therefore, you should inspect a firearm for proper lubrication at regular intervals. Even the handgun you carry regularly — the one that always feels great and seems to operate flawlessly — should receive regular inspections in order to ensure it has proper lubrication.

2. Regularly Clean and Lubricate Your Firearm

While your inspection of a firearm may reveal its need for lubrication, make the lubrication the last part of a regimented cleaning routine for your firearm. Follow the manufacturer’s owner’s manual for proper cleaning/service intervals, but realize that a gun that’s carried or fired a lot will likely need more cleaning than will a “safe queen.” But even the safe queen needs care. You should thoroughly inspect and clean seasonal firearms, even in the offseason. The last thing you want to discover as hunting season draws near is that the gun not only has little or no lubricant in it but also has any kind of rust on it at all.

Most cleaning regimens usually call for the judicious application of some amount of lubricant to certain parts of the firearm. Again, follow the owner’s manual carefully. Often it’ll also call for you to apply a thin coat of oil to many parts of the gun. This film protects the metal from oxidizing or rusting.

3. Control Moisture in the Safe to Help Prevent Rust

If your firearm resides in a safe, it’s helpful to understand the level of moisture that can occur inside the safe and apply certain controls. Interior safe moisture can vary with geographic location, seasons, temperature, household conditions and other factors. If there’s a chance for harmful moisture to occur in your safe, use a moisture-control solution such as a dehumidifier (usually a device you plug in, running the power cord to an outlet through a hole in the safe, although some are cordless/rechargeable), silica gel packs, dry rice, baking soda or other moisture-absorbing means. Be sure to employ these methods in collaboration with regular cleaning and proper lubrication, not in place of it.