NAGA’s allies at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute (SAAMI) have information for upland hunters, competitive shooters and other firearms owners who, In the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, are wondering if guns and ammunition submerged by flood waters may be salvaged and safely used.
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; and, secondly, infiltration of the action, barrel and safety systems by grit, silt and other foreign debris.
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.”
The information is a must-read for anyone whose guns or ammunition have for whatever reason been submerged for any length of time.
For example, in the case of ammunition:
Hazards of attempting to salvage or use previously submerged ammunition include, but are not limited to:
- Potential safety hazard in attempting to “dry out” the cartridges.
- Possible further deterioration or damage of the loaded cartridge or its components due to drying methods.
- Failure of the cartridge to fire, which could have life-threatening ramifications.
- Initiation of only the priming compound or ignition of only a proportion of the propellant powder charge. This may result in insufficient pressure to push the projectile clear of the barrel resulting in the projectile stopping part way down the barrel and creating a bore obstruction. Firing a subsequent round through an obstructed barrel could result in serious 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.
SAAMI also 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; and, secondly, infiltration of the action, barrel and safety systems by grit, silt and other foreign debris.
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 Hoppes #9 MDL or WD-40 to clean and stabilize the parts while, importantly, following the product’s directions so as not to damage, for instance, plastic or synthetic parts. Another tip is to allow wood stocks and grips to air-dry and not be force dried by exposure to heat.
Of course, you should always unload firearms before beginning any inspection or treatment process.