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Author Topic: Humidity in storage/display?  (Read 6846 times)

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Offline Magnus

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Humidity in storage/display?
« on: June 19, 2012, 04:59:33 AM »
What are your experiences when it comes to humidity and gun storage?

Our gun collections quickly grow quite large and when it comes to collectibles (regardless of age) it's nice to know they won't suffer damages during storage/display. I have spent some time over the years looking into appropriate conditions for gun storage to ensure that rust and other problems are kept away. What I have found are these statements that keep poping up:

  • NRA & most Arms Museums strive to keep a 50-55% RH and a temperature around 70'F
  • Storage below 45% RH could affect organic material (wood) in a negative way over time. Shrink, crack, etc
  • Iron will start to rust at about 65-70% RH
  • It's important to keep the humidity level steady over time
  • A small heater in a gun safe (heater rod or light bulb) will raise the temperature and lower the RH (+ provide air circulation)
  • A moderate ~5'F rise in temperature in the safe compared to the surrounding will lower the RH by ~15%

As the law forces me to have most of the guns locked up in a safe where I live I've opted for the solution to install a small light bulb + a dimmer so that I can easily adjust the temperature, and by that also the humidity in the safe. I have had a temperature of just above 70'F and the humidity as close to 50% RH as possible for several year without any problems what so ever.
Antique C&B guns enthusiast

Offline Hawg

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2012, 06:02:42 AM »
I've been fortunate. I don't do anything special and I've not had any rust problems. Most of mine are working guns anyway so it's no biggie if they get a lil rust.
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Offline Magnus

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2012, 08:52:18 AM »
I've been fortunate. I don't do anything special and I've not had any rust problems. Most of mine are working guns anyway so it's no biggie if they get a lil rust.


I would expect that most people won't have any problems with humidity, especially if the guns are stored within the house and not in a cold garage/workshop. But that was exactly what I did years ago... I had my safe in the workshop close to a cold stone wall (yes I know it was stupid)  :-[

The workshop seemed dry enough but having the safe towards a cold outer wall was a big mistake. After a few months I noticed new spots of rust on one of my rifles. So the same day the safe was moved to my cigar room to be kept warm and dry.

But all it takes to be sure is a $20 electronic humidity meter and you'll know. A good investment!  ])M
Antique C&B guns enthusiast

Offline Mad Dog Stafford

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2012, 09:29:27 AM »
My guns are all over in my den. If I touch any of my guns, I just have a oily rag and give it a wipe down. I don't have a safe here(cost too darn much).
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Offline Dellbert

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2012, 09:44:40 AM »
Safe is in the house. Don't really have room in it but for two bp pistols. I keep all the rest hanging in my room. Like Sam said everytime I handle them I just wipe them down. Never had a problem with rust. My wife says I take better care of them than I do of her.  ^y% I never knew I needed to wipe her down eveytime I handled her.  (^h




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Offline Mad Dog Stafford

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2012, 09:56:34 AM »
 (?^ (T^
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Offline alchemist

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2012, 02:56:06 PM »
So far here in the northeast I've had no probs.  My safe and army foot locker are in my upstairs office room where I do my reloading.

"My wife says I take better care of them than I do of her.  ^y% I never knew I needed to wipe her down eveytime I handled her.  (^h"

Very dry humor there Dell!!! he he good one!!!
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Offline Len

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2012, 03:18:05 PM »
@ Magnus
Hi ! If you did Nat. Service you might remember our gun depots. No heating. Just a dehumidizer to keep it below 50%.
I never encountered any rust problems.
As to drying out wooden stuff, there should be no problems if the material was properly treated from the start and coated.

Offline Dellbert

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2012, 09:34:23 PM »
Yes I must controle myself.  (o&
If it's not broke don't try fixin it.

Offline AZyogi

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2012, 12:01:52 PM »
Around here you could double the moisture and still not get double digit RH. We figure our water vapor in dew point , more accurate for arid conditions. I oil my safe queens with whale/turbine oil. Then put them in cotton bags made from flour sacks, or gunsocks. When I run my swamp box I turn on a goldenrod in the lower safe.

Offline mazo kid

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2012, 12:11:58 PM »
We live in Wisconsin....temp in summer can get in the 90s with humidity to match. I don't have gun safes per se, but have one large (5 X 5 by 30") vault and one cigarette safe from a gas station. I have a heater that screws into a light socket in them along with a couple of bags of dessicant each. Just take those bags out every so often and bake them in the oven at low heat for a couple of hours to dry them out. Some dessicant turns pink when it has moisture in it, then turns blue when you dry it.

Offline Ari24

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2012, 08:12:43 AM »
I'll have to leave my guns for three months and am wondering about the following procedure:
- remove wooden grips
- cover generously  with oil (I normally use olive oil) or WD40
-wrap with cling film - Glad wrap or similar - to keep air away

I'd probably put them in a cardboard box in the attic - the driest part of the house but there wouldn't be much heat.

Offline Mad Dog Stafford

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2012, 08:46:19 AM »
Hi Ari24, that sounds good to me.  ;)

Or...you could just send them all to me and I'll take care of them.  {?|
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Offline DD4lifeusmc

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2013, 06:10:32 PM »
Of course you have to take into consideration what part of the country you live in. High humidty area and low. plus high heat or colder areas.
All of my fireams,shortly after getting them, I stripped them down.
Fine sanded the interior of the wood.  I carbon papered where the barrel set and sanded the obviously high spots where there was pinching.
Then applied by brush and hand a single light coat of diluted linseed oil.
Kinda helps stop the dehydration, but allows the wood to breath somewhat.
I've had them stored for several months at a time in cases in trunk of car, camp trailer  or house. Down South up on Canadian border, and both coasts.
Have never noticed any problem with the wood work.
Just keeping the metal lightly oiled never seen any rust.
Where I am now, no secure storage requirements that I am aware of.
Rifles are in gun rack on the wall. one revolver in leather holster hanging on the rack. One on the shelf by the bed and shotgun standing next to it.
Got a safe, but they go in it only if I am going to be gone a while.
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Offline AZyogi

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Re: Humidity in storage/display?
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2013, 07:55:02 PM »
I put them in a gun sock (silicon impregnated) and then put them in my safe no rust for years. Then again 20% humidity is wet for us. Normal is dry enough that dew point near freezing is more accurate at measuring the water around here.