September 8th, 2017

Guns and Ammo After a Flood — Here’s What to Do…

NSSF SAAMI flood flooding submersion water Ammunition Ammo damage
NOAA photo of flooding after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The Colt Python Revolver once belonged to Elvis Presley (Rock Island Auction).

Firearms owners who have seen their guns and stored ammunition submerged by flood waters in storm-wracked areas are probably wondering if their firearms and ammunition can be salvaged and safely used. To answer these questions, the NSSF and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI┬«) created two documents outlining the proper response to submersion of guns and ammo. If you’ve got wet guns and/or ammo, download these two PDF files and read them carefully.

SAAMI Guidance 1: What to Do About Firearms That Have Been Submerged in Water

SAAMI Guidance 2: What to Do About Ammunition That Has Been Submerged in Water

Dealing with Firearms That Were Submerged

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.

#1 Always unload firearms before beginning any treatment process.

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.

The document emphasizes that once the firearm has been thoroughly dried, consideration must be given to having the firearm inspected and serviced by the manufacturer, an authorized service center, or a qualified gunsmith before putting the firearm back in service.

Dealing with Ammunition That Was Submerged

NSSF SAAMI flood flooding submersion water Ammunition Ammo damage

Bottom Line, if your ammo has been submerged — DON’T USE IT. SAAMI explains why…

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.” This document covers differences in moisture resistance between centerfire, rimfire and shotshell ammunition, and potential hazards associated with “drying out” cartridges, including possible deterioration and damage to cartridges due to drying methods.

Another serious hazard that could result from using compromised ammunition is the potential for a bore obstruction due to partial ignition of either the priming compound or the propellant powder charge, or both. Firing a subsequent round through an obstructed barrel can result in 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.”

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