Whether you’re a hunter, gun collector, or military enthusiast, knowing how to store guns and ammunition is an essential skill. Here are some pro tips you should know.

Fighting the Elements

Humidity: Moisture is the greatest threat. Micro-condensation can build up even in dry climates to cause rust in barrels, firing pins, and triggers.

Temperature changes: Temperature fluctuations degrade the plastic and rubber components like grips, magazines, and hand guards. These changes also corrode and will eventually ruin your ammunition.

Sunlight: UV light from the sun causes guns and ammo to degrade much more quickly. Constant exposure can even destroy ammunition in a few weeks.

Oxidation: If left in the open air long enough, the oxidation will rust and corrode your guns and ammo.

Gun Storage

Long-Term Storage: A lockbox, locking security cabinet, or gun safe are all good options for long-term storage. Although a gun safe has the highest price tag, nothing beats a full-sized safe for the best protection of your equipment from fire and the elements.

Gun cabinet
(Source: Mitch Barrie/Wikimedia Commons)

Short-Term Storage: Portable lock boxes, nylon soft gun cases, or a high-quality polymer hard case are all great options, depending on your firearm, for short-term storage or transportation.

Storing for Self-Defense: Your designated self-defense guns should have a loaded magazine ready, but should be locked in a box or cabinet (one stored in the master bedroom). This is part of the essential job of keeping guns out of reach of children. High-up shelves or closets where they can’t reach, but you can.

Ammo Storage

Out of Reach of Children: High-up places where they can’t reach it or in locked boxes or cabinets. Not in your office table or in the living room drawer; even tampering with ammo can cause the primer to ignite.

Ammunition is staged for U.S. Marines with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, during Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Close Quarters Battle (CQB) training at the Jerry Crowe Tactical Training Facility in Irvine, California (Source: picryl.com)

Separate Ammo and Guns: If not kept for self-defense or daily carry, the ammo should be separate from the gun. Many people use surplus Army ammo cans, which can keep ammo safe for decades with waterproof rubber seals.

Away from Heat: Ovens, stoves, furnaces, microwaves, hot bulbs, or even gas lines in the basement can all be sources of ignition.

Essential Storage Supplies

When storing firearms and ammunition, use this checklist to ensure they stay in the best shape.

Grease or Gun Oil: For long-term storage, this is a surefire way to protect against moisture and rust. For short-term storage or daily carry, applying oil consistently is best.

Silica Gel Packets: Moisture causes rust and corrosion, so it is important to use moisture-absorbing materials, such as silica gel packets, to protect the items. It’s as simple as tossing a silica desiccant (easily bought off amazon) in your lockbox or safe.

Brass Wire Brush: An essential tool for cleaning your guns after shooting and removing surface rust before your gun suffers further damage.

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Gun Socks: These further insulate your gun against harmful moisture and physical damage.

Illegal to Store in Self Storage

Keep in mind storing guns and ammunition in self-storage is illegal. This is due to the possibility of losing your items to auction and widespread lease specifications against guns and explosive material.


Storing guns and ammunition in cool, dry places without exposure to sunlight is essential. Make sure these places don’t have temperature swings and ensure your equipment is locked up and out of reach of children and unauthorized individuals. With these tips, your equipment will be safe and ready to use when you need it.