Everything You Need to Know: Storing Guns and Their Accessories
Being able to safely store your gun is paramount to gun ownership. Having a gun comes with the heavy responsibility of making sure they are handled and housed safely.
How to Store
Regardless of the location that you choses to store your firearms and accessories, there are some basics on how to store your guns and ammo.
First and foremost, you want to make sure they are secure. Guns should only be accessible to adults who are properly trained. Keep them high and tight; they should be stored “high” out of the reach of children if at all possible and locked up “tight” with the keys or combination inaccessible to kids.
There are many options for storing a gun. Locking them up could include gun safes, locking cabinets, and gun cases with a keyed or combination lock.
To go above and beyond, you can combine these with a trigger or cable lock. Just don’t rely solely on a trigger lock; I have personally picked one open at the range when I forgot the key at home! If at all possible, store the gun horizontally or pointing downward for the very unlikely event of an accidental discharge.
Keep Them in Good Condition
There are quite a few measures to take into consideration when storing a gun to ensure the longevity of your equipment. The location should be dry and cool since excess moisture can cause rust, corrosion, and swelling of wooden parts. Gun oil is your friend - make sure a thin film covers any and all metal parts.
The idea is to have enough oil to repel moisture but not so much that it collects dirt or dust. Speaking of dust, cover your special scopes or rangefinders to keep their lenses clean.
Your ammunition should always be stored in a different location than your guns, avoiding hot locations and away from other flammables; think of them like fireworks.
And finally, always store the gun unloaded. Some people will argue that having an unloaded gun is useless in defensive situations. The fact is that the risk is not worth the reward. The number of accidental shootings due to a stored, loaded firearm far outnumber the times someone wasn’t able to load their gun in time.
Empty Gun Here, Full Magazine There
If not having a loaded gun really is a concern for you, practice your load-and-draw until it becomes second nature. You can also leave a magazine loaded and stored separate with your ammunition for a quick grab and load; just leave those bullets out of the gun and stored in a different spot.
“But if I leave my magazine fully loaded, won’t that wear down the spring inside?” From a materials science perspective technically yes, leaving any spring compressed for an extended amount of time (years and years) will ever so slightly deform the material, called “creep”, so it will not return to the full extension. But practically speaking, the change will be so small that it probably won’t matter. There is variation in the spring force between every magazine depending on age, wear, material, and storage conditions. Worst case scenario, the spring wouldn’t extend far enough to chamber the very last round or two. If you feel paranoid about it, feel free to switch out the spring every ten years or so.
Where to Store
Now that you know how to safely store your guns, the question is where would you ideally want to store them? When choosing a location to store your firearms and accessories, first think about why you own your guns in the first place. Are one or two specifically marked for self or home defense? Are you an avid hunter or sport shooter who accesses their guns regularly? Do you only shoot certain ones at the range?
If defense is the name of the game, your guns should only be reserved as a very last resort. What is your plan of action if the unthinkable happens, and home invaders enter your house? Where do you send your family to protect them best, and where do you make your “stand” to defend them? In my house a natural pinch point is the staircase; to reach the top, the intruders would have to turn a blind corner on the stair landing. From my post at the top of the stairs I would have some cover from a doorway so I keep my last line of defense, my guns, as close to there as I can while still storing them safely.
For the avid hunters and marksman, being able to regularly access your firearms is what is most important. You don’t want to have to drag a ladder over to the attic access to get your gun from a hidden safe every time you want to shoot clays with your friends. Perhaps a locking gun cabinet in a closet closer to the garage would be ideal.
If you know you will only ever use a gun at the range, some gun clubs or ranges have rentable lockers to store your firearms. On the flip side, maybe you are a collector and have an antique assortment to show off. Just make sure that display case in your den still has a working lock.
Regardless of what kind of firearm you have and where you store it, it needs to be kept safe and secure. Make sure you know your state and local gun safety laws as this could affect how you need to store or transport your firearm.
Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller and other publications.