Can barrel corrosion and pitting make a rifle unsafe to shoot?

Posted by Veronica Gene Ariño on Jun 19th 2020

Can barrel corrosion and pitting make a rifle unsafe to shoot? What precautions need to be consider before we go to our favorite firing range to shoot?

Every gun needs proper maintenance. Every time you fire, there is a residue left in the barrel, chamber, and action. Over time, this residue can build up.

Fouling will lead to rust. This corrosion damages and erodes the metal parts of the gun. Usually, this starts inside the barrel of the gun where the residue is left around the chamber, ejector, and firing mechanism. Untreated corrosion can cause the gun to be unsafe to shoot.

An old rusty Mauser Rifle

The four most common types of fouling are:

  • Carbon - a result of burnt powder.
  • Copper - caused by copper-jacketed bullets leaving residue in the gun’s barrel.
  • Lead - caused by lead bullets leaving residue in the gun’s barrel.
  • Plastic - caused by the plastic wads from shot shells.

All bullets or ammunition will leave behind some form of residue inside the gun combined with powder that contains different levels of salt. This is the main cause of fouling.

If the firearm is not properly maintained even when rarely used, the build-up of fouling can occur in the bore, especially just in front of the chamber. This, in effect, reduces the size of the bore and can create pressure. In some cases, copper-covered bullets can be cut down by this fouling so they exit the bore slightly undersized, and this is one reason why fouling causes accuracy to drop off as more shots are fired.

When firearms start to foul, parts also rust and fuse together, causing failures to feed as well as failures to fire. Guns lose reliability once rust and fouling occur.

Guns lose reliability once rust and fouling occur.

Here's an old fashioned and easy way to remove rust from your gun:

1. Apply a generous amount of oil to cover the entire surface of the gun, then use the steel wool to remove edges of the rust off the metal.

2. You may stop occasionally to wipe off the oil and any loose rust to avoid spreading it on the gun surface.

3. When you're finished removing all the rust from the surface, clean and re-coat your gun with a protective oil to avoid the bare metal being exposed to elements.

4. Determine the need for refinishing or replacement of parts.

Firearms are much safer, more accurate, and can last a lifetime if they are properly maintained. Proper maintenance includes proper cleaning and care of the working mechanisms and of the bore.

This is why it is important to clean your gun regularly. You should clean your guns each time you go to a range as well.

We never know how unsafe it could be to shoot an unmaintained firearm, but one thing is for sure, your life and safety is much more important than the risk of shooting an unreliable firearm.

Tools can help to get those hard to reach places on an AR-15 Bolt Carrier

How can a Cedar Mill Fine Firearms case help prevent moisture and rust once the firearm is clean?

Keeping your firearms clean is not enough to prevent corrosion. A good, reliable storage should be taken into consideration. Cedar Mill Fine Firearms cases will surely protect your firearms and keep it pristine no matter what the conditions are outside. Our firearms cases are durable and waterproof and are built with an O-ring seal to keep dirt, dust, and moisture out.