How to Handle Flooded Firearms and Ammunition

Over the last few years, many Americans have dealt with flooding in their homes, whether from prolonged rain in an area or a burst dam or a hurricane making landfall near them.

Consider the hurricanes: You have to take into account that they mostly affect the southeastern United States, which traditionally has a higher proportion of gun owners than much of the rest of the country. This means it’s likely that many gun owners are dealing with both firearms and ammunition that have been submerged in floodwaters.

Fortunately, the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) published some recommended guidelines for dealing with firearms and ammunition that have been submerged.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) referencing guide produced by SAAMI has the following recommendation for dealing with firearms that have been submerged (hat tip to the source, here):

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 drips 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. 

Really, it boils down to three things:

  1. Preventing rust from forming on the weapon
  1. Preventing debris from remaining in the firearm
  1. Having the firearm serviced to be sure that it functions when you need it.

When it comes to ammunition, though, SAAMI’s recommendations are much simpler: Don’t use it. There are simply too many variables to be able to ensure that the ammunition would be safe to use. It’s simply better to buy new ammo.

So if you’ve been through a flood situation, you now know what you need to do to restore your firearms and have safe ammunition. If your firearms or ammunition have been submerged, please take the necessary precautions and be safe.

[Editor’s note: Jason here. You can download the full text of the SAAMI guidelines for free. Just click on the links below.

Chris Campbell

Written By Jeff Anderson

As a lifelong student of what he calls "survival arts", it was Jeff Anderson’s military training that led him to seek out strategies that would protect not only himself on the battlefield... but also provide for his family's own self-reliance in any sort of disaster, crisis or collapse. After 10 years of military training in elite infantry units around the world, Jeff began working as a security consultant and executive protection specialist for private clients and the entertainment industry. Specializing in military style hand-to-hand and weapons combat, Jeff offered classes and seminars based on practicality and battlefield effectiveness. In Jeff’s survival training, it was his service overseas and in combat missions, that he was able to get a first-hand glimpse of what a city gripped in collapse and without rule of law is like for its citizens. He uses his unique experience to inject a more realistic view of what to expect in survival scenarios and provide practical solutions — even in extreme environments — for true survivalists. Ultimately his training and experience led him to create the digital media channel for Modern Combat and Survival magazine which is fueled by more than 100 of the world’s top instructors in law enforcement, military and civilian survival schools.