Hurricane Harvey Leaves Thousands of Flooded Guns

Houston Hurricane Harvey Flooding
Houston Hurricane Harvey Flooding

Tom Gresham's Gun Talk Radio logoMANDEVILLE, La. -( Firearms and ammunition flooded and possibly abandoned in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and southwest Louisiana must be addressed immediately, say experts who offer specific actions for gun owners.

The number of guns which were affected by the flooding numbers at least in the tens of thousands, and may well exceed 100,000, not to mention ammunition, which could exceed one million rounds.

The key, said Tom Gresham, host of the nationally-syndicated radio show “Tom Gresham's Gun Talk,” is to get control of the firearms, to clean and protect them, and to address the safety issue with submerged ammunition.

“Many of these guns are family heirlooms,” said Gresham. “It's common for a gun to be passed down from a grandparent or even a great grandparent. Losing those family connections to a gun that has rusted to uselessness simply is unnecessary. By now, residents have gone in and gotten their guns, so they should be in safe hands. But, they must act quickly to save and protect their valuable possessions.”

On “Gun Talk” radio, Gresham recently talked with experts who offered three key actions for gun owners.


1. Dry Out Your Guns

Affected firearms need to be disassembled and the metal parts soaked in penetrating oils designed to displace water. Stocks, grips, or any wood or plastic parts that may hold water must be removed beforehand. Leave the parts separate as they dry, then reassemble. After the process, if gun owners are at all unsure whether the gun is safe to shoot, Gresham suggests a gunsmith be consulted.

The key, according to Johnny Dury, of Dury's Guns in San Antonio, is to get the water out, using a water displacement oil or spray. Water that's trapped in the parts of the gun will cause rust — a gun's worst enemy.

If the gun was submerged in salt water, Steve Ostrem, of the online gunsmith supplier Brownells, recommends cleaning the gun first with fresh water, then following with the penetrating oil.

For Ostrem’s product suggestions, and other advice on salvaging flooded guns, check out his interview on Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk radio.


2. Keep Them Dry

Once the gun is successfully dried out, keep it in a dry environment. Gresham says preparing the gun as you would for long-term storage, using the necessary coatings and rust preventatives, and placing it in dry, humidity-free location will protect guns from further damage.

Gun storage bags, combined with silica gel or vapor barrier products protect firearms from the high humidity often encountered after a flood.


3. Do Not Shoot Submerged Ammo

Gresham said the National Shooting Sports Foundation's guidelines for ammunition which has been submerged is to not shoot it. Water may have seeped into the cartridges, rendering them unreliable, or possibly unsafe.

Owners can either dispose of the ammunition, or they can recycle it. Check with the local authorities about how to properly dispose of flooded ammunition. Or, even better, reload it.

Water damaged ammo contains a lot of salvageable material. It can be taken apart, and the bullet (projectile) and brass case can be reused.

The propellant (“gun powder”) can be discarded. If the owner cannot or does not want to reload, the affected ammo can be donated or sold to someone else for safe reloading.


About Tom Gresham’s GUNTALK Radio:

In its 23rd year of national syndication, Tom Gresham’s GUNTALK radio show airs live on Sundays from 2PM-5PM Eastern, and runs on more than 200 stations every week. Listen live on a radio station near you ( or via live streaming from one of the stations here: All GUNTALK shows can also be downloaded as podcasts at, Apple iTunes, and i-Heart radio, or through one of the available Apps: GunDealio for iPhone, GunDealio for Android, Gun Talk App on Stitcher, the Gun Talk iPhone App, and the Gun Talk App for Android on Amazon. GUNTALK can also be heard on YouTube, at

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  • 15 thoughts on “Hurricane Harvey Leaves Thousands of Flooded Guns

    1. Well I have to agree with the remark about listening to anyone that suggest jet A. Same goes for anyone that suggest using Kerosine on a gun, or any kind of solvent on a gun as it will absolutely destroy the finish on a gun. Regardless of if the gun has an old gun blued finish on it, even using a solvent in a nickel finish is not a good idea. While you can use WD40 on some guns, again that is not always a good idea, as it can damage the finish on some guns. And I would not use synthetic motor oil on a gun. The best product to use, is actually called “GUN OIL”, as it is designed to be used on guns to protect them. Now the problem with submerging a wet gun in any kind of oil, is that water is denser then oil, so the oil will just float on the water even if there is more oil then water. So all your doing is setting the gun in an oil bath that will result in exposing one side of the gun to water. This is unless you have a rack, that will prevent the gun from sitting on the bottom of the container. Best way is to use a towel to dry the gun as best as possible, one you have disassembled the gun. You can also use a can of compressed air, to evac any trash and water from small places in the gun. Then if you want use isotope alcohol to remove any moisture. This is because it does act as a drying agent. Break cleaner will work in some cases. Then use gun oil, on all the pieces before reassemble.

      1. You say you wouldn’t use a synthetic motor oil but then offer no reason not to! I’ve been using it ever since I started shooting competition. I stated my reasons FOR using it on all guns including full auto. I’ve seen gun oil start to smoke like a bear when used on a full auto gun on sustained fire, not so with synthetic 10W30.

        Let the games begin. 🙂

        1. @V40…My only question was the weight I would have thought the lightest weight possible. As for synthetic, working in high voltage substations, I found synthetic far better than WD40 etc . The mechanisms I maintained had to work or your lights went out. WD40 over time with heating and cooling would gum up and get sticky. Like I said out go your lights. There is a synthetic red grease called Mobil 1 was our No. 1 choice . I never tried it on guns but it might work just fine. You can buy it in 1# cans which should last you forever.

          1. Any lighter and it seems to “blow” off. 10W30 appears to be the perfect weight for lubrication and storage without slowing down the functionality or being lost due to repeated action.

    2. the “soluble oil” used in some machine shops will absorb water (it is designed to mix with water) yet still protect and coat and lubricate as does an oil. Especially if you have a number of guns that have been flooded, you can remove the wood and plastic parts (stocks, foregrips, etc) and simply submerge the entire gu into the oil. It WILL, by surface tension, creep its way in to every part. Then, later when things settle down, remove them one by one, completely disassemble, wash the oils out with a solvent (naptha, (careful high explosion danger), deodorised kerosene, Jet A fuel, paint thinner, etc. You want to use a solvent that dries to nothing with no residue. Then go for your preferred coatings, waxes,oils, to preserve again, and package/store accordingly.

      1. I disagree with every single substance you’ve suggested because they are totally impractical for the average homeowner and, in most cases, very dangerous to use. The easiest way handle this situation is separate any wood from the metal action. Use a synthetic motor oil like Mobil 1 10W30 to coat every metal surface, clean it with a cloth saturated with the oil then simply take it outside and spray everything down with brake parts cleaner. By law brake parts cleaner can leave no residue so you’re left with a completely dry, clean gun. Then take a cotton patch with the same oil and use it as a lubricant or go over the entire gun VERY LIGHTLY for storage. If you have surface rust on any metal part I use #0000 steel wool to VERY lightly take it off. If it requires more than a light rub you’ll probably have to cold blue it.

        NEVER use a solvent of any type on a firearm. You run the risk of removing the finish on military weapons. It’ll do it in seconds. Do not listen to anyone who ever suggests jet A.

        For the stock and forearm I use tung oil.

        You may ask why synthetic 10W30? Easy, it has a very high flash point so it’s great on full auto weapons (we’ve used it on FN’s and M16’s) and it doesn’t change viscosity when it gets extremely cold. It also doesn’t absorb any particulates that you may have missed in cleaning i.e. burnt powder etc. And, at about $8-$9 a quart it is dirt cheap and a quart will last a very long time.

        1. PS: The one exception to using brake parts cleaner to “wash” off oil and junk (actually two exceptions) is a Sig with a Nitron finish and an old military gun with the black, baked on finish. On the military guns you can spray the brake cleaner inside the bore and action but not on the outside. Any gun with blueing or a modern finish other than Nitron and you’re good to go.

    3. copper and gun oil will work to remove rust from the bluing You need to rub it down , I’ve done it with a pure copper penny older than 1981.It wont hurt the bluing…

    4. Disassemble the gun ( remove the stock ) wipe it down with a good stock oil, disassemble the bolt , clean th eparts good.
      Scrub the bore good, use 0000 stel wool and light oil to gently wipe or scrub any rust that developed–
      Do not scrub hard as it will remove the bluing.
      Wipe the entire metal parts with a good gun oil.
      In days gone by , I helped bring some older guns back to life this way.

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