How to Get Rust Off a Stainless Steel Gun

  • Jack Collins

It’s every gun owner’s nightmare.

You crack open your safe to grab some of your favorite firearms for a range day. As you look them all over, you notice something very wrong with your trusty .44 magnum revolver. There’s a thin layer of rust beginning to coat certain areas. Your eyes widen. You age 10 years in a moment. This can’t be happening!

Stop. Take a deep breath. Relax. Fear not. If you’ve ever wondered how to clean rust off of a stainless steel handgun, sit back and strap in with our complete guide on how to get rust off your gun.

Probably not stainless steel initially, but still. You get it. Time to clean.
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What is Stainless Steel?

The term “stainless steel” isn’t just some made-up term. It actually refers to a specific alloy. Stainless steel refers to an alloy of iron, carbon, and chromium. Specifically, it must contain at least 10.5% chromium and less than 1.2% carbon (according to Aperam).

What makes stainless steel so special? It’s super resistant to oxidation. In other words, it doesn’t rust.

Okay, well maybe it does rust a little bit, otherwise we wouldn’t be writing this blog post. In fact, our blog’s managing editor Joey specifically requested this article because of struggles he’s had keeping his Sig Sauer C3 clean, despite being gently used and cleaned frequently.

Sometimes, stainless steel can indeed rust. When exposed to oxygen for prolonged amounts of time, the iron in stainless steel oxidizes (the technical term for rust). Fortunately, as long as your gun isn’t too damaged, you should be able to still fix it.

How to Clean Rust Off a Stainless Steel Gun

Get your gun looking like this again.

The first thing to do when learning how to clean stainless steel from a gun is to get a few supplies. You’ll want to pick up a scratchy pad (softer than stainless steel), pipe cleaner, some rust-resistant oil, water, baking soda, and some cloth. If necessary, you can replace the pad with a toothbrush. Just make sure that whatever you use is softer than stainless steel – you don’t want to damage your gun’s finish. 

Next, you’re going to do the same thing you do every time you handle a firearm. You’re going to make sure it’s not loaded.

Firearms safety rules never go away.

First, get your cleaning implement of choice and apply the baking soda to it. Wipe the gun down, paying special attention to the rusty areas. You should also wipe these areas down with gun lube. If there’s any rust inside your gun’s barrel, use the pipe cleaners to clear it out. Don’t apply too much pressure, or you could damage your gun’s finish.

Once you’ve removed the rust, make sure to wipe the gun completely dry. If you leave any moisture, it leaves the door open for more rust to form. Finally, apply some kind of anti-rust oil, and you’re finished! Make sure to keep an eye on your gun from now on, because rust will want to naturally pop up in the same area it grew last time.

Like Getting Rust Off Your Gun? Try Gunsmithing

Getting rust off your stainless steel gun is a task that you can probably take care of yourself. In fact, it’s something that you might even enjoy. If you love working with guns, SDI’s coursework might just be for you! To start your journey to learn more about gunsmithing, check out the programs we offer.

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