2013 Shot Show in Las Vegas—Interview with Steve Ostrem of Brownells—Keeping your gun rust free in Hawaii
by Rob Kay
Talk about sensory overload. The 2013 Shot Show in Las Vegas had literally thousands of booths devoted to every aspect of the hunting and sport shooting industry. There were AKs, ARs, traditional hunting rifles, handguns, optics and accessories of every description from every corner of the world. From Turkish shotguns that sell for two bills to five thousand dollar German hunting rifles, there was something for everyone. There were probably a dozen of manufacturers of just gun cases and a hundred manufacturers of AR derivatives.
My goal was not only to look at some new products (which I’ll cover later) but to learn more about countering the No. #1 enemy of Hawaii shooters—rust and corrosion.
To do this I made a beeline to Brownell’s, which bill’s itself as the “world’s largest supplier of firearms accessories and gunsmithing tools”. I have no doubt this is true.
Brownell’s not only has a wide assortment of products, they are scrupulous about the quality of what they sell. If you’ve ever dealt with this company and needed counsel in making selections, you’ll know they are also famous for their customer support. Whether you’re adding a rail to an AR or trying to determine how to touch up some bluing on your S&W model 19, they have a staff of Gun Techs who will patiently answer your questions.
I posed a question to Steve Ostrem, a veteran Brownell’s Gun Tech and grilled him on what products Hawaii gun owners should consider when protecting their rifle or handgun from our famously salty air.
Here are some of the products that Steve recommended to keep oxidation at bay:
For everyday use, wipe down your gun with a product called “Rusty’s Rags” which is a silicone-impregnated sheepskin patch (see above photo on left). The silicone formula removes fingerprints, dirt, dust, and grime and leaves a long-lasting, protective film that will resist moisture and rust. This product is actually manufactured by another icon in the gun care industry, Birchwood Casey, which was present at the Shot Show. Larger cloths for bigger items, such as rifles, are also available (see above photo on right).
Along with wiping down the surface, Steve suggested leaving a light coat of gun oil such as Break-Free or Militek on the bore of the gun. (Both items are available at local shops).
He also suggested that handguns or rifles should be stored in a airtight Pelican style case with a silica desiccant inside. These are available from Brownell’s or you can go to a camera store. You can get40 gram silica rechargeable canisters from Kaimuki Camera for about $6. Just make sure you keep the packs recharged periodically.
For a safe, Steve suggesting using a “Golden Rod” dehumidifier to keep things toasty dry. The humidifier is an electric element to warm the air inside the safe and drive out moisture.
Another option is the Triple Tough storage bag. Tough and flexible, it comes in various sizes and has a 0% moisture transmission rating, so items sealed inside will remain rust and corrosion free indefinitely. They are resistant to petroleum based chemicals and solvents and are completely non-biodegradable.
If you’re putting you’re gun away for long period of time, cover it with “Rig Universal Gun Grease”, a viscous gunk that will keep the rust away indefinitely. (Rig is also a Birchwood Casey product). FYI, you can also use a small dab of Rig to replenish your Rusty’s Rag.
Steve’s final tip was to keep your primers and ammo dry by investing a few bucks into a surplus “M2A1” ammo box. Much like a Pelican case, they are air tight and thus designed to lock out humidity. If you throw a desiccant inside your can you’ll be able to store your gear for a long, long time. You can buy them on Brownells, at the gun show or at a military surplus store here on Oahu.
All photos except for desiccant canister and Brownells display case courtesy of Brownells.
Rob Kay is a Honolulu-based writer and author of the travel site Fijiguide.com. He can be reached at