by Rob Kay
Yes, this is another in our Christmas series. What better Christmas present can there be then a technology to preserve your favorite shooting irons? For local folks this product is a dream come true.
Regular readers of this column will remember that one of the first stories we did last year was a survey of products designed to keep your firearms from rusting. For obvious reasons, Hawaii is ground zero for corrosion. When you combine our salty air and humidity, it’s a witch’s brew perfect for the ruination of firearms. I was particularly interested in the products because of a family heirloom that I wanted to preserve–a.32 Berretta manufactured during the German occupation of Italy during the Second World. War.
I garnered the information for the story during last year’s Shot Show when I interviewed Steve Ostrem, a technical support staffer from Brownell’s. Ostrem provided me with a litany of storage options that included various rust inhibitors, desiccants, grease and the like. What he didn’t mention was a product that Brownell’s actually stocks–perhaps the most intriguing anti corrosion solution out there. These are storage bags are manufactured by an upstate New York company called ZCORR (pronounced “Z-Core”).
The company is a division of Heritage Packaging, a producer of heat sealed flexible protective bags, covers and liners for industrial and military applications. Founded in 1990, they make products that provide protection from corrosion, temperature extremes and electro-static discharge for industry. Among other things they make which makes protective coverings for C-130 aircraft and massive power turbines. Producing storage bags for guns is a small part of their business.
ZCORR’s storage bags are flexible items that are laminated with a sort of dull aluminum colored substance. They come in a variety of sizes but all fold neatly into 12 x 7” packages. They are impregnated with an anti-corrosion compound called VpCI that prevents metallic articles from oxidizing. The company claims that VpCI technology provides bags with the longest lasting corrosion protection available—full stop.
So what’s the difference between ZCORR products and other bags out there?
Jason Tuccio, the company’s Products Program Manager said competitors use
either only barrier materials, which would entail desiccant packs, or only VCI (vapor corrosion inhibitor) materials that will only last 1-2 years depending on use.
ZCORR’s products feature a combination of proven barrier layers along with a VCI material that they say can provide anti-corrosion protection from 5-20 years. The VCI molecules that are drawn out of the material by the presence of metal and form a shield around the metal surface which prevents any corrosive elements from causing damage.
The frequency that an end user draws the item out of the bag determines the life span of a VCI bag will be. The more you remove the firearm, the more VCI molecules escape from the bag. Thus if you open up the bag a few times a month there are enough of the VCI molecules to last about 5 years. If you are in and out of the bag only a few times year the bags protective qualities last 15-20 years,
Jason Tuccio, the company’s Products Program Manager said that other brands of VCI bags used in the same manner would only last about six months to possibly two years. This is because other VCI bags do not use barrier layers that lock in the VCI’s so their molecules go both into the bag and the surrounding atmosphere rapidly. The advantage of VCI over a commonly used rust preventative such as cosmoline is that VCI’s do not leave any residue behind. It’s a vapor and is safe for optic lenses, all synthetic and wood stocks and grips, and even electronics.
It’s also safe for ammo which hence ZCORR’s line of ammo bags.
Product Line Up
The company has an entire line of VCI bags of various sizes and shapes that will fit anything in your personal arsenal short of a bazooka. These include bags for pistols ($28 vacuum/$12 velcro seal), rifles or shotguns ($32 vaccum/$12 velcro seal), tactical rifles ($33 vacuum/$15 velcro seal) and even muzzle loaders ($36 vacuum/$16 velcro seal).
They also feature economically poroced collector storage bags which use a heavy duty VCI impregnated foil lamination and incorporate a heavy duty, industrial grade, foil-adhesive closure that is 100% air and water tight.
ZCORR hasn’t forgotten your ammo either. Their .30 and .50 cal ammunition storage bags (6.49 and $6.99 ) are manufactured with a zip closure and a VCI impregnated clear barrier material so you can see the contents. Multiple sizes are available for different types of ammunition and parts. You can also get dunage wrap for $3.50 if your storing more than one item in a bag to prevent items from damage.
The bags come in two varieties–you can seal them with velcro or vacuum, “zip-lock” zipper style, like a sandwich bag.
The “Vacuum series”, have a valve that can be used to remove as much air as you can to keep your item pristine. Here’s how you use it:
- Clean your firearm as recommended by the manufacturer and slide it into the bag.
- Press the heavy duty zipper closure shut.
- Place any house hold vacuum hose over the one way valve and remove air.
One of their most interesting products is a padded rifle case combined with a ZCORR VCI bag. Essentially you’ve got two layers of protection and have combined the best of all possible worlds–a standard rifle case with an airtight storage bag that will keep you rifle pristine.
Finished with your session at the range. Stash your bag within a bag somewhere safe and you’re solid. The outer ZCORR Softcase is made from 1000D Cordura which the manufacturer says offers greater protection over nylon.
The case is big enough to accommodate most long guns — it measures 14″×42″ and has one compartment for a long gun and the other for handguns and accessories. The long gun compartment allows you to house a reinforced vacuum sealable VCI storage bag that clips to a couple of loops inside the softcase and secures the firearm. I’m told this is a relatively new product. It uses the same This new VCI bag utilizes the same VCI material as in the other products but is reinforced to handle the frequent insertion and removal of regularly used rifles. As with most of the bags, there’s a valve to vacuum seal the firearm.
With weekly use a VCI vacuum bag will last at least five years and longer if you eschew openings and closings. After five to ten years it’s time to replace the VCI bag by unclipping it from the softcase. With the clip-in system you can actually ad an addition long gun bag and turn it into a double gun softcase. This may appeal to 3 Gun competitors but it also appeals to folks who just want to save room.
You can keep your other gear organized with two pockets measuring 9″×12” and one 9″×9″.
How it works
This section is lifted from the ZCORR website. I thought technical details would be of more than passing interest to readers:
The VpCI impregnated inner layer is where the anti-corrosive properties come from.
The VpCI chemistry impregnated in the interior layer migrates out of the plastic and forms an invisible gas inside of the bag. This gas is made up of singular VpCI molecules that are attracted to the interior and exterior metal surfaces of your firearm.
The gas coats these metal surfaces with a one molecule thick layer of VpCI chemistry that stops corrosion before it can begin.
This one molecule thick layer of VpCI chemistry dissipates off of the firearm with no cleaning necessary when it is removed from the bag so that the firearm is ready for immediate use.
The limiting factor on how long a ZCORR FSP Bag™ will provide anti-corrosion protection is how long the bag is able to keep the VpCI chemistry locked in. Because the foil barrier layer does not let any VpCI chemistry permeate it, the only way for it to escape is when the bag is opened and closed. Bags that are repeatedly opened and closed will maintain their protective qualities for approximately 5 years. Bags that are not opened frequently can maintain their protective qualities for up to 20 years.
ZCORR is proud of their company’s affiliation with the US Military.The U.S. Marine Corps solicited the development of a flexible packagingsystem that would replace their existing method of preservation packaging for anti-corrosion protection of refurbished M-16 Rifles. The new system needed to increase packaging speed and provide equivalent or superior corrosion inhibiting properties to the existing package.
Heritage Packaging, the ZCORR’s parent company, came up with the M16-A2 Long Term Storage & Preservation Bag (the military precursor to ZCORR™ bags, developed for the U.S. Marine Corps). It was thoroughly tested by the United States Army Materiel Command Logistics Support Activity Packaging Storage and Containerization Center (USAMC LOGSA PSCC) in Tobyhanna, PA. The M16-A2 Long Term Storage & Preservation Bag met or exceeded all tests performed by the facility and was proven to provide firearms with long-term protection from rust and corrosion. (The USAMC LOGSA PSCC serves as a proving ground for all industry-developed design concepts in the areas of storage and containerization).
M16 Rifle Bag Testing Details
The Marine Corps needed to compare Heritage Packaging’s new system to their existing system. Testing was conducted by USAMC LOGSA PSCC in Tobyhanna, PA during the spring & summer of 2003. Test samples were subjected to:
- Cold Temperature (-40 F, 24 Hour Duration)
- Temperature Shock (-40 F to 95 F)
- 1 High Temperature Cycle (91 to 160 F, 24 Hour Duration)
- Ten 24 Hour High Temperature / High Humidity Cycles (86 to 140 F, 95% RH)
- Free Fall Drop Test (2 Flat Faces From 3 Feet)
- Loose Cargo Vibration, Repetitive Shock (1 Hour Duration)
- Handling Throughout Testing and Inspection
The test center in Tobyhanna deemed, “Bag very durable & easy to use; No detectable rust/corrosion on any rifle; No condensation/dampness inside any bag.
Conclusion: I suppose to do a real test we’d have to wait 20 years to see if the technology is what they say it is. I’m going to assume that the Marines did a thorough job evaluating it. If you’re serious about storing your guns for the long term without fooling around with recharging desiccants, this is the way to go.
Photos courtesy of On Target staff.
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