On Target Interview with Steve Ostrem of Brownells–Keeping your gun rust free in Hawaii

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Brownell’s booth at the Shot Show was parts central

by Rob Kay

The 2013 Shot Show in Las Vegas, earlier this year, was more than just an opportunity to gawk at guns. It presented a chance to meet a lot of knowledgeable people in the industry and learn a few things.


My interest was not only to look at new products but to learn some specifics about countering the perennial problem of Hawaii gun owners—rust and corrosion. It’s bad enough on the Mainland, but over here with salt and humidity literally in the air we really have to be ultra careful.  

So where would I find advice in this department?

I made a beeline to Brownells, 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 my questions 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:

A little dab of Universal Gun Grease on the sheepskin patch (aka the Rig-Rag) is all it takes to inoculate my ancient Marlin 39a from rust and corrosion.

For everyday use, wipe down your gun with a product called a “Rig Rag” which is a silicone-impregnated sheepskin patch. 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.

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

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.

You can get these descant canisters at several places in town for about $6.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.

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 Rig 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.

Questions?  Comments?  Contact us directly at ontargethawaii@gmail.com

Rob Kay writes about firearms for Hawaii Reporter and is the author of How to Buy an AK-47.
Read more of Rob’s articles on OnTargetHawaii.com





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