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If you haven’t been cleaning your gun diligently you may have noticed some rust spots at various points. It’s time to use a gun cleaner that is suitable for rust removal to bring it back to top working order.

The regular maintenance of your rifles is an important part of keeping them in good working order. It should become a regular task every time you use them.

A gun cleaning solvent cleans your firearm by removing dirt and debris that builds up from the particles released each time it is fired. 

rusted rifle barrel a prime candidate for rust removal

If the fouling is left on the internal and external surfaces of the barrel and other metal components it can capture moisture and corrosion begins to form. 

This will affect the rifle’s performance and will also create safety issues..

While they are great for cleaning and maintaining your rifle, solvents are not really designed to remove rust.

There are a number of products and methods available that are very effective in removing rust from your gun. We will take a look at each of them.

In every case, you’re going to have to spend some time and careful effort in working on the rust spots to remove them. Then you should follow up your work with a thorough lubrication.

Important: Before you do any cleaning work on your rifle you must double check to ensure it is unloaded.

Commercial Gun Cleaners for Rust Removal 

You may feel most comfortable buying a commercial product designed specifically for the job of removing rust from a gun.

Each of the products below have been found to be extremely successful in removing rust and bringing a gun’s barrel back to top working order.

Birchwood Casey Blue and Rust Remover

This Blue and Rust Remover is a solid, reliable product that will effectively remove rust and old blue quickly. Importantly, it does so without causing any damage to the metal underneath.

In addition the company provides a Super Blue liquid which is a double strength product used for bluing highly polished steel parts.

Both of these products come as part of a kit which also includes a bronze and a nylon Otis brush as well as cotton patches and disposable absorbent pads.

Find out more about the company and the products available by visiting the Birchwood Casey website.

Blue Wonder Gun Cleaner

This is a powerful non-toxic, biodegradable rust removing cleaning gel that won’t damage the gun bluing.

You can use it on the shotgun barrel by applying it directly to the rust areas and then working it in with fine steel wool or a brass brush until the rust is loosened.

If the rust is heavier, you should work the gel in and then let it sit for 5-10 minutes. You can then wipe the areas with a clean, dry cloth.

If you have rust on areas where harming the bluing is not a problem you can apply the Blue Wonder Gel with a more abrasive product such as coarse steel wool or steel brushes.

Once again you’re trying to loosen the rust and should leave the gel in place for a few minutes to properly let it remove the rust.

Not only will applying the product help to remove the rust but it will also give your rifle the deep cleaning it requires on a more regular basis.

Find out more about the company and the range of cleaning products available by visiting the Blue Wonder website.

Rem Oil and Steel Wool

You can remove rust from the barrel of your rifle by using Rem Oil and 0000 Steel Wool paper towels or your gun cleaning mat. (By the way: Break Free CLP, Hoppe’s 9 and similar products will also work)

  1. Spray the Rem Oil onto the rust spots on the barrel

  2. Take the steel wool and gently rub the oiled area (don’t scrub)

  3. Keep applying the oil as needed to keep the area you’re working on well lubricated while you continue to rub with the steel wool

  4. When finished, give the surface a wipe down with the paper towels and then a final lubrication with the oil

Using WD-40 to Remove Rust on Your Rifle

WD-40 is a multi-purpose lubricant designed to remove rust and prevent it from developing again.

It works by penetrating the porous layer of rust where it loosens the bonds between the rust and the metal it has adhered to.

To remove, you can simply spray some of the WD-40 directly onto the rust and leave it to soak in for around 10 minutes.

When it has worked its way deeply into the rust you simply rub the rust away using a light abrasive such as 0000 Steel Wool. Try not to scrub too vigorously so you don’t damage or remove the bluing.

The WD-40 will displace any water or moisture on the metal surfaces it is applied to which is great for immediate rust protection. 

But it also means that when you have finished removing the rust, you should give your rifle a thorough clean before applying oil to the metal surfaces. 

Do-It-Yourself Rust Removal Techniques

If you’d prefer not to use a commercial product to do the rust removal, there are a number of low-tech options that will produce good results. 

They are also your budget options with all of the components items that should either already be lying around the house or would be easy to find.

Baking Soda and Water

One of the most versatile cleaning products you can have in your closet is a package of baking soda. It is effective for use in an amazing array of applications and the removal of rust is one of them.

  1. Give the rifle barrel a rinse with water and shake it to remove excess water
  2. Pour a baking soda and water paste over the rust patches until they are entirely covered
  3. Leave the baking soda in place for around an hour
  4. Lightly scour the rust with steel wool or a wire brush to remove it
  5. Rinse off the paste and dry thoroughly

White Vinegar

You can use white vinegar to remove rust because the rust reacts with the vinegar and begins to dissolve. You can apply the vinegar in a number of ways depending on where on the rifle it is found.

  1. Soak the rifle barrel in the white vinegar for a couple of hours 
  2. Wipe clean to remove the rust

If it’s not possible to submerge the rusty area in a vinegar bath:

  1. Pour the white vinegar over the metal surface giving it time to settle
  2. Wipe clean to remove the rust

Or, alternatively you can use a more hands-on approach:

  1. Soak a cloth in white vinegar
  2. Wipe the rust areas thoroughly with the soaked cloth until the rust has dissolved away

After the Rust Is Removed

No matter what product or technique you use to remove rust from your rifle, the next important step is to lubricate it.

By completely treating every metal component of your gun after it has been hit with a solvent, you will be preventing a recurrence of the rust problem you’ve just solved.

You also should be storing your rifle properly in a dry cabinet or gun safe.

Preventing Rust In the Future

After you’ve removed all traces of rust from your rifle you should be aware that you’re not out of the woods forever with this.

You’re going to have to keep up a rust prevention regime so that new corrosion doesn’t take over again.

  1. After you’ve taken your rifle out and used it, either for a hunting trip or a trip to the range, you should disassemble and flush your rifle with warm water
  2. Give your rifle a thorough clean using the cleaning solvents that make up your gun cleaning kit. Any gun cleaning solvent alternative will be just as acceptable.
  3. Lubricate the metal thoroughly. Oiling your rifle is the best way to protect it against corrosion
  4. Store your rifle in a dry, clean case where moisture can’t reach the metal parts. A purpose-built rifle case will also provide the right storage conditions


As can be seen by the ideas presented above, there are many ways in which you can bring your rifle back from the grip of rust.

Fortunately, all of the suggested methods use products that are low-priced and easy to source and use.

The most important factor is your willingness to commit the time and effort to, first of all, perform the rust removal and, secondly, regularly clean and oil your rifle to prevent the corrosion from returning.

Creating a routine and performing it regularly makes it a smaller, easier job and will give you the comfort in knowing you are ensuring the safety and performance of your rifle. 

After all, your rifle is the vital piece of equipment when you go hunting.

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