Can Guns Get Wet?


what happens if a gun gets wet

A lot of hunting is done during the winter months and in environments that your gun can be exposed to the elements. This is especially true for hunting different species of birds. This means that you are going to run the risk of your gun and ammunition getting wet or frozen from the cold. Whether is it walking in the rain or snow to hunt, or setting up paper or metal targets at the range, you must take some precautions with your guns and ammo to ensure they last.

Depending on how much you spend on your gun, you may get a little apprehensive about taking it out for fear of it not shooting correctly, getting jammed, or even rusting. We have some answers and tips for you that will break up myths around water and shooting, as well as how to keep your gun looking and shooting as good as it did the day you brought it home.

So, Can Guns Get Wet?

Yes, guns can get wet and still fire with almost no problems at all. Most guns are very safe to use when hunting in the winter, or to use when it is raining. Most guns will even fire while submerged underwater as long as the ammunition is still water tight. While guns can rust, as long as you wipe them down and clean them after use, there is very little worry about your gun rusting and not working properly. Take the time to clean your gun after every use, and it will ensure the longevity of it for many years.

What Are Guns Made Of?

Depending on what brand and caliber gun you buy, it could be all steel, or steel and plastic, or any combination. Barrels and any part of the gun that will see extreme heat from the ammunition will almost always be made out of metal, and the stock and finishes can be wood, plastic or metal. You can also get different stocks to put on your barrel and change them out depending on what you are doing, and where you might be shooting.

Will Rain And Water Ruin My Stock?

If you leave your gun out in the rain, snow or laying in water, there is a very good chance that it will ruin the stock if it is made of wood. Most stocks are coated in lacquer to protect it, but given enough time and possible wear from use, water can and will absorb into the wood and cause warping and or cracking in the wood. If this happens, you will have to replace the whole stock of your gun. It is best to check your gun for any cracks or wear marks so that you can get them fixed by a gunsmith before taking it out in the harsh weather.

Will My Gun Rust in the Rain?

Yes, guns can and will rust in the rain or snow if not cleaned properly. Most guns are made out of steel, aluminum or plastic, so if you have a steel gun, it can rust if you do not clean it after each use. Rust may cause little “pits” to form on the barrel and also discoloration which can ruin a firearm. Gun cleaning kits are very inexpensive compared to the price of a gun, so having one and using it after each hunt or shoot will save the life of your firearm, and will keep it looking new and firing without any problems at all.

What to Do If Your Gun Gets Wet?

Mentioned above, guns can easily rust after being exposed to the elements. Even if the gun was exposed to a slight mist, you should get into the habit of drying and cleaning the gun shortly after you get home. Below are some simple guidelines to follow to keep your gun in tip top shape.

  • Do not let the wet gun sit in a tight case or a cotton/wool gun sleeve. This environment can expedite the damage to the gun.
  • Dry the gun and all components as best as you can by wiping it down. This may entail taking the gun apart in some capacity to ensure that water is not sitting in an area that is not easily accessible if the gun was submerged.
  • Do not try to dry the gun with heat or a hair dryer. The excessive heat can cause damage to your gun, especially if you have a wood stock. Some guns that are made of stainless steel and carbon fiber may be more resilient to having heat applied to it.
  • Oil the components as you normally would when you clean the gun. 
  • If you still think there is moisture sitting in the gun, let it sit with the barrel facing downwards so any excess water or oil can drain out of the gun if present.
  • If you are concerned about the gun, even after it is dried take it to your local gunsmith to be checked out.

Is Cold Weather Bad For Guns?

Cold weather is typically not bad for guns if you keep them in their case or in a safe place where they will not drop. Guns are made from high grade metal, plastic, and wood which have been tested for extreme cold and heat. as long as all of the parts of the gun move freely like they are supposed to, there should be no problem with it firing when needed in cold weather. If you are out in freezing temperatures, make sure you test all the parts before you load it so there are no accidents while you are out.

can a gun get wet or cold

Does Cold Weather Affect Firing A Gun?

Cold weather will not affect the firing of a gun, but if it is extremely cold, you may have to put on gloves and a jacket, which will change how you fire your weapon. Make sure that when you put on gloves, you can still feel the trigger so you do not accidentally have the gun go off. If you have to put a heavy jacket on, make sure that you keep the gun pressed up to your shoulder as tightly as you can so the recoil of the gun does not hit you and cause damage to your face and shoulder.

What Do I Do If My Gun Got Wet When Hunting?

The first thing to do if you get your gun wet is to unload it, if there is ammunition in it. After the gun has no bullets, you will want to break it down and wipe it with a towel to get all the water off. After you dry off the gun, it will be a good idea to oil it and lubricate all the parts so that the action is smooth. Make sure after you wipe it that you try not to touch it and put finger prints on it as that can cause spots on the barrel and stock. Do not let your gun stay wet for long periods of time or rust pits, and spots can occur which may never come off and will ruin you finish.

Final Thoughts

Guns were made to be used and fired in all weather conditions, but it is a good idea to make sure your gun does not spend long periods being wet. As long as you follow simple steps to keep your gun dry and clean after firing it, you should have no problem hunting or shooting in the rain or snow. If your gun does happen to fall in, or sit in water, you can take steps to dry and clean it so that rust will not occur on the barrel or parts. If you can spring for an inexpensive cleaning kit, you will have a fully operational gun that will last a lifetime of shooting.

Related Questions

Are Bullets Waterproof and What Happens If They Get Wet?

Yes, for the most part, bullets are waterproof, and is extremely unlikely that water will make it’s way into the casing. However, some bullets such as rimfire bullets are more likely to be damaged from being exposed to water. All efforts should be made to avoid getting your ammo wet.

Bullets will get wet and still fire no problem, and will even fire underwater! Unless you break the seal on a bullet with tools, the odds of it getting wet and not firing is very small, so you should not have to worry about it. That being said, it is not recommended to try to use bullets that have been dropped in water or that have been sitting in water for any sustained amount of time. If you do drop your ammo into the snow or a puddle of water pick it up immediately and dry it off.

Can Bullets Freeze?

Typically, there is nothing in a bullet that contains moisture, so freezing temperatures will not harm ammunition. There should be no problem storing, or leaving your ammunition in a cold or freezing environment. Anyone living in cold weather should always try and store their ammunition in a safe dry place, but if you are out hunting in the winter, you should have nothing to worry about in your ammunition firing like it is supposed to.

Terry Minton

I am the owner of Fast Cast Rods. I live in the mountains of Northern California where I love to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with my wife and three awesome kids.

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