How To Remove Rust From A Gun Without Damaging Bluing?

One of the trickiest aspects of removing rust from the outside of a gun barrel is to not harm the bluing that is present.

This is because the bluing that is still intact protects the metal from oxidation which results in rust.

Removing the rust generally requires scraping, but this action can also remove the bluing which means that more of the metal is exposed as a result.

Before you start to remove the rust, you will need to find out why the gun barrel is rusting in the first place. The most common reason is the moisture in the air which may come from the following sources.

  • A recent rain that has soaked the gun barrel
  • High humidity found near the ocean or sea
  • The sweat from your hands

Identifying the main reason why the barrel is rusting means you can take steps to prevent it in the future.

Once you have done that, you can now start to remove the rust while leaving the bluing intact. If you follow these steps, you can protect your gun while getting rid of the oxidation.

Using Steel Wool & Gun Oil

Standard gun oil is fine, but you should purchase steel wool that is 0000 type. Add a clean cloth or rag along with a few old newspapers. Now do the following.

  • Remove the grips from the gun to expose all the metal
  • Place the gun on the newspapers
  • Apply the gun oil to areas where rust is present
  • Rub the steel wool gently in a circular motion on the rusted areas
  • Once completed, rub the steel wool gently along the receiver and barrel to take off all the rust
  • Wipe with a clean cloth to remove the oil
  • Inspect for any remaining areas of rust

It is important that you rub gently with the steel wool or you risk removing the bluing. This does take some effort, but it will be worth it as you keep the bluing while getting rid of the rust.

Inspect the gun thoroughly to ensure that no rust remains behind. Once that is completed, you can clean the gun and store it so that the oxidation process does not start again.

Using A High Quality Penetrating Oil

If you have a weapon that is quite valuable, such as an antique for example, then you may want to use penetrating oil instead.

Penetrating oil is quite common with WD-40 being the most recognizable. It can remove the rust quickly without damaging the metal. You will also need the following.

  • Newspapers
  • Tissues
  • Copper Penny

Copper is a soft metal that does not scrape in the same manner as the steel wool.

Put the gun on the newspapers and spray it with the WD-40. Be sure to cover all areas where there is rust present. Let the WD-40 soak in for several minutes so that it penetrates the rust.

  • Use the edge of the copper penny to scrape off the loosened rust
  • Do not dig in with the penny as this might leave copper stains behind
  • Spray the rust again with the WD-40 if it is not coming off

Using the penny can be a bit tiring since it is small. You can hold it with something larger such as pliers, for example, so your hand does not wear down. However, you still need to be careful as you might leave marks behind.

Additional Tips

You can always switch from the steel wool to the penetrating oil method and vice versa if you find that it is not working.

Being gentle at first is the key as you can gradually apply more pressure if needed to remove the rust. However, you need to be careful not to scrape the bluing in the process.

Adding Bluing:

If you have a particularly rusty gun, you may want to scrape away all the bluing and have it done again. Do this once you have fully removed the rust.


A light layer of oil will protect the metal, but you will need to store the gun in a cool, dry place to keep it from rusting again.

By following these tips, you can remove the rust while protecting the bluing on your gun.

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