Whether you've been frequenting firearm auctions for years or you're just beginning to gain an interest in the world of guns, antique firearms can give an impressive and distinguished look to any collection. Of course, if you intend to build a collection of older guns, it's important to remember that you'll need to provide specific care and upkeep to keep your collection looking pristine. The maintenance required by antique guns can seem a bit daunting at first, but following these simple tips should ensure that your collection stays visually pleasing, functional and well-preserved:
Controlling the environment
Preventative maintenance is as important as responsive maintenance when it comes to taking care of older firearms. You want to ensure that your weapons are stored in an environment that minimizes potential damage to them while not in use. Try to keep your firearms stored in an area with 40 to 50 percent humidity. Rapid changes in humidity levels can cause wood to expand or contract, which can lead to cracking or splitting, so keep the humidity level consistent. Dust that finds its way inside the firearm's casing can also trap and retain moisture, so ensure that you clean each piece of your collection regularly.
Time, for many old firearms, can cause a change in the resilience of the wood and metal from which the gun is constructed. Many owners make the mistake of unknowingly marking or damaging their guns by improperly displaying them on narrow hooks or wire loops. Ensure that you aren't creating any one point of pressure on the body of your gun by using broad, padded contact points for the display. Keep in mind that the longer and heavier the firearm in question is, the more weight and pressure a wire loop or hook will put on the point of the gun it is touching.
Keeping your firearm collection looking its best means ensuring the wood stocks of all of your weapons are well cleaned and polished. Remove the exterior stocks of your guns from the barrel and dissolve a few drops of mild detergent in a large amount of warm water (roughly one gallon). While avoiding the unfinished wooden interior, lightly scrub at the exterior of the stocks with a rag or sponge. Rinse the wood, and then go over the length of the stock once more with a clean rag covered in distilled water. Dry with a soft cloth before reassembling. Clean frequently to keep your collection in display condition.