Rifleman Q&A: Keeping Blackpowder Guns Rust-Free

posted on August 29, 2021
graphic noting "Rifleman Q&A" black gray color

Q. I have an older Thompson/Center New Englander muzzleloader that I purchased used. It was corroded from improper cleaning. I have cold-blued the barrel and it shoots well. However, I shoot it infrequently. When cleaned with soapy water and stored with natural lubes, the bore begins to rust. I am aware of complications of using petroleum products in the bores of blackpowder guns. Is there a cleaning/storage method you would recommend?


A. After more than 60 years of shooting both original and replica blackpowder arms, I have not had a problem with rusting bores in either type. My system is to wash out the bore with sopping patches at the range using a mixture of hand dishwashing detergent and water. Then, when I get home, I strip the gun down, remove the breechplug if applicable, and clean the bore with a bronze brush and more of that solution. Next, I rinse it with hot or boiling water, wipe the bore dry with patches and then apply a good preservative oil. For external protection, I often use a light coat of automobile wax. Despite having lived near the seacoast for many years, this procedure has kept my guns rust-free.

—Angus Laidlaw


This “Questions & Answers” was featured in the October 2004 issue of American Rifleman. At time of publication, “Questions & Answers” was compiled by Staff, Ballistics Editor William C. Davis, Jr., and Contributing Editors: David Andrews, Hugh C. Birnbaum, Bruce N. Canfield, O. Reid Coffield, Charles Q. Cutshaw, Charles M. Fagg, Charles Karwan, Angus Laidlaw, Evan P. Marshall, Charles E. Petty, Robert B. Pomeranz, O.D., Jon R. Sundra, Jim Supica, A.W.F. Taylerson, John M. Taylor and John Treakle.

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