How to Keep Rust from Damaging Shotgun Shells

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Photograph courtesy of Steve Snodgrass/Flickr

One of the common problems with shotgun shells, particularly for waterfowlers, is that they get wet and eventually rust. One time I hedged my bets, thinking that some of the bases of my shells weren’t too rusty, but I was proved wrong; an easy triple on brant geese was spoiled when I killed the first bird and then couldn’t eject the shell from the chamber. Keeping shells from getting rusty will keep you from wanting to wrap your gunning iron around a tree.

1. Wipe the bases of the shells with a rust inhibitor such as Knight Oil before you head out for a hunt. The oil repels the moisture so your shells don’t corrode before you use them. Dry them out after every hunt and relube with oil to keep the bases smooth.

On a boat, use a waterproof ammo box. When hunting by foot, toss your shells into a zip-sealed plastic bag to keep them dry from rain or if you wade too deeply when setting your dekes.

If you do get rust on the bases (which happens to all serious waterfowl hunters), dry them, then wrap a small piece of fine-grain sandpaper around the brass and twist the shell several times. Most of the rust will fall off. You won’t need to discard the shell or worry that it’ll jam when the ducks are pouring in.

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