Two Letters Re: Advice on Firearms Caching

You mentioned using sonobuoy shipping containers for caching. I used to work as an engineer at a company that built sonobuoys. We would routinely reject fairly large numbers of these tubes for either mold defects or physical damage that would result in a leak. At one point, I and another guy in my group went to the plant (after getting the necessary paperwork) and carried off a large truck load of them. All had to be repaired, but they were usable. Just be sure to check them carefully and be prepared to do some patching if needed.

As an aside, if you have a sharp eye, you’ll see those same sonobuoy containers used as props in sci-fi movies (they were in one of the Star Trek movies). – Stephen

JWR Replies: You are right. Orion tubes are indeed ubiquitous sci-fi TV “cargo deck” props in the later Star Trek TV shows. Usually painted gold…
The thin spots and other flaws that you mentioned are typical for any blow-molded plastic parts. This is less common with spin-molded pieces, which tend to have more uniform wall thickness.


Dear Jim,
I have a few supplemental ideas on the caching weapons thread.
First, plan to carry all non-weapon gear separately. It’s unlikely a government will ban bandages, food, or maps. People should be in revolt long before it gets that far. A smaller cache is a lighter cache.
To improve longevity and preservation, I’d strip any plastic off (such as AR furniture) and vacuum seal it separately to avoid chemical damage. Then dunk the weapon in cosmoline or a home-made equivalent. It lasts literally decades on many military arms stored in damp places. Then, vacuum seal the weapon and ammo separately. Do this inside with the humidifier off or the air conditioner going, to have as little humidity as possible. Give thought to double tubes in case of age or weather cracking.
Before sealing, add dessicant as you suggested, and also a moisture and oxygen displacing gas. If you get with friends, liquid nitrogen isn’t that expensive. Be sure it doesn’t damage anything as it pours in, and insulate the pouring tube well–that condensation dripping off it is LOX [liquid oxygen]. If liquid nitrogen isn’t handy, several chunks of dry ice will work. [JWR Adds: Just be sure that the dry ice is completely sublimated (“melted”) before you seal the container–otherwise you’ll inadvertently be making a dry ice bomb!] Bottom of the list is a good, non corrosive refrigerant. The goal is to displace oxygen and moisture, and slightly overpressure the container to keep it out.
IMMEDIATELY seal, tightly. Use teflon tape on threads. Then I’d cover the outside of the lid with PVC glue or epoxy. This provides additional airtight sealing, and can be filed or chipped off without destroying the tube, so it can be reused, if one checks the cache periodically, or needs to re cache a weapon after use.
I heard of a gentleman whose cache is now buried under a massive fill pile from a construction company. Pick an area unlikely to be built without notice. I agree that scrap metal in the area is a good idea, to reduce the sensor image.
For storage at home, oil and vac seal weapons, then remove drywall on the house’s wet wall–where all the plumbing already is, and reseal. A few blows with a hammer or even a fist will give access in a hurry, and metal detectors expect to find iron near a toilet. The bathroom is also often a good storm shelter and lacks windows, so it’s a good emergency retreat, short term. If the plastic bag is notched, one good rip can yield a loaded revolver or pistol. For people fearing crime who live in no-weapon zones, this allows the opportunity to be judged by twelve instead of carried by six, with very low risk of discovery beforehand.
I believe it was where a gentleman showed a beautiful M4gery, with loaded magazines, spare parts and batteries, vacuum sealed in thick poly for the trunk of his car. If you’re where weapons are legal to transport, this is a great idea. Should you be on the road during a Katrina-like disaster, stuck in traffic and roving gangs or other threats are present, you can quickly have clean, potent firepower that stops the debate before it starts. It can stay stored for months or years with periodic checks for leakage.
As far as acquiring weapons, I would of course recommend reliable antiques, or weapons purchased from a private party so there is no record.
I’ve seen mention of defacing numbers. DON’T! Doing so simply makes it obvious that the weapon is contraband, and is prima facie evidence the possessor committed a felony under federal law and most state laws. Also, I’ve done acid lifts of defaced numbers, even after a complete Dremeling was used to remove it. Without drilling holes through the receiver (Bad idea) or welding over them (also bad, unless you know how to re-heat treat and refinish a receiver), stamped numbers are legible to fairly low tech–PVC etchant, X-ray, or magnaflux. Caching weapons is not illegal yet. However, association with a defaced weapon will legally terminate your right to possess them, end of story.
There are two ways to reduce public awareness of one’s weapons before caching. The first is to keep utterly silent and not let anyone know one is armed. The other is to be fairly open, an emissary of RKBA, as it were, and have enough weapons that only close associates really know how many you have. In which case, one or more missing from a dozen or more is not something anyone is likely to be able to document with clarity. – Michael Z. Williamson