Two Letters Re: Advice on Firearms Caching

Good Evening JWR:
I want to safely hide guns and ammo at strategic locations on my wooded property without placing them in buildings, in the chance situation I could not get into my home. Do you have any suggestions on safe storage? Thank you, – Rus

I have been thinking, perhaps someone with expertise in this area may want to post on your blog about long term firearms storage. I have stocked up firearms in the spirit of your book “Patriots”, to give to a friend who has none, or to group standardize for a group that doesn’t exist yet. After stocking many firearms of three different systems, if find there is a hidden liability, all the eggs are in one basket. I find myself wanting to inter them in long term storage in off site locations. (They are all legal firearms, and in legal safe locations, of course.) Any words of wisdom on this topic would be greatly appreciated. In particular, what should I store with them, and how to build waterproof containers, how to choose a cache site that won’t be frozen in winter, et cetera. Thanks in advance, – J. Mac

JWR Replies: Caching is a bit of an arcane art form. Rather than going into detail, retracing “trodden ground”, here are three links to get you started: First, a thread that appeared at the Free Republic site. Next, an article on some techniques developed out of recent legal necessity, in Australia. And lastly, here is a piece from the Anozira site. Waterproof containers are readily available but often expensive. Large diameter PVC pipe is quite expensive–especially the threaded end cap that you will want for one end. One low cost alternative are U.S. Navy Surplus sonobuoy canisters. These sturdy hexagonal gray plastic canisters have have a threaded end cap. They were originally made for shipping the expendable sonobuoys dropped by P-3 Orion anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft and by Navy helicopters. They are commonly called “Orion tubes” or “Gray overpacks.” They are only about 7″ inches across and have a roughly 6″ diameter opening, so some rifles must be disassembled in order to fit inside. They were made in huge numbers. Even though they haven’t been used for U.S. navy contracts since the late 1980s, these tubes can still be found at military surplus stores in coastal areas.

One point that I need to emphasize: Regardless of the container you choose, be sure to include at least six ounces of silica gel to dry the air in the container that you are sealing up. Be sure to seal the container very well. A coating of vaseline on a container’s rubber seal helps. If you use glue (not recommended for closing the final seal–if you do, you’ll be sawing the container open someday. Metal ammo cans have a tendency to rust, but this can be retarded by painting the cans with heavy marine paint or asphalt emulsion. In my experience, the large U.S. Navy surplus 40mm (or larger) anti-aircraft galvanized steel ammunition cans are zinc coated and hold up remarkably well in the elements. Large ammo cans are often available from Cheaper Than Dirt!, Coleman’s Surplus, and other military surplus dealers.

If you live in an area with high water table, you might have to get creative to protect cached items from moisture–even if it is in “watertight” tube. Two tried and true methods for getting around this difficulty are placing the plastic container inside a hollowed-out log, or in the middle of a firewood pile. (Of course if someone steals your firewood, they will also get an unexpected bonus.)