How To Remove Rust From Your Air Rifle

Written by our special guest blogger, Norman Bobby of Gun & Shooter

Removing Rust from Your Air Gun Rifle

Your air rifle should last you a long time, but there are steps to make it last longer that you have to take. You may find that it develops rust over time and you need to remove this. It will reduce the lifespan of your air rifle if you allow the rust to grow as it will only get worse over time. Here is how to remove rust buildup on your gun.


You may or may not need all of these supplies but have them on hand anyway as they make cleaning your air rifle easier.

Damage Assessment

The first step is to assess the damage to your air rifle. You should examine the rust spots and make note of their locations. Before the inspection, make sure the rifle is unloaded and de-cocked. In the case of Pre-Charged PCP and Co2 airguns, also ensure cylinders are empty or removed. Be sure to follow all safety instructions supplied with your air rifle.

You also have to know the finish of the gun as different chemicals can impact the finish. The most common type of rust will be light surface rust. This can usually be removed with fine steel wool and a light oil, such as the Bisley Gun Oil. You will need a specialized product to remove deeper rust that has accumulated on your air rifle. Many people use turtle wax for this purpose as it seems to work well. You want to avoid corrosive chemicals if you can as these increase the risk that you’ll damage your gun. Occasionally the rust may be so deep that it has penetrated any blueing to the barrel. In this case, Birchwood Casey offers a wide range of chemicals for removing rust and blueing and re-blueing small marks or large areas if required.

If you have rust in the barrel, you’ll need a brush to get down inside of it. Make sure you get one that will fit inside of the barrel so it can be cleaned effectively. You can buy products that are designed to clean air rifles so you might want to pick one of those up as it will make the task easier. Many gunsmiths use a product called Blue Wonder Gun as it’s an effective cleaner for your air rifle.

Cleaning Surface Rust

Once you have done your assessment and have your cleaning tools, you’re all set to remove surface rust. Most surface rust is easy to remove and you can replace a finish that has suffered damage by rust if you want. You want to ensure the cleaner is not abrasive and that you’re using oil lubricant while you clean the finish.

Bisley Airgun Cleaning Kit for .177 and .22

Bisley Airgun Cleaning Kit

You need to use oil with fine steel wool or a fine brass brush to help you remove the rust accumulations on the finish. The oil lubricant you use is up to you but a standard oil for cleaning will be suitable here. You want to liberally apply the oil and then use the steel wool to gently scrub away the rust. You want to do this in a slow fashion and work your way through each section of the finish where you see rust.

If the rifle has a special finish use an air gun cleaning product on the finish. The manufacturer of your air gun can let you know how the finish should be cleaned. You don’t want to use any product on a specialized finish as you’ll ruin it if you use the wrong cleaning product. The key point is to take your time as you clean the rifle.

Deep Surface Rust Cleaning

Turtle wax is the recommended product for deeper surface rust. You will want to remove the parts of your air rifle and coat these with the turtle wax. The parts should be placed in the sun so they can dry out. You want all the parts and the wax dry before you move on.

You want to use a rag and wipe everything down and this should remove the surface rust. If there are still accumulations use the oil and steel wool to remove any rust you still see. If you have a large, deep rust spot you should apply plenty of oil to this area. Take a copper penny (made before 1981) and use this to scrape the rust once the area has been saturated with the oil. Once this is done, saturate the area again with oil and use your steel wool to remove any remaining rust areas.

Barrel Rust

Surface rust is a cosmetic issue but internal rust can cause more problems. If the inside of the barrel has a lot of rust, the gun can become dangerous and it should not be used again until it is cleaned. The gun pieces can seize and malfunction if they are impacted by a lot of rust. Use a torchlight and sight down the barrel. If you see rust when doing this, stop using the gun and remove the rust accumulation.

Nylon or a bronze brush should be used here. A stainless steel brush may damage the barrel rifling as they are harder than metal products. This could impact the accuracy of your air rifle to a large degree. You want to lubricate with oil and then use the right brush size to begin to remove the rust.

Use a bronze brush as they are stiff but should only be used once if the rifle bore has a lot of rust accumulation. You should only use them a couple of times for even regular maintenance as they don’t last long. A nylon brush will last longer but are harder to reach tight areas since the material is softer when compared to bronze. You may want to use a combination of nylon and bronze to clean the entire barrel in an effective way. Get some stiff nylon pipe cleaners as well to help you reach the entire barrel. Once you are done you want to lubricate the barrel again as this completes the cleaning process.

Bisley Phosphor Bronze PB Brush

Bisley Phosphor Bronze Brush


Take your time when cleaning your air rifle. This is a process you need to perform on a regular basis to ensure the smooth operation of your air rifle and to ensure safety when using the rifle. You will prolong the life of the gun when you clean it in the right way. If you buy an older gun, take the time to clean it first before you use it. Make sure you see a gun technician or gunsmith if you have trouble cleaning your own firearm or taking it apart.