Before you start. makes sure the gun is UNLOADED before attempting to clean it!!!

Handling Collector-Grade Parkers

One of the real joys of owning and collecting high-quality, investment-grade arms is handling these artifacts and displaying them to interested friends and visitors. Naturally, care must be taken to prevent damage to persons or property. However, the techniques used by museum curators and conservators all over the world are not like those used in military arms rooms or in hunting lodges.

Always avoid contacting metal surfaces with your skin (which contains salts and acids). Whenever possible, handle the weapon by the grip or stock. Where it is necessary to touch the metal, use the back of the finger where there is less natural moisture, acids and salts. Avoid direct contact between the palm of the hand (where there is the greatest concentration of perspiration) with finished metal surfaces. When handing a firearm to someone, hold it by the grip or stock and present it to them so they can easily grasp it by the grip or stock. 

Whenever possible, wear soft, cotton gloves. Remember that acids, salts and moisture contained in perspiration can destroy the fine finish of blued or many plated surfaces-and especially bare-steel surfaces. When gloves are not available, a soft, all-cotton cloth between the hand and the piece will serve the same purpose. After handling a weapon be sure to wipe it well before returning it to display or storage, to remove any traces of handling.

Protect Metal Surfaces and Finishes with Wax

Blued steel, surfaces plated with precious metals, polished brass, stainless steel and especially bare carbon steel must be carefully cleaned and properly protected against the effects of moisture and from contact with common chemicals. Metalwork must be kept free of dust. If dust is allowed to accumulate on the finish, it may be rubbed into the finish during handling and act as an abrasive.

To do this keep all exterior metal surfaces thinly coated and polished with a high-quality, neutral non-whitening paste wax. Avoid synthetic and automotive waxes. Synthetic waxes can contain acids harmful to fine finishes. Automotive waxes contain abrasives, and these waxes usually leave a white film in crevices when they dry.

Gold-plated surfaces should never be polished or cleaned with abrasive metal cleaners or polishing cloths. Gold plating will not tarnish, but may become dull with a build-up of old wax. Use a soft rag and denatured alcohol to clean off old wax then protect the luster with several buffed coats of wax.

Silver-plated surfaces will tarnish if left unprotected and should be polished only with a mild, non-abrasive silver polish of the highest quality. But use it infrequently to avoid removing the plating. After cleaning, apply several well-buffed coats of wax. This technique will go a long way towards retarding tarnish on silver and silver plating.

Some people prefer to preserve their collection with oil or one of the modern all-purpose cleaners used by the military. This is fine for service or working arms, which are taken to the field and cleaned and oiled frequently. However, for high-quality, collector-grade arms and antiques where preservation rather than operation is the goal, leading museums worldwide use wax.

Applying Wax

Before you apply wax to the metal surface, clean the surface with a soft all-cotton, lint-free cloth slightly dampened with denatured alcohol to remove dirt or grease. Apply several thin coats of wax, hand buffing after every coat. Spread and buff the wax as if it were shoe polish, rubbing it into the surface. Several thin coats are better than one thick one. Don't let the wax dry too long or it will be difficult to remove and will become sticky. Two minutes is usually enough time for it to set up. Buff to a hard, polished coat. Do not leave the wax unpolished as this will stay sticky, which will attract and hold abrasive dust.

If this is the first time the arm has been waxed, apply several coats, polished well in between, to provide an initial build up of protection. Repeat this waxing procedure at an interval that suits your collecting. For arms that aren't handled and are stored in temperature and humidity controlled conditions (as found in many homes) once a year may be sufficient. With frequent handling and/or high humidity, increase the interval significantly.

Internals and Bores

Internal working mechanisms and firearm bores must be treated differently than exposed surfaces. On firearms that are regularly fired, intense-use areas like bores, sear engagement points and other moving, pivoting and sliding parts require another level of protection against friction as well as oxidation. Simply coat the mechanism lightly with metal oil and allow it to set for a few minutes (or overnight if heavy cleaning is required) to allow it to penetrate the surface. Then wipe away excess oil with a soft, lint-free cloth to leave a light protective coat. Even if a weapon is not fired, don't overlook the bore. Here it would not be practical to use wax. It's good procedure to run a lint-free patch soaked with gun oil down the bore and/or give the bore a good misting with a spray of gun oil. Minimize dust and lint in a bore, for the previously-mentioned reason.

Wooden Stocks and Grips

Furniture experts have known for years that the best protection for finishes on fine woods like walnut is a first-quality paste wax. Unfortunately, modern marketing has put the convenience of spray wax into a can containing petroleum products. Do not use these as they can penetrate the finish and cause it to bubble. They can also leave a oily or tacky film that will attract and hold abrasive dust.


There are times and situations in which storage is an absolute necessity. And there is a very real difference between the proper storage of your investment and how it is shipped to you from a manufacturer, dealer or auction house. Shipping boxes are packed to prevent damage and to insure the safe arrival. Direct contact with cardboard and tissue paper are not good for the long-term storage of steel surfaces. Paper and cardboard boxes contain acid. They also attract and hold moisture in contact with the piece they touch.

Do not store your firearms or edged weapons in leather holsters or scabbards. Leather also contains acids and, often, salts. Additionally, leather can easily pick up dust and act as sandpaper, scouring the finish of metal and wood.

Also avoid storing weapons inside plastic bags. Unless conditions are perfect, moisture will be sealed in the bag and cause rust; also, condensation can build up inside the bag. A soft, chemically-neutral cloth is good to wrap around the item before storage. A 100% cotton towel works well. If the towel or cloth is new, wash it several times to minimize dust and lint. Padded gun-carrying bags and velvet-lined display cases provide excellent protection for the storage of your collection. However be sure they are not sealed air tight, and don't assume this protects them 100% from dust. 


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