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Bone Dry: The Best Gun Safe Dehumidifiers

Bone Dry: The Best Gun Safe Dehumidifiers

Moisture is your enemy, but these gun safe dehumidifiers will help keep your firearms happy, dry and rust-free.

Having a gun safe dehumidifier is a good idea in general for any gun owner, but it’s a downright necessity if you live in an extremely humid environment or if your firearm collection includes items of significant value or importance.

So, let’s talk about what they do, what kinds there are and what features you should look for when choosing the best gun safe dehumidifier for your needs.  

Why A Gun Safe Should Be Dry

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to have some form of humidity control in a gun safe, regardless of whether you live in a swamp or a desert. Of course, the importance varies between environments, but there’s moisture in the air, there’s air in your gun safe, so therefore you will have moisture in your gun safe. Always.  

Water, after all, is two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen, and oxygen is the great hook-up artist of the elements. It bonds with everything.  

When oxygen penetrates the molecular bonds of ferrous materials (or oxidizes), it creates a ferrous oxide, otherwise known as rust. Ergo, you want to keep moisture away from iron and its cousin steel.  

Rusted-Winchester-94
A rusty Winchester 94. With all its bluing worn off, there’s nothing left to protect the metal from moisture.

Unless you have an airlock gun safe with a vacuum pump or can eject your firearm collection into the great black void of outer space, the best way to keep them from rusting is with humidity control.  

Dehumidification draws moisture out of the air, reducing the amount of moisture that the guns come into contact with. Do you need a dehumidifier? Well, that kind of depends on where you live and what guns you have.  

Some areas are more humid than others. A gun owner in, say, Tucson, Ariz., probably won’t need a dehumidifier quite as much as one in, say, Mobile, Ala. or any other region that has high humidity.  

Further, the finish on your guns matters as well. Chrome resists rust better than most finishes (that’s why marine models of shotguns are chromed) and so does stainless steel. These aren’t impervious to moisture either, but they do better than most.

Winchester-SXP-Marine-Defender-chromeWinchester-SXP-Marine-Defender-chrome
A Winchester SXP Marine Defender with chrome-plated parts.

Broadly speaking, bluing is not the best firearms finish for preventing rust. The efficacy can vary depending on the exact bluing process in question, but even the best methods are susceptible to rust when not periodically treated with a protective lubricant. Parkerizing and nitride finishes do a bit better than bluing, but likewise will benefit from occasional oiling.

Cerakote and modern finishes like DLC are very good at keeping rust at bay so long as the finish remains intact, but the problem is the more you shoot, carry and generally use a gun the more the finish will wear away. While these are still excellent finishes, this means that even modern guns will eventually become vulnerable to rust after enough use.

Glock-19-holster-wear-finishGlock-19-holster-wear-finish
Severe holster wear on a Glock 19. Anywhere that shows bare metal is susceptible to rust. Photo: user 117legend on Reddit.

This is especially true if your ‘Kote job was done by a spray can in your backyard instead of professionally.  

Ergo, it’s never a bad idea to have a gun safe dehumidifier, but whether you absolutely need one depends on your local climate, the finish on your guns and the value of your collection (either monetary or sentimental). If you only collect marine shotguns and live near Death Valley, you’ll be alright without one, but for the rest of us it’s probably a worthy investment.  

How Can I Tell If My Gun Safe Is Too Humid? What Humidity Should I Store Them At?  

The standard for long-term gun storage and preservation is a relative humidity of 30 to 50 percent at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You don’t want it to be too low either, as a humidity of 20 percent or less can dry out wood stocks and lead to warpage. That’s the standard that’s used by museums for firearm preservation, so that’s what you should use too.  

To get started, you need to know what the ambient temperature and humidity of your gun safe is.  

There are a lot of different ways to test humidity, but the easiest—and frankly all most people need to do—is pick up a battery-powered hygrometer/thermometer device from a hardware store (they even have ’em at Walmart) for about $10. Put it in the safe, leave it for a day, open it up then have a look.  

Hygrometer-humidityHygrometer-humidity

If you feel the need, put at least three in your safe—or take several days’ worth of readings—and find the average.  

Once you have an initial reading, you know where you stand and can plan accordingly. A little warmer than 70 degrees is not a big deal, but frequent humidity above or below 30 to 50 percent means that you’re going to need to do something to control the humidity. If it’s too high, a gun safe dehumidifier is the obvious solution. If it’s too low, however, you’ll need a different solution. Adding humidity is a whole other ball game, so we’ll save that conversation for another day.  

Types Of Gun Safe Dehumidifiers

There are two main kinds of dehumidifiers, air heaters and desiccant.  

Air heaters basically add a little heat to the equation, preventing the air inside the gun safe from cooling and the moisture in the air condensing, thus controlling humidity. 

Desiccant dehumidifiers subject the air to a hydrophilic material, usually silica gel like what you find in packets in bags of beef jerky. The silica absorbs moisture out of the air until the desiccant is saturated.  

Which is best? That depends on the amount of humidity you need to control and how big your safe is.

Desiccant dehumidifiers for gun safes are usually canisters, boxes, or little bags or pillows of desiccant that are placed in the safe. Most are rechargeable, meaning that you can dry out the desiccant material (usually in the oven) and use it again.  

You should check the humidity every so often and recharge/replace the dehumidifiers as needed. Canister-style desiccant dehumidifiers are fine for rifle safes, but bags or pillows are best suited for compact or pistol safes.  

Most people get a month or two of use before having to dry out the desiccant in reusable models, but your mileage can vary depending on the humidity of your environment.  

Heated air dehumidifiers such as the box or rod type require a power source, so you’ll either need to stay on top of the batteries or have a plug available. However, you also need to be aware of the square footage of your safe and the capacity of the dehumidifier. For example, if you have a 200 cubic-foot safe, you’ll need a device capable of at least 200 cubic feet of dehumidification.  

rod-style-gun-safe-dehumidifier-lockdownrod-style-gun-safe-dehumidifier-lockdown

The rod style of gun safe dehumidifier is the most convenient as it takes up the least amount of space, though an outlet is required which can be inconvenient if your safe doesn’t have an outlet or the means to run a cable into it. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure the rod doesn’t make any contact with the safe lining or any gun powder or powder residue.  

Franky, what matters most is capacity and dimensions. Does it fit in your safe, and does it have a cubic-foot capacity allowing it to efficiently warm the air inside it?  

That said, very few gun safes have a volume over 60 cubic feet, but not all have an interior width of 12 inches which is how long many small rod-style dehumidifiers are. So, make sure to know your measurements before purchasing.  

The Best Gun Safe Dehumidifiers

Lockdown Golden Rod Dehumidifier

Lockdown-golden-rodLockdown-golden-rod

The Golden Rod gun safe dehumidifier from Lockdown is a rod-style air warmer dehumidifier available in 12-, 18-, 24- and 36-inch lengths, and they can dehumidify 100 to 500 cubic feet based on the length. The 12-inch model should be sufficient for most gun safes, though the 18-inch model may be better for warmer climates.  

It requires an outlet to use and comes with stands to place on the floor of the gun safe. Prices start at $49 and go up depending on the size of the rod.  

Hornady Rechargeable Gun Safe Dehumidifier 

hornady-gun-safe-dehumidifierhornady-gun-safe-dehumidifier

The Hornady Rechargeable Gun Safe Dehumidifier is a compact wall-mounted desiccant dehumidifier with moisture-control crystals. It dehumidifies up to 333 cubic feet, sufficient for most gun safes in most environments. The unit is very compact as well, making it a viable option for even small safes. 

You’ll need to mount a bracket inside your safe in order to attach the unit. Once the desiccant crystals turn pink, you take it out of the safe and plug it into a wall socket until the crystals turn blue, at which point they have dried and the unit can be reused. MSRP is only $27.  

PEET Dryer SafeKeeping Dehumidifier & Dryer

Peet-Dryer-gun-safe-dehumidifierPeet-Dryer-gun-safe-dehumidifier

PEET Dryer specializes in boot dryers, but the company decided to make a gun safe dehumidifier as well since it’s essentially the same technology. Their model is a single vertical rod that will heat up to 300 cubic feet, and at only 8.5 inches tall it doesn’t take up too much space and is perfect for most gun safes. However, it does require a power outlet. MSRP is $40.

SnapSafe Canister Dehumidifier 

gun-safe-dehumidifier-snapsafegun-safe-dehumidifier-snapsafe

The SnapSafe Canister Dehumidifier is a desiccant dehumidifier that should be able to control most sizes of gun safe It’s best feature is its rechargeability, as the crystals are blue and turn pink after they absorb enough moisture. You put them in the oven at 325 degrees until they turn blue again and then put them back in the canister after they’ve cooled. SnapSafe says you can do this an unlimited number of times, so it should last a lifetime.

It’s about the size of a coffee can and MSRP is $33.


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