Here’s What Happens If Your Gun Gets Wet

People use guns for all sorts of activities like target practice or hunting. Because people take guns to many different places, including the outdoors, it begs the question of how bad it is for a gun to get wet.

If a gun gets wet, it will still fire, but unless it is cleaned and dried quickly after, the gun could sustain rust and other water damage. This mostly applies to modern guns as they have been made more watertight than older guns. In fact, many modern guns can even fire underwater.

While knowing that a gun will usually still function when it’s wet is a relief, but in addition to this information, it is helpful to know how water affects a gun, how to care for a wet gun, what the most waterproof guns are, and a few other bits of information that will help you fully understand this topic.

What Happens if a Gun Gets Wet?

To understand what happens when a gun gets wet, you need to understand how a modern gun works. Instead of igniting powder like older guns, modern guns go off when a firing pin strikes the cartridge. This makes modern guns much more water-resistant by default since the pin and cartridge can still operate when wet. In comparison, when a gunpowder gun gets wet, the powder will get wet as well. When gunpowder is wet, it does not ignite and therefore makes the gun impossible to fire.

Is it Bad for a Gun to get Wet?

If you drop a gun into water or it gets splashed, it’s likely that not only the firing mechanisms will be affected, but various other parts will get wet as well. The barrel, trigger, grip, etc. can all be affected by water. Because most gun parts are made of metal, guns are prone to rust. Rust can cause all sorts of issues in any place on the firearm. A rusted barrel can cause an explosion as the bullet can’t exit smoothly. Other rusted parts can make loading or firing very difficult (or even impossible).

Outside of water’s negative impact on the metal of a gun, it can also harm any parts that are made out of wood. Many guns have grips made out of wood. Although there is typically a varnish over the wooden parts, if water soaks into it after some wear, it can cause cracking or warping in the handle.

What Should You Do if your Gun Gets Wet?

Now that we understand how bad water can be for a gun, you need to know how to prevent these problems from happening. Here are some tips to fix your gun should it get wet.

  • Remove all moisture from every part of the gun. This can be accomplished with a super absorbent towel or a water-displacing oil. Take apart your gun as much as you can and thoroughly wipe down every part of it with a dry towel. If you’re using oil, dunk every part of the gun in the oil and that will get any water off of it and balance the acidity on the metal.
  • Before a gun is even exposed to moisture, coat it with a grease, oil, or wax. Putting something on the gun that repels water will help prevent the need for emergency water removal surgery. Grease is thicker than oil and stays put better, oil is easiest to apply, and wax will last the longest and be the most water-repellant.
  • If you already have rust on your gun, apply some oil and then use a little elbow grease to scrub it off with an all-purpose brush or steel wool. The rust should come away from the metal, and as long as you are not too aggressive the finish of the metal should be intact as well.

Can a Gun Shoot if it’s Wet?

Simply put, a gun can shoot if it is wet, but it is not a guarantee. Most modern guns can shoot when they get wet, however, there are always cases where water in or on a gun will prevent it from operating as expected. Water can cause any part of a gun to be compromised. In case of an emergency, you shouldn’t count on your gun firing if it’s wet.

Can a Gun Shoot Underwater?

Because guns are strictly mechanical devices and modern ones better resist water, they can shoot underwater. In fact, some people hunt fish using Glocks underwater. While guns do shoot underwater, they are not nearly as effective as they are in dry air. The bullet from an underwater gun does not have the same power that is expected from it above water. The shot from an underwater gun loses most of its speed within the first 3-6 feet of the barrel.

Being submerged in water also prevents most guns from reloading. Because the water creates more drag than many automatic or semiautomatic guns can handle, they can only fire once underwater. A revolver can be reloaded underwater, but unless manual force is applied when reloading, most guns are single-use when underwater.

The Most Waterproof Guns

While no gun is fully waterproof and most modern guns are very water-resistant, some perform better than others when wet. Here are a few guns that are known for being highly water-resistant.

Semmerling LM4

The Semmerling LM4 is a manually repeating pocket pistol. It is a five-shot, double-action gun. This pistol is more waterproof than others because of how simple it is. It only has 33 parts, including screws, so there are fewer places for water to get into and stay. These guns also mostly have chrome plating, which specifically fights against rust and water damage.


Glocks are semiautomatic pistols that, despite the type of cycle, fire well underwater. They are the guns that people use when hunting fish with guns. These guns are well suited for underwater use because all of their firing mechanisms are inside the gun, so hardly any water can get to them and prevent them from working.


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Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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