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Project: How to hide a gun

Yes, it’s that time of year life politics again — time to consider that we might need to hide our Eeeevil Black Rifles, just like we did back in the Bad Old Clinton days.

Yes, I know some of us are going to say, “Hide? I ain’t hidin’ nothin’! They can come and take my gun from my cold, dead hands — or better yet, they’re the ones who’ll end up cold and dead.”

But we’re taking insurance here. Not the whole arsenal. Just an “ace in the hole” rifle. Or some high-cap magazines. Or an Eeeevil Black Pistol. Or whatever …

And yes, I know it’s premature. Let’s hope it remains so. But I’ve been assigned an article on this topic for Backwoods Home. And — for insurance — we need to bring the best to this project.

That means bring in the Commentariat. Your personal experiences. Your creative ideas.

BHM has already published two articles on burying a rifle:

This very thorough Charles Wood piece from Issue #115

And my “lighter” Hardyville “SKScapades,” based on the real experiences of friends of mine.

Both were ultimately successful; people retrieved their rifles in shootable condition. But both involved the buried firearm getting lost when the woods around it changed.

One might think smart phone GPS would solve that problem. But that involves a host of perils (not least of which is all the people who can track you via phone these days).

So … how ’bout some ideas and experiences from you guys? Voice of experience is good. But even pie-in-sky creativity is fine as long as I’ve got some time to investigate. (BHM is really, really big on articles being accurate in the real world. No pie-in-sky will end up in the article.)

Dave himself suggested the possibility of placing a rifle in a waterproof container, painting the container camo, and hoisting it into a tree to foil anybody who might be scanning the ground with metal detectors. But again, woods have a habit of changing. I had some stuff “hidden in plain sight” in the woods once. Then along came a killer storm, and although I knew exactly where I’d stashed my stash, the mere act of getting to it became an exercise in woodcraft that required outside help.

So let’s hear it:

What type of firearm/equipment would you hide?

How would you hide it?

Where would you hide it?

How would you make sure you could find it again?

How would you make sure you could find it again in a big, screaming hurry?

How would you make sure other people couldn’t find it?

Have you done this before or have close experience with someone else who’s done it?

Also, if you have any photos (must be high-res for print) that help show any useable gun-hiding technique, that could be a plus.


  1. Claire
    Claire December 20, 2012 1:38 pm

    Thanks, JS. I should have figured Ragnar would have something on the topic 🙂 …

  2. A.G.
    A.G. December 20, 2012 1:41 pm

    How big is Dianne Feinstein’s front yard?

  3. Claire
    Claire December 20, 2012 1:46 pm

    I see that my old Loompanics (now Paladin) colleague Mr. Eddie the Wire also has a title on this topic, with both also being available from Amazon, as well as Paladin.

    A.G. — The problem with using Dianne Feinstein’s yard is, of course, that the anti-gun hypocrite probably already has some firepower of her own buried there.

  4. ILTim
    ILTim December 20, 2012 2:16 pm

    I’ve become a big revolver fan over the past few years and more recently that’s been bolstered by completely disassembling every last piece of a few different smith and wessons and a tarus. It was quite easy. I feel like revolvers are useful and serviceable (especially in fringe conditions, environmental and training wise) beyond any semi-auto. They also strike me as one of the most versatile types of projectile weapon in existence, so all-in-all I’d be starting a stash with a wheel gun.

    But also thinking a little outside the box, leverguns are probably about as practical and useful as AR’s and SKS’s and, as they aren’t even ‘semi-automatic’ could end up requiring a lot less hiding.

  5. Bear
    Bear December 20, 2012 2:48 pm

    I’m mostly in the “don’t bury ’em” school, but if I did..

    1) Homemade PVC storage container, so there’s no record of such (PVC pipe, end cap, and screw on cap; seal with teflon tape and RTV.
    2) Don’t forget the dessicant and oxygen absorbers. Topping off the canister with an inert gas before sealing is good (think nitrogen if you’ve got it, party balloon helium, or even CO2).
    3) Pick location by terrain, not less permanent landmarks like trees.
    4) Bury it where there are _already_ junk items that would generate false positives with a metal detector.

    Having disassembled some items that were buried, I’d suggest covering the screw end of the canister with nylon cloth wired in place; that makes it easier to clear the crap to get a wrench on the screw cap.

    RE 4)- If I were doing that near my present location, I’d have the perfect spot: Isolated; rarely even do hunters go there. But easy access. Easily recognizable terrain that… well, if a flood managed to rearrange things that much, finding my stash would be the least of my problems. And once upon a time — I’m guessing a minimum of 70 years ago — some moonshiners left a bunch of junk behind to rot and rust away; there’s even the rusted hardware of an old horse drawn cart poking up out of the dirt and leaves. I’ll see about getting a good photo of that location tomorrow when the sun’s up again*, as an example, if you’re interested. I know that spot has been logged out at least twice without disturbing the junk remains.

    * Assuming 12/21/12 doesn’t solve all our problems.

  6. maddmedic
    maddmedic December 20, 2012 2:49 pm

    Oh I lost all mine last winter in a terrible tragedy.
    Seems they were in the trunk of my car when I went through the ice while ice fishing on 400 foot deep lake in Northern ummm State, somewhere…
    Am still trying to recover from those evil guns destroying my car.

  7. Charles
    Charles December 20, 2012 2:52 pm

    Claire, A lot of the comments I got from my article were of the “If it’s time to bury them it’s time to use them” variety. Lots of people missed the point entirely. As you mentioned we are talking insurance here. What if you come home from work and discovered that burglars (uniformed or otherwise) have stolen all your guns? That is what this is all about.

    You probably shouldn’t bury your only battle rifle and most people probably don’t want to bury a $2000 gun. So the first question is what do you have that you can afford to put into deep concealment? If you intend long term storage in hostile environments you will need to preserve the gun well. That usually means it will not be available for immediate use when recovered. You will have to include everything needed to return the gun to functional condition. These may include tools, solvents, rags and patches, cleaning rods and brushes, etc. Of course and ample supply of magazines and ammo must also be included.

    The more secure the storage the longer it will take to recover. Everything is a trade off. If you can afford it you may want to squirrel away more than one gun using different levels of security so some are instantly usable on retrieval and some are in for the long haul.

    Where and how you hide it depends a lot on where you live. I live in the country so I have a lot of options townies don’t. It’s a matter of creativity really. When I buried the gun I wrote about I deliberately didn’t take the GPS coordinates or place any artificial markers on the site. I also told no one that I had done it. I had a little trouble finding it when I decided to retrieve it but in the end it wasn’t that difficult, just time consuming.

    In summary; Decide what to hide, how well it needs to be hidden, be sure you include everything you will need, pack it well, hide it, and keep you mouth shut.

    All the best
    Charles Wood

  8. winston
    winston December 20, 2012 3:29 pm

    For ‘in a big screaming hurry’ if you aren’t on as much of a budget there’s pelican type cases out there that do the job perfect pretty much as-is, and you can re use it afterwards. They can cost almost as much as your rifle though. They’re meant to be dragged through the ocean so a hollow log or a hole in the ground really wouldn’t be a big deal.

    Of course I can only speak from what I know about, and I only really know about them being used say about a week or a month ahead of time, not sure about long term as in several months or years.

  9. Claire
    Claire December 20, 2012 3:32 pm

    Charles — Thank you for chiming in. It’s generous of you. I didn’t even know you read this blog. Your article was excellent — very thorough and very informative as a how-to. Though I’m sorry that so many gun owners are going to be driven tragedy and political vultures to be thinking in this direction again. But as you say, it’s a useful thing to do at any time.

    P.S. Sorry for the extra letter on your name. Fixed that!

  10. Claire
    Claire December 20, 2012 3:37 pm

    Thanks, Bear. Appreciate the information — and a photo would be excellent.

    One thing I noticed, between what Charles did and what my friends did. He disassembled and preserved; they were much more casual — just took steps to keep moisture out. Both got good results, despite my friends living in a very wet climate where the ground spends much of the year saturated.

    Having dealt with Cosmoline (yuch) I’d lean toward that latter. OTOH, Charles’ approach has the better fail-safes.

  11. Woody
    Woody December 20, 2012 3:56 pm

    One downside to Pelican cases, in addition to their cost, is that everyone knows they contain expensive stuff. They are always prime targets for thieves.

  12. Claire
    Claire December 20, 2012 3:57 pm

    Anybody have any experience with/thoughts on vacuum bags and guns?

  13. Bear
    Bear December 20, 2012 4:03 pm

    I’ve got a Pelican case (from back when I actually had money), but it’s for transport, not caching.

    RE:Preservation. It depends on what the cache is for. If it for arming up for the revolution years after the collapse, then by all means cosmoline the crap out your gun. But if this what you intend to pull out in a hurry right after the confiscation squads leave, the last thing you want is to spend more time degreasing than you did caching and digging up.

    Basically, cosmoline is for long term storage when you have zero control over the enviromental conditions. But is a good caching canister, you pick the conditions (dry, oxygen-free, or at least oxygen limited) from the start.

  14. Woody
    Woody December 20, 2012 4:27 pm

    I have used a kitchen vacuum packer to package guns for transport and storage. The bag material is available in rolls so you can make a bag to fit any gun. It is important to wrap the gun in some sort of padding to prevent the sharp corners often found on guns from eventually puncturing the bag. Iron sights are big offenders in this area. I usually use an old blanket or towel. The bags are sturdy but they will tolerate only a limited amount of banging around before they puncture and leak. I vacuum pack the clothes in my car emergency kit also. It insures they are clean and dry when I need them. They take up a lot less space that way as well.

  15. G.W.F.
    G.W.F. December 20, 2012 4:27 pm

    I am a big fan of Break Free CLP (cleaner, lubricant, preservative). I have tried many different products on guns, but it was a comment by Bob Dunlap (master instructor/gunsmith at AGI) that made me give it a try. He was tired of all the claims, so he just cut up some pieces of metal and soaked them in various products and buried them in his back yard and dug them up a month later. He said that test sold him Break Free. I tried it maybe 4 years ago and I use it on everything (all guns, knives, fishing gear…anything metal).

    I have one bury gun. It is a Russian M44. You can find them pretty easily under $100. In 7.62X54R it is good little rifle for not much money. I had some PVC pipe left over, so all I had to buy was one end cap and one clean out, which is sealed with Teflon paste. The ammo in a 440 round sardine can was about $120 (more than the cost of the gun). The gun is coated in BreakFree, in a plastic zip lock gun bag (you can find them at Cheaper than Dirt or many other retailers). It was a cheap project, but I think of it as a worst case insurance policy.

    For some reason I always think back to that old Lee Majors movie, The Last Chase (tag line “the oil has run out”), where cars are outlawed. He had a race car buried under his garage. I don’t know if that will ever hold for guns, but I like knowing I have one for a worst case scenario.

  16. jed
    jed December 20, 2012 4:30 pm

    I read Ragnar’s book years ago. Eventually, I re-used the PVC for spud guns. One thing I recall was that if you use PVC pipe, bury it vertically, to minimize the magnetic signature. But using an existing junk pile is better, I think.

    One thing I’d do is take 3 compass readings to prominent landmarks. Or more … the more landmarks you can use to triangulate (or quintupulate?) the location, the better. And don’t forget to record the current magnetic declination with those readings.

  17. Roberta X
    Roberta X December 20, 2012 7:26 pm

    Claire, when it’s “time to hide guns,” it’s actually time to dig them up.

  18. BusyPoorDad
    BusyPoorDad December 21, 2012 4:44 am

    I’ve liked the idea of having a few “junk” guns on hand that you can turn in if you “have” to. When the SWAT team is at the door demanding you give them the guns they know you bought (from that background check list that is not suppose to be kept but is), you can give them two or three junkers and say you sold the rest years ago.

    I’ve got a pistol I found rusted out in a wall of a home we were redoing, an old .22 at a yard sale the owner thought was an old bb gun, I still have not done more than clean it, and a $75 380ACP I bought years ago that i don’t like because it is too small but was on my NYS pistol permit. So if it comes to this, i will turn in my massive arsenal just to make them go away. (they can get a warrant to come search for the rest.)

  19. Stryder
    Stryder December 21, 2012 8:06 am

    as for hide in plain sight, it’s amazing how your name gets off the owners list when someone breaks in and steals all your guns. Of course I would never advocate faking a robbery and filing a false police report but I would think this would be so much easier than burying things.

  20. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 21, 2012 8:49 am

    BusyPoorDad, I’m afraid you missed the memo…

    Search warrants are no longer required for much of anything. They tend to come in the middle of the night and break the door down, shoot anything that moves, and round up anything they want to cart off.

    And none of them will care what you say you did with the guns (or anything else they want)… they’ll be delighted to look for themselves.

    Sorry about that… 🙁

    Stryder, I’d imagine that’s as good a way to get ON a list as anything else. Maybe a different list… such as – Gee, let’s go SEE if he’s got anything.

  21. Perkidan
    Perkidan December 21, 2012 8:53 am

    This is slightly off-topic, and may be old news to some here, but an old friend had a trick that I thought was pretty clever.

    He lived in a fairly rough neighborhood and had two kids that were young enough to make keeping weapons easily accessible problematic. Also, because of youthful indiscretions, he wasn’t allowed to have a firearm in his home anyway.

    So he acquired two pistols, and loaded them. Then he cut holes in his wall in two stategic locations in his home. He hung the loaded pistols in the wall somehow (specifics were not offered), and patched the holes with 1/4″ sheetrock. The thin sheetrock is easily punched through, and the weapon can be accessed for defense, while still being kept safe from curious kids.

    He told me that when his kids were old enough and responsible enough, he’d share the stash locations with them. In the meantime, every year or two, he’d open the holes and check/clean the weapons. Then patch and repaint the wall.

    As I said, this isn’t exactly pertinent to the situation proposed, but I thought I’d share it anyway.

  22. Pat
    Pat December 21, 2012 9:08 am

    If you HAD to bury on your own property, I always thought a good place might be under a dog house, animal stalls in a barn, or under a hen house. Any thoughts on the good, bad or ugly of these choices?

  23. Bear
    Bear December 21, 2012 9:22 am


    Email with photo attachments on the way to the csw account; check your spam folder.

  24. MJR
    MJR December 21, 2012 9:58 am

    Hey Claire,

    A .22 pistol, 2 spare magazines, 10 boxes of .22HP plus a small cleaning kit. I would also add some hard cash (silver coins and paper cash of various denominations) BTW Before you look down on the little .22 think about this… 75% of all the Russian causalities in the Chechen conflict were caused by .22 calibre weapons and the Mossad of Israel use .22 for their “wet work.”

    My first choice would be to hide the box underground. My second choice would be to hide the box in the house.

    The items would be stored in a simple ammo box with oxygen absorbers. The firearm would be coated in a light film of oil that would be easy to remove. The exterior would have silicone caulk around the rim of the lid that could be removed with a knife. The ammo box when sealed would be wrapped in a heavy plastic then placed in a heavy plastic bag. The reason for storing the stuff this way is that once recovered the ammo box looks like a simple tool box. Your hidden in plain sight stuff can be taken wherever you want. This gives you some options as to when and where you want to get the stuff out.

    If it was outside, the ammo box would be buried under a water main (be careful!) or in the area of some metal junk to hide it from a metal detector. If it was inside then in the basement ceiling where the water lines come in or suspended in the metal cold air return. These would. I hope, fool a metal detector.

    To make sure you could find it again, well that is a tricky question. Outside I would store the location on a GPS plus have an encrypted copy of the longitude latitude hidden in plain sight e.g. as a phone number in my personal phone book. Inside I would keep the location encrypted in my phone book.

    The box would be located in an accessible location on my property in a location that was not visible from the front of the house. I would have various markers i.e. plants, trees to orientate me. Note as this is my property I am not too worried about landmarks changing. If stored on the inside of the home I would not be worried about damage so I would use whatever tools I had to get at the box.

    To make sure other people couldn’t find it? Simple Opsec… Keep my mouth closed!

    As to the last, have you done this before or have close experience with someone else who’s done it?


    BTW I am in the “Bear, don’t bury ‘em” school of thought.

  25. R.L. Wurdack
    R.L. Wurdack December 21, 2012 11:19 am

    Seems like enumerating all the hiding spots might just tell the bad guys where to look. However, a proliferation of looking spots may make the uglies have to work harder. I like under the barn floor under eight tons of hay.

  26. R.L. Wurdack
    R.L. Wurdack December 21, 2012 11:33 am

    I also like wrapped in a rubber pond-liner and sunk in the center of the manure pond out back of the milking barns.

  27. Stryder
    Stryder December 21, 2012 12:55 pm

    mamaLiberty says…Stryder, I’d imagine that’s as good a way to get ON a list as anything else. Maybe a different list… such as – Gee, let’s go SEE if he’s got anything.

    which is one reason I would never advocate that…

  28. FishorMan
    FishorMan December 21, 2012 2:42 pm

    Remember the blasting caps in the Ok. Fed. Building bombing? They were found a couple years later in little Timmy’s rental house by the owner crawling under the house. That was after numerous inspections by a team of Feral Agents to gather evidence in the case. Make them work for it, (a short dusty crawl through spider webs appears to be all it takes).

    I could see under the house as useful, have plenty of time to dig deep, away from prying eyes and below metal detectors range. Plus, generally all the soil has been disturbed in the construction process so those soil pentrating radars wouldn’t give them a location to start their search. I believe that is the number one way in finding something buried these days. The radar shows the natural layers of the soil has been disturb so they dig down to find out why.

  29. Ken K
    Ken K December 21, 2012 2:55 pm

    Sure do miss the old Hardyville columns.

  30. Ken K
    Ken K December 21, 2012 3:13 pm

    When I was in Iraq in ’91 one of my guys found an SKS stuck in the corner of an abandoned OP bunker mixed in with some other debris. Only the last six inches of barrel were protruding out of the still water & muck. It had likely been in that position that since bunker was strafed some months previous. The privates blew it off with a hose, wiped it down. It worked just fine even after all that. They took turns using it for taking pot shots at stuff as we convoyed down the roads. I finally had to confiscate the damn thing. But the point is that the SKS worked fine even after all that neglect and if ever a semi auto mil type rifle would survive being buried for long time it would the SKS.

  31. rustynail
    rustynail December 21, 2012 4:31 pm

    In the linked ” Hardyville “SKScapades”. the 29 Palms survey is mentioned. The background is right on, but the survey was not intended to encourage military personnel to violate our Constitutionally guaranteed rights. Rather it served to illustrate how active duty Marines saw those rights. LCDR (Ret) Ernest G. Cunningham, the author of the survey, explains the background and purpose of the survey on the Oathkeepers website, I recommend all review it both for the results and the historical context (Clinton et al). Also, there is a very cogent discussion of Question 46. Hope you all will look at the article and that all eligible will consider joining Oathkeepers as a result!

  32. Ellendra
    Ellendra December 21, 2012 5:32 pm

    I always thought a false water pipe would be a good place to hide metal objects. Or maybe in the undercarriage of your car? Inside a septic tank? In the ventilation duct of your house? Inside the vacuum cleaner? If it’s small enough you could hide one inside some appliances, it’s amazing how much empty space some of those have.

    Hmmmm, might have to think some more on that.

    I’m afraid the only “hiding place” I have experience with is the fact that my bedroom is so cluttered that few people are willing to risk life and limb to get close enough to where they could see my gun.

  33. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth December 22, 2012 2:06 am

    Oh, to have a Scout rifle, a 1911, and a Centennial Airweight J in each of about six separate locations…

    …but failing that, I would be deliriously thankful to have an Enfield Jungle Carbine and 4″ Smith, if the need should arise. 🙂

    Claire, thank you for your continued constructive postings. I even managed one today myself, on the strength of an unexpected encounter with a rifle I hadn’t met before, and wanted to share. (Please forgive such being in the comment stream…)

    For anyone here who is interested in an idealized, single do-everything rifle that competes with the very best at less than half the price, please do consider checking that rifle out. (And for anyone who doesn’t already know about it, Jeff Cooper’s The Art of the Rifle is the single most important book about riflery you will ever read.)

  34. Roger
    Roger December 22, 2012 3:07 pm

    If you put them in PVC pipe try to bury them vertically. A soil auger works great for this( ask the PIRA, took us ages to notice that so many farms in NI owed one) they give a much smaller signature for most detectors then. Another trick is to get a roll of surplus underground cable (even second hand will do and as heavy a guage as you can get)dig a trench for the cable between two of the buildings on your property and rig the cable so it looks like it is ready to fix in. Bury the guns about 2 feet below the cable and backfill all the trench. The copper cable and the steel armour will show right up and when they dig down and find the cable they will leave it alone.
    Cops and soldiers tend to loath digging.
    Stone walls were another favourite. Drystone walls around fields over here have a loose gravel centre with no mortar in the joints. For long term storage you can’t beat them. Everything can have a second cover of visqueen before rebuilding it, and let’s face it your unlikely to lose it;-). Steel fire doors also make excellent ammo storage by cutting a flap in the top edge of the door and removing the core. Replace top edge with dummy facia. Note though in case of fire stay well away from door!!!!

  35. puptent
    puptent December 22, 2012 6:17 pm

    Hard week at work… Slow on checking Claire’s BLOG. When I lived in South Park I had an SKS and a “sardine can” of ammo stashed in an old mine tailings pile that was at the foot of a cliff on Mt. Lincoln. Didn’t realize until it was time to move that I would never have gotten to it in the winter 🙁
    I’m in farm country now, and have given the problem a little more thought. Several things that I have done have been mentioned. I have 2 AK-74’s with “sardine cans” of ammo stashed, one of which is more or less in plain sight. The one in plain sight is cammo’ed into the structure of an old out building. I use “Food Saver” vacuum bags with the gun broken down from the stock (synthetic stock), sprayed with Break Free and wrapped in a surplus Army Blanket, then packed into PVC pipe with all cleaning and maintenance parts and supplies. A local grocery store sells dry ice by the pound, and before I glued the cap on the PVC I stood it vertical and let the dry ice “melt” over the open end. When I put in fencing I rented a 3 point post hole auger, and one particular post hole is a little deeper. The ammo cans are wrapped in Mylar and duct taped to death. One can shares a location with the AK, the other is nearby. Since the 5.45X39 commie ammo has become scarce, those were the guns, mags, bayonets, etc. that went into hiding. My belief is that you should have firearms at hand that use your opponent’s ammo, as well; so the commie guns were the ones that went into hiding. Things would have to be dire for them to surface (heh, heh) again. One other person, 1,000 miles away, knows the locations.
    Close to hand I keep a Ruger mini 14, and a 10-22 in a medium security safe. Also a Remington 11-87 12 gauge with a rifle barrel and a Mossberg pump. Both of these shotguns are in concealment, yet fairly easy to access, and probably would be found by a determined, or professional searcher. There’s a Mossberg 12 gauge over the kitchen door for varmints. Over the years I’ve picked up several Browning Hi-Powers (even though they can give me a pretty good hammer bite) and several medium price range 1911’s (think Charles Daily) that have been worked on to bring them up to “snuff”. Ruger semi autos are hell for stout, and inexpensive, and mags are plentiful. Under the “mattress” and under the “couch” are a pair of Glocks.
    Our heroic elected representatives will soon figure out that the true key to gun control is Ammunition, so learn to reload, stock up on supplies, and hoard, hoard, hoard. During hard times I sold some very nice guns, but have kept many magazines and ammo that should be “Good as Gold” when it comes to bartering. The world actually ended 11/6/12…

  36. Woody
    Woody December 23, 2012 5:25 am

    puptent said: ” My belief is that you should have firearms at hand that use your opponent’s ammo, as well; so the commie guns were the ones that went into hiding.”

    Seems to me that the closest and most immediate threat to our freedom will probably be using 5.56×45 ammo.

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