Colt Forum banner

Long term storage in original box?

2798 Views 17 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  Kanatak
I have a 1977 Detective Special with the original box with foam insert. Is it ok to store the revolver in that box?
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
I always store my guns separate from the boxes. Not sure if it is OK to store the gun in the box. Perhaps someone here has had experience with this.
The slip cover boxes and styrofoam inserts of that period do not hold up well. If you take the revolver out of the box more than once or twice a year I would find something else, and store the box empty.
My husband had a very large collection of handguns, rifles and shotguns he had collected over 50 years and never kept them in the boxes they came in but always a different box, in vip paper and special plastic bags that he bought from Brownells. Mostly stored in a unheated storage area and never any problem, but some older Winchester finishes do not react well to the vip paper and become soft, some nickel finished guns he wrapped with cloth first and then added the paper. Several good ways to safely store guns today. Good luck.
  • Like
Reactions: 2
I store my guns(well cleaned and preserved) in silicone socks and then in fabric pistol ace cases and then in my gun safe. Not sure if that is proper for long term or not, so maybe I might learn something from following this thread.

But I would not attempt to just store them in their original boxes, they do not meet the hold up or protection requirements that these Colt guns require.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Thanks to all who replied. I have always just stored the revolver well oiled in my safe with the box stored separately in a heavy duty zip lock bag. I have stored a Python well oiled in a zip lock bag for years and it is doing fine.
All gun boxes are made with cardboard that is acidic in nature, and, some of it is also sulphurous besides being acidic.
That being said, guns stored for long periods - several years - will have any silver plate turn as blue as the factory bluing on a gun, and the case hardening colors as well as the blued finish will be adversely affected. Those of you who store their guns well apart from the factory cardboard boxes are doing the right thing.
If storing your boxes separately, put the boxes in a large plastic bag. Water pipes have been known to break and a plastic trash bag if fairly inexpensive.
Storing guns in foam lined boxes is a BAD idea. The foam will break down over time and cause severe corrosion on blued or nickel firearms. I use foam boxes to transport firearms to the range but I would never use them for long term storage. Bore-Stores are great products for storing guns. They contain anti-corrosion products and protect the guns against the dings and nicks you get with unprotected guns. Putting a little bit on EEZOX on the gun prior to storage adds another layer of protection against rust and corrosion.
I keep them in the original boxes but what I do is place the gun in a plastic bag. Before I place the gun in the plastic bag, I open the bag and drop some oil (rem oil) into the bag and rub the bag to coat the oil through out the bag so it is coated completely internally. Then I oil the gun specially in areas where the oil may not reach or touch such as inside the trigger area, cylinder face and such. Place the gun in the bag and then rub the bag to coat the gun heavily with oil then wrap the bag around the gun and place it in its styrofoam box then close it up. Mine have been like this for years and I take them out once a year and reapply if need be and put it back. Never an issue. Just my experience.
I,wrap,mine in silicone gun cloths and put them in the styro boxes.
Makes me wonder the value of saving all the cardboard if it's so much trouble and goofs up the guns if you store them in it. ;)
Long Term Storage In Factory Packaging

I have a 1977 Detective Special with the original box with foam insert. Is it ok to store the revolver in that box?
I was recently asked about this subject by another Forum Member, and the following was my response.

My Experience With Long Term Storage In Original Colt Packaging:

Several years ago, I had the great fortune to do business with a family that once owned a sporting goods and gun store in a rural community in the mid-west. In addition to being a successful farming family, during the 70s and 80s, they saved (rather than sell in their gun store) about 600 new, direct from the distributor, firearms from Colt, Smith & Wesson, Browning and Ruger. I met this family as they began the process of selling the collection, in accordance with their retirement and estate planning.

Over a period of several years, I purchased new Colts and Smiths from this family, all of which were stored in the original factory packaging, never opened, cleaned of factory oil, never handled in any way. The Colts were shipped to me in the wood-grain style box of that era. The Smith & Wesson N frame revolvers were shipped to me in the correct, mid 1970s packaging, which consisted of a mahogany display case inside a cardboard shipping sleeve, sealed with factory tape with label affixed to the shipping sleeve. The quantity of Colts I purchased is more than adequate to express these observations about the adequacy of factory long term storage of up to 40 years. At least two other Forum Members have done business with this family and are familiar with their collection.


Each 35 to 40 year old Colt was inside the plastic bag (the plastic bags had the appearance of a newly dispatched Zip Lock), and each was covered with a dried, crusty, and uneven oil or grease. There was no viscosity to this material. This dried material on the wooden stocks had turned white. I photographed each package and each gun with this dried material on it, before I started any cleaning. Out of this collection, there were two, a revolver and a semi-auto, which I think suffered a slight bluing deterioration. The bluing on these two Colts showed a cloudiness over certain parts of the gun. There was no rusting or pitting, just a loss of bluing over about 25% of the surface area. The finish on the nickel guns was perfect; this is one of the reasons I admire Colt nickel.

When I received the Colts, the end flaps of the wood-grain style boxes were stiff and solid. There was no sign the boxes had been opened or tampered with. There was some storage wear on the outside of the boxes, but each remained strong and secure. One of the packaging characteristics that stood out to me was the condition of the gun’s plastic bag. Unlike any Colt I have acquired from this era, the plastic bag had the appearance of being folded once, with the gun in it and then never touched.

From this collection I ordered and received a number Colt Archive Letters that, combined with the seller’s store receipts and other documentation, links the guns very neatly from Colt to the Distributor, then to the family’s gun store, then to me.

Although I had very good luck with this collection, I do not believe these Colts were packaged at the factory in a way that would guarantee long term protection. I often wonder how long the grease had been dried before I got them. I also wonder what the internals must look like, as they have never been cleaned.

However, I am convinced from this experience that a properly cleaned and oiled or waxed Colt can be stored in this manner over a very long period of time. I think the duration is limited by the type of oil that is used, which may last decades.


The Smith & Wesson revolvers are from 1976 to 1980, both blue and nickel. All are N frame models, and all were shipped to me sealed in the Smith & Wesson shipping carton of that era. Of the ones I have un-sealed, each gun was covered in a film of grease, which still had some viscosity left. It is a sticky grease, almost like a sugar substance on the guns. Because of the remarkably good condition I found the guns in, I have kept a good number of them sealed. I have attached a few photos from my Smith & Wesson collection.

I believe the Smiths were greased and packaged at the factory in a manner that offers very excellent long term storage.

The fact that all of this family’s Smith & Wesson N Frame Collection, about 75 to 100 pieces, remained sealed, further supports my believe that the Colts were likewise not opened or handled during the time they owned them.

Colt Python Target - Stored Since 1980:

Colt Viper - Stored Since 1977:

Smith & Wesson Model 57 - Factory Sealed Since 1977:

Smith & Wesson Model 57 - Unsealed Showing Factory Grease:

See less See more
Great info and thanks for sharing it! You must've been like a kid in a candy store when you met this family and heard about that sale. Thank God, I haven't run into something like that, I'd sell the house!
  • Like
Reactions: 1
As this thread demonstrates, asking a dozen collectors how to store guns long term, and you will get a dozen different answers. Beginning in the late 60's, my experience is similar to what Kanatak describes...Especially with the S&W guns left in original factory box and VCI paper....It works well. Some claim VCI paper damages wood finish, but I haven't seen it over 40+ years.
After living in several homes with, and without, any degree of climate control, I believe that to be the biggest single factor. A stable temperature and humidity will let you get away with storage methods that give very little real protection in unstable environments. For example, I once tried to use the silicone treated gun "socks", and the silicon treated cloth, with disastrous results in a home where the temp and humidity was unstable. Several guns were ruined with rust and some even had the cloth "growing" into the rust and had to be peeled off the guns, after 2-3 months with no inspections. The guns were all cleaned and oiled prior to being placed in the silicone wrap. After that disaster, I went with the S&W method, and used oil, and waxed kraft paper wrap, which served me well, with frequent inspections and wipe downs. My current home has a very stable temperature and I'm able to keep the humidity around 45%, give or take. The best money I ever spent was for a bulk roll of VCI paper, and each and every gun gets wrapped for storage after a thorough cleaning and wipedown with Birchwood Casey Barricade rust preventative. Inspections are down to semi annual with no problems.
I found the zippered gun pouches risky for anything other than transportation protection. Foam lined cases are also risky unless the gun is treated as described, and wrapped in VCI paper with NO foam contact. Bare cardboard is a high risk and will wear the blue finish like sandpaper if you haul them around to shows and such. Placing the bare guns on carpeted safe shelves is somewhat risky. I have had rifle barrels rust where they contact carpeted surfaces in gun safes, so I hose down the carpeted safe liner where rifle barrels contact the carpeted "slots" and use Goldenrods in all my safes. Also, steel butt plates can rust if left sitting on a carpeted safe floor. I oil them and hose down the carpet with Barricade and no more problems. Some like the wax for long term storage, but I prefer oil. There are many ways to do it and you will find folks that like each and every method. Mine works well for me.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Bought a 6" Python shooter from a pawn shop a couple of days ago. Not sure how it was stored but it has some serious damage to the right side. Also there seems to be gold in the roll marks but I can't remove it with acetone . I'll try to post a picture but have not yet mastered Photobucket.


See less See more
Interesting that the S&W Model 57 was shipped inside of the presentation case. I had always thought that when a gun was ordered with the PC option, (or it was standard) that the PC was in it's own box, the gun came in a plain blue box without the standard end label, and the whole thing came in a master carton. Do you think the shipping method changed over the years, especially if reports were coming in of the interiors of the PC's being damaged by the guns during shipping ?
Interesting that the S&W Model 57 was shipped inside of the presentation case. I had always thought that when a gun was ordered with the PC option, (or it was standard) that the PC was in it's own box, the gun came in a plain blue box without the standard end label, and the whole thing came in a master carton. Do you think the shipping method changed over the years, especially if reports were coming in of the interiors of the PC's being damaged by the guns during shipping ?
Yes, the Smith & Wesson shipping style changed during the 1970s for the N frame guns (Somewhere between N650000 and N800000 or about 1980). The packaged Model 57 in the photo, was the typical style during the middle to late 70s, just the mahogany display case and no separate blue or silver box. In about 1980, the N frames were shipped in a larger cardboard shipping sleeve, as you have noted, which contained a mahogany case along with a blue or silver box with the gun in the small box. I too have heard the same explanation, that the tools in the display case were known to loosen and ding the revolver during shipping, thus the need to ship the gun separately.
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.