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Can Guns Get Wet and Still Fire?

Posted by Justin on

Either due to action scenes in movies or because of historical incidents, many people don’t believe that guns can get wet and still fire projectiles. 

While this was once true, it’s generally no longer the case - with a few exceptions to the rule of course – which we’ll go over in detail below. 

Let’s explore the mechanics of what really happens when firearms get wet, and why the ones that do still function correctly after being submerged or rained on are able to do so:

Can Guns Really Still Fire After Getting Wet?

Contrary to popular belief, most modern firearms can and often do get wet and still fire properly! 

This is true regardless of whether your gun is a little wet, such as when it rains and you take your weapon outside, or if your weapon is totally submerged, which might happen if you drop it in water by accident. 

So, yes – your gun can get wet and still fire, provided it is a modern firearm with closed cartridges instead of an antique model that still uses gunpowder.

How Do Guns Continue to Operate After Getting Wet?

Modern guns are mechanical objects that have distinct parts. The gun itself doesn't have any electrical components (except for advanced and expensive models), and each reaction is triggered by mechanical actions, like pulling the trigger or using another control. 

The cartridges used by modern guns are sealed as well. While they contain a minuscule amount of gunpowder at their bottoms, this powder can’t usually be affected by water unless the cartridge is soaked for a significant period of time. 

Since the cartridge’s powder doesn’t get wet, it works normally when your gun’s striking pin hits the cartridge and begins the explosive chain reaction.

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So What Happens When Your Gun Gets Wet?

Although your gun will still work mostly normally if it’s wet, it’s still a bad idea to let your gun stay wet for a long time. That’s because water can eventually lead to rust chewing through your firearm’s metal components. 

Over time, this can compromise the integrity of your firearm and result in serious malfunctions. 

Furthermore, firing a gun underwater may technically work in a mechanical sense, but the actual performance could be different compared to firing it outside water. 

Underwater, bullets will travel differently and your gun might have difficulty chambering another cartridge quickly. It all depends on the exact model you’re using. 

So, the jury is still out on whether those dramatic action movie sequences (you know the ones- with cinematic shots of bullet trajectories zooming underwater) are actually legit!

Are There Cases Where Your Gun Gets Wet and Won’t Fire?

Yes. As mentioned, any guns that do have electrical parts, such as attachments or biometric scanners, could start to malfunction if you submerge them in water or if they are exposed to too much water, like during heavy rain. 

Furthermore, any old-fashioned or antique guns that still use loose gunpowder and bullets won’t fire if the gunpowder becomes wet. The gunpowder has to be dry for the explosive chain reaction to begin, which propels your cartridge or bullet out of your gun’s barrel. 

Therefore, if you do use an antique gun for target shooting or for fun, be sure to never let it become wet. There’s always a chance some moisture could reach the gunpowder and ruin the firing sequence.

Ultimately, it’s still usually better to keep your guns dry if at all possible. There are times when you can’t avoid your guns getting wet, such as when you’re hunting in inclement weather. 

In those cases, rest assured that your gun should still fire properly as long as you remember to clean and maintain the weapon after returning home. 

Thank you for reading, stay strong patriots.   

Justin | Right Wing Gear 
Maine, USA

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