We all know some people are more organized than others, it just seems to be part of their personality. I’m one of those who likes neatness and order. If you put me in a messy environment, I’ll likely start cleaning and organizing it.
Actually, when firearms are concerned, being organized isn’t just a lifestyle choice. It’s also a safety issue. Getting ammunition, magazines, parts and cleaning supplies mixed up can have serious consequences. If you’re not at least a little organized in dealing with firearms, you’ll eventually pay the price. Fortunate people will just experience the inconvenience of ammunition or magazines forgotten at home. The unlucky ones will get to meet some of their country’s hard working doctors.
I suspect there are others out there who, like me, prefer to be organized. Therefore, I’ll share some of the ideas I’ve picked up over the years about how to do this with firearms. While these ideas won’t work for everyone in the way they do for me, they will hopefully provide ideas to start you on your own quest to be organized and therefore safer.
If you have more than a few bore sizes of firearms in your collection, it becomes quickly obvious that you need a way to organize brushes, patches and all those other items needed for gun cleaning. I’ve tried a variety of ways, but for the last few years have settled on a fishing tackle box with pull out drawers. Specifically, the Plano 4-drawer model.
This unit has enough storage space for jags and brushes to fit every common bore size, with compartments left over for necessities like toothpicks, Q-tip swabs and pipe cleaners. I just pulled the front door off, tossed it and labelled all the drawer compartments. It sits on my workbench where it’s handy for gun cleaning chores
Storing ammunition has some organizational challenges as well as legal requirements, and like anything else firearms related, the more you have, the greater the challenge. Failing to pay attention to where things belong can quickly result in the wrong cartridge being fired in the wrong firearm — with ugly results.
Everyone’s needs are different, but the organizational system that works for me is based on military ammo cans. If I buy a new firearm, I’ll also buy one of those ubiquitous green army ammunition cans to go with it. Inside the can goes that firearm’s ammo, fired brass and perhaps even magazines. If I reload for that gun, my reloads go into plastic MTM cartridge boxes, which then go into the green cans. Of course, everything is labelled appropriately.
Many firearms come with accessories these days. And if they don’t, we buy them for our pet guns. Sometimes, this even means taking off the parts they’re replacing. Those previously mentioned ammo cans can be great for storing magazines or other items you want to take shooting with you. But for parts or pieces that are only used occasionally, something else is needed. I use the open plastic bins we’ve probably all seen at hardware stores. They stack neatly or can be hung on a wall, have a spot for a label, come in various colours and snap onto many Dillon reloading presses where they become the receptacle loaded ammo drops into.
My memory is bad enough that I need to write things down. If I don’t, it never happened. This applies especially to handloading, where keeping track of past handload testing for a particular gun, can save a lot of frustration and wasted components. Therefore, when I bring that new gun home (with it’s very own ammo can, of course) I’ll also give that firearm its own file.
Into the file goes the owner’s manual and any other paperwork received with the gun that’s worth keeping. Then as I work with the gun, I’ll add reloading notes, fired targets, service history like glass bedding or choke work and anything else relevant to that firearm. Each page is numbered, and yes, this file gets created even for shotguns and rimfires. A file cabinet isn’t necessary to store these files, as plastic file boxes, purchased at your local office supply store will get you started on organizing this system.
Combined, these four organizational systems, help me enjoy my firearms more and be safer in the process. You might not be able to use them in exactly the same way I do, but hopefully they will generate ideas that you can apply to your own situation.