By Patrick Galvan,

When it comes to storing a 9mm handgun in your storage unit, there are several safety precautions you must heed as a gun owner. Not only is your 9mm a weapon that, if stolen, can cause more problems for you beyond just replacing it, but it’s also an investment that you want to protect from damage.

When putting a gun in storage, it’s also important to understand that many self storage facilities around the nation don’t offer this service. Others like Elmwood Self Storage do allow gun storage and have special vault storage dedicated to protecting firearms. So before you prepare your gun for storage, make sure to check with the facilities in your area to see if you’re allowed to store a gun, or if they have special gun storage vaults.

Once you’ve found a suitable storage facility for your 9mm, there are several steps you must take to prep it for storage.

Keep Guns Clean and Locked Up

The first and most important thing to remember before you put your gun in your storage unit is to thoroughly clean it. According to Fredy Riehl, editor and co-founder of the website Ammoland Shooting Sports News, “It is important to put your firearms away clean, as some gun powders can be corrosive. And if left unchecked, corrosion and rust can ruin your firearm investment.”

Another thing to remember when storing your handgun: Don’t leave it out in the open or in an easily accessible unit. Also, avoid setting it on a shelf or placing it in a cardboard box. Find a lock box for your 9mm while it’s in storage—the more advanced the lock, the better.

Using a lock box has two primary advantages. For one, it lessens the chance of your firearm being stolen. But a lock box also protects the handgun from the elements. Dust is a natural adherent for moisture, which can result in corrosion in both the ammunition and the gun itself. Significant damage to either could result in a dangerous malfunction the next time the gun is fired. Make sure your storage unit is dry and doesn’t have any damp items.

You’ll want to take the same steps in storing your ammunition. But remember: Never store your 9mm and its ammunition in the same lock box.

For more information about gun safety, maintenance, and storage, check out the official website for the NRA (National Rifle Association) .

Using Climate-Controlled Storage for Guns

“Heat and humidity can cause [rust to form] on your firearms, so it is important for your gun safe to be in a location with a stable temperature and that you take steps to control humidity within your [storage environment],” adds Riehl.

For this reason, you’ll want to make sure your storage unit is an indoor unit equipped with climate control. Or, at least, if you opted for the cheaper outdoor facility, you might want to think about upgrading to a unit with climate-controlled storage.

The NRA recommends a steady temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) with a humidity level of 50%. At too high a concentration, your handgun’s metal chassis will corrode. Conversely, if your 9mm has a wooden grip, a lower-than-normal concentration of humidity will result in the grip breaking apart. Wooden components might also crack if subjected to a sudden change in temperature.

If you must significantly adjust the temperature of your storage unit because of other items in your unit, just make the transitions as gradual as possible. The NRA also recommends humidifiers for storage during the winter months and dehumidifiers during the summer.

When selecting a storage facility, you should consider the possibility of a power outage as well. Ask your storage facility if they have an auxiliary source of power. “A backup generator ensures conditions are kept stable during a power failure,” says Al Gardes, Director of Operations at Elmwood Self Storage in Harahan, La.

Protecting Guns with Storage Security Features

Thieves are less likely to steal your handgun if it’s stored inside a facility with up-to-date security. Self storage facilities with a sliding gate are the preferred barrier method. Unlike a swinging gate, which is hinged and can be pried open, a sliding entrance is constructed as part of a larger, more complicated entity and is therefore more difficult to force open.

If your storage facility possesses a video surveillance system, that’s even better. The cameras continue to roll even when there isn’t somebody around to watch the facility. Some facilities even enable live viewing. There are a few mobile apps that allow users to connect with the storage facility cameras and monitor their unit via smartphone or tablet at any point during the day, too. Even if a thief succeeds in breaking in to your storage unit, as well as opening both lockboxes (assuming they take both the gun and ammunition), you’ll be able to report the stolen gun as soon as possible.

The most secure self storage facilities make use of multiple technologies. According to Gardes, ample protection includes “a biometrics access panel, a climate-controlled environment, and a state-of-the-art security system with motion detectors and digital cameras.”