I had heard the steel wool idea but have never tried it. I had some rust develope on a Ruger Vaquero my son inherited from my dad. The frame is color case hardened and a light rust had appeared since I put it in my safe. I rubbed it out with a cloth and oiled it lightly. It seems like the case hardening is very thin. I'm not even sure what that process entails.
I can't quite figure out why it rusted so quickly. I went over every other gun to make sure I didn't have a humidity problem. Maybe since my son has been handling it so much?
I have my grandfathers old Remington shotgun. Most of the blueing disappeared years ago. When I take it out, I have to oil it down within a few hours or it will start to surface rust. I'd suspect you have a similar issue going on.
clint i believe that the "case hardening"ruger uses is strictly cosmetic.i wouldn't rub too hard on it.as far as steel wool to remove light surface rust?works great OOO or OOOO well oiled wool works very well.i,ve removed rust spots off of my 10/22,my rem 1100,my 1884 springfield,& my motorcycle.
i know that BROWNELLS used to sell "brass"wool for more delicate finishes.never tried it though.
Pit a little bit of it on a brass cleaning brush to make getting lead deposits out of a barrel a WHOLE lot easier. It does amaze me how it has never damaged the blue finish on mine. Careful, though, because iut will scratch wood up. Not sure about synthetic stocks, but I would guess that it would.
A coworker had an old lever action he got from an aunt when she died. Turns out, according to the serial number, it is about a hundred years old. Anyway, before using this stuff, you could barrel read the the numbers on it and you couldn't even tell that it had any other text on it. The other text popped up after we cleaned it with this stuff. The little bit of finish left wasn't scratched off, either. There wasn't much left, though.
Speaking of cleaning kits, have you tried the Otis kit yet? It isn't as life saving as they pretend, but it is the neatest thing since sliced bread. I feel MUCH safer using the coated wire instead of a cleaning rod, the brass brushes are marked by caliber, the cleaning patches are much simplier to use, etc. Compact (not cheap), but VERY convinient to carry in the field, to the range, or into stores where you might want to check out the barrel of a used gun.
Additionally, they make it MUSH easier, for me at least, to clean .22LR autoloaders and leaver actions (more than one caliber) without a "complete" breakdown.
Granted, I'm with you: I've got the Otis kit in the black bag it comes in, a big tackled box of supplies, and then the bulky items (spray Break-Away, Bulk Hoppes, etc.) and bags of cleaning patches sitting on top of my gun cabinet. I've been thinking about the layered tall metal ammo box sold by cheaperthandirt, but your suggestion might be better. Hmmmm, I'll pass by a surplus store Saturday. Guess where I'll stop to look around (again)....lol.
I haven't tried the Otis kit yet. I broke down and bought several Bore snakes (spendy!). I haven't used them yet but I don't think they will do the entire job, like final swabbing. I've got a one piece coated rod that works well but it's not handy to pack along.
I've been thinking of getting the bore snakes just for my lever action .22LRs, but they never seeme like they'd do the job I wanted done. I might end up still getting one or more for my .22LR, but with the Otis stuff, I don't think I'll ever end up getting bore snakes for my other calibers. I don't need them as much now and the Otios system turns outcheaper that way...lol.
I've had, only, one problem with rust, and on only one gun in more than 40 years of gun handling and storage. I believe that this was caused by a fingerprint I, inadvertently, left on the gun. Since then I try to clean every piece at least once a year; and I've been using Birchwood Casey, 'Sheath' rust preventive on those guns that I intend to put away for more than a year at a time.
I had good luck with the one rust problem I had by using extra-fine emery cloth that I, first, rubbed on stone and, then, oiled heavily in order to remove the rust spot. It took off the rust and burnished the metal plate so nicely that it, actually, looked better when I was finished. Afterwards, I buffed the piece with a small dremel wheel and Flitz polish. For other cosmetic problems I've had I've taken the guns to a metal working shop with a, 'glass-bead' polishing machine - very gently, very effective way to remove small blemishes or marks on any metal surface.