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Would it be advisable to clean the exterior of a rusty gun with steel wool and a small amount of water?
Very, very fine steel or copper wool and a small amount of oil, not water. You want to remove the rust without removing the finish, so go very easy.
 

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0000 grade steel wool and a medium weight oil (Marvel Mystery Oil is what I have used before)
Rub as gently and as little as possible.
You can also try Never Dull metal polish if the rust is real light.
 
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