Cleaners, Lubricants, and Protectants

From time to time, my customers ask me what I use to clean and maintain firearms brought to me for service. There are many products for shooters to consider and try. I’ve tried quite a number, and settled upon a few that I use for both my guns and firearms I service for my clients.

Before going too much further, please know that these are my opinions only, and opinions vary! I receive no compensation or incentive whatsoever for products, tools, or techniques in this blog. Any actions you may take as a result of reading this information is at your own discretion.

First things first – let’s make sure we are “speaking the same language. I use three general terms when talking about this topic: cleaners, lubricants, and protectants.

  • Cleaners remove powder, copper, and sometimes plastic fouling. Powder fouling, of course, results from spent powder when firing a cartridge. It can be found almost anywhere in the gun. Copper fouling is the small amount of copper that is left in the bore after firing copper jacked bullets. Plastic fouling is sometimes found in shotgun bores, and is the result of heating the shotgun hull or, potentially, firing plastic shot.
  • Lubricants reduce wear on gun parts that occur when a gun is fired. Lubricants can sometimes “double” as a protectant.
  • Protectants a help avoid corrosion or other damage to a firearm that can result from moisture – either water or water vapor (as in high humidity conditions.)
  • CLP” products combine all three functions of cleaning, lubricating and protecting.

A word of caution. Always wear protective gloves (e.g., latex or nitrile gloves) when working with these produces,. Some are not very “skin friendly” and, over the long term, damage your skin.

Cleaners

Hoppes No. 9

To say there are many cleaning products on the market would be an understatement. One in particular, and the one I use extensively, is Hoppes No. 9 (pronounced “Hop-eez”.) This product has been used by shooters since 1903 and has earned respect of generations of shooters. I find it excels at removing powder fouling and does a decent job at copper fouling, too. One of the first steps I take in field stripping is to run a patch soaked in Hoppes down the bore and set it aside to “let it work.” Hoppes is designed not to damage any part of the firearm. If it unintentionally gets on something your don’t intend (e.g., the stock), simply wipe it off. Hoppes is also a protectant. That means if left on the gun (such as the bore or exterior of the barrel) it will help against corrosion.

Sweets 7.62 Solvent

Sweets is another cleaner I use from time to time, especially with Copper fouling. It does very well loosening copper from the bore in a relatively short period of time. Sweets is a powerful cleaner intended primarily for use in the bore. Sweets recommends it sit in a bore for no more than 15 minutes or so. Run a patch soaked in Sweets through a copper-fouled bore and let it “cook” for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, run a dry patch to see how it’s doing. A turquoise, blue, or green color on the patch indicates the copper fouling is loosening up. At that point, run a patch with Hoppes to remove the Sweets and let it cook some more. Running a dry patch at that point will take most of the fouling that is left.

I use a third CLP, Break Free, in aerosol form once in a while. It will foam and get into places not easily accessible without further disassembly. Once in a while I will squirt it down the bore to get the foaming action into the lands and grooves.It does a good job at lubricating and protecting, too.

Lubricants

Ballistol

My “go to” lubricants are Ballistol and Rem Oil. Ballistol has been around long time. It was invented in 1874 and has been produced in Germany since 1904. It is a blend of natural oils and is intended for use on all parts of firearms (and other things, too.) It is bio-degradeable and not harmful to skin. Ballistol will not “gum up” even in old conditions. It comes in aerosol and in liquid form. Ballistol is a great lubricant that also will work on powder fouling that may be remaining. It’s not unusual for me to clean a bore, run a patch of Ballistol for down the bore for storage. When I get the gun out again and run a clean patch, it often will have more powder fouling raised from microscopic parts of the bore metal.

Rem Oil

Rem Oil is another great lubricant I used in its aerosol form. A few quick squirts helps lubricate the action of the gun. On the market since 1913, Rem Oil has stood the test of time with shooters for generations. At one point, it contained Teflon, too. It may still, it is not listed as an ingredient. Re Oil dries quickly leaving a dry lubricant on the surface, This helps reduce fouling build-up (fouling loves to stick to wet surfaces more than dry.)

Protectants

Ballistol and Rem Oil are the protectants I use. Ballistol does a great job as a barrier between metal and the air. For internal mechanisms, either Rem Oil or Ballistol in an aerosol form do the trick for me.

Wrap Up

Whatever product you choose to use, I recommend it specifically states it is intended for use on firearms. What products do you use? Why do they work well for you? Leave an comment and share you ideas. Thanks for reading!

Traveling During the Holidays? Know the Law

Planning on doing any traveling over the holidays and carrying a firearm?  Do your research prior to crossing state lines.  Despite several attempts at the federal level, there are no national laws governing conceal carry (or possession, for that matter) of firearms.  That’s handguns, rifles, and other weapons for anyone, with some limited exceptions for active and retired law enforcement.

Saying that the gun laws are a “patchwork” across the country is an understatement.  In certain states, it is very difficult to understand what is and what is not allowed, who many carry and who may not, and what one may carry and what one may not.  Think about magazine capacities – driving over a state line to go hunting with the wrong size magazine may result in an arrest and felony conviction!

A good place to begin researching guns laws is the NRA-ILA  page Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms (https://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/).  The site contains information about federal protections about traveling with firearms and also provides details about each state’s own laws.  Be warned – this site is not the final answer on any questions you may have.  It is your responsibility to know the laws where you possess firearms.

Happy holidays!  Travel safely and wisely.

Loctite – Works Great! Which Do I Use?

I read this short article from Fusion Firearms and thought some of you may enjoy reading it as well.  We’ve all heard of “purple,” ‘blue,” “red,” “yellow, “and “green” Loctite, but what do those colors really mean?  Read this, you may be surprised!

LoctiteBob’s 1911 Tech Tip:

1911 Gunsmithing & Loctite.

Loctite adhesives have been used in many mechanical assembly applications for years. This is widespread through basically all industry sectors and the firearms industry is no different. Many old manufacturing methods such as staking parts have been replaced by space-age adhesives.

The biggest issue I see in many random 1911 services: folks don’t understand which type to use from the 100’s of products that are available. Or hearing “I used the green Loctite.” Which doesn’t mean much when there are 15 different Loctite with the color green and they all have different uses.

Well, I can make it simple and narrow it down to 3 Loctites that you should use.

  1. Loctite 242 or equivalent: For most sight screws, barrel threads, or screws that may be backing out on you from vibration. This adhesive is more of a “gumming” agent and you can also remove the screw with standard tools after it cures. This will work for most applications.
  1. Loctite 271 or equivalent:  For sight retaining screws, sight bases, sight dovetails etc.. that you wish to retain. This Loctite will generally have to be removed with the assistance of heat. Meaning you will have to use a small torch to heat the area and then remove the part loctite’d.
  1. Loctite 680 or equivalent: For pins, sight bases, sight dovetails, etc.. This Loctite is rarely use, but it still has some application retaining stubborn parts that continue to vibrate from where you want. You will generally have to remove the part with the assistance of heat just like the 271.

Note: Always clean all oil off the parts with alcohol or acetone before applying the Loctite. Follow the instructions on the Loctite bottle for proper cleaning and application instructions.

Cleaning Your Sig Classic Line Pistol

You’ve gone and done it – invested in a “top end” firearm from a renown manufacturer.  Shooting it feels great.  You want to keep it running smooth for years.  It all starts with basic maintenance, and that means cleaning.

The first, best source for cleaning instructions is the owner’s manual or other documentation from the manufacturer.  “Read the manual” really is the best idea.  It may highlight special steps that need to be performed or provide insights how normal wear should appear.

The Sig Sauer Academy produced a nice video on cleaning their “Classic Line” of pistols.  We know those as the P22X series such as the P220 (popular in .45 ACP and 10mm) and the ever popular P226.  Check out the video, especially if you own a Sig.  Maybe you’ll pick up a new bit of knowledge or affirm you are doing everything right.

Ruger = Great Service

A good customer of mine, let’s call him Jay, recently purchased a Ruger revolver from an on-line distributor.  We completed the transfer without any issues.  When Jay got the revolver home, though, he noticed the barrel did not seem to align with the frame.  In fact, he was hesitant to even put a round through it.

We discussed his options.  Since the transfer occurred and title had passed, the gun could not be returned to the seller demanding a refund or replacement.   Once title passes, the seller can accommodate however s/he wishes.  Or, he could go to Ruger and seek a warranty repair.  Jay went to Ruger, and that was a great decision.

Jay wrote:

I sent the gun to Ruger for warranty repair and just got it back today.

It’s perfect now.  The repair order says they adjusted the barrel, polished the gun and replaced the grips.  I think they replaced the frame or maybe the whole gun. The grips are different. The originals were plain and the new ones have a beautiful grain.

Obviously, Ruger stands behind its products and its reputation.  It’s great to hear that Ruger still holds these traditional values!  Kudos, Ruger!

index

Mid-Atlantic Humidity

Summer has arrived and with it the high humidity in our region.  For owners of older firearms, there is a danger of creeping corrosion damage caused by air-based moisture.  Once started, it can be hard to stop.  Prevention is a good way to go.  Using some type of dehumidifier and cleaning your guns at least every six months  should help avoid serious corrosion issues.

electric rod
Dehumidifier Rod

Many gun safes have a place to mount a dehumidifier rod that emits just enough heat to keep the temperature just above the dew point inside the safe.  This is a good way to go.  The drawbacks are finding a safe that will accommodate such a device and the cost of maintaining and electrical cost of running it.

Another option is a self-contained silica beads dehumidifier that is mounted inside the safe.  Once the silica is filled with moisture it becomes ineffective.  This is shown by the color of the beads turning from one color to another (e.g., orange – little moisture; to green – cannot hold any more moisture).   When this happens, simply plug the unit into a wall outlet to “recharge” the beads.  Once it’s ready, just place it back in the safe.

battery dehumidifier
Self-contained Silica

A third option is a canister of silica beads.  Similar to the self-contained unit, they are easy, pretty effective, and simple to install.   When the beads need to be recharged, the silica must be dried and poured back into the canister.  Drying usually means spreading the silica on a cookie sheet and heating in an oven for a period of time until the beads turn orange again.

disicant container
Canister of Silica

All of these options are good, but nothing beats a good cleaning, inspection, and putting a heavy coat of oil on metal parts every six months or so.  This practice helps you detect any new corrosion that can be easily addressed.  My dates are in the first week of July and the last week of December.  While this may be a little time consuming, it’s well worth the effort.  Discovering a gun with corrosion is never fun and leads to a good deal of time working to clean it up and stop its spread.

 

 

 

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Bronze Brush New
Bronze Brush Cleaning Pistol Barrel

Glance at the photo above.  See anything that may be wrong?

It appears this is a pistol.  Notice the muzzle and what I think is the recoil spring guide to the left in the frame.  If I am right, the photo depicts a non-recommended way to clean almost every barrel.

The preferred and appropriate way to clean your gun’s chamber and bore is to “push” your cleaning patch, brush, or jag from the chamber and “push” towards the muzzle, just like a bullet travels.  In pistols, this normally means removing the barrel from the frame and start your patch, brush, or jag from the chamber.  With rifles, the same rule applies.  You may need to remove the bolt to be able to push a rod straight through the bore.  “Pushing” helps reduce the risk of nicking your barrel crown.

In addition, you can insert the rod starting at the muzzle, pass it through the bore and chamber, attach your brush or patch, and “pull” it back through the bore.  The patch or brush still will be traveling as the bullet travels.  Of course, multiple passes will require you remove and then re-attach patch or brush each time.

An exception are revolvers, of course.  In most cases, you must start from the muzzle since access to the other end of the barrel is not possible with a standard cleaning.  Something like a bore snake or a bush that is on a flexible rod (such as is shipped with many new pistols) may give you the option to clean from the back towards the muzzle.

Be safe and shoot straight!