From time to time, my customers ask what type of cleaners and lubricants I use on my own firearms and those for customer guns. So, this short post explores those questions. Please note: my views are my views alone, no better or worse than another. I do not receive any compensation for mentioning any products.
Word to the wise – it’s important to wear rubber or synthetic gloves when cleaning. Some solvents may harm your skin over time.
A good place to start is with terminology. People use different terms based upon their background and experience. For our purposes:
- Cleaners are used to clean fouling from guns.
- Lubricants help reduce wear on firearms.
- Protectants protect the firearm from corrosion.
- “CLP” is a product that combines three functions, above.
Generally, I see powder and copper fouling. In shotguns, sometimes some plastic fouling in the bore. Powder fouling comes from spent powder, copper from copper jacketed bullets, and plastic from shotgun hulls or, perhaps, plastic shot.
I use several types of cleaners when removing fouling. The “go-to” product is Hoppe’s (pronounced Hop-eez) No. 9. This brand is familiar to most shooters. It’s been around since 1903 and has earned respect generation after generation for its effectiveness. I use Hoppe’s as the first step in the cleaning process. Soaking a patch, running it through the bore, and setting the barrel aside gives the cleaner some time to work on loosening fouling. Using soaked patch on other parts is easy. It rapidly breaks down any powder fouling. Only in the severe cases is a re-application needed. Hoppes is also a “CLP”, so it may be left on parts and in the bore to provide some measure of protection.
Sweets 7.62 solvent is a bore cleaner I use from time to time, especially on copper fouling. It’s especially good at raising copper fouling in the bore. Patches emerge in a green or blue color, and that is Sweets breaking down and removing copper fouling. It also does a good job on powder fouling, too. Sweets is a cleaner and should not be left on parts after cleaning. In fact, it is not something you want to leave on your parts too long. Letting it ‘work” in the bore for about 10 to 15 minutes is Ok. Beyond that may cause some issues. To remove it from the bore, for example, I run a soaked patch of No. 9 followed by a dry patch.
Ballistol is an interesting product in that it is biodegradable and is known to not “gum-up” in low temperatures. It does a fair job as a powder fouling cleaner, but really excels in lubrication and protection. Leaving it in the bore, especially for long-term storage is ideal. It won’t hurt the medal, wood, or synthetic materials on your gun. Ballistol, if left in the bore, will continue to work and loosen deeply embedded powder fouling. This is the primary lubricant I use when lubing firearms.
Rem Oil, like Hoppe’s, has been around a long time. I use it in an aerosol form to spray on action and internal components. It isn’t thick and leaves a thin protective and lube. It also includes Teflon to help with wear on parts.
Those are my choices for CLP’s. What are your experiences? What do you use?