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Eds Red

Ed’s Red
As a general bore cleaner, plastic wad remover, and carbon solvent the following formula, a creation of C.E Harris, and dubbed “Ed’s Red” works quite well. In fact many folks claim it is better than anything they’ve tried. The original formula is:

1 part Dexron II, IIe or III Automatic Transmission Fluid – GM Spec D20265 or later
1 part K1 Kerosene
1 part Aliphatic Mineral Spirits federal spec TT-T-2981F (CAS# 64741-49-9) or Stodard Solvent/Varsol
1 part Acetone (CAS#67-64-1)

Formula Addendum

It has been reported that methyethylketone/MEK (CAS#78-93-3) can be satisfactorily substituted for the acetone if desired.

It has been reported that Turpentine can be satisfactorily substituted for the Mineral Spirits if desired. The original Frankfort Arsenal formula upon which Ed’s Red is based used turpentine rather than mineral spirits which were substituted for lower cost.

It has been reported that Kroil penetrating oil can be satisfactorily substituted for the kerosene if desired.

It has been reported that Goo-Gone (a commercial citrus based solvent) can be satisfactorily substituted for the mineral spirits if desired.

It has been reported that commercial automotive “engine flush” can be substituted for the ATF (but you lose the red color).

For each gallon of Ed’s Red produced you can also add 1 pound of anhydrous lanolin (CAS#8006-54-0), which helps to neutralize fingerprints but it’s really not necessary. You can also leave out the acetone but then it doesn’t remove plastic wad fouling as well. Store in airtight chemical-proof containers as the acetone, if used, will evaporate. Two sources for bulk anhydrous lanolin are–Lanolin–SO-Lanolin.html and .

According to Ed, “Ed’s Red” will flow at -65oF and won’t carbonize at 600oF. It has seen use by both the FBI and the Army Marksmanship Training Units.

Mix outdoors, in good ventilation. Use a clean 1 gallon metal, or chemical-resistant, heavy gage NFPA approved plastic gasoline storage containers are also OK. Do NOT use light weight, thin, high density polyethelyne (HDPE), which is breathable, because the acetone will gradually evaporate. Don’t use PVC containers as they will dissolve. A possible online source for metal 1 pint and 1 quart screw top metal containers suitable for storing Ed’s Red is . This site appears to be some sort of frames based design that does not allow you to link directly to containers, but you can find them via the following site links Products | Molding and Casting | Containers, Cups and Tools. The Blitz USA line of approved gasoline containers can be obtained at Auto Zone, Home Depot, Walmart, Target, and other retailers and are what I use. (

Add the ATF first. Use the empty container to measure the other components, so that it is thoroughly rinsed. If you incorporate the lanolin into the mixture, melt it in a hot water bath (lanolin melts at about 107 degrees F), or use a double boiler and avoid exposing to open flames. Pour the melted lanolin it into the larger container, rinsing the lanolin container with the bore cleaner mix, and stirring until it is all dissolved. (It will also, but slowly, dissolve in mineral spirits if you want to avoid using heat.)

You can divert a small quantity, up to 4 ounces per quart of the 50-50 ATF/kerosene mix for use as an “Ed’s Red-compatible” gun oil. This can be done without impairing the effectiveness of the mix.

a) Insure that the firearm is unloaded and that all magazines are removed. Cleaning is most effective when done while the barrel is still warm to the touch from firing. Saturate a cotton patch with Ed’s Red, wrap or impale on a jag and push it through the bore from breech to muzzle. The patch should be a snug fit. Let the first patch fall off and do not pull it back into the bore.

b) Wet a second patch, and similarly start it into the bore from the breech, this time scrubbing from the throat area forward in 4-5″ strokes and gradually advancing until the patch emerges out the muzzle. Waiting approximately 1 minute to let the bore cleaner soak will improve its action.

c. For pitted, heavily carbon-fouled “rattle battle” guns, leaded revolvers or neglected bores a bronze brush wet with bore cleaner may be used to remove stubborn deposits. This is unnecessary for smooth, target-grade barrels in routine use.

d) Use a final wet patch pushed straight through the bore to flush out loosened residue dissolved by Ed’s Red. Let the patch fall off the jag without pulling it back into the bore. If you are finished firing, leaving the bore wet will protect it from rust for up to 30 days. If the lanolin is incorporated into the mixture, it will protect the firearm from rust for up to two years.

e) Wipe spilled Ed’s Red from exterior surfaces before storing the gun. While Ed’s Red is harmless to blue and nickel finishes, the acetone it contains is harmful to most wood finishes and it could damage some plastics if left in prolonged contact.

f) Before firing again, push two dry patches through the bore and dry the chamber, using a patch wrapped around a suitably sized brush or jag. First shot point of impact usually will not be disturbed by Ed’s Red if the bore is cleaned as described.

It has been reported that when Ed’s Red is used exclusively and thoroughly, that hot water cleaning is unnecessary after use of Pyrodex or military chlorate primers. However, if bores are not wiped between shots and are heavily caked from black powder fouling, hot water cleaning is recommended first to break up heavy fouling deposits. Water cleaning should be followed by a thorough flush with Ed’s Red to prevent after-rusting which could result from residual moisture. It is ALWAYS good practice to clean twice, two days apart, whenever using chlorate primed ammunition, just to make sure you get all the residue out.

Thanks to Jim Dodd for the above instructions

An unusual use for Ed’s Red. Several correspondents report that an application of ER to an ant hill, especially fire ants, kills ’em dead.

Eds Red Plus

This variation on the Ed’s Red formula gives it a copper removing ability similar to the commercial bore cleaner Marksman’s Choice MC-7. You will need:

11 ounces of basic Ed’s Red
2 ounces of 10%-20% industrial strength ammonia
2 ounces of Rustlick WS-11 cutting oil or suitable alternative
1 ounce of Murphy’s Oil Soap

Mix the oil soap and ammonia in a separate container. In a suitable 1 pint container containing 11 ounces of Ed’s Red, add the cutting oil and mix together. Then add the oil soap/ammonia mixture to Ed’s Red/ cutting oil and shake the container to mix the ingredients. You will end up with a pink opaque liquid that for the most part remains in solution, but some components may settle out over an extended period. It is always best to shake well before using. The resulting solution will remove mild copper deposits in bores if allowed to work about 15-20 minutes.

Water soluble cutting oils and rust inhibitors can be obtained online from or locally from your industrial supplier. NAPA auto stores carry a soluble oil listed as NAPA Soluble Cutting and Grinding Oil,” part number 765-1525. Metal screw top containers can be obtained from under | Products | Molding and Casting | Containers, Cups and Tools.

Thanks to Bill Mecca for this information.

You can link directly to that frame by putting this URL there, but there’s no link back to their home page from there.

Thanks to Patrick Larkin Jr. for this tip.

…And For Historical Reference–The Original Hoppes No. 9
The original “Ode de Gun.” If you don’t like this smell you ain’t a real shooter! This formula came from Hatcher’s Notebook and the amounts are rounded from the original formula to make 1 quart. Any resemblance to the current “environmentally correct” No. 9 is accidental.

Original component Notes
Ammonium oleate (CAS#544-60-5) 5.0 oz (also known as ammonium soap) Could substitute lanolin but this would sacrifice its mild copper removal qualities
Amyl Acetate (CAS#544-60-5) 8.5 oz (“banana oil”)
Nitro-benzene 2.0 oz (the racing fuel additive)
K1 Kerosene 8.5 oz
Neutral Saponifiable Oil 8 oz (Not identified, probably sperm oil, but ATF could be substituted