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Posts tagged as “Firearm Cleaners & Lubricants”

Gun Oil Substitutes

Keep in mind that no matter what lubricant you use, you should use
the minimum amount of lube possible. You want it lubricated and not an oil field.

Synthetic Automotive Oils
Synthetic automotive oils (such as Quaker State High Performance Synthetic) work well as general lubricants and because of their detergent capabilities they will help to remove “crud.” (Synthetic oils handle low temperatures better than regular oils.) Just remember, as with any lubricant, not to over lube things. Valvoline Semi-Synthetic Power Steering Fluid has also been used with great success by many folks as their normal lubricant.

Air Conditioning Refrigerant Oil
Air conditioning refrigerant oil, available at most auto dealers and auto stores, is highly penetrative and makes an excellent lube and a rust preventative. It works at high temperatures and very low ones (won’t freeze even when mixed with Freon) and should be just the ticket for Alaskan use.

Slick Stuff
This very “oily”, (i.e. slick, greasy) lubricant appears to adhere very well to metal, with little or no creep. Thus it does not appear to drain from slides and parts during extended storage. From the formula it appears that it might not be suitable at very low temperatures.

2 parts Dexron II or III automatic transmission fluid
1 Part Mobil-1 Synthetic Oil, 30 weight, or 10W-30
1 Part STP Oil Treatment (the stuff for “old” cars w/ over 30,000 mi.)

Thanks to John Nichols for this tip

Another excellent home brew lube is Amsoil Synthetic ATF with some lanolin added to make it even slicker. A synthetic grease from MS Moly called Arctic Grade 67 also makes a great lube especially for cold weather. It is a totally synthetic moly grease with the consistency of chocolate mousse. It does not run, weep or smell (very important for the SAF (spousal acceptance factor)). It is reported to work fine at -30 degrees.

Thanks to Roger Rothschild for this tip.

Slippery Stuff
Try 80 percent Marvel Mystery Oil mixed with 20 percent Slick 50 .

Humpy’s Bullet Cleaner

Soaking Method

Those of you who used surplus pulled M118 / M72 173 gr Match or other pulled GI bullets have probably been baffled about how to removed the asphaltic sealant from the bullets. The safest way is to get a bottle of Orange Clean Concentrate and mix it 1/100 with water. Drop bullets in a salsa jar, mayonnaise jar etc and allow to sit for 24 hours. The following day agitate the jar and the mouth lacquer will literally fall off in flakes leaving the bullets not only clean but nice smelling. Unlike lacquer thinner which actually doesn’t work very well, this method is not flammable nor a breathing hazard.

Tumbling Method

You will need: a carton of BBs. (costs about five bucks from Walmart), a rock tumbler (flea markets, ebay, and commercial vendors), and a bottle of Ultra Ivory dishwashing detergent.

With a small rubber drum ( 1 1/2 lb size) tumbler add maybe 200 BBs, 100 pulled 173s, fill with hot water to just above bullet/BB level. Add about a tablespoon of ivory liquid and seal the drum with the screw lid on and put on tumbler and let it tumble for about an 45 minutes and check. (Mine come out looking better than new Sierra Matchkings) Take the bullets out with you fingers and dump in rinse water. Add another hundred bullets and tumble the next batch. Solution good for a number of cycles. When you finish dump the solution in a big jar and save it for washing your tires or something real greasy down the road. When you are not tumbling remove the BBs and dry them. If you have a bigger tumbler you can tumble more bullets.

Making up a Pre Tumble Dip with Ivory and letting the bullets soak a bit before putting them in tumbler might cut down the operation to less than thirty minutes.

Carbon / Crud Cleaner

Carbon / Crud Cleaner

For cleaning carbon and dried grease in tight places try generic commercial automotive brake cleaner. Just as good, more readily available, and MUCH cheaper than the gun stuff. Products like GumOut™ can also be used. Note that these cleaners remove any preservative oil or grease coatings on the metal so you should lightly coat things with your favorite oil or preservative when done cleaning.

Copper Fouling Removal

The “Ammonia Solution”
The typical “household ammonia” is only 3 percent and does not work very well as a copper remover. However, to remove copper fouling you can use use straight “strong ammonia” (9 – 10 percent) carried by many janitorial supply houses and hardware stores. My local ACE hardware carries the 10 percent janitorial strength for about $1.50 a quart and it works great straight, followed by a thorough cleaning with Ed’s Red. Run a wet patch through the bore and allow to sit for about 5 minutes and proceed as usual. Don’t use a brass bore brush or jag! I have seen no scientific proof that the use of ammonia in any strength will harm bores, IF the bore is thoroughly cleaned with bore cleaner after using ammonia to prevent after rust.

If your local ACE hardware store doesn’t stock the “10% Janitor’s Strength Ammonia,” they can order it for you from their master order book. The stock number for the 1 quart size is ACE10183.

If you are worried about its high strength, you can bring it down to the 6 – 8 percent ammonia content of most commercial copper removers by cutting the janitor’s strength ammonia with some K1 kerosene or water–try 3.5 to 4 parts 10% ammonia to 1 part water or K1 kerosene. This seems to have little, if any effect, on its copper removal abilities.

Straight 28% ammonia (CAS#7664-41-7) followed by a thorough cleaning with Ed’s Red can also be used but 28 percent ammonia may be difficult to get and is VERY strong stuff and potentially aggressive on metal.

Some notes about Ammonia. Ammonia won’t harm the rifle’s metal, the pH is way down there for even 10% but as you get into stronger solutions (> 10%) the pH becomes basic ( >7 up to 14) and is caustic. The problem comes from ammonia being hygroscopic and folks not cleaning it all out of the bore and the attracted water then causes rusting. [As a test I left a polished mild steel strip in straight 10% ammonia for 48 hours and saw no noticeable corrosion or etching.]

Thanks to Roger Rothschild, Chemist, for this information.

…and an Improvement–“Humpy’s White Bore Cleaner”

This modification of the “ammonia solution” thickens the liquid and helps to keep it in the bore for more efficient cleaning. You can if you like omit the 1-part sudsy ammonia

2 parts – 10% ammonia,
1 part – standard household “sudsy” ammonia (optional)
1 part – Ivory liquid dishwashing detergent (It has been reported that “Formula 409” can also be used though the resulting mixture is probably thinner.)

This formula yields about a 6.5 percent ammonia solution. If you omit the sudsy ammonia the solution is about 7.75 percent.

Thanks to Mark Humphreville for this solution

Electronic Fouling Removal

A Caveat

The Outers FoulOut operates at a very low voltage (.3 V – three-tenths) at the cleaning electrode. Higher voltages can start to etch the bore, and even at the lower voltage the Outers can do so if there is rust in the bore. While the simple designs given here can be used safely there exists the possibility of bore etching due to their higher voltages. This is a particular concern if you use the Outers solutions. The electrical problem with all the home-brew series current limited (by the short indicating lamp) devices is that they apply voltages that will start taking iron into the solution, according to the FoulOut patent information which has expired. This aspect of the circuitry deceives those without electrical backgrounds. They look at the batteries or the wall adapter voltage used to operate a FoulOut and assume it must be safe to apply that much voltage between the barrel and the rod. Not so. The voltage regulation schemes inside a FoulOut are designed to hold a 0.3V limit regardless of how many volts the power supply has.

A Basic Homemade Electronic Copper Fouling Remover

Most shooters are familiar with the Outers FoulOut ™ electronic copper fouling remover that will remove unbelievable amounts of crud form a “clean” barrel. It is quite easy to build your own simple version of this handy device.

A Current and Voltage Limited Homemade Electronic Copper Fouling Remover
While this design is a little work to build it provides current and voltage limitation to prevent etching. Designed for use with the Outer’s type solutions it should work with the vinegar/ammonia formula. You can download the article which is a 340K PDF document, by clicking here.

Make your cleaning solution of:

1 part white vinegar
1 part household ammonia (3%)
2 parts distilled water

I am currently researching a better formula.

It is best to remove the barreled action from the stock for cleaning. For best results clean and then degrease the bore with a commercial “gun scrubber” or automotive brake cleaner. Plug the chamber with the rubber stopper and carefully insert the rod down the bore and insure it is seated in the hole in the stopper. Using a dropper or a syringe fill the bore with the cleaning solution and the attach the black wire to the rod and red wire to the gun. If the gun is dirty the flashlight will glow but not at full power. If the flashlight immediately glows full power the rod is not centered in the bore and has caused a short. Allow the unit to work for 45 min or so, disconnect the leads and carefully pull the rod out of the bore. The accumulated copper fouling can be removed from the rod with fine steel wool. Drain the barrel, remove the stopper and dry the bore and chamber. Run a couple of patches with bore cleaner on them through the bore and chamber to prevent any after rust and you’re done. Those of you with a background in metal plating may want to contribute your own solution recipes. Send them to me by clicking here.

36″ long TIG welding rod in stainless steel are available from local welding shop. Get 3/32″ and 1/8″ diameters at a cost of about $1.25 each. Ideally you want a rod about 1/2 to 2/3 of the bore diameter.

Thanks to Robert Schaedel, et. al. for this tip.

Some Interesting Information.
Just for those of you with curious minds, the Outers CopOut Plus solution contain approximately 0.6 percent cupric acetate and 2.5 percent ammonium acetate (3.62 grams/ liter of copper acetate and 38.5 grams/liter of ammonium acetate) in distilled/deionized water. The LeadOut Plus contains approximately 2 percent lead acetate and 5 percent ammonium acetate (6.50 grams/liter of lead acetate and 38.5 grams/liter of ammonium acetate ) in distilled/deionized water. A good basic solution for either would be

Copper Solution
562.3 grains Ammonium Acetate
51.3 grains Copper Acetate or 58.3 grains Cupric Acetate Monohydrate
Add distilled (or high megohm deionized) water to make 1 Qt.

Lead Solution
562.3 grains Ammonium Acetate
95.0 grains Lead Acetate or 110.8 grains of Lead Acetate Trihydrate
Add distilled (or high megohm deionized) water to make 1 Qt.

Note that since the Outers FoulOut unit limits the voltage and current in the electrolysis process and runs at about .3 volts (3/10 volt)– at typically a max of about 20 milliamps. If the vinegar/ammonia solution described for the homemade unit is used in an Outer’s unit the cleaning process will be much slower because the solution does not contain any ions of the lead or copper (one reason the homemade unit runs at a higher voltage).

Possible sources for these chemicals in small quantities are:

Post Apple Scientific, Inc.
Sigma-Aldrich (800-325-3010)

This company lists 100 grams of Copper (II) Acetate for about $19 and 500 grams of Ammonium Acetate for about $17. If you assume $1.00 per gallon for distilled water, you can make the solution for copper removal for $1.60 per quart. This does not include shipping costs on the chemicals.

The Science Company

The following is from Outer’s Q&A page.

Q. Why has the solution become discolored during use?

A. You need to check the solution about every 30 minutes to see if it has changed color. Pour all the chemical into a clear container to see if there may be a color change. Sometimes there may be sediment or a color change but it isn’t apparent by simply looking at the chemical in the barrel.

If chemical is orange or orange/brown you may have some rust. If chemical is black you may be lifting iron from the barrel or its oxidized copper salts. It could also be some powder fouling being removed from the barrel. The unit may have been on too long without checking the solution color often enough.

Black/Gunky chemical could mean that in the first 30 minutes you hit a lot of lead and lead started to settle set the bottom of the barrel as well as on the rod. It could also mean the unit was left unchecked too long and rust has formed.

Green colored chemical could mean that you may be pulling out iron, blueing or rust. Sometimes new barrels will have blueing and its removing that.

Q. What do I do if the chemical changes color?

A. Dispose of the chemicals according to local and state laws. Clean the barrel using regular gun cleaning methods. Degrease the barrel and rod with Outers Crud Cutter. If you can’t find Crud Cutter, you can use Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber or household rubbing alcohol. On a scale of 1 to 10, alcohol rates as a 2 and Crud Cutter rates as a 10. After cleaning and degreasing the barrel and rod, start the Foul Out III according to the instruction book. [Automotive brake cleaner is the same as the Birchwood or Outers products and cheaper. – Fr. Frog]

Q. The unit isn’t cleaning fast enough.

A. To speed up the process, after cleaning for two hours, change the solution and you should obtain faster results.

Q. Can I Use Cop Out Plus and Lead Out Plus with my Foul Out II Unit?

A. Yes, You can use the Cop Out Plus and Lead Out Plus with Foul Out I and Foul Out II units. Because these are more potent chemicals than regular Cop Out and Lead Out, the customer needs to be more cautious and check the chemical for changes more often. The new chemicals will clean faster than the old.

Military Copper Fouling Removal Solution (c.1917)

Described in the US Military publications for the 1903 and M1917 rifles was the following “heavy duty” copper removal formula.

1 oz Ammonium persulfate
200 grains Ammonium carbonate
6 oz 28% ammonia
4 oz water

Finely grind the persulfate and carbonate, dissolve in the water and then add the ammonia. Allow to stand for 1 hour before using. Plug the breach and slip a piece of rubber hose over the muzzle. Fill the cold barrel and the section of hose with the solution. Allow to stand for 30 minutes. Dump the solution and clean the bore normally and oil.

Mac’s Red
A modification of Ed’s Red that is claimed to remove copper fouling was developed by Richard McQuisten and published in The Cast Bullet #113, Jan-Feb, ’95.

1 part Dexron II, IIe or III Automatic Transmission Fluid
1 part K1 Kerosene
1 part Mineral Spirits or Stodard Solvent/Varsol
1 part Acetone
1 part GM Carburetor/Upper Cylinder Cleaner

Oxynate S
Brownells sells a product called Oxynate S (pn 082-029-016) which is used to remove copper from bluing tanks. It can be used straight or mixed into a bore cleaner, say about 5%, to remove copper bore fouling.

Thanks to Ken Mollohan for this tip.

Storage Rust Preventative

Storage Rust Preventative

For long term storage you can use Lee Liquid Alox as a Cosmolene substitute. Apply an even coating to all metallic surfaces. “Ed’s Red” will readily remove hardened Alox or Cosmolene.

A coating of Ed’s Red will also work as a preservative/rust preventative, and makes an excellent bore coater for storage.

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