I was truly amazed by the work Scott put into cleaning his firearms! I shoot a fair amount of hard cast lead bullets for plinking and target shooting but keep velocities under 1600 fps, and above that I use jacketed bullets, which seems to simplify my cleaning. One patch lightly gun oiled up and down the barrel three times, then I follow that with a dry patch up and down the barrel three times. Take a lightly oiled scrap of cloth and wipe down the outside of the firearm, then the bolt face and moving parts. If the firearm is of the semi-auto variety, I add a drop to each slide rail, work it in with a finger tip, and cycle the slide a couple of times. Every third cleaning I remove the slide, bbl, gas piston, et cetera and do a more extensive cleaning and oiling, leaving a light film of oil on moving parts. If the fire arm is to be stored two or three years, I make the second patch lightly oiled also. Revolver cylinders get the same treatment as the bore. For years I used kerosene with a little motor oil added to change the color of the mix. Then I tried Army Surplus light gun oil, then Hoppies Gun oil, and now I use Remington gun oil. They all seemed to work well, as long as I didn’t store my firearm in a leaky trailer or in a home with a working swamp cooler. Semi-auto carry pistols require periodic cleaning and shooting to obtain reliability. Learn yours, and stick to it. Your life depends on it. AM
Scot Replies: Thanks so much for the email! We all come up with our own strategies for gun care, and what works for one person may not work for another. I usually do pretty much what you do, when I get home from the range, which is run a patch or two wet with Cleaner-Lubricant-Protectant through the bore and wipe down the exterior with CLP. If the mechanism is dirty enough that I think function might be impaired, I will clean and lube it before putting it away. That said, I am leaving stuff in the barrel and as the layers build up, it gets harder and harder to get the bore completely clean. That’s what has happened to more than one of my guns, and it meant much more work to get them clean when I finally decided to do it.
Oils don’t do a good job of removing copper or lead. CLP products are better but are not as efficient as special purpose cleaners.
Ed’s Red, the cleaner I make at home, is pretty close to what you are using by mixing kerosene and motor oil. Here is the formula for Ed’s:
- 1 part Dexron II, IIe or III Automatic Transmission Fluid – GM Spec D20265 or later
- 1 part K1 Kerosene
- 1 part Aliphatic Mineral (same thing as the odorless mineral spirits from the home store)
- 1 part Acetone (CAS#67-64-1)
You can also add lanolin, to make it a better protectant.
The mineral spirits and acetone really help cut through dirt, while ATF is a good penetrant and lubricant, as well as having some ability to prevent corrosion.
Some people add some Murphy’s Soap and ammonia to get copper out, as Ed’s doesn’t do much to copper. It does nail most other fouling.
There is a lot of homemade cleaner information here:
I keep an ammo can full of Ed’s and throw stuff in to soak. I’ve left things in for a couple of weeks, and they were really easy to get clean! I’m thinking about trying to find a tank that would hold barreled actions.
We normally shoot about 1,000 rounds a month here, using mainly three or four firearms, and they get pretty dirty after a few months. If I don’t do a thorough job on them fairly frequently, I don’t think they perform up to snuff. I also like to have a really clean barrel when I am doing accuracy testing and that means getting all the fouling out, whether lead, copper, powder, or primer.
Lead fouling is a real pain for me. I have one 1911 that doesn’t lead and another that leads badly. I’m using 200 grain SWC loads at around 850 fps, and they should not lead, but they do in that one pistol. Most of my revolvers will lead, much to my aggravation. The blue ones make it very obvious, but the stainless ones are doing it, too. I have a friend with a bore scope, and it reveals all of the nastiness you can find in a barrel.
My bottom-line is that I don’t think a gun is clean if it doesn’t pass a white glove test. If patches with the most aggressive cleaners I’ve found don’t come out clean, then it isn’t clean. I think that makes me a bit obsessive, and I understand if no one wants to follow my course. On the other hand, if someone has an easier method that really gets everything out of the bore (and can convince me it works), please let me know.
Thanks again for the email! I really appreciate hearing from readers.
God Bless! Scot Frank Eire SurvivalBlog Product Review Editor