Clean Up Your Act

“Clean that weapon Soldier.”

Yeah, about that….let’s talk cleaners. Whether you enjoy gun cleaning or not it’s a necessary part of shooting. Unlike what some products out there would like you to think there are cleaners that are meant for certain jobs. Some work well for almost most applications and some just flat out suck.

What we really need to do is break it down to what parts have certain cleaning needs. The action can use almost anything…even grape seed oil…if you’re into that all natural gun lube/cleaner crap. What you really need is something that will cut the access oils and the powder fouling that can blow into the action. It really doesn’t take much to do that job.  Actually, anything that will dissolve grease will work. Here is a couple that I like.

For those that want a quick solution, you have the aerosol cleaners. Some do a really great job. Tetra Gun’s Action Blaster is an off the charts product. Where some are no

more than brake cleaner Tetra Gun adds, among other things, Pine oil. Pine oil is what they use to make turpentine which has been used for melting grease for…well I can’t really say how long. I looked it up and didn’t find when it was first used. I was shocked when I first used it. I hosed down a filthy AK action and black crud gushed out. The one downside is that it can be hard to find. If it isn’t on the shelf at your local gun store…and it probably isn’t…hit Google to find it.

Let’s look at a product a little easier to find. I’ve tried almost all the aerosol cleaners. Aside from Tetra Gun, the only one I remotely like is Lucas Oil Products, Contact Cleaner. It does a great job. The grime is rinsed away leaving a totally clean surface. It takes a little more to get the job done than Tetra Gun…but you can actually find Contact Cleaner. In fact, the link above will take you directly to it and it’s just $9.00 away from getting to work for you.

A couple quick things, if you choose to go with a spray cleaner, to remember. They pretty much all have acetone in them which is meant to leave no oils behind. Not even in the pores of the metal so you will need to follow it up with something to prevent rust. Anything will do. The other thing is that a spray cleaner is a miracle for revolver owners. No one really thinks about the internals of a revolver. They can get pretty nasty. A few shots with the straw attached to the nozzle on a stiff revolver and you’ll think it just had an action job.

When we think of gun solvents we usually envision liquid cleaners. The problem is that there are a ton of them out there. So, how do you separate what you need from a grape seed hoax? Reputation.


Can you remember the first time your father sat you down to teach you to clean guns? I can…

“Joseph, come sit up here with me. Let me set this rifle down and grab the cleaning box. You’re an awfully big boy now…a whole six years old today. Do you want to help me clean my hunting rifle?”

The .30-06 on the table seemed like a cannon to the tiny hands of a towheaded first grader. The man next to him was a superhero in the mind of his youngest child. His arms streaked with sinew tight muscles from a life spent in sawmills outworking men half his age just to keep his job. The warn muscles distorted tattoos on his arms. One looked like an old time ship’s anchor, a mark from another time. Even when not at work he smelled of cedar and sweat. It was the smell of Superman to a little boy that, more than anything, wanted to be just like his dad. But it was a new smell that the man wanted to introduce.

He took a couple of white cloth patches out of the case and held them to a curious amber bottle. A deep amber liquid rapidly drenched the cloth patches. A new smell flowed through the air like it was carried by a mighty wind.

“Do you smell that? When I came home from World War Two I decided that my guns needed to be cleaned. I went to the store not knowing what I needed to buy. I saw a bottle just like this one. I unscrewed the lid and smelled it. You know what it was? It was the same smell as the stuff we used to clean the big guns aboard ship.”

You want reputation? Try the solvent used aboard naval ships during WWII. Hoppe’s #9 is a great all around cleaner. Grease, oil, carbon, Hoppe’s has it covered.

As great as Hoppe’s #9 is there’s one thing it can’t do, dissolve stubborn copper fouling. It simply doesn’t have the chemical characteristics to deal with copper. I still recommend good old #9 for general cleaning but there are other products that will do more.

First… a few good General Cleaners.

Traditional copper solvents have ammonia in them. Ammonia will actually melt the copper  that is smeared into the rifling of your bore…but…too much will also erode your bore. But there’s a way around that. You can neutralize the ammonia with….are you ready for this…general gun cleaners like Hoppe’s. So yes…to keep that insanely accurate rifle shooting like you need it to, you will need both cleaners…or will you? I said “traditional” copper solvents use ammonia. Not all of them do. The others are completely safe for your bore.

Copper Solvents

Having the right solvent is crucial to the longevity of your firearms. If they aren’t getting clean then all kinds of nasty things can go wrong. Oils finally dry out and get sticky, the carbon in the oil becomes an abrasive that will wear out your action. Basically it means that a dirty gun is wearing itself out. So, take care of your firearms right and they’ll do the same for you.

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