21st Century Gun Cleaning
I think we can all reminisce about the first time we cleaned our first gun as a youngster. I was eight when I received a single shot Springfield 22 caliber rifle for Christmas. My dad taught me gun safety and good gun handling. My dad, brother and I used to shoot the length of the basement. We would drive nails into wood, strike matches and put out the flame on a candle without hitting it. There was the fun and excitement element and that awesome smelling Hoppes Nr. 9 gun cleaner… that no one ever turned into a men’s cologne after all these years. What a shame. OK Hoppes, I get 5%.
Gone are the days of first using a harsh solvent to remove carbon, grease, oil, lead, copper, plastic wadding and other contaminates, and maybe a little skin in the process. And then carefully replacing lubricants like grease and oil on wear points to protect the metal from adverse weather. Normally you would have to work outside or in the basement so the fumes wouldn’t overcome you and also so you wouldn’t have to listen to your wife or mother complaining of the smell in the house.
Things have changed a lot since those days and many new gun-cleaning solutions are all-in-one solutions or CLP’s, Cleaner/Lubricant/Protector. Most of the new gun-cleaning solutions are water based and biodegradable and are not harmful to you or your gunstock or anything in your home for that matter. The more you use these new solutions, the easier and faster gun cleaning becomes. They leave behind small amounts of protectant that fills in the pores on the metal and doesn’t allow the contaminants to adhere to the surface as well. There are basically two types of cleaners and degreasers out there, the CLP’s or all in ones and the more traditional two solution cleaners and lubricants. They both do a great job; you have to decide for yourself, which will do the best job for you, and your equipment and which is the easiest to work with.
Several years ago I was still struggling with those solvent based cleaners that required a lot of elbow grease as well. Gun cleaning wasn’t easy nor was it fun, and it took a lot of time. For that reason, I wasn’t to keen on gun cleaning and avoided it like the plague. I still do. But now it’s a lot different. I probably cleaned my over and under shotguns once a year, as long as I wasn’t caught in a dust, sand or rain storm or some other type of foul weather. Yet I cleaned my choke tubes when ever I saw any built up in the tubes, which was quite frequently, if I wanted to maintain the proper choke constriction. Choke tubes were never easy to clean no matter how long you soaked them. I used some pretty wild stuff in wild colors like purple back then that is still available today. It seemed to take my skin off faster than removing the plastic wadding from the tubes. That has all changed. One thing I learned is to buy quality choke tubes that have a polished finish on the internal surface so the metal doesn’t scrub off the plastic from the wad as it passes through the choke. The surface of the choke tube will determine how fast the chokes develop a plastic build-up and changes the constriction of the tube. The other thing is that I use this new technology that has developed over the years that makes gun or choke tube cleaning faster, easier and simpler.
The first of the new solutions I ever used was Slip 2000 and their Choke Tube Cleaner. First, I cleaned everything with my old solvent based cleaner, and then I used the Slip Choke Tube Cleaner that removed even more fouling. After everything was really clean I applied a film of Slip 2000 over the ID and OD of the choke tubes. It wasn’t until about the third time I used the Slip products that I could really notice a difference in how easily they cleaned up. Now, I only clean my Comp-N-Choke tubes once a year by using the two solutions. If you shoot ported chokes like the Comp-N-Choke, you know how hard they can be to clean, because they blast carbon and plastic on the exterior of the other tube next to it. After every sporting clay shoot is over, all I need to do is brush the interior and exterior with either a stainless steel or bronze brush and everything….the carbon, the plastic fouling all brush off with ease. People standing around and chatting while I clean my chokes are amazed at how easy they clean up, as it only takes a few minutes. And you don’t need any elbow grease either.
Remember, a lot of cleaning solutions claim to remove copper, lead and carbon but being shot gunners we also want plastic removed. Not all cleaners remove plastic well, so be careful and read the label well to make sure it’ll take care of removing the plastic build up. I currently use Prolix for almost all my gun cleaning.
Recently, I tried some of the other new solutions on the market, Gunzilla, Ogre, Prolix, Xtreme Bore+, Pro Shot Products and others. These are single solutions that are all in ones, or CLP’s. They clean, protect and lube all the surfaces you put it on. They function just like the Slip 2000 and their cleaners And it does take two or three applications for it to really work well. I was amazed how easy and clean these other cleaners were to use. I used Gunzillla on a twin barrel set I use for hunting and Prolix on one of my competition guns. In both cases the interior of the barrels stayed cleaner longer as well as the exterior ported areas and were easier to clean the more I used these C/L/P’s. There was no heavy fouling buildup. The same was true for the choke tubes. On one set of Browning Midas Chokes that I used in practice, I had shot over 300 rounds through the tubes that had been cleaned and lubed with Prolix. After about three or four pushes of a brush through the tube, there was a slight trace of a fine particulate in the tube. After about another one or two pushes, there was nothing, then I decided to push a plastic brush with a clean patch with Prolix on it through. The patch came out with only a light gray ring on it. It was clean! The same was true for the Gunzilla chemistry on the choke tubes.
Bore Tech’s Blast cleaner and degreaser also removes plastic buildup in barrels and choke tubes. It’s a pressurized product that is available in a 14 oz. aerosol can. One of the few pressurized environmentally friendly products out there. They also make many other cleaning solutions for shotguns and other firearms in addition to making many cleaning tools.
Every one of these new cleaners does what it says it’ll do. They all make cleaning guns and chokes easier and faster and they are safer to work with, without any awful smells to contend with. Ogre, Pro Shot, Extreme Bore+, Hoppe’s Elite and Shooter’s Choice new Aqua Clean products also do the same job and aren’t harmful to the environment as well. It is important to read each of the manufacturers instructions carefully and to follow their directions completely and you’ll never have a problem.
Each of the manufacturers has some pro and cons, so you have to decide which will work best for you in the way that you like to clean and lubricate things. The positive things about Slip 2000 products that I like are: they supply you with a container, choke tube cleaning liquid, choke tube removal tools in their Slip 2000 Choke Tube Cleaner bottle. It’s a complete package that does the job. They are also one of the few that supplies their Slip 2000 products in a pressurized aerosol container that I like to use for cleaning and blowing out the gunk in the extractor or ejector areas on the receiver. They also offer their solutions in up to one-gallon sizes. Prolix, Gunzilla, Orge, and ProShot are all single solutions where as Slip 2000, Gunslick Pro, Aqua Clean, Hoppe’s Elite require two different solutions. Prolix offers different application or spraying devices on its products and they also offer products in up to one-gallon sizes. Prolix also offers a thickened version of its product called Xtra-T Lube that functions as a grease. It is longer lasting than regular grease and won’t burn off or freeze up. Hopefully, some of the other manufacturers will offer their products in a container to clean choke tubes and offer pressurized products as well.
The other advantage of these type of products is that they don’t attract dust, dirt or sand like grease or oil. They also displace moisture better. They also function better in extreme temperatures. The main thing is that they penetrate into the surface of the metal of your shotgun preventing any fouling build-up and making cleaning easier, faster and better. Even though some CLP products lubricate, it still wouldn’t hurt to still apply some grease to some of the high wear/pressure points on your shotgun.
While gathering information for this story, I investigated the possibility of someone making an ultrasonic cleaning system where you could place the whole O/U barrel assembly into a tray to clean it. It could be done, but would cost about $7,000 to $8,000 to make them in quantity. There are several manufacturers that make small ultrasonic cleaners for small gun parts and pistols that are reasonable, but nothing for a barrel assembly. But there is another way to clean the whole barrel assembly interior and exterior in one easy process. Slip 2000 has a product that is used by our military forces for barrel cleaning. It’s comprised of a length of plastic pipe, with one end capped or sealed and the other end with a threaded cap for pouring in the solutions and putting in the shotgun barrel or rifle barrel or a 50 caliber machine gun barrel. You can soak the whole barrel; give it a shake or two if you are so inclined and let soak for five to fifteen minutes. Never leave the barrel in the solution for longer than the fifteen minutes and make sure the entire barrel is submerged and you won’t have any problems. It’ll make cleaning your shotgun even easier. I recently started using a Lyman ultra sonic cleaning machine, the 6000 series and it does a quick and good job on shotgun receivers and pistols I’m sold on it, and now they have a new unit for about $1300 where you can put shotgun barrels and rifle barrels in it and clean the whole gun. You just have to make sure you remove any wood.
With all the new chemistry that is available to enable you to clean your guns and accessories faster and easier, there is no reason to be using products that are harmful to you or the environment. The following information will enable you to contact the various manufactures directly and to visit their web site for additional information on pricing, packaging, ordering and dealer locations. They will also offer information on how to best use their products. CLP has been explained above. Below you’ll see (2SP) next to the manufacturer’s name, and that indicates they require two solutions to clean and protect your shotgun. You might contact your local gun dealer to see if they will put the products into inventory locally. It would be really great if some of the lesser known manufacturers listed in this article would also provide their products in pressurized form for blasting out crud in hard to get to places, and to provide a large mouth container with solution with choke holders to allow your choke tubes to soak while your cleaning your barrels. They should all offer their product in a grease form as well so you don’t need to carry different brands or revert to using hydrocarbons. One of the problems in the shooting industry is the retailers are slow in picking up on the new brands and types of cleaners available and the makers of the new chemistry are not pushing their products hard enough to the stocking dealers. Most of them sell to the public direct. You can make it happen. Continue down to the tool part of the article.
Slip 2000 (2SP)
P.O. Box 80466
Lansing, MI 48908
PO Box 1466
West Jordan, UT 84084-8466
Pro Shot Products (CLP)
P.O. Box 763
Taylorville, IL 62568
OGRE Manufacturing LLC (CLP)
John Thompson, Owner, Chemist
231 South 79th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53214
Bore Tech Inc. (2SP)
10 Emlen Way, Suite 108
Telford, PA 18969
Hoppe’s Elite (2SP)
9200 Cody St.
Overland Park, KS 66214
Extreme Industrial Lubricants (CLP)
18168 W. Sundowner Way
Santa Clarita, CA 9137
Xtreme Bore+ Dri-Lubricant
Shooter’s Choice Aqua Clean (2SP)
15050 Berkshire Ind. Pkwy.
Middlefield, OH 44062
Gunslick Pro (2SP)
N5549 County Trunk Z
Onalaska, WI 54650
21st Century Gun Cleaning Tools
Along with the new gun cleaning chemistry that is available, there are some new tools out there that make gun cleaning easier and faster as well. If your local dealer doesn’t carry some of these products, I’ll put all the contact information at the end of the of the article so you can contact the manufacturers your self. You can order from most of them over the web.
When your cleaning a shotgun rifle or pistol, you really need something that will hold your barrels or action well so you can clean it easily without having to worry about the item moving, falling or slipping and getting damaged. The best item I’ve found is the Tipton Best Gun Vise. They offer three models and the one shown in the photograph is the more expensive model but it also has more versatility. There are many adjustments that can be made and it can be used for other applications as well. The other models are the Gun Vise and the Gun Butler. All models have soft rubber feet so they’ll stay where you put them while working with them.
There are a plethora of gun cleaning rods out there so I looked at ones you might not be aware of that have some nice features. The top one in the photo is a Tipon Deluxe Carbon Fiber Cleaning Rod from Battenfeld Technologies. They won’t damage the barrels like a metal one would if used carelessly nor do they pick up small abrasive particles and foreign matter that could also damage the barrels. They have a nice large comfortable handle to work with as well. They are available in several different lengths and diameters. The middle rod is from Pro Shot Products and features a stainless steel rod and a heavy brass handle. They make a very fine and large selection of cleaning tools. The lower rod in the photo is from Shootin Accessories and is for use with an electric or battery operated drill. It comes with a twelve-gauge bushing but they don’t offer a twenty or twenty-eight-gauge bushing to my knowledge. One thing I’d like to see them do is to have a multi faceted tip that fits into the chuck so there is no chance of slippage.
I like using a drill as it cuts cleaning barrel time in half or more, and does an excellent job. I usually start with a dry barrel and either a phosphorous bronze brush, a stainless steel brush or a tornado brush that will cut through the carbon built up and any plastic more rapidly. The cleaners act as a lubricate and prolong the cleaning time and you’ll use many more patches that way as well. A drill should not be used to clean rifle barrels as it is not effective. Then I’ll use a bronze or nylon brush (nylon is better because the fabric fibers won’t stick to the brush like they do on the bronze) with a patch soaked in the cleaning solution and run it through the barrels a few times. I do that until the patch comes out clean. Then I’ll us a plastic expandable jag with a clean patch with either a CLP, oil if I’m going to store the gun or other solution to protect the barrel. My O/U barrels have a flawless mirror finish to them using this method.
Another item you may want to add to your kit is a choke/chamber-cleaning tool. Basically it’s a short cleaning rod with either a standard size bronze brush for choke tubes or an oversized cleaning brush for the chamber. They are available from Pro Shot, Shootin Accessories or Briley. The Briley model allows you to store the brush inside the handle. See attached photo.
A handy little item available from Shootin Accessories is their choke thread-cleaning tool for the I.D. of the barrel. It’s available for Browning and other major thread patterns. It’s really a handy item if your using a powder that tends to deposit a lot of carbon in the barrels and especially carbon that’s forced into the thread area for the choke. And if you’ve ever been caught in a downpour during competition, and your gun has gotten soaked, and you didn’t pull the chock tubes out and dry both the I.D. of the barrel and the O.D. of the choke tube you might find a little rust in the thread area. This little tool will clear out the threads nicely.
When you’ve finished cleaning the shotgun or rifle, you might want to push a clean patch through the barrel with some CLP, oil or other solution on it to protect the surface and to make the surface easier to clean next time. The plastic expandable jags from Bore Tech and others do a great job. The jag is ever so slightly larger than the bore diameter and when a cotton patch is added it exerts an even pressure on the I. D. of the barrel leaving a fine film behind. The tip is designed to retain the patch even when you pull the patch back through the barrel. They are available in all the bore sizes.
And if your having a hard time getting just a small drop of CLP, oil or some other cleaning solution into some small place you’ll want to get some of those six inch pipettes from Tipton. They enable you to get just the right amount in exactly the right place. They are available in a twelve pack.
Orge, Birchwoood Casey and a few others also make a special choke tube lube that’ll prevent the chokes from seizing up in the barrel. It never hurts to add a minute amount to the threads to make sure they’ll insert and come out easily. You might also want to consider buying patches in larger quantities, as it makes them a lot cheaper and you won’t find yourself running out of patches in the middle of a project. Tipton and Pro Shot both offer patches in larger quantities than you’ll find in most stores.
Both Gunslick and Slip 2000 have quick disconnect systems for changing cleaning tools on your cleaning rod. You can have four or more different tools or different gauge tools mounted in the system and interchange them in two to three seconds. It’s something you should look into, as it’s a lot better than unscrewing and re-screwing items. Only Slip 2000’s system can be attached to any cleaning rod.
Battenfeld Technologies, Inc.
5885 W. Van Horn Tavern Rd.
Columbia, MO 65203
Shootin Accessories, Ltd.
Auburn, CA 95604
1230 Lumpkin Rd.
Houston, TX 77043
7900 Fuller Road
Eden Prairie, MN 55344