Tag Archives: Cleaning

Firearm maintenance

Submitted by Mark Hatfield
This week while working as a Range Safety Officer there was a fellow who had problems with each of the guns he had brought with him.  It was soon clear that each one had not been maintained.  The initial problems were caused by of lack of lubrication and proper cleaning.  When the guns malfunctioned he would try to force them to work and by doing so, would bend or break parts. This practice is not simply unsafe but a foolish waste of time and money.
On ‘muzzle loaders’ the residue from the gun powder causes serious rusting.  I have seen a number of those guns well damaged from lack of proper cleaning.  I have seen many other examples of shooters with ‘defective’ guns where the only problem was that the guns needed lubrication.  A scary thought is that some of these were guns which the owners intended to use for personal defense.
Instructions for the care of most firearms can be found on the internet.  Many gun manufacturers state that if requested they will provide a manual for any of their products.  (Noted that Ruger prominently advertises this but on the two occasions that I requested a manual from them they never responded in any way)

Windex and corrosive ammo.

There are many of us that shoot corrosive ammo, sometimes because its surplus is cheaper, or because all the factory ammo we can get in some rarer calibers is corrosive.  The problem is rust.  Shooting corrosive ammo leads to rust.

For example, I shoot 5.45×39.  All the 7n6 surplus ammo is corrosive.  Now some other people on the web talk about how they can shoot thousands of rounds over multiple sessions with out rust but if you look at where they live, it tends to be very dry areas.  Here in Florida, I find rust on parts with in hours of shooting.  I’ve found rust on chrome lined, melonited, diamondbonded, ionbonded and nickleboroned parts.  So cleaning is crucial.

It doesn’t matter so much how you clean, but that you clean away the corrosive salts.  That brings me to my point.  Many shooters I know use Windex to clean after shooting corrosive ammo.  They swear by the Ammonia in Windex.  Thing is, Windex uses Ammonia-D.  Ammonia-D is pretty much water and alcohol.

Now if Windex works for you, don’t stop using it.  But if you are looking for an ammonia based cleaner, find something that uses real ammonia.


Militec and Chloride

Article Submitted by Josh Berry

One thing I often see on gun websites is the debate on lubrication for your firearms. Generally this is a fairly subjective topic with lots of opinions on just what is the best. A common brand I see get mentioned more than I wish is Militec-1.

If you know anything about them the company makes some pretty big claims to their products performance and how the Army has cheated them out of contracts based on pure bias. I am writing this to kind of dispel those claims and shed some light on just what exactly Militec-1 is and could do to your rifles.

I am sure that by now everyone here has been to the Militec website to look up some of their claims, but if you have not here is what they have to say about their product.

  • MILITEC-1 treated weapons have been tested and proven to be more accurate, deliver higher muzzle velocity with the same load, and show decreased wear at all critical wear points. Also, the weapons subjectively “feel” better in blind tests.

  • MILITEC-1 has a very low evaporation rate and will not dry out and “disappear” like MilSpec CLP. Firearms remain properly lubricated for a much longer period of time. In fact, MILITEC-1-treated firearms can even be taken out of extended storage and fired immediately with no additional care. It seems to be an unfortunate but unavoidable fact of life that the proper care of weapons is sometimes ignored. MILITEC-1’s long-term lubricating potential helps guard against this eventuality and will allow even badly neglected weapons to fire without jamming. After proper application with MILITEC-1 insures that a weapon will fire properly first time, every time.

  • MILITEC-1 makes firearms much easier to clean. Since MILITEC-1 seals metal surfaces, fouling and other residue do not build up as quickly. In most cases, a weapon can simply be wiped clean with little effort. This saves a lot of time and frustration and makes cleaning almost fun.

  • MILITEC-1 is ideal for firearms that are exposed to harsh weather conditions. After proper application, a light coat of MILITEC-1 is highly corrosion resistant – approximately three times more effective in preventing rust than MilSpec CLP. This will cut down on damage caused by damp weather, and makes MILITEC-1 especially useful for firearms carried on motorcycles, bicycles or boats.

  • A MILITEC-1-treated firearm can be wiped completely clean and dry and will still retain adequate lubrication. That’s right – no liquid lubricant, but still completely lubricated. This is because MILITEC-1 is in the metal, not just on the surface, so the liquid component is unnecessary. This unique self-lubricating effect was used to great advantage in Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq. Clean, dry MILITEC-1-treated weapons continued to fire even in blowing dust and sand, since there was no liquid for the dust particles to adhere to and gum up the works. This same effect is useful in extremely cold conditions where there is no liquid to congeal and slow down or freeze the action.

Now those things are great and grand……if they were true, sadly they are not. Here is something you probably have not read but should- http://books.google.com/books?output=html_text&id=sDZonEVMgb4C&dq=militec+banned&jtp=1.  This goes over pretty well how Militec-1 truly performed over time as it was tested numerous times, its a good read and well worth your time. If you want the short version…Militec-1 has never passed military trials and when it was awarded a NSN the company that awarded it admitted to basically cheating to let them get the pass.

Another thing you probably have not read or heard about is that Militec-1 has Chlorinated esters in it. Now if you don’t know Chlorinated esters when combined with metals that are placed under high tensile pressure(ala firearms being fired) will and does lead to stress cracks, this is a phenomena called CSCC(Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking).

Here is a great article on it and what happens. http://www.corrosionist.com/what_is_chloride_stress_corrosion_cracking.htm

This is a big reason Militec-1 should never be recommended for firearms, the area of the bolt will be subjected to heat, pressure, and stress all of this combined with the chlorinated esters in Militec-1 can and have caused premature wear on bolts.

When you begin to look at lubricants you should make sure to really dig into it online and make sure that it does not contain any chlorinated esters in them.


In Shawn’s earlier post “cleaning and the AR15,” he pointed out that overcleaning can sometimes cause more problems than it fixes.  I’d like to add something from the perspective of the Swiss rifleman.  (For the record, I’m not a Swiss rifleman–I just happen to collect antique Swiss Rifles.)  As many of you may know, Switzerland has a much more “gun friendly” culture than the U.S. currently does, and they take rifle shooting fairly seriously. All able-bodied males are members of the reserves, and are required to qualify periodically.  It’s interesting to note that, in general, the Swiss have cleaning habits that are quite a bit different than what we might think:

“The only thing we really have to do is oil or grease the barrel after firing. Even non-corrosive jacketed ammunition is a hazard simply because it leaves no rust protection in the bore. Mix a little atmospheric water vapor with cold, naked steel and you get rust. Keep a little greasy kid stuff in between the two and that dance doesn’t happen. Get a shaving brush (works better in crevices than a rag) and work a little oil onto the exterior metal surfaces to keep freckles away.

As for the rest. Clean out the jacket fouling if accuracy falls off. Avoid removing the stock unless the rifle gets wet or the trigger is gritty. If subjected to rain, sand or dust, clean and lube the bolt/receiver/magazine – otherwise leave them alone.

Eventually, some of us learn that “less is more” for gun cleaning, too.”

Source: http://theswissriflesdotcommessageboard.yuku.com/reply/33072/interested-in-your-cleaning-habits

In case you’re wondering, the person quoted here is an American who won a medal at Camp Perry with a Swiss rifle that was at least 120 years old.  While he’s no more Swiss than I am, I believe his statement (in addition to being in English) is a good representation of the “Swiss method of cleaning.”  I’d also like to point out that they usually suggest the barrel be greased while it is still hot, probably to help make sure that the grease coats everything.  The debates that I’ve seen usually are about what kind of lube is best, rather than whether “American-style” scrubbing is superior to simple lubing.

This echoes the point that Shawn made earlier.  Regardless of whether you decide to use solvents and scrub brushes or not, lubing is the most important part, and that doesn’t just go for AR15s.

Cleaning and the AR15

If you are new to the AR15 family of weapons, or the M16FOW,you have probably heard from a lot of self identified experts how much cleaning it needs. You cannot swing a dead cat without hitting some one telling you the stoner system needs constant cleaning to keep it from breaking and getting you killed.

Any weapon needs to be cleaned and oiled. If not they will eventually have a problem. It may be something as simple as  just running sluggish or something more serious.  This constant clean mongering has led a lot of people into thinking that they have to have some kind of piston operated AR or other gun to have something they can shoot more then 100 rounds through and still trust it.  Truth is, even these will stop working after awhile as well. Even the  much hyped AK47/74.

Piston guns will get dirt and fouling the same as any other weapon–just in a different place.  Stories form former Spetnaz soldiers tell of how they took the AK apart and cleaned it on every break.  G.I.s in WW2 took the M1 apart to clean it every night. They knew the reality of taking care of your rifle. Thankfully they did not have the internet to tell them those two rifles never needed cleaning.

Even the new “improved” modern weapons aimed at SOF units claim to need less cleaning. The SCAR is an example. A lot of people think it would never need to be cleaned. A recent copy of the DOD  FM for the SCAR told of a special tool issued with it to keep carbon scraped off.   …so much for the piston not needing to be cleaned.

Of course I could find just as many pictures of any other rifle in the middle of letting some one down, but the point is to show that none are perfect.

Now, after saying all that, I want talk specifically about the AR15 and cleaning.  A whole lot of people spend a whole lot of time cleaning ARs and telling you that you better clean yours or you will regret it. The truth is, they AR15/M16  needs nowhere the amount of cleaning people think.  It does however need to be lubed.  All machines need lube. You do not run a car without oil, at least not for long.  A rifle needs it just as much.  Sure, some people will operate their AR15 dry, but like the car the AR won’t run “dry”  for long.  It will work fine for a 100 or 200 round trips to the range, but even then it will start to complain.  If you want to run one dry while playing at the range, go for it. But choosing to run a dry gun in a life-or-death situation is foolish with any weapon.

Back in 2009 I purchased a Colt 6940 and decided I would keep a detailed round count of it. I also decided to shoot it with no actual cleaning (just lube) and see how long it would go.  I recently stopped at over 8,000 known rounds fired with no cleaning and no malfunctions.  I decided to clean it last night, mainly so I could give it a good PM inspection and check for wear etc.

You can click on this picture and see carbon on the bolt tail.  I show it just to make the point that it makes no difference at all to the guns reliability. Do not bother to scrape it off.  It doesn’t hurt anything and is self-limiting. Any excess carbon will be blown out of the vent holes under normal operation. Unless you just have OCD, I wouldn’t even bother. Instead, spend the time thinking about chess problems or old love letters–something more worthwhile. I use a brush to coat the lugs with solvent, wipe it off, then add oil.  Unless you want it super clean to inspect for excess wear or cracks, do not bother.

While I soak the BCG in some type of solvent I just blow out the lower FCG with brake parts cleaners and re oil. I have never needed more than this to keep everything happy.  If it falls into a muddy river during some Sub-Saharan African conquest, you may need to do more.  …just use common sense.

I also don’t scrub and clean the bore like a match rifle either. Unless it has mud or dirt in it or took a submerging, maybe some foaming bore cleaner will do. But that would be a rare thing for me. One thing I do clean (when and If I clean) is the chamber.  If you are going to pay lip service to cleaning, then clean the chamber with the chamber brush. In harsh conditions, along with oiling the gun often, the chamber cleaning is the one thing I would make an effort to do.

The bore and chamber on a properly made milspec rifle is chromed,so it does not need a lot of attention compared to your match or hunting rifles. That is not to say it could not use a cleaning every now and then. But its pretty tough. Most of the OCD drill Sgt cleaners, think they are helping but are doing more damage to the bore from over cleaning with their cleaning rods then the fouling or shooting does. The only thing that spends more time in the bore than bullets is a cleaning rod. And they have the potential to cause a lot more problems when not use properly. When cleaning , use a bore guide meant for the gun any and every time you can. This will save your bore if you are a cleaning maniac.

After cleaning out 3 years worth of oil, powder, fouling grit and junk, I was able to do my inspection.  What to look for is another article in itself, so I will say that everything looked good to go. A quality made milspec bolt carrier group can take a lot of use and abuse when used the way they gun was meant.  Not all brands are the same. I do not care what you heard from your step brothers ex wives new boy friend, not all MFGs are the same when it comes to quality. DO your research and  will have something that will last a long time and give trouble free service.

Here it is cleaned and degreased.  It has only been cleaned once in over 8K rounds. Keeping the gun wet with oil ( in this case slip2000 exclusively) and having a quality milspec BCG from a known MFG will offer up long life and no nasty surprises.  Sure, lemons slip out on every company from time to time, but barring that, you can count on good service. And you do not have to spend more time cleaning then shooting to keep it working. Throw on some oil and get back to training.  You are not improving your shooting when you are in the garage scrubbing on it. Clean when is prudent or if an emergency demands it. Not just to make it inspection clean. Find out its limits on your own and you will gain confidence in it that the over cleaners will never have or  know.