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If you got a pot big enough, try boiling the rusted parts in clean water before using the

steel wool. You

can do the barrel 1/2 at a time if you need to. Boil for about ten minutes. Let things cool and dry, then hit
it with steel wool to get the loose stuff off. In essence, you're doing no more than some touch up rust
blueing. If you don't have a large enough pot, a local smith may boil it for you at little or no cost.
Remove the stock from the action first, but don't worry about further disassembly. Just oil everything well
when you're done.

The oil and 0000 steel wool trick works. You will have small white spots where the rust was. Once any
blued surface gets rust, the bluing is gone. It can only be replaced by rebluing. DO NOT try to cover up
any of the spots with cold blue, you'll end up with an even uglier mess.

Routine Gun Finish Maintenance

I recently received an inquiry from a user who asked about the best way to remove
some small rust spots from his guns, and how best to prevent them. It seemed like
something everyone should know, so here's what works for me:

(For a quick and easy how-to on rust removal, go here)

The very best way to remove surface rust on a gun is to get some steel wool (00 will
work, but 000 is a little finer, which will be easier on the bluing) and some gun oil.
Any light oil will work, like 3-in-1, or regular gun oil like Hoppes. Put some oil on and
around the spots, and gently rub in a circular motion with the steel wool. Make sure
you keep enough oil where you're working, or the steel wool will eat into the bluing.
Don't bear down hard; this will also damage the finish. Wipe the rusty oil off with a
rag after a bit, and if any live rust is left, repeat the process. When you're done
(when there's no live rust at all left), keep an eye on that spot. It will be the first
place to rust in the future. Never use sandpaper, emery cloth, or any other abrasives
on your guns! Stay away from wirebrushes as well, unless the finish is beyond
salvation and you need to remove some heavy rust.

You can touch up any scratches, dings, or otherwise damaged areas on blued steel
easily using touch-up bluing, available in liquid or paste at any good sporting goods
store or gun shop. Birchwood-Casey is one brand of paste I've used; it comes in a
tube and is easy to use. Simply apply a thin coat of the paste (I use a cotton ball) on
& around the damaged area, allow it to dry to a haze, and wipe it off with a clean dry
cloth, making sure to remove all of the paste. Apply oil as described below, and
watch the area closely. Bluing is actually a type of controlled oxidation, and the
touched-up spot will be a little more prone to rust than the rest of the gun. This kind
of touch-up work can really help the appearance of scratched or worn guns.

The best way I know to keep rust off of a gun is simply to wipe it down with oil. I use
an old piece of T-shirt that has become saturated with oil over the years. Again, 3-
in-1 will work, but I prefer regular gun oil by Hoppes or even Outers. A very fine rust
preventative and lube is Militec-1. I have tested and reviewed this product for this
site. I have also done a review of FP-10, which also works well. Each of these
reviews contain links to a site where you can purchase, or learn more about, these

For rust prevention, just put some oil on the gun, in drops or whatever, and wipe
with a rag until you have a uniform coat on all parts that may rust. Don't try to oil
the whole gun at once; work on a small area at a time. You don't have to put it on
heavily; just make sure all surfaces are covered lightly. This is a quick & easy way to
protect the finish of your guns. Store them, if possible, in a cool dry place. Do not
store them in gun cases, unless the cases happen to be impregnated with silicone or
another rust preventative. I wipe mine down and put them in my safe, which is in a
spare room closet in my home. It helps if you can store them in your house, as the
air conditioner and heater will keep the air fairly dry, thus reducing the possibility of
rust. Check them every few months, and wipe them down again as needed. I always
keep an eye on my guns if I'm hunting for a few days in a row; many times they'll
require a wipe-down every day or two.


some gun magazine has an article purporting to tell you just how to care
for your guns and equipment. The copy is some general drivel about all
the products advertised in the magazine being equally neat. General
Drivel often also makes his billet in the Technoid's column, but a
Colonel of Truth does show up occasionally unless there has been a
Major Mistake. The difference is that here at RELOAD! we can afford
to be much more specific in our advice as we are beholden to no one
(other than the Technoid's shameless adoration of the Hostess Baking
Company- Ed.).

Each of you has already established a cleaning procedure and it

probably suits you just fine. You may even vaguely resent someone
telling you how to clean your gun. It is like someone telling you how to
drive. Well, we certainly do not have experience with every product and
maintenance procedure, but what we do use works. Perhaps there will be
some small hint in what we do that you might fine useful. If you have a
better way, the Technoid is most anxious to hear about it and will do his
part to make you justly famous.

Your massive RELOAD! home office complex towers like a

benevolent colossus over the small Connecticut seaport town of
Westport. Seaports mean moisture and that means rust. Consider the
average New England basement to have a seaside climate. It probably
has ebb and neap tides too.

Make sure that you have a "Golden Rod" or other such heating
device in your gun safe. A small light bulb gets the job done, but it has
to be left on constantly and will burn out frequently. Better the Golden
Rod. It very slightly raises the temperature, and thus the dew point, to
help prevent condensation. It is best to store the guns in the safe with
the muzzles down (keeps errant lubricants out of the stock wood) and
with the chokes removed so that they will not become fixed chokes.
NEVER store your gun in a gun slip or case for any length of time.
You'll be sorry.
Naturally, wipe the outside of your gun down with something
before you put it away. WD-40 is not a suitable rust preventative, nor is
any solvent like Hoppe's #9 or Shooters Choice. Birchwood Casey's
Sheath is an excellent product for your wipe down cloth, but the old
silicone cloth or Break Free CLP, G-96 Gun Treatment or other
cleaner/lubricant/protectants will also work. How often you use it is
more important than what you use. Minimum wipe down is once per
month if you are just storing the gun and daily when you are using it. A
rusted gun is just plain heartbreaking and so unnecessary.

Inside the gun is just as important. When the Technoid buys a

new gun, the first thing that he does is to remove the stock and forend
and carefully brush three coats of TruOil or tung oil onto the insides of
the wooden pieces. Factories often do not properly finish the interior of
the wood parts. This essentially oil proofs the wood from the inside for
the remainder of the gun's life. Then he blows the action clean of debris
and sprays all internal parts with the aforementioned Sheath. Once a
year the guns are disassembled, blown out with solvent, and resprayed
with Sheath. These procedures make the inside of the gun virtually rust
free and oil seepage proof.

Hinge pins, breech face, ejectors and such are routinely cleaned
with a solvent, toothbrush and Q-tips. The Technoid likes Hoppe's #9
for this because is smells right, but Shooters' Choice is stronger and
other solvents may work just as well. Before reassembling the gun, the
hinge pins or trunions and other bearing areas are very lightly coated the
tiniest bit of just about any grease handy. Pennzoil bearing grease and
the old Lubriplate ("mayonnaise" to you WWII swabees) do a find job.
The important thing is not what kind of grease is used, but that the old
grease, probably carrying abrasive burnt powder grit, is completely
removed. Bearing parts must be surgically clean before the new grease
is applied. It is the presence of grit that causes problems, not the lack of

A little Shooters Choice on a brass brush followed by a Kleenex

and a poke with the fuzzy stick does for the barrels. Plastic build up in
the chamber and forcing cones is easily handled with a cal. 50 brush
from your wife's M-60. You Beretta and some FN Browning owners
have chromed barrels and will have a much easier job. Make sure to
clean the screw chokes to get rid of plastic buildup. Many screw chokes
are crudely made and build up plastic quickly. An overnight soaking in a
jar of Shooters Choice will make the job easier. The graphite based
choke tube lubes are supposed to prevent "freezing", but they are filthy
looking, gruesome to clean off and will collect grit which may do more
damage than good. Storing the gun without the chokes in place,
combined with routine cleaning, is better.

Many shooters use brake or carburetor cleaner spray cans in place

of the more expensive Shooter's Choice Quick Scrub or Remington's
RemAction Cleaner. Be aware that many brake and carburetor cleaners
contain chlorinated solvents which can attack, not only you (read the
label on the can), but also certain parts of your gun. Note also that these
cleaners strip all the oil from the metal, so be sure to re-lubricate

For you socially irresponsible proponents of the gas gun, the

Technoid has one basic recommendation: Shoot them wet and clean.
Both Beretta USA and Remington will tell you to shoot them dry. They
are wrong. Who you gonna trust- your gifted gun guru or the people
who merely made the guns? Slather up the pistons with BreakFree CLP
(the brand is important) and leave them good and wet while you shoot.
Not only do the gas guns function better when wet, but when cleaning
time comes around each and every evening you will find that the
BreakFree has kept the burnt powder residue in solution and most of the
parts can be wiped clean with a Kleenex. Shoot them dry and that
carbon is going to be burned on. It is interesting to note that Beretta of
Britain used to recommend shooting their gas guns dry, but now has
recanted and recommends that you shoot them wet. Toldyouso. As
usual, Beretta USA does not have a clue.

A gas gun suggestion: Andy Duffy, after just recently winning

the Pan-American FITASC and the NSCA All Around Shotgun
championship in the rain with his new Browning Gold semi-auto,
reported that the downpours had the Beretta 390 owners scrambling.
The popular Beretta gas pipes are not built for scuba work. A water
proof gunsleeve (with the Beretta logo, of course) might be a good
investment for 303 and 390 shooters who like to shoot during 100 year

One last point, for a general light oil to be sparingly applied here
and there, the Technoid has been very impressed with the new Shooters
Choice FP-10. This is a superior product. Smells a little like cinnamon
too. Be aware that it is highly migratory, so apply it very lightly. It is
ideal for trigger groups.


Copyright (c) 1998-2000 David S. Markowitz

Like any other tool, a firearm must be properly cared for if it is to maintain its
usefulness over time. Just like a car engine, it should be periodically cleaned and
lubricated in order to minimize wear and tear, and to maximize performance. The
purpose of this article is to provide some general pointers on these critical processes so
that you can keep your gun ticking.

Please note that this article is focused towards the care of modern guns using
ammunition loaded with smokeless powder. For information on cleaning black powder
guns, see my other piece on selecting and caring for black powder percussion revolvers.

Materials Required

For cleaning firearms, you will need a solvent to dissolve powder fouling and metal
fouling in the bore and action, and the meansand action, and the means to apply it. There
are a number of commercially available solvents, the best known off which is Hoppe's
No.9 Nitro Solvent, which has been around since about Day One. It works very well in
removing powder fouling, and also does a decent job on copper fouling in gun barrels.
Also, most shooters find the smell very pleasant. (For some reason, most shooters' wives
do not share this sentiment!)

Another good commercial solvent is Shooter's Choice. This is stronger than Hoppe's
No.9, and is good if your gun is really dirty. Unfortunately, it stinks to high heaven so
make sure you are using it in a very well ventilated area.

If you are shooting high power rifle, and your bore is very dirty, and especially if it's
got a significant amount of copper fouling, you might want to try Sweet's 7.62 solvent.
This is posibly the strongest solvent I've used, and does an excellent job of removing
copper fouling from bores, due to its high ammonia content.

For really stubborn copper or lead fouling, Shooter's Choice makes special copper
and lead remover solvents. These are meant to be used after you've cleaned the powder
fouling from the bore. JB Bore Paste, which contains a very mild abrasive, is also made
for this task.

r this task.

However, my personal favorite solvent for gun cleaning is a home brew called "Ed's
Red," which was developed from an old Frankford Arsenal formula by noted gun writer
C.E. Harris. (To see the recipe for Ed's Red, click on this link.) I've found that it works as
good or better than most commercial solvents on removing powder fouling. However,
metal fouling is best removed with one of the commercial products.

Besides commercial and home brew powder solvents, you can use several products
easily available at auto parts and hardware stores for gun cleaning. Kerosene does a good
job of removing powder fouling, and in fact is an ingredient in both Hoppe's No.9 and
Ed's Red. Carburetor cleaner is one of the best choices to remove stubborn buildups of
plastic wad residue in shotguns. I've also been told that Simple Green works well as a
powder solvent.
Note that if you shoot ammunition with corrosive primers (as found in much
military surplus ammo), you'll want to ad US GI Rifle Bore Cleaner or boiling hot water
to your shopping list.

When choosing lubricants, again there is aagain there is a wide variety of

commercial products on the market. Hoppe's, Remington, and many others all make good
quality gun oil. However, my personal choice is Dexron III Automatic Transmission
Fluid (ATF). Synthetic ATF was originally developed to replace sperm whale oil which
was used in early automatic transmissions. Sperm whale oil is one of the finest lubricants
extant. The modern ATF is an excellent substitute, offering good lubricating qualities,
rust-prevention, and it also contains surfactants which act as a detergent to float dirt away
from metal to which it's applied. Finally, it is significantly cheaper than oils sold
specifically for use on firearms.

Some guns require the use of grease on certain parts, instead of oil. An example is
the M1 Garand rifle, on which you should use Lubriplate grease on the op rod, and some
other parts.

Incidentally, there is one oil/solvent which I recommend you avoid for use on guns:
WD-40. It is okay as a cleaner, but make sure that you remove all of it and replace it with
a good rust-preventing oil before storing any gun. WD-40 doesn't work very well as a
gun lubricant or to prevent rust - it's too light. However, it is useful when cleaning to
blow fouling out of cracks and crevices.

d crevices.

In addition to the solvents and lubes required, you'll also need the hardware
necessary to clean your gun. You can buy complete cleaning kits, including a cleaning
rod, oil and lube, and cleaning patches, or you can buy them separately.

To clean the inside of the gun's barrel, you need a cleaning rod of the proper length,
and the proper tips for it. For rifles, I recommend a one-piece stainless steel cleaning rod
long enough to clean the entire bore from the breech end (if you rifle's design permits
this). The handle should swivel freely, so that the rod can follow the rifling as the rod is
pushed through the bore. Sectional roads are okay for bringing to the range or field use,
but one-piece rods are better because they are more rigid, and their sections don't get
unscrewed constantly. Stainless steel is best, because it's hard and won't pick up grit like
aluminum rods. If you cannot clean your rifle from the breech end of the barrel, you
should get a bore guide or muzzle protector, which centers the rod in the muzzle and
prevents it from rubbing as you move the rod through the bore. If you look at a lot if old
military rifles, you'll see that the muzzle is worn because a muzzle guide wasn't used.
This will eventually ruin the gun'sy ruin the gun's accuracy.

You'll need a couple items to attach to the end of the cleaning rod. First off, you'll
need a brass or nylon bore brush. You'll use this to apply bore solvent to the inside of the
bore and scrape out the fouling. Next, you'll need a jag or slotted tip to hold cleaning

Cleaning patches should be of the proper size for your gun's caliber (see the patches'
packaging to make sure) and made of cotton flannel cloth.

I also find these items to come in handy when cleaning my guns:

o An eyedropper or pipette to apply solvent to patches, brushes, and spots on

the gun.
o Old toothbrushes are good for scrubbing gun parts.
o Fine steel wool for severe carbon fouling in autoloaders. You can also use
o A solvent-resistant container in which to let parts soak.

Cleaning & Lubrication

Any time you get a new gun you should properly clean and lubricate it before
shooting it for the first time. First read the manual which came with the gun so that you
know how to take it down properly. If youdown properly. If you didn't get a manual,
most US manufacturers will provide one free of charge for the asking. If you get a
military surplus gun, you may need to do some research, either on the Web, or in
reference works like Small Arms of the World to find out how to field strip the piece.

Let's not forget that the very first step you must take is to make sure the gun is
unloaded! If your gun is an autoloader, first remove the magazine, then work the action
several times to make sure the chamber is unloaded. Then, visually check the chamber to
ensure you've completely cleared the piece.

Another reason to get the gun's manual is that it may have special instructions for its
proper lubrication. For example, Glock pistols should not be over-lubricated - they
actually are less reliable if you add too much lubricant.

Most guns come from the factory or importer with a protective coating such as
grease or Cosmoline on the metal parts. This should be cleaned off with either one of the
solvents mentioned above or something like mineral spirits or kerosene. Be careful not to
get these solvents on your gun's stock, since they'll damage the finish!

the finish!

After you remove the protective grease, lubricate the gun as indicated in the gun's
manual. If you're not going to take it to the range immediately, give the metal parts a light
coat of oil, or wipe them down with a silicone gun and reel cloth to prevent rust.

If you've just shot your gun, you should clean it before placing it back in storage.
You'll need to clean the bore and the action. It is not a bad idea to run a brush or patch
wet with solvent through the bore before you leave the range. This way, the solvent can
work on the fouling in the bore on your drive home, and you'll have less work to do later.

To clean the gun's bore, I like to run a wet brush through several times and then let it
soak while I clean the rest of the gun. I then follow this up with several patches wet with
solvent, keeping this up until the patches come out clean. I'll then run one or two dry
patches through to remove the solvent, and then put a coat of protective oil in the bore for

If you shoot corrosively-primed ammunition, you'll need to be very thorough when

you clean the bore and any other parts which gas froms which gas from the burning
powder come into contact with. This is especially true if the bore on your gun isn't
chrome-plated. Basically, you'll need to clean the bore with boiling water or GI Bore
Cleaner. These will get out the corrosive salts deposited by the primers. I then like to
follow up with a few patches using Ed's Red, dry patches, and then coat the bore with
protective oil. (I use ATF.) When the US Army used corrosively-primed ammo, standard
operating procedure was to follow the initial cleaning with additional cleaning for the
next three days, to ensure that no corrosive residue was left. In dry climates this probably
isn't necessary, but you should at least check the bore the next day by running a patch
through it, and then oiling the bore. Better safe than sorry.

When I'm cleaning the rest of the gun's mechanism, I like to flush parts with solvent
and scrub with an old toothbrush until the parts are clean. The solvent is then wiped off
with a patch or paper towel, and the parts are lightly lubricated with an appropriate oil or
grease. After assembly, the entire gun is wiped down with a silicone rag to keep the
exterior from rusting. That's really all there is to it.