Corrosive Ammunition


February 24, 2009, 05:54 AM
I have probably around 1,000 rounds of corrosive 7.62x39 ammo that I want to shoot out of my Wasr 10/63. Should I completely dismantle the gun to clean it afterwards? This is my favorite gun so I am really worried about it getting messed up. opinions on this are appreciated

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February 24, 2009, 07:13 AM
The best cleaning solution for corrosive ammo is hot water. I'd scrub it out with hot water, dry it, and then clean it with the normal stuff (Hoppes, etc.), and then oil it with Breakfree or something.

As an AK is pretty darned easy to strip and as I don't want to dump water into places where it could sit and cause rust, I would dissassemble it pretty well. Might take you an extra 60 seconds or two minutes but it's worth it in my opinion.


The Lone Haranguer
February 24, 2009, 08:16 AM
Only the priming compound is corrosive, not the powder residue. Just clean your bore after shooting and it will be fine.

February 24, 2009, 08:24 AM
Going way out on a limb here but I have been told by an old timer that amonia is the best way to clean and neutralize the effects of corrosive ammo.
I defer to the more learned than me and if this is not true please correct me and I will go stand in the corner

February 24, 2009, 08:44 AM
Only the priming compound is corrosive, not the powder residue. Just clean your bore after shooting and it will be fine.

I'll have to disagree on this one. I've shot a fair bit of corrosive ammo through my AKs and have seen rust FLOWERS grow inside the gas tube after a couple of days without cleaning.

Hot water and scrub it out. But it's your rifle. Do a test run if you want. If it gets rusty, you need a better cleaning process.


February 24, 2009, 09:14 AM
Going way out on a limb here but I have been told by an old timer that amonia is the best way to clean and neutralize the effects of corrosive ammo.

Water is the Key, Doc. Household ammonia works well because it is mostly water. The potassium chloride produced by the combustion of the priming mixture is pulled into water solution and more easily removed.

BTW, be careful using ammonia (anyone who does) because given time it will remove bluing.

February 24, 2009, 10:25 AM
Only the priming compound is corrosive, not the powder residue. Just clean your bore after shooting and it will be fine.

You must clean the gas system as well. At least on a Yugo SKS you have to.

February 24, 2009, 10:47 AM
I was told to clean everything the gas comes in contact with immediately after a session with corrosive ammo. Use hot water, then dry and clean as you would after firing noncorrosive ammo. I can't say this is really necessary but I've had an SKS for nearly 20 years, shot thousands of corrosive rounds through it, and no corrosion problems.

February 24, 2009, 10:59 AM
Lots of hot water. Enough to heat the gun to the point where the residual wants to evaporate. Follow with water displacing "oil" .

February 24, 2009, 11:42 AM
I take a bottle of windex to the range with me --I flush the hot barrell and give it a quick scrub before leaving followed by a good hot water wash at home followed by an air compressor blowout of everything untill its dry-Hoppys and a normal cleaning follow.
I happily shoot tons of corrosive ammo.

February 24, 2009, 12:10 PM
If I end up shooting corrosive ammunition, I do these extra cleaning steps before I do the standard cleaning (within 3 hours of shooting said ammo):

First I disassemble and remove as much wood as I can (realistically - I don't remove the wood from the gas tube of my SKS).

Secondly I use a glass cleaner that has ammonia in it. I spray as much as I can though every part that comes in contact with the gas (except for the wood) including the gas piston system, front sight, and bayonet.

Thirdly I use HOT water to wash the liquid off the metal. If I'm feeling really up-tight ;) I'll do the glass cleaning treatment and wash again.

I finish up with a thorough spraying of WD-40 everywhere I can't immediately wipe down.

I then start my normal cleaning routine from here.

It adds about 10 minutes to my cleaning time. I know I overkill the situation, but that's just how I roll. :evil:

The Lone Haranguer
February 24, 2009, 01:59 PM
Again, the corrosive ingredient is carried in the primer discharge. So you need to clean anywhere gas flows. Powder is not corrosive unless it is black powder.

February 24, 2009, 02:17 PM
Nothing cleans the corrosive salts better than water. Household ammonia and Windex are mostly water and don't contain any secret ingredient.

You don't need to go any further than fieldstripping.

Lots of hot water. Enough to heat the gun to the point where the residual wants to evaporate. Follow with water displacing "oil" .

That could be WD40. I usually clean with water, flush with WD40, clean and lube as usual.

Average Joe
February 24, 2009, 05:19 PM
Well here is an old timer telling you , all you need is water. Wash out the barrel, bolt face, and gas system, then lube as normal. I have shot thousands of rounds of corrosive, and never lost a gun yet.....

February 24, 2009, 07:16 PM
Yup. Don't forget to oil it up when you're done.

February 24, 2009, 10:21 PM
How do you determine what is truly corrosive ammo? Some say "all surplus" is corrosive, but I have several thousand rounds that claim to be "not corrosive".

February 24, 2009, 11:01 PM
Do you still need to use hot water if you clean your gun after shooting it within 2 hours? I got some foaming bore cleaner for Christmas this year, (True love when the wife buys gun cleaning products) and I shot my CZ-52 with some corrosive ammo. I let that sit for a little while then scrubbed the bore with Hoppes cleaned the lower and firing pin. I looked at my gun and it looks as clean as when I put it in there.

B yond
February 24, 2009, 11:14 PM
I have some mil-surp bolt actions I shoot corrosive ammo through. Afterwards I cover the end of the barrel with a finger and pour ammonia (or windex) into the barrel through the chamber side until it fills up. I let it soak like that for a minute or two then I remove my finger so it drains and repeat. After that I run a few dry patches through it to dry it out then a patch dripping with gun oil. I prop it up outside of the gun safe with the muzzle down and let it sit for a day or two, then I clean it normally.

I've been doing it this way for years and haven't had any problems with barrel degradation or loss of accuracy.

P.S. I've heard many times that all you need is hot water. I have no reason to think that's not true. I just prefer my method because I can do it in my shop (which doesn't have hot water).

February 24, 2009, 11:55 PM
Do you still need to use hot water if you clean your gun after shooting it within 2 hours

You really don't have to use water at all it's just that water is virtually free and the best thing to dissolve the salts. Many commercial cleaners also do this but none are any better than water. Hoppe's #9 will also dissolce salts. has a test of various cleaners in it's library of articles.

February 25, 2009, 12:34 AM
I've shot several different corrosives through several different firearms. Unfortunately, the cleaner I used back in 02 is no longer made...the range that carried it said the company want bankrupt.

That said here's what to expect on a WASR/AK variant/PSL54C:

Before you shoot it, make sure there's absolutely no cosmolene on the weapon (to include under the handguards) and learn how to tear it down...all the way to the extractor spring within the rotating bolt. Just a little cosmolene in the extractor or firing pin assembly can freeze up those parts or cause a slam fire. See weblinks below.

AK based action...heaviest corrosion points will be the all of the contact points of the gas tube. In fact, you should find a few salt particles in there when you tear it down for cleaning following firing of corrosive ammo. The next will be the flash hider/muzzle brake depending on which is mounted on yours, followed by the barrel, then the chamber and breech. Basically, start at recoil and track the path of the gas in reverse toward the bolt. Make sure to check to see if your gas tube is canted, you'll know if it is by looking.

An ammonia based cleaner is by and far the best method of neutralizing the corrosive ammo primer discharge. But, a good bath in warm water will do the trick as well. IF you use the warm water (even if you don't it helps), use some CLP Powder Spray or a Hoppes' Powder Spray Solvent to blast a lot of the gunk off the parts before you clean them. You can follow it with Hoppes' #9 solution, but you'll want to be thorough.

The gas tube is often a problem for AK-files. I suggest you use a bore snake for a 20 ga. shotgun just for this specific part. Be sure you brush, swab, and pipe cleaner clean the mounting surfaces of the gas tube and locking bar. If you can swing it, I'd suggest getting an extra gas tube. Where the gas tube meets the plunger (bolt forward) is the fastest place to find rust developing from corrosive develops quite quickly here due to different metal compositions and the ports at the end of the gas tube seat.

Here's some parts I'd suggest for a WASR:
Red Star Arms adjustable trigger package
Blackjack recoil buffer (you definately want this if it's a stamped receiver)
Poly stock (if you have wood so you can preserve it)
Front sight tool (new AK-files tend to forget this item)
Extra mags
Extra top cover
Extra gas tube
Tetra Gun Grease (above all else, get this product! Your WASR will function better)

Visit the AK junkie's websites to educate yourself on them: or

Ammo suggestions:
Absolutely do not shoot heavy ball ammo through'll tear up the WASR.
Visit the above sites to get the comparative info on the different ammo available.
My PSL54C loved the Czech Silver Tip ammo and it's available in light ball.
Beware of the Wolf Bi-metal ammo...the casings can and have cracked in the 54r and some of the 39. (54r had 3 in just one box, 2 in a second, and one freeze up the rotating bolt in a third)

For WASR ammo: Prices are hit-and-miss to find a fair deal, but buy in bulk. or

February 25, 2009, 01:16 AM
If I shoot this ammo should I take the trigger assymbly and everything out of the reciever and clean all of it really good?

February 25, 2009, 01:28 AM
Leave the trigger assy's a pain to get out. The shepherd's crook is a nightmare if you've never removed one. I only removed my fire control assy to change to the Red Star Arms adjustable trigger package.

A basic field strip is all that's needed to clean it after shooting. The big tear down is if/when you get one with cosmolene everywhere. FYI, if you give it a water-bath, make sure to remove the wood if you have wood stock/guards. If it's polymer, spray some of the mounting bolts in the stock with just a tiny bit of WD40 before you give it a bath.

Before you shoot that ammo (assuming it's milsurplus), check the sites I mentioned to see if you can identify if it's heavy or light ball. Remember, heavy ball is bad news for a stamped receiver. If it's in a spam can, you should be able to ID it quickly on those sites. If not, you may have to search a bit to find out. Specifically, if it's in cardboard boxes and not the spam can, take a picture and post it up on those sites...someone should be able to come to the rescue with an ID. If you can, post one here.

Tom S.
February 25, 2009, 10:27 AM
Do you still need to use hot water if you clean your gun after shooting it within 2 hours?

I am in the process of reading "Hatcher's Notebook" again. General Hatcher was the army's Chief Ordnance Officer for many years and lived through the period of time when the US military changed from corrosive to non-corrosive primers. His findings were that most bore cleaners of the time - which included Hoppes' #9, were not as effective as hot water, though I don't remember him saying anything about the possible benefit of using bore cleaners after the hot water. He also recommended that cleaning be done as soon as possible.

February 25, 2009, 12:08 PM
I`m pretty sure the ammo is from Vietnam but I`m not sure if its from then or WWII. I dont know if its heavy or light ball ammo.

February 25, 2009, 12:54 PM
I have forgotten the ingredient listed in the MSDS that I looked at a couple of years ago, but it made it appear that due to that item, Hoppes#9 featured something water-based in the formula (IIRC, the ingredient was listed as <10%).

I have seen many folks spend a LOT of energy arguing FOR or AGAINST the ability of Hoppes#9 to remove the potassium chloride. <shrug>

With that in mind, a few years ago I fired 50 rounds of old, chlorate-primered British Mk7 .303 milsurp thru one of my N4s. Afterwards, I followed my regular "non-corrosive" cleaning regimen using only Hoppes#9 as the cleaning solvent and then left it outside of the gunsafes in the basement.

I just checked my log and the rifle bore ... I fired those rounds & cleaned the rifle on 01Nov06 ... and the bore is still bright & shiny and shows no sign of corrosion.

That said, to be safe, after firing ammo with chlorate primers I still always use some water(-based) as a "corrosive pre-cleaner" prior to doing a regular cleaning ... heck, it only takes a moment to accomplish.

February 25, 2009, 07:01 PM
Something I just remembered, though I don't remember exactly what brand it was. A gunsmith told me many years ago of a brand of brake parts cleaner which he said was as good as any of the specialty gun cleaners, also only cost about $2-3 for a big aerosol can, (enough for 20-30 cleanings) and had the added benefit of containing an ingredient to dissolve road salts, and he recommended I use it on my SKS. He knew I often bought Combloc surplus with corrosive primers for that gun, and I suspect that's why he pushed that particular cleaner. He carried it in his shop but he's no longer in business. I used it for a few years until he closed down and I was unable to find it anymore. I don't know if just any brake parts cleaner would do. He only carried that one brand and never mentioned another one. Even so, I still washed everything with water before routine cleaning because I can't afford to ruin a gun. If any brake parts cleaner would be as good or if they still make that one are questions someone here may be able to answer.

February 25, 2009, 07:23 PM
Bra-Klean (sp) is carried by most auto parts places in both Chlorinated and Non-Chlorine versions (Red can vs. Green can, IIRC). And most auto places have a "house brand" generic version that's the same thing. It makes a fine general parts degreaser and pressure wash.

Gunscrubber (and some others I think) is just this stuff with a higher price tag. It doesn't do anything better than plain water (not sure that it will dissolve the salts as well as water) but it does dry VERY fast.

I use it a lot, but not as a first pass for corrosive ammo. And you HAVE to oil afterward as those parts cleaners strip all the protective oils off the gun.


February 25, 2009, 09:35 PM
Sam, I think you mean Bar-Kleen. (sp) I think I've used it before with fair results.

Stay away from the Gun Scrubber (Birchwood Casey), it will damage the clear coat on the wood and will bleach out any plastic it comes into contact with. The CLP Powder Blast is a good alternative to it.

Oil afterwards yes....that's why I suggested he get the Tetra gun grease for the AK variant. It's one of the best products for rotating bolt firearms, specifically AK variants. (Includes Saiga, PSL, ROMAK, Golani/Galil)

February 25, 2009, 10:49 PM
So when you guys say "hot" water for cleaning up after corrosive ammo, are we talking 120 degree water from the kitchen sink, or are we talking hotter than that (boling?)?

February 26, 2009, 12:53 AM
I used water at 130 degrees and scrubbed with a brass or copper brush after getting everything wet by soaking, or with cleaning patches or rags. Depended on the part(s) I was cleaning how I wet and scrubbed them. As I mentioned in an earlier post on this thread, nearly 20 years, thousands of rounds of corrosive, and no corrosion in my SKS.

February 26, 2009, 06:44 AM
Oil afterwards yes....that's why I suggested he get the Tetra gun grease for the AK variant. It's one of the best products for rotating bolt firearms, specifically AK variants. (Includes Saiga, PSL, ROMAK, Golani/Galil)

Well that's fine advice if you're a grease fan, but I was more specifically speaking of wiping down the metal surfaces of the gun with a protective oil to prevent rusting. I doubt you're advising that he grease the entire gun. (?)

The degreasers like Gunscrubber or brake parts cleaner will remove any surface film of gun oil and leave bare metal exposed to the atmosphere which is a short path to a rusted gun.

So it's really two issues: 1) Wipe down all metal surfaces so the gun doesn't rust, and 2) LUBRICATE the rub points of moving parts with grease (if you choose to use grease) or oil.

Personally, when I've wiped down a firearm, I leave it almost dry to the touch. Just enough oil for protection. Not enough to remain visible or feel-able on the gun.

I prefer very minimal lubrication as well as most guns run fine without much (except at very critical points) and it tends to collect crud/grit. I've certainly never heard of a Kalashnikov needing a lot of lube to function reliably, and in a sandy/dusty environment I'd rather run it dry than grease it up and end up with a rifle full of abrasive-embedded goo ... but it certainly doesn't hurt for the kinds of ranges most of us shoot on.


Average Joe
February 26, 2009, 05:28 PM
Actually the water doesn't have to be hot, cold water will still yield the same results.

February 26, 2009, 06:08 PM
The hottest water you can stand to work in. The WHY is because the heat will tend to dry the weapon.

Windex with Ammonia is good because it cleans well. The ammonia cuts the salts best.

Another way is to consider rubbing alcohol, which is mostly water, but this tends to dry up well.

After you think the parts are all clean, and you will need a long pipe cleaner, to reach from the gas tube into the barrel, and I missed seeing this mentioned in any other post, you will want to check the gun over in a days time AGAIN.

Basicly it is like shooting this gun with black powder. You clean it and then check it AGAIN in a day to make sure it is cleaned well.

I used to shoot Berdan primed 8mm surp, in a K 98 Mauser and I never had a spot of rust, but I cleaned the gun well.

The main point is to make sure the gun is clean and then that you didn't leave traces of salts and or pooled water in threads and other tight places water can go, but you can't see.

That the gun is cleaned the same day it was shot.

That used to be a basic fact of life for any gun and any ammo, but I guess some things changed in time.

All the time people bring me 'broken' guns to fix, and sometimes they just give these to me for parts!

98% of these are simply filthy.

February 26, 2009, 11:59 PM
I shot 85 rounds of the corrosive ammo so we`ll see how the gun holds up. I cleaned it as good as I could with hot soapy water, birchwood casey muzzle magic cleaner, break free, hoppes 9, and when I was finished with all that stuff I left a thin layer of some gun grease that I use on all my guns. I noticed the muzzle magic cleaner says, "A water based solvent for blackpowder and muzzleloaders so hopefully it didnt hurt the ak. It also says on the back that its also recommended for removing corrosive primer. Like I said, we`ll see how it holds up.

February 27, 2009, 12:44 AM
"I used to shoot Berdan primed 8mm surp"

The only thing about this that even hints at corrosive is the "surp" part. Berdan is a style, not a composition. And even that's not 100%, it is my understanding that not ALL surp is corrosive.

VII. Reloading Information
F. Terminology
3. Berdan vs. Boxer Primers
by Michael Knape (

So what is the difference between berdan and boxer primed ammo? Is either prefereable for .308 or 7.62 x 39 practice, storage, etc?

Primers in the U.S. are often referred to as Boxer primers, after the designer, Edward M. Boxer, a British Army Officer during the mid 1800's. At about the same time, an American ordinance officer, Hiram Berdan, introduced a different priming system in the U.S. The Berdan primer uses 2 or 3 smaller flash holes that are off center and surround an anvil that is formed as part of the bottom of the primer pocket. From a manufacturing standpoint, Berdan's system is simpler and less expensive, but cases of this type are extremely difficult to reload. Aluminum CCI Blaser cartridges use this system and are not reloadable. Ironically, it was the British Boxer system that the U.S. has adopted, while the American Berdan system is still widely used in Great Britain, and Europe. The Boxer system uses a larger centered flash hole and the anvil is a separate metal piece that's held inside the primer cup.

February 27, 2009, 12:08 PM
The ammonia cuts the salts best.


Jim Watson
February 27, 2009, 05:12 PM
At best the ammonia acts as a detergent to penetrate the powder fouling to get water to the KCl.

February 27, 2009, 05:20 PM
if you have an air compressor, i would employ that, as well as hot soapy water, and hot water to rinse it. use the compressed air to dry it IMMEDIATLY after rinsing with plain hot water. then, clean like normal. i also wouldn't be stingy with my favorite spray oil. you can use the air compressor again to blow off the excess oil.

February 27, 2009, 05:41 PM
if you have an air compressor, i would employ that

Wouldn't be a bad idea to invest in an air line drier if you want to do that. Compressors put a LOT of water out with the air. Don't want to blow that into the innards of the rifle.


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