alternative cleaning methods


March 17, 2010, 02:38 PM
what materials can be used to clean a gun if you didn't have standard gun cleaning equipment? This means no breakfree, no hoppes, no patches of the standard would you clean and preserve your weapon?

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March 17, 2010, 02:46 PM
For many of my stainless guns I just use a can of brake cleaner. The Napa brand can only runs about $2, and lasts about three cleanings and really blasts all the carbon out of the nooks and crannies...... but that's just for the slide and frame, and I would be very aware of using this stufff on guns with any kind of finish on them. I don't know which, if any, finishes would be harmed by it. As far as cleaning the barrel, there really is no substitute to a good brush, a good Jag, some cotton patches and some good dedicated purpose solvents and lubricants.

Fact is, if you can afford a gun, you can afford to properly maintain it. Cleaning supplies are dirt cheap.

March 17, 2010, 02:54 PM
Soap and very hot water actually work quite well in the absence of standard gun cleaning chemicals.

Can't speak from experience but I've heard that in the old days before petro lubes were available lard and vegetable oils were used. Don't seem like they'd work well but they must have worke well enough.

March 17, 2010, 02:59 PM
Ed's Red as a bore cleaner/lube. Give the parts a good wipedown with an old white cotton t-shirt.

You can rip a strip off the shirt, wrap it around a dowel, slide that down the barrel and use it like a patch.

Also, q-tips for those hard to reach crevices.

Flame Red
March 17, 2010, 03:11 PM
+1000 for Ed's Run. I have some in a auto parts washer and it works great. The non-chlorinated break cleaner also works but you have to be careful on certain materials and finishes - or it will take it right off.

March 17, 2010, 03:14 PM
I don't want to give off the impression that I'm looking to replace my breakfree and Hoppes nitro...this is more a "what if..." or reference type of thread.

March 17, 2010, 03:29 PM
As Werewolf said - soap, water, and elbow grease is fine for cleaning. I suppose vinegar or some other type of mild acid might come in handy for tough carbon deposits on certain guns. Then follow with any type of household or automotive grease or oil to lube.

Might not be ideal, but if that's absolutely all you had, you'd probably get on just fine.

March 17, 2010, 03:42 PM
We used to clean our M-14's for inspections in basic by taking the stock off and taking the parts in the shower with us when the platoon Sergent wasn't sulking around.

Hot water, cleaning rod & bore brush, an old toothbrush & Dial soap gets them squeaky clean & smelling fresh!

Following that in a SHTF situation and no cleaning supplies?
I would use any oil or grease I could find, including Vaseline, baby oil, cooking oil, or even better, motor oil.


March 17, 2010, 03:44 PM
Very light oil, especially a penetrating oil, would make an OK bore cleaner in a pinch. Motor oil, or light gear oil could be used as a lube and protectant, or ATF is even better.

Most good quality guns, at least that we would use in an emergency situation, should be just fine without real cleaning for thousands or rounds if they only got a wipe down and lube every once in a while.

March 17, 2010, 03:51 PM
Hot soapy water is highly effective against oil, grease and gun-related dirtiness. Water isn't harmful as long as you dry it off quickly. Hot water evaporates faster than cold.

The user manual for the M-14 said that if no rifle oil was available, motor oil could be substituted in emergencies, but must be removed as soon as possible. Regular motor oil attracts a lot of dirt, synthetic doesn't. I use Mobil 1 5W30 synthetic often.

March 17, 2010, 04:21 PM
Hey rcmodel, did the same thing at Dix in 82 with our M16A1s, figgered as long as we used the hotist water the metal would be dry before it could rust.

March 17, 2010, 04:43 PM
I think OP is looking for is endofworld type of cleaning. Like in WWII how they cleaned the mosin nagant or kar98k just a little bottle of oil, a rope chain down the barrel. I am on the right track OP??

Do not know if you would call rope chain standard?

March 17, 2010, 04:52 PM
pretty much. just food for thought. or if i had some things laying around the campsite after shooting my guns that werent standard gun cleaning supplies. be it shtf or just a holdover until i can get home and clean the thing right. i am fairly good to my guns so i do try to clean them after use, no exceptions. just wondering what ones options would be. ive actually used Windex inside of a Mosin barrel after firing 150-200 rds and it sped up the cleaning process noticeably. i thought id be cleaning it for 3 hours and it was more like one. haha. good ideas in here.

March 17, 2010, 05:02 PM
I had a friend in a police department that ran his Glock through the dishwasher weekly. :what: He just put a dab of lube on it the next morning. It was clean enough to pass weekly inspections. This particular department required shooting qualification bi-monthly then. His gun lasted fine for the 4 years he spent there. I wouldn't do that to my weapon, but his was shot regularly and never needed a trip to the armorer.:scrutiny:

Edit: Keep in mind that this guy wasn't new to guns. We've assembled AR's together and he has several custom colts we've worked on together over the years while hanging out, very knowledgeable fellow.

March 17, 2010, 05:03 PM
I've never done it but you can clean a bore with a length of weed eater line. Tie one end in a big knot and melt it a little with a lighter so it wont come undone. Then slice the other end at an angle for a sharp point. Use the point to poke a hole in the patch and slide the patch down to the knot and you can pull it through the bore. That would fit nicely in your range bag or you could make one in no time flat if your cleaning rod broke and you wanted to clean your gun now.

Marlin 45 carbine
March 17, 2010, 05:09 PM
if you can get kerosene or diesel to flush all with while working the action. then pull/push patches through.
if there is corrosive primered ammo shot through then you must use a water/detergent fluid I recommend windshield washer fluid in spray bottle to flush all with.
then do the above wipe and dry then re-lube.

March 17, 2010, 05:12 PM
I wanted a .357 boresnake and didn't have my actual Hoppe's-brand snake handy so I tied a knot in some 550 cord, oiled the knot and ran it through the bore. I threaded on a couple actual patch squares to see the black gunk I was scrubbing out and snug up the fit a little.

Similarly, I wanted something to squeegee out the gunk from my shotgun barrel so I took some cotton cord and tied that into a section of old t-shirt. I knotted the t-shirt until the knot was big enough to be snug in the bore but could be pulled through with a little muscle. Works great, been using it for years now. Cheap too.

As for oils, read through the blackpowder subforum. While Ballistol is popular, you can also use vegetable oil (and I have at times) and Crisco. The natural oils don't gum up like the petro oils do with BP. Also, a popular bullet lube is basically 50/50-Crisco/Beeswax. Works great in my BP .38 Special rounds. Straight Criso can work for a grease, but I understand that in warmer weather the addition of Beeswax helps keep it from melting out altogether.

March 17, 2010, 05:23 PM
Dishwashing a glock:what::what::eek:

Hell, that's reason enough for me to go and buy one.:D:p

Seriously though. If you remove the stock from the action itself (assuming you don't have a plastic type finish) Almost anything would be fine. Brake cleaner, starter fluid (if your really looking for an oil free finish, make sure you oil it after spraying starter fluid on a gun), dishsoap/detergents, anything to cut grease and oil is fine. Ammonia to cut copper. As far as lubrication motoroil, diesel, WD-40, animal lard whatever is fine too.

Do be careful as some of these chemicals maybe rough on your stock. No matter what the material is.

Your best bet would probably your muzzleloading cleaning kit. It won't get rid of the copper (of which I think people get a bit carried away with anyway), but you'll sure have a clean and rust free gun.

My favorite cleaner on almost anything and everything is windex. If it can get rid of finger prints and smears on glass and mirrors it must be doing a good job at cleaning it. Guns, stoves, table tops. Windex is the best.

It's one of those "common sense" things.

March 17, 2010, 05:34 PM
Mountain men used lye soap and bear grease......

March 17, 2010, 06:37 PM
I use the "Plaid" method - as in what Dead Men Don't Wear:

But it's already been mentioned. ;)

March 17, 2010, 07:49 PM
Simple Green, some good scrubbin, followed by 30 minutes in a 200 degree oven.

If it's good enough for Bob Dunlap it's good enough for me....

March 17, 2010, 11:12 PM
You mean like when you are in the field?

Just find some ATF or worst case used motor oil and dump a bit on the action now and than. Any decent rifle should be able to run for at least 2k-3k rounds with just that, better ones much more. I would expect a good AK or Fal to be able to go for well over 5k with just that much. Maybe dunk it in a river once in awhile to get the big chunks of mud out of it.:D

Guns are pretty tough, the Swiss actualy told their soliders not to lube their K31's in times of war. No lube means less dirt gets stuck in the action. Also helps prevent freezing.

navyretired 1
March 18, 2010, 12:32 AM
Laugh all you want, the dishwasher does a good job on dirty handguns. The blow down with air or hair drier.

March 18, 2010, 07:14 AM
Another vote for Ed's Red.
Lacking that, I always have a can of brake cleaner and carb cleaner in the garage. I'd wipe 'em down with a dab of Mobile 1.

March 18, 2010, 07:28 AM
Gas and oil.

March 18, 2010, 09:35 AM
When I was at the Depot in San Diego in 1991 we did Dawn and scalding hot water in those big galvanized steel trash cans for the turn-ins for our A2's. They were lightly re-oiled with some CLP and turned them in 2 days later to make sure we didn't have rust.

Seems to me that its been happening a long time that way.

March 18, 2010, 09:49 AM

I prefer Simple Green. It's environmentally safe (biodegradable), smells nice and cleans like you wouldn't believe. When I need a deep cleaning I use this and real hot water, as hot as I can stand. I'll use a tooth brush and pipe cleaners to get into all the nooks and crannies. If the gun is real soiled I'll let it soak for a little while. For complicated parts like the receiver and slide, after the rinse I'll blow them out with my air compressor. Then I'll give them a heavy coat of oil and wipe it all off so all that is left is a light film that has penetrated. I use CLP, but I suppose if that wasn't available I'd agree with the synthetic motor oil, but I'd get the CLP as soon as possible. I would never use WD40 as a lube. You can also use a very light coat of bearing grease on surfaces that rub, but again only as a temp solution.

March 18, 2010, 09:51 AM
Lots of creative firearms cleaning tips here -

Avoid food source oils and greases for extended use. Mineral oil won't go rancid where food oils might.

Parafin candles can be used in a pinch to help protect against rust and to "lube" rails. Candle shavings dissolved in automatic transmission fluid can work also.

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