Ultra Sonic cleaners


June 11, 2004, 10:45 AM
Anyone use these for cleaning pistol barrels and/or frame & slides ?

Any issues with using them ?

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June 11, 2004, 12:43 PM
The good points:

They really clean.

They usually clean FAST. Drop a dirty part in, and the dirt actually BOILS off in a cloud.

They DEEP clean, getting crud you normally don't even see. Ultrasonics get into cracks and holes that normally you can't get to with other methods.

They're especially good on harder fouling. (Ultrasonics work better on hard dirt).

You don't have to disassembly things. Ultrasonics are used by watchmakers to avoid having to disassembly some small components.

They work with a variety of solutions. Water with detergent works on many types of dirt, so you don't HAVE to use a volatile solvent.
If you use water, you need to put something in as a "wetting" agent.
A few drops of detergent will do.

The solution is heated up by the ultrasonic action. Warm solution cleans even better. Many tanks have a built-in heater also.

You can put an inch of water in the bottom and use small glass or plastic cups to hold solvent and small parts.

You can use the tank for MANY cleaning jobs, Paint brushes, dirty watch bands, electric razor heads, you're wife's jewelery, car parts, ANYTHING that you can fit into the tanks will clean up surgically clean.

The bad:
KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE TANK. Ultrasonics and bones don't mix.

Expense. The larger tanks are COSTLY. However, if you want to clean a stripped pistol or small parts, one of the smaller $150.00 range tanks will work fine. You CAN put a portion of a frame or slide in the tank at a time. After cleaning it, turn it over and clean the other half.

Any solvent that will attack plastic or gun finishes, will attack it FASTER in ultrasonics.

You've got to be careful to apply a THOROUGH coat of anti-rust lube after cleaning. Ultrasonics remove ALL grease and lube, leaving the part absolutely bare, including in tiny holes and crevices.

They don't work as well on soft gummy grease as harder dirt. You can speed things up by scrubbing with a brush.

They're electronic and heat the solvent. You have to be careful with flammables.

If possible buy a basket that holds parts off the bottom. Ultrasonics work better when the parts are suspended in the solution instead of laying on the bottom of the tank.

A tank cover is nice to hold down fumes.

NEVER run the unit when the tank is dry.

Be careful what cleaning solution you use. You can pull the item out and find finish or plastic parts GONE.

Be careful with Tritium sights, and sights with any kind of inserts or dots. Many can be damaged or removed in the tank.

The small tanks sold in discount stores for cleaning false teeth and jewelery really don't work too well, and most of them aren't even real ultrasonic units.

June 11, 2004, 01:27 PM
I have been using an ultrasonic cleaner now for quite a few years with good results. Recently, I've used it to clean firearms, cartridge cases headed for the reloading bench, and a carburetor. It's been used for all kinds of things.

Be careful of jewelry, though, some gems will shatter. Emeralds are one, I believe, but you should be able to find a list on the web somewhere if that interests you.

Be a little careful of your cleaning solutions. I would find MPro 7 ideal except that it's relatively expensive. Simple Green is nice, but NEVER use it with aluminum.

One benefit of using the heater, if the unit has one, is that it makes it a fair bit easier to assure that everything dries. As mentioned above, you will strip all lube and corrosion protection, so re-treat everything.

I like to follow up a cleaning with a pure water rinse, but I'm not sure it's necessary.

You can often buy returned units from a dental supply place that are essentially NIB. If you're lucky, you can also sometimes find one free if a dentist is replacing one (make sure it's still working).

June 11, 2004, 02:32 PM
Thanks very much for the extensive responses ! More then I hoped for.:)

Since you guys actually use them, have you found any problems in using specific gun type solvents like MP pro or Hoppes reacting with the Blued finishes of 1911`s or the finish of Glock slides , the only guns I would use it for.

Does it work well on getting the fouling, especially copper out of barrels ?

I love handguns and shooting them and buy ammo by the case, I know I would shoot more, and more of my guns but for the PITA hand cleaning.

If you could also point me in the direction of what units you guys use, it would be sincerely appreciated. The small ones Brownell`s sells are $500 +:eek:

Thanks !

June 11, 2004, 08:42 PM
Here's the one I use: http://www.crest-ultrasonics.com/575.htm

I don't remember how much it was. Lots less than from Brownells, for sure, because as I mentioned I got it NIB/return ("open box," I guess the stores call it) from a Crest dealer in NJ who was thrilled to sell it at a very discounted price. It's worked flawlessly.

It won't, IMO/IME, clean the barrel. I don't even really think MPro 7 does a great job on powder fouling. There really is no substitute for a brass brush, nitro solvent, and a little elbow grease.

It will, however, clean everything else, completely, including under/around the extractor, inside the firing pin channel, etc. Great medicine for M1 carbine and Garand bolts that you don't want to detail strip. :)

I don't think that M Pro 7 or Hoppe's would have any bad effects in a u/s cleaner, since they're fine by hand, but I wouldn't want to fill a tank with Hoppes -- the combination of heat and the u/s action would get a lot of smell into the air. And, I can't afford to fill the tank with MPro 7.

This leads me to one comment. If you look at these, you really must disregard the tank size dimensions and focus on the basket dimensions. I thought I was stretching when I bought the one above. In reality, I would say it's barely big enough. Things like revolver and semiauto pistol frames barely fit. Parts don't clean as well if they're sitting on the bottom of the tank. Basically, these things are like gun safes. Buy bigger than you think you need.

Jim K
June 11, 2004, 10:03 PM
I agree with all the above and will just add that for a gun shop, a sonic tank is the greatest invention since slided bread and sex. Guns like the Winchester Model 94 can be cleaned just by removing the wood and dunking, so a complete disassembly and cleaning that would take a couple of hours takes a few minutes.

I don't think most individuals could really justify the expense, but I recommend them to those who can afford them.

No, they won't clean copper fouling out of a barrel.


June 12, 2004, 10:35 PM
Well, there was this one time when I turned the temp up all the way and put in undiluted Ammonia...


Jus' kiddin' :scrutiny:

August 20, 2004, 03:49 PM
If you use Mpro7 will it cause the tritium inserts to come out?

August 20, 2004, 04:05 PM
Ultrasonic Cleaning for Hand Guns (http://wmporter.com/ugc/)

August 22, 2004, 08:09 PM
I have and use my ultrasonic unit often with SF 50. This is a solvent free degreaser that is made especially for these units. You mix it 21 parts water and 1 part SF 50.
My unit is a Bransonic and the actual tank dimensions are about 12 x 6 x 6 with a wire basket. I use it mostly for cleaning trigger assemblies.
Check the cataloges that sell to the tool & die industry, such as ENCO or McMasters, they have them..

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