Ok, Ok, I know. You’re sick of hearing about yet another miracle gun cleaning, lubing and rust preventing product.
This article is about why we need to do these things, not what to use.
The goals are simple. We need to:
- protect the metal from rust,
- protect the metal from damage by abrasion, and
- keep the mess and stink tolerable.
We clean and lube for #1 and #2 while also trying to do #3.
So, let’s start with those basics.
#1, Prevent Rust
First, the gun has a lot of rust protection built in.
Bluing is protection. It’s there to protect the metal.
Or, if you have a handgun made primarily from stainless steel, then those parts are immune to rust.
Polymer (plastic) parts are, of course, also immune to rust.
So, we need rust protection where bluing or other rust protection has worn off. And it is also needed in places where there can’t be any such protection in the first place.
Places where tolerances are so tight as to preclude any finish whatsoever on the metal need protection. Those extremely tight tolerances will be found where the hammer hooks meet the sear, for example.
These places need protection from rust.
#2, Protect From Abrasion
When you shoot, the gun gets dirty. Soot is mostly carbon — as in diamonds — and causes wear and tear on each shot thereafter. The more you shoot without cleaning, the more abrasion will be happening.
Where metal rubs metal, dirt will eventually dig through any bluing and expose the bare metal beneath. Those areas are now vulnerable to rust and metal is rough. Shoot again and the rust flakes away — that’s your gun flaking away.
So we clean after shooting and protect any polished (bare!) areas from rust.
#3, Protect Your Shirt and Nose
If your wife won’t let you in the house after you’ve shot a match, maybe it’s more than your pits.
Some products stink.
Some products get slung all over.
Some products cling to your skin and won’t wash off with soap and water, or bond with the fibers in your shirt so strongly that detergent won’t break them loose.
Others gun products, however, have little or no odor, stay put on the gun and are easy to get off your hands and clothing.
While it’s true in many cases that “Older is better”, if the world worked that way completely, we’d still be living in caves.
So, if you’re like me, you’ve probably tried a couple of different products, some old, some new, and perhaps you’ve learned some pros and cons.
I’ve tried plain oil. Works good but it’s messy.
I’ve tried Ed’s Red (I’m not that Ed, by the way). But it stinks. Stinks bad.
I’m currently trying a set of commercial products. More on this later.
Readers may remember that I recently I bought an ultrasonic cleaner and ran my (filthy) wad gun through. That experience has brought a couple of new lessons and, coupled with other past experiences, it is a “keeper” but with some significant realizations about where and when to fit it into the overall plan.
Indeed, fitting all this together into a single cohesive picture is now my goal.
It’s not just about cleaning.
What I’m after is the overall process, not just of cleaning one gun, but of maintaining all my firearms over the long term. The ultrasonic cleaner is one part. The products, whether commercial or bought at the local Auto Parts store, is another part. How often, in what sequence, and with what implements is also significant. And so is the replacement of springs and such.
The three goals listed at the beginning of this article are a significant part of this overall process, but it’s the whole show that I’m after.
And it’s coming.