Cleaning Process

It’s the process as much as the product. And by that I mean when, how much and where the product, any product, is used.

I’ve been using three of the Mil-Comm products for about a year and am very satisfied. The gun looks almost dry and accumulates very little dirt but functions perfectly normal. Those accustomed to a lot of oil are sometimes wary of how dry the gun looks. All I can say is, it works, and clean-up is very easy.

But first things first. If you’re gonna try something, to give it a meaningful try, you’ve got to go whole hog. For cleaning, protecting and lubing products, that means the first step is getting rid of what is still there from the previous product.

I only do this once a year or when switching to a different product.

Complete Dis-assembly and Stripping

Start by taking the gun completely apart. No assemblies should remain. If you are not comfortable doing this, enlist someone’s help to take it apart and put it back together — a couple of times — until you feel up to it.

The only way I’ve found to completely strip all oils, greases and dirt is with an ultrasonic cleaner through two consecutive but different fluids and then a final alcohol bath. Note that you’ll be left with completely naked metal at the end of this. It needs protection, and it needs it right away. Plan your time and the availability of supplies accordingly.

First, I use Mineral Spirits which are, I’m sure you know, highly flammable. I get the de-odorized version at Home Depot and use about a quart in my ultrasonic cleaner. That has to be done outside and well away from the house or other structure for safety reasons.

For my wadder 1911, a ton of dirt was liberated the first time I did this and, as I removed the parts, I tried to leave as much of that dirt behind by re-dipping, shaking and then using compressed air. Note that, with the really small parts, they will go flying when hit with an air blast if you don’t hang on tight.

A thin coat of Mineral Spirits remains, however. It must now be removed.

After dumping, wiping and rinsing the stainless steel tub of the ultrasonic cleaner, I filled it with distilled (!) water and added a tablespoon of Simple Green for the second cleaning. This liberates more dirt, some of it probably from nooks and crannies where it hid after the first cleaning.

Again, as part are removed, re-dipped and shaken, they are again blasted with compressed air.

Bare steel rusts, as I’m sure you know. The use of distilled water (from the corner grocery) is helpful in the previous step because it gives fewer “starting points” (non-H2O ingredients) for the rust. But some water (and Simple Green) may still remain. So, finally, we need to get rid of the water.

Isopropyl alcohol is hypergolic — it bonds with the water and carries it away.

When you shop for this alcohol, get the “good stuff” from your local Walgreens or CVS, the 91% variety. Rubbing alcohol at only 70% will not do. It is already 30% water. The isopropyl variety (91%) is what you want.

You won’t need the ultrasonic action this time — all the dirt has already been loosened and washed away. Now we’re just trying to get the alcohol to soak up the water. You’ll still want to submerge the parts and shake them so the alcohol gets into all the little spaces but, this time, as the parts are removed and the alcohol blown away (or left to evaporate from otherwise unreachable areas), the alcohol will take the water with it.

You will then have 100% clean parts.

Protection and Lubrication

Steel is blued to protect it. Stainless steel is also protected from rust by what it is made of. Parts made thusly will not rust.

But where you see shiny steel on a blued part, that’s where rust can begin. Those areas need something on them to keep the oxygen away.

Some shooters use a light coating of oil and then rub it moderately dry. This protects the metal and, on the blued areas where it is not actually needed, it looks very nice. But oil evaporates and, eventually, the protection of that oil coating will be gone.

I have several of my grandfathers tools that he stored with a heavy oil coating but, after his passing, my grandmother didn’t know this sad fact about oil. The tools, stored in a shed in a humid climate, grew a thick crust of rust before she passed and the tools came into my possession. Bottom line: In time, oil evaporates. If you don’t replace it periodically, the steel beneath will rust.

What I’m Using

For the past year, I’ve been using three products from Mil-Comm. Previously, I tried a lot of different things and, on balance, I’m now convinced these three products, used in the regimen described below, give me the best combination of protection, lubrication and ease of cleanup.

Note that Mil-Comm has several products and applicators but I use only three on my handguns. I use the TW-25B grease in a syringe, the MC-3000 oil in a bottle with a dropper, and the MC-25 cleaner in a spray applicator. Each goes in a different place or, in the case of the cleaner, is used at a different time.

If you’re following these steps in sequence, your firearm will, right now, be super-clean with nothing, absolutely nothing, on it. I will start the discussion, therefore, with the application of protection and lubrication. The Mil-Comm cleaner will, as a result, be relegated to the end of this discussion. And since it is used after shooting, this will place it in the proper sequence.

Grease

I use the TW-25B grease everywhere possible in preference to the oil. I do this because grease stays put. It doesn’t evaporate and it doesn’t run away.

I apply a very small bead of grease from the syringe every place I see shiny metal and then rub it in — thoroughly — with my finger or a small, stiff-bristle brush. In areas where two faces will meet, I apply it to both faces and, again, rub it in thoroughly.

I prefer to use a finger for this but there are places it just won’t go. That’s where the little brushes are used.I get the metal handled ones from Home Depot in their paint department. I think they’re near the glues. I trim the bristles with a pair of scissors so they are about 3/8″ long.

Mil-Comm’s instructions say the grease gets into the “pores” of the metal. While I can’t attest to that, I can tell you that, when I’m done, there is almost no grease visible. The metal surface is shinier than when it was bare and, presumably, that extra shine is from the grease. Again, Mil-Comm’s instructions indicate this is the right amount to use — no more than a thin film is visible and only “just barely” at that.

All parts with bearing surfaces get this treatment. This includes all the trigger parts such as the guides in the frame where the trigger harp rides, the face thereon where it bears against the dis-connector and sear, the sear faces, hammer hooks and so forth. (If you fail to lubricate these parts once, the huge jump in trigger “weight” will let you know why you want to lube these parts. Don’t ask how I know this.)

Make sure to lube all pins on which something rotates or moves.

Metal on metal and they move independently? Lube it.

Oil

The only place I use the MC-3000 oil is on the barrel link pin, and that’s only because I’m sometimes too lazy to do a complete teardown and lube that one pin and the inside faces of the link pin.

But remember what we said about oil. It eventually goes away and needs to be replaced. Supposedly the MC-3000 oil sticks around longer because it works itself into the “pores” of the metal but, even so, I always add a drop of oil in the clean-up after every shoot.

I also keep a small container of the MC-3000 oil in my gun box “just in case” the slide doesn’t feel right, etc. But so far I haven’t used any for that. It’s insurance and if I never use it, that’s OK.

Cleaner

After one or two hundred rounds such as after a 2700, I do a field strip and light cleaning. This is when I use the MC-25 cleaner.

I remove the slide and barrel and, with a paper towel, wipe the outside of the barrel.

I then use the spray (MC-25) cleaner to wet a couple of patches and run them through the barrel to let it get started. I set the barrel aside while I continue.

While the inside of the barrel soaks, I use a fiber (not brass) brush to dust out the gun. Pretty much everything I can reach gets brushed.

If I notice some build-up on the top of the frame where the barrel is locked down at the top of the ramp, I will use a brass brush to remove that as it is usually too stubborn for the fiber brush.

Once I’m done with frame and slide, I do the barrel.

I only use the cleaner when needed to break up something — and where I use that cleaner, I need to re-apply grease (or oil). It is a “cleaner” and it removes everything, dirt and grease included. Hence, after use, re-apply protection.

For the barrel, my wad gun seems to always build up a leaded spot inside the chamber in the same place about halfway down and on the right side. I guess that’s where the bullet bangs into the chamber on its way in. That spot always needs a brass brush and a bit of elbow grease. If it’s particularly bad, I may need to aim a squirt of cleaner in there and let it soak a second time before hitting it with the brass brush.

Once that spot is knocked out, then I’m ready for one a final wet (with cleaner) patch followed by dry patches until they come out clean. I run doubled-patches and it usually takes 8-10 passes before I’m done.

I’m then ready to re-apply grease to the bearing surfaces, rub it in again with my finger or bristle brush, put a single drop of the oil on the barrel link pin and re-assemble.

If I’m going to be shooting within the next month, I will then foul the barrel with ten rounds.

Failing that, I stick a small (3×5″) piece of paper into the chamber and close the slide so the note sticks out with the written message that it has not yet been fouled.

Summary

So, that’s the drill.

Once a year, I completely disassemble, strip and grease my 1911s. I also go to this extreme if I’m going to change to a completely different product and want a “blank slate” on which to start.

I treat my S&W Model 41 and other guns in a similar manner but don’t do a complete tear-down as I don’t have the tools or expertise, they don’t get as dirty, and they’re not fired as much.

After shooting, I field strip and brush away the dirt resorting to a flat or round brass brush only in two areas, on top of the slide and halfway down the inside of the chamber. Every other area gets treated to only a fiber brush.

I then use the MC-25 cleaner on the barrel, inside and out. Remember, the cleaner removes everything so re-apply protection and lubing wherever it is used.

I then re-grease all metal-to-metal areas I can reach (when field-stripped) and “rub it in” until almost invisible.

A drop of MC-3000 oil goes on the barrel link pin, re-assemble and, other than fouling the barrel or leaving myself a note to this effect, I’m done.

The gun looks almost completely dry when maintained in this manner. Where metal rubs metal, there is a slight sheen of grease but, other than that, you’ll hardly know the lubrication is there.

I shoot in a hot climate. My experience with Mil-Comm has been completely in that environment. Consequently, I can’t say from personal experience how the TW-25B grease performs in sub-zero temperatures. According to Mil-Comm, it works fine and I should not need to switch to the oil. The grease should be fine well down into sub-zero land. I’m interested to try it in such a setting to see how it functions but, then again, I’m not looking forward to the personal experience of sub-zero temps.

Typical outdoor range temperatures right now in Phoenix are 100+ degrees. Humidity will be less than 30 percent and is often down to a single digit. While hot, it sure beats “cold and wet” and I don’t mean a dog’s nose.

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