by Dale Anhalt a Wisconsin Firearm Owner, Ranges, Clubs and Education board member (
Some of the most enjoyable work for me as a gunsmith is cleaning a 50-100 plus year old firearm that has never been taken apart. Infact, I have bought such firearms for that pleasure alone. The gun oil of that time has now turned to varnish and can in fact turn to glue and makes for a real challenge to the disassembly procedure. So, to begin always use screw drivers that fit the slot perfectly, grind the tips if need be and use quality drivers for this part. Using heat from a propane torch may also be necessary. (Be careful) Expect it to take some time for this I also use penetrating oils of various kinds and allowing them time to work can add some hours if not days to the process. Just remember the thought behind doing this is bringing function and smoothness back to this piece, and ridding the dirt and old oil and bring back the original luster to the finish.
Now I am going to list my favorite cleaners based on my extended experience knowing what works and having seen these customers gun over several years, you might have your favorites as well.
For cleaning all iron surfaces, parts, and pieces I use a detergent from my auto supply store called “oil eater” highly concentrated! Do NOT get it on your skin, so wear gloves that can handle the task of protecting your skin and being able to hold the parts while using an old toothbrush, or a stainless-steel brush. I have also used acid brushes for deep grooves on actions.
If you’re going to refinish the wood this cleaner can be used as well, it does a good job of removing some of the old linseed and varnish finishes. Using hot water at the same time preps the wood. For fine sanding, little dents and removing much of the old black oil from the wood. I have a drying cabinet made from steel ducting from a local home building store for drying the wood with a single 60 watt incandescent light bulb at the bottom works good for when it comes time to put on the new finish.
For cleaning barrels and bores I use Shooters Choice, Rem Clean and Sweets 7.62 solvent. Over 90% of my bore and barrel cleaning is done with the Shooters Choice, a cleaning patch, and a jag of the correct dimensions.
Illinois Gun Arms ShowNow for lube I use CLP Break Free. CLP does thicken over time but the beauty of CLP is when you spray more on it will loosen and become liquid with the new application. All my AR style rifles run on this without any problems, the rule of thumb for my AR style rifles is when it just quits splashing you in the eye that the right amount. Word of caution those holes on the side of an AR’s carrier are not lube holes they are exhaust ports.
Other type firearms I use drops here and there where ever metal contacts. For greasing extreme pressure areas, I use another product obtained from the auto store, Valvoline synpower, a synthetic moly base lube. Put this on bolt lug and cocking pieces The lube for striker springs inside bolts and sliders is from American Gas and Chemical Co. a Company in NJ, it’s
called TSI301. Neil Johnson turned me on to this product when I replaced the seals on a RWS dual piston air rifle it is all synthetic, never hardens or gets sticky, dispersing water well to keep those striker springs free even in subzero weather.
Then for the icing on the cake use RustePrufe Nitro Solvent, made right in Sparta WI. This is in my opinion the very best in rust prevention and just from the factory look that all the old guns use to come with, and if you are into showing off your guns it’s just the product to give it another wipe down after handling. Convenient to have ready to use chamois and extra recharge bottle.
Any questions or for additional guidance I can be contacted through Wisconsin Firearms Owners website.
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