Gun Cleaning and Care & a DIY Cleaning Rrecipe
by Kirk Lawson
In an earlier series of articles, I discussed a few historic methods of cleaning and some historic recipes, as well as some modern ones, for cleaning solutions. Here, we see another classic method for cleaning and a brew-at-home recipe which I believe is probably the original recipe which the now popular and famous "Ed's Red" (a reformulation of "Frankford Arsenal Cleaner No.18" From Hatcher's Notebook from the 1960s) is based on.
Cleaning and Care of Arms.—To maintain the highest efficiency in an arm, it is necessary to keep it in perfect order. The working parts must be kept clean and oiled, and the barrel should receive special attention and care. The residue of some powders is less injurious than that of others, but the arm should in all cases be cleaned and oiled immediately after it has been used. The cleaning should be thorough. Heavy cotton flannel is excellent for this purpose. It should be perfectly dry. Much of the fouling will rub off without moisture, but if moisture is necessary to soften the fouling in places, use thin oil. Never use water, ordinary kerosene, or similar fluids. For certain kinds of smokeless powders, cleaning fluids have been prepared that give good results. Be careful to use the special fluid that is adapted to the particular powder used, as the wrong fluid may not accomplish the desired results."Sperm Oil" listed in this recipe is what was then called "Cold Pressed Sperm Oil." It is a liquid wax "oil" which was processed from the organs of the Sperm Whale which focus and modulate vocalizations, not from the "blubber" or fat. Sperm Oil was prized for its temperature stability, resisting both heat and cold, its resistance to oxidation which turns oils sticky or gummy, and for its high lubricity. Among its common uses was as an additive for crank-case and automotive transmission fluid. When the availability of Sperm Oil disappeared, the automotive industry was forced to reformulate transmission fluid and developed what we now call ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid). Dexron ATF is reputed to have similar properties as well as additives for cleaning and stability. Jojoba Oil, a vegetable oil, is very similar to Sperm Oil and fairly closely mimics the temperature stability, lubricity, and anti-oxidant properties if you would prefer to stay closer to the original recipe.
A good cleaning fluid for many of the Nitro Powders, such as "Bullseye," "R. S. Q," "Walsrode" etc., is Dr. Hudson's nitro solvent formula, as follows:
Astral oil (or Kerosene free from acid)....2 fluid ounces
Sperm oil.............................................1 fluid ounce
Acetone...............................................1 fluid ounce
Turpentine............................................1 fluid ounce
NOTE.—To make sure that the kerosene or Astral oil is free from acid, it can be shaken up with some washing soda, which will neutralize any free acid that may have been present.
To clubs, or those who wish to make up a cleaning fluid in quantities, the above will prove very effective and inexpensive.
For cleaning the inside of the barrel a wooden rod is best. It should have a knob on the end of such size that one or two thicknesses of the cotton flannel around it will fit the bore snug and tight. Square patches of suitable size may then be cut in quantities and used as required. Clean from the breech end of the barrel whenever possible. The slightest burr or injury at the muzzle will spoil the accuracy of an otherwise good barrel. Particular care should be exercised, especially if a steel rod with a slot is used, to prevent the wad from "jamming" in the barrel. Continue cleaning the inside of the barrel until tight-fitting patches, when withdrawn, show no discoloration, and the barrel is warm from the friction of the cleaning. Then saturate a fresh patch with good oil and pass it through the barrel several times, making sure that the entire surface of the grooves has been thoroughly coated with oil. After the cylinder and other parts are cleaned, they should also be oiled
A good oil for cleaning is "Three in One"; for preventing rust, use Winchester Gun Grease or refined sperm oil. Plenty of oil should be kept on the circle of teeth in which the pawl engages in revolving the cylinder. If smokeless ammunition is used, the oil should be removed from the interior of the barrel and the chambers of the cylinder, a day or two after the first cleaning, and fresh oil applied.
In warm weather, when the air is humid, arms rust very quickly. If they are not kept in an air-tight compartment, they should be inspected, and, if necessary, re-oiled every few days. Under favorable conditions, a thorough cleaning and oiling will preserve the arm in good condition for a month.
If it is desired to store the arms, or protect them for long periods of time, the interior surfaces of the frame, and all the mechanism, should be carefully cleaned and oiled, and then the entire space within the frame filled solid with non-liquid grease, like the Winchester "gun grease." After cleaning the barrel and cylinder, the bore and chambers in the cylinder should be filled solid with the grease. This treatment excludes the air, and absolutely prevents oxidation. The exterior should be oiled, and then coated heavily with "gun grease." Place the arm in a dry woollen cloth, or flannel cover, and wrap it up in a double thickness of new manila paper of the weight of ordinary writing paper. Repeat this, wrapping twice more, each wrapping independent of the other. Then lay the arm in a dry place, where the temperature will always be uniform, and not so warm as to melt the grease. An arm protected in this way will remain in good condition for a period of two years.
Another method of protecting weapons from rust is to immerse them in oil. The wood or rubber stocks should be removed and the arms suspended from a rack in a large glass jar with a ground glass cover to prevent the evaporation of the oil. This is a very quick and effective method and is much more convenient than the preceding plan. The best quality of refined sperm oil should be used.
Pistol and Revolver Shooting,
Abraham Lincoln Artman Himmelwright,
New York, The Macmillan Company, 1915