Chemical Cocktails For Your Cannon.
My go-to gunsmith and I recently launched a methodical, documented project to evaluate a wide range of lubes, cleaners, protectants, rust removers and other goops for a monster feature in one of our Special Editions. Besides, it’s kinda interesting and fun, and another excellent excuse to shoot more. But just in case I drop dead or see something sparkly in the distance and wander away before it’s done, I wanted to share some early winners with you, OK?
We’ll kick this off with FIREClean, first, because it’s new on the market and second, because we got such impressive results with it. The blurb reads “Cleans, Lubricates, Conditions,” but its prime claim is that it virtually shields firearms from carbon buildup and speeds cleaning. We found those claims were understated. How rare is that?
We pulled an older direct gas impingement (DGI) AR-15 out of storage. It had been banished because, for whatever reasons, it has a nasty reputation as a carbon-fouling magnet, frequently requiring pain-in-the-butt scraping of the bolt tail and carrier. It received a solvent tank deep cleaning, after which we treated it with FIREClean. Gathering up the dirtiest-burning 5.56 and .223 ammo we had, including some Turkish, Serbian, Wolf and 40-year-old military ball, we shot the snot out of it, put it back on the rack for two weeks, and then sent another couple of hundred rounds through it.
Check the photo, folks. From funky to shiny took six .22-cal patches, two 3×3-inch patches and a cotton swab. Sparkly! As for “conditions,” even after the second cleaning, it was obvious the steel had really absorbed the goop, and retained a high state of “residual slickness.” I give it five stars as a lube too, with great performance under heat and friction. No matter what it had previously been lubed with, during travel of the charging handle and carrier, this AR had always had kind of a slightly gritty “drag” to it, which disappeared completely after treatment and lubrication with FIREClean.
As a further test I used it on some carbon-caked gun parts, which had not been pretreated, and just as advertised, it dissolved the carbon as well or better than very aggressive, stinky, noxious single-purpose cleaning agents. FIREClean is odorless, non-flammable, non-toxic and biodegradable. It’s expensive by the ounce, but after initial treatment, very little is needed to keep your carbon-caker clickin’.
Hey, it’s not just for ARs, either. One of the worst lead-fouling situations occurs when you put thousands of lead .22 LR rounds through a suppressor. Pretreated with FIREClean, lead fouling just pushes right out of the baffles with a swab. Think of your applications, and try it.
Slip 2000 EWL (above) puts two capital S’s in “Super Slick.” FIREClean
(below) took a fouled AR from funky to sparkling fast, with minimal effort.
SLiP 2000 EWL
The first time I used this non-toxic non-hazardous lube was on a 5.56 carbine being test-fired at sub-zero temps with wind chills to 40 below zero. It had been very sparingly lubed with SLiP 2000 EWL (Extreme Weapons Lube), and it performed beautifully. A few days later, without cleaning or refreshing the initial lube, testing was repeated at below-freezing temps, shooting the carbine hot, leaving it cold, shooting it too hot to touch again, and freezing it—with the same results. Snow blowing into the action had no dilution or displacing effect. It cleans easily and doesn’t gum up.
Since then we’ve tested it on autopistols and other guns. Performance has been the same: superb. My gunsmith, who always wears nitrile gloves when working, told me it’s so slippery that after he lubed the bolt of a semi-auto .22 LR rifle with it, he couldn’t install the bolt because it kept slipping out of his hands. He had to remove his gloves to finish the job.
I highly recommend it for tight-fitting and hot-running weapons in extreme weather conditions. You should thoroughly clean other lubes from your weapon before applying SLiP. Their 725 Gun Cleaner Degreaser is a good choice for that. We’re still testing their orange-scented Carbon Killer Bore Cleaner and so far, it’s working just fine.
The more I use this stuff the more amazed I am with it. Developed by a former Navy SEAL officer, it’s not only non-toxic and “eco-friendly,” it’s actually a food-grade cleaner, lube and protectant. Yup, you can eat it with a spoon. I admit I haven’t. I’m afraid it’ll taste like Vegemite, and no offense to my Aussie mates, but… Yucch.
FrogLube does it all, cleaning, lubing and protecting, and does it impressively well. Now there’s separate FrogLube CLP Spray, Solvent Spray and pre-soaked wipes, but my use has been limited to the FrogLube liquid and paste; the liquid where you want it to travel, and the paste on chatter-and-bash areas where you want it to stay put. If all you had for weapons maintenance was FrogLube, you’d be well served—with these caveats:
Thoroughly clean your weapon, and rid it of all other treatments. If your first application is over stuff like primer pocket sealant smooches and brass smears on a bolt face, you won’t get prime results—but once you’ve treated it with FrogLube and stick with it, you’ll likely never need anything else. For best results—and that’s the only kind you want—apply it liberally at room temp on warm or even hot components. Let it sit and soak into the metal for hours or overnight. Make sure your bore and chamber are soppin’ with it. Then wipe off the excess, dry the bore and chamber, and you’re ready to rock—and rock—and rock. Testers—me included—are having a tough time finding out how long weapons will run smoothly on a single application of FrogLube.
FrogLube (above): Eat it with a spoon or smear it on your gun—We recommend the latter. Even a blind squirrel can sometimes find a nut. John found Flitz Tactical Matte Finish Cleaner and Bore-Tips (below)!
Sundry Sweet Discoveries
We—OK, mostly I—stumbled across some other cool goodies during this project. Many of you have weapons with non-reflective matte finishes. When they get dirty, what can you use that won’t gloss it up and degrade the matte effect? Flitz recently introduced their Tactical Matte Finish Cleaner, and it works on Parkerized and virtually all other matte finishes, keeping them non-reflective and factory-new-lookin’.
While not new, performance of the Flitz Microfiber Polishing Cleaning Cloth convinced me to toss my stinky collection of T-shirt scraps and old socks, and order four of ’em from Brownells. They’re not impregnated with Flitz polish. The secret is in the weave of its polyester/polyamide wedge-shaped fibers and intrinsic electrostatic properties. The comparison with scrap cloth is like comparing a Sopwith Camel to an SR-71 Blackbird. One use on a filthy gun and you’re sold. And, you can wash and re-use it up to 500 times. My ’smith has been using them for years, sometimes cutting the 16×16-inch cloth into smaller pieces. I got a memorable “Well, you dummy” look from him over this “discovery.”
I’ve written before about the value of foam-tipped swabs over fuzzy, lint-littering cotton swabs. Now one of the biggest makers of industrial foam-tipped swabs has fired up a whole line of foam Bore-Tips bore swabs and Gun-Tips gun cleaning swabs, and they’re dead-bang terrific! The Bore-Tips come on short plastic stalks threaded 8/32, and they work great on both rigid rods and flexible pull-throughs, giving you a 360-degree compression fit that beats the heck outta patches on slotted tips. The Gun-Tips come in a wide variety of sizes, lengths and shapes carefully selected for every nook and cranny in most firearms. They’re reusable too; just clean ’em with mineral spirits, squeeze ’em out, let ’em dry, and put them back in service. They’re available from Brownells and a rapidly growing number of retailers, and their bang-for-the-buck is outstanding.
Whoa! There’s something shiny in the distance! Gotta go… Happy cleaning, folks! Connor OUT
By John Connor
200 South Front St. Montezuma
P.O. Box 192, Ashburn, VA 20146
Flitz International, Ltd.
821 Mohr Ave., Waterford, WI 53185
P.O. Box 327, Wellington, NV 89444
4697 Fairway Dr.
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Swab-Its / Bore-Tips
800 Worcester St., Springfield, MA 01151