The military surplus world is so diverse that some valuable pieces of information fall between the cracks when articles focus on one milsurp model at a time. Here are some of those gems I wanted to commit to paper before they get shoved aside once again by another project.
Why corrosive primed, surplus ammunition gives most milsurp shooters a tizzy is beyond me. If it’s cheap, buy it, love it and, by all means, shoot it. That’s my motto. There’s nothing inherently wrong with corrosive priming, and frankly, there’s a lot to be said for it. If it were as bad as some would like us to believe, does anyone think the world’s nations would have used it in the very ammunition made to defend their turf or to grab someone else’s?
Shooter’s Choice “Aqua Clean”
Look at the facts. The German firm of RWS developed a non-corrosive primer in 1901 and the Swiss in 1911 by substituting barium nitrate in place of potassium chlorate. You see, upon ignition, potassium chlorate changes to potassium chloride—a salt very similar in chemical behavior to common table salt, sodium chloride. Drawing moisture in from the atmosphere, the salt is indeed corrosive and attacks metal if not properly removed with an aqueous cleaner.
Yet, countries, including the United States, kept loading small arms ammunition with corrosive primers through WWII and even later. Why? Because the corrosive primer proved to be more stable and had a longer storage and shelf life than the non-corrosive primers of the day.
Any surplus military ammunition, whether the vendor labels it corrosive or non-corrosive, should be considered to be corrosive, just in case! The proven cleaning ingredient that will remove corrosive primer salts is water so I was delighted when Shooter’s Choice recently came out with a new, water-based bore cleaner called “Aqua Clean.”
Don’t let the name fool you. Aqua Clean is not mouthwash. In addition to water, its ingredients will attack copper and other forms of fouling. Like many modern cleaners, all it needs is a little dwell time to get the job done. When cleaning a milsurp, remember to use a solvent and preservative on the chamber, bolt, pistol frames and slides and any action parts exposed to combustion residues, especially the gas system, if it has one. Being water based, Aqua Clean is also an excellent black-powder solvent.
Just don’t let the term “corrosive” keep you away from some of the last great bargains in milsurp ammunition.
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