Milsurp Miscellany

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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One thought on “Milsurp Miscellany

  1. Don Dineen

    Holt, Bodinson, Your article in the Surplus Locker covering Milsurp Miscellany gave me a kick. Your comments about the SKS/AK47 front sight adjusting tool made me. laugh. The AK tool wasn’t designed by the Russians or Chinese. Two people are responsible for the original. Dwight Greer and yours truly came up with the idea in the mid-80’s.I had bought an Egyptian Maadi AKM-type rifle. On the first range session I couldn’t adjust the windage. Hammers and punches didn’t work. Elevation was not an issue since the factory tool kit had an elevation tool included.
    So I went to Dwight’s house and machine shop and told him what I wanted. He quickly made one and said why not add the elevation function as well. We did. Dwight did the math regarding how many turns gave what movement and off we went to the range. Right on the money. We started producing the and I wrote an article on AK rifles in the December 1987 issue of “American Survival Guide”. We sold the tool as the DMD2 AK/SKS sight tool. WE sold them direct, and sold many to TAPCO. Soon the Chinese started producing them under the Red Star label, having stolen the design and even the artwork we had. Those tools are inferior. TAPCO then abandoned us and contracted with others to make their tool. I laugh when I read in the Cheaper Then Dirt catalog how forces over seas demanded this tool while deployed. REALLY? It all started with me not being able to move that damn Maadi sight. We sold thousands until the Chicoms and TAPCO went off on their own. As to needing the tool, it is needed. I never found any AK to be zeroed. Only two SKS carbines did not need the tool, and those were both Yugoslavians. One an $800 Mitchell M59/66A1, when only 65 of those had been imported.
    The original rear echelon tool is a large device impractical for the average shooter.

    Don Dineen


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