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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm inspired [to write this thread] by Jack Belk's book 'Unsafe By Design'. I'm roughly midway through the book, and a number of Jack's examples have stricken pretty close to home for me.
When most people (shooters) think of cleaning a firearm, the discussion usually is directed to bore cleaning, lubrication, corrosion prevention, and the sort. I want to come at the subject of 'gun cleaning' from a little different angle than normally discussed/debated on the subject. There are elements of 'cleaning a firearm', that if left ignored, can result in far more than rust, function, and accuracy implications, and be outright dangerous, if not deadly. Hopefully, that statement has gotten your attention(?).
This is really aimed at a targeted audience (no pun intended!) of average hunters and shooters, not the full out 'gun nut' that is some (the minority) of us, and requires I relate a personal story as a matter of explanation of the importance of 'complete firearm maintenance'. It is directed more toward rifles and shotguns than handguns, although the point still holds.
Years ago I hunted deer and quail, on my BIL's farm, with an older than me (by 30+ years) gentleman that was purely a hunter. Factory ammo, not a handloader, Brittaney Spaniel bird dogs, Whitetail in MO and Mule Deer in CO every year.
His 'rifle of choice' was a Remington 700BDL in 6mm Remington, of 1960's vintage. Heck of a hunter and shot!
One summer in the early 80's, when he was getting ready for an early fall Mule Deer trip to Colorado, he was going to shoot the rifle to confirm zero before the trip. Knowing that I was 'into guns', he called me and said he was having trouble with his rifle and asked I minded taking a look at it, I said drop it by my workplace (you could do that back then without the police being called!) and I'll take it home and have a look. Passage of time prevents my 'perfect recollection' of the details of the problem, but it had to do with the rifle either not cocking (remaining cocked!) when he closed the bolt or the trigger would not 'fire' when pulled. Mind you, [thankfully] he discovered the problem when dry firing at home and not with a load in the chamber. Now, keep in mind this is a hunter's rifle, not a range gun, that has seen many miles being carried in 'field conditions' having honest use, while being well taken care of with 'normal cleaning routines'.
After confirming what he had related to me, I proceeded to remove the stock, which had never been taken off in the 20 odd years of being carried in all sorts of field conditions (probably like the majority of 'hunting guns' out there). You can probably see where this is headed. What I found in the barrel channel, under the action, magazine well, and around the trigger group was enough grass and weed seed of all varieties (MO and CO) and general debris that I could over seed my lawn! I gave it a thorough cleaning and air blowing of the Walker trigger group, since the housing prevents direct access to the internal assemblage of parts (sears and such). I don't know what blocked what or if a tiny seed or stem got under the connector, return springs, or whatever. I really did not know the intricacies of such things back then, but after the cleaning, the rifle worked as it should. Fortunately, whatever it was blocked things such that the rifle simply 'would not work'. Some of that debris could just as well got into a position that could alter sear engagements with disastrous result.
Jack's book has illustrated to me how such things can happen and how important it is to be aware of how ignoring 'cleanliness' in this area of firearms maintenance can cause problems, sometimes dangerous ones, you may not have considered.
 

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Dad and his best bud....Marine and Air Force. After dad traded in his 300 Savage on a Rem 700 BDL in .270, his bud retired his 8mm for a 700 BDL in 30-06. A few years later I got a 700 ADL in 30-06.

Then the recall where you could have the bolt lock removed to off load with the safety engauged. Discussing it with Dad, he felt that our triggers were never 'bubba' adjusted and his marine background had him pulling the stocks from both of our Rems on a regular basis. Further discussion was that is bud probably never did that.

Couple years after dad passed, his bud was still hunting with me but saying it looked like his last year.

End of the day we meet at my pickup and standing on opposie sides, facing away from each other, we unload.

Well I did while his '06 went BOOM...

There he is looking shocked and saying as he pushed it off of safe it went off, jamming his thumb.

Now I grew up with this man and my father being my mentors for deer hunting. While he has some of the largest hands I've ever seen; I do believe he only touched the safety. I also believe he never pulled the action from the wood. His rifle, like ours, saw all the weather conditions common to PA's rifle seasons and his experience made me continue dad's maintence efforts on his.270 [my '06 just sits there...] and I hope whomever inherits this guy's rifle takes it in to have the bolt lock removed...
 

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I have cleaned some filthy guns of customers back in the day and would many times be amazed at the amount of crud that can built up in a firearm by just sitting in a closet.

I have had only one unexplained accidental discharge in my life. Don't remember if it was a 742 or 7400. I was sighting it in for a customer and dropped a shell in, closed the bolt, pushed off the button safety and boom. Theoretically I could have brushed the trigger but not likely. I strongly suggested they have a Smith look it over for any internal issues. The only other time was a damaged and protruding firing pin in a JC Higgins pump. Both were without incident as they were in a controlled environment when pointed in a safe direction.

I will say this as far as gunk and junk working its way into firearms. My Dad bought my Brother and I matching Savage/Stevens Fox SXS's when I was around 10. Mine was the youth model 20 gauge. I carried that thing all over central Texas Dove and Quail hunting for quite a number of years until I graduated to 12 gauge. I stuck it in the safe and rarely shot it but pulled it out several years ago and found that the second barrel was failing to go off about 10% of the time with light primer strikes. Single, non-selective trigger and pretty sure it's mechanical. I decided to refinish the stock and when I pulled the butt-stock off, I was amazed at how much crud was in there. Refinished it, cleaned it up real well and the misfires were gone. Definitely the problem. Hard to imagine how stuff got into the firing mechanism...but it sure did.

Wood Musical instrument Shotgun Hardwood Gun barrel
Wood Air gun Everyday carry Wood stain Gun accessory
 

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When I hear (on the internet) "First thing I did was tore it down to clean it". It explains buggered screw heads and plier marks. SOME GUNS are pretty simple. Some show up in a paper bag at the gunshop with pieces gone. It's common to see the biggest collection of goo, goop and trash in auto shotguns but there's nothing but factory lubrication inside a quality double. A 1911 NEEDS the reciprocating parts cleaned of carbon and relubed, but there's no reason to dump the trigger and sear parts to 'clean' it.
In short-- Clean what needs it. Leave it to the experienced to delve into the 'sealed' parts.

That 311 is open to debris under the cocking lever. Sliding block doubles are sealed there.
 

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Elk Whisperer (Super Moderator)
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WD-40 is the worst thing you can use to lubricate anything, especially firearms. It turns to goo in no time. The second is ATF. ATF contains sulphur which is used for high pressure lubrication at high temperatures. . . . . BUT it also promotes the formation of rust and rather quickly. Not a big deal in your transmission but it could be in your Pre-64 M70 that was Gramps' pride and joy.

RJ
 

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We fully agree about WD-40. It's a drug to guns. It takes more WD-40 to loosen what the previous WD gummed up.
ATF on the other hand is primarily mineral oil. The sulfur is a high pressure lube. A transmission is hot and cold and vented so moisture can get in, condense and cause rust. ATF is NOT a rust preventive but a good after lube of degreased parts. (the same amount applied to a shot glass wouldn't ruin the whiskey.) Internal parts shouldn't be so 'clean' they're entirely oil free. ATF darkens the metal as any other oil would. Rust is caused by moisture and oxygen. Oil allows neither to pass quickly through it.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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That would suggest why lanolin is in "Ed's Red" and other home made gun cleaners. Oxygen barrier.

I've also dropped the trigger group out of shotguns for other folks that didn't know this was possible, an 1100 will continue to run with an astonishing amount of crap in it. Since the safety on that mechanism doesn't block the sear (only the trigger) then certainly a bunch of crap in the action could contribute to it firing without warning. Same as the Walker, a tightly enclosed box that brass shavings can get into (but not necessarily out of) and nothing blocking the sear......

Look at a mauser or model 70 by comparison, everything is out in the open (so to speak) so crap getting into the action has much less of a chance to cause problems. That, and a working safety that blocks the sear is about a thousand times safer than a trigger block.

'Proper' maintenance on a Walker trigger, in my opinion, is to throw it away and install something else. I put a Timney in mine. For the actions with a trigger group that drops out, the astonishingly bad trigger pull is all that keeps the gun from going off when you don't want it to. Keep the trigger group clean, and don't mess with the sear / hammer engagement!
 

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True. Oleic acid is the key ingredient and lanolin is the pure stuff.
 

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The Shadow (Moderator)
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'mineral oil' is a throw away term. Anything petroleum based is or contains 'mineral oil', would you lube your guns with asphalt? Probably not.
ATF is designed as a friction modifying cleaning/cooling solution, which has lubrication properties. While it can definitely have a use in firearms, cleaning and cooling the pressurized friction plates on my Ruger; isn't a top priority.

Lanolin

-Oleic acid is a single mono-unsaturated fat, in the Omega-9 family. For all the girls out there looking to homebrew beard oil, or skin moisturizer; it is not comedogenic.
- Lanolin is a wax ester. Classic scientific literature references something like 33 different alcohols and 36 distinct fatty acids. Acids and fats combined are what make esters, and the ratio is what gives the wax constituent. Being as it's from the sebum of the hair follicles, it is extremely comedogenic. It is not primarily oleic acid, nor mostly an omega-9.

So to Mike's point, yes it's the wax that seals off air and prevents rusting.

Cheers
 
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Elk Whisperer (Super Moderator)
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1. ATF on the other hand is primarily mineral oil. The sulfur is a high pressure lube. A transmission is hot and cold and vented so moisture can get in, condense and cause rust.

2. ATF is NOT a rust preventive but a good after lube of degreased parts. (the same amount applied to a shot glass wouldn't ruin the whiskey.)

3. ATF darkens the metal as any other oil would.
1. Not any more. ATF has been reformulated from "mineral oil" (old Mercon and the Mopar equivalent) so that 99.9% of ATF used today is ISO32 (or the synthetic equivalent) with all the condiments added to make DexMerc, Mercon, Dexron and the cornucopia of others to manufacturer's specifications.

2. You go ahead and use it however you like.

3. It's called rust.

I won't get into lanolin, it's already been covered.

RJ
 

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I use it as a light oil. The quart squirt can was probably filled in Colorado about 1985.
"mineral oil" can be said as an adjective or a noun. The noun kind is sold in drug stores by the ounce and at the oil depot by the 55 gallon drum. Clear, odorless and usually 10 W. I have the recipe for RemOil starting with a 55 gallon drum of "Mineral oil".
Some use kerosene for polishing, that's traditional, but its rare now unless you want the stinky lamp oil stuff. ATF floats off the goo and that's all that's needed.
Gun internals cleaned with strong solvents are wiped with an 'oily rag'. ATF, and kept in a metal safety can.
 

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There used to be a Fig processing plant in Dickinson Tx where my FIL grew up. I remember stories of all the Fig tree orchards that used to be in the Moses Lake area in Texas City where I grew up. For some reason they all were gone by the time I was born.

That Fig Plant got bought and turned into a Mineral Oil plant back in the 40's. I vaguely remember that as a buddies Dad bought some from them to use in a penetrating oil mixture he had developed when I was a kid.

Mineral Oil is a very generic term but here is a basic breakdown.

Mineral oil is any of various colorless, odorless, light mixtures of higher alkanes from a mineral source, particularly a distillate of petroleum,[1] as distinct from usually edible vegetable oils.

The name 'mineral oil' by itself is imprecise, having been used for many specific oils over the past few centuries. Other names, similarly imprecise, include 'white oil', 'paraffin oil', 'liquid paraffin' (a highly refined medical grade), paraffinum liquidum (Latin), and 'liquid petroleum'. Baby oil is a perfumed mineral oil.

Most often, mineral oil is a liquid by-product of refining crude oil to make gasoline and other petroleum products. This type of mineral oil is a transparent, colorless oil, composed mainly of alkanes[2] and cycloalkanes, related to petroleum jelly. It has a density of around 0.8–0.87 g/cm3 (0.029–0.031 lb/cu in).[3]

Dickinson Fig – Minerial Oil Factory – Dickinson Historical Society

Back when I had ~30 hours of high-level college Chemistry I might have been able to explain the Pasted part of the Wiki article but alas I have been away from that part of my live for almost 20 year. It's amazing what your brain retains and loses. :D
 
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The Shadow (Moderator)
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"mineral oil" can be said as an adjective or a noun.
A "Mineral oil" is any one of a number of colorless and odorless oils, refined from hydrocarbons. Without being specific, it's an ambiguous distinction.
No different than someone registering, and asking is what "the best" cartridge to go hunting with is.

Saying:
"ATF on the other hand is primarily mineral oil."
Either seeks to speaks to inform that since before anyone in the forum was born, the automotive industry has been primarily petroleum based(per market share numbers). Or that you are attempting to speak about the relatively limited market share of Group 4 & 5 base oils. Given the particular phrasing, the later is unlikely.

As far as the viscosity claim goes, that is also mistaken. The "weight" rating of an oil, is an automotive industry standard(ASE), and not a Food Grade designation.
Industrial use petroleum refineries, and food grade use refineries; are not the same facility and production line.
So as a matter of regular common business practices, I would love to see your sources showing a food facility filling bottles of "intestinal lubricant". Has any normal interest in paying to have their products run through the ASTM D2270 testing protocol, for an end user they don't service.

I highly doubt you send a sample of your kitchen waste out to be sampled, in the event a homeless person might pick through it; and is curious about it's nutritional value...😉

Cheers
 

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My first wife is an Organic Chemist for a fairly large grease and food grade oil company in Houston. I got an education on many of their products when we were still married. She does some development but is mostly doing sales these day. When my oldest daughter was pursuing her Biomedical Engineering degree she took close to 20 hours of Chemistry and I was amazed in the advancements in the understanding of Inorganic. Organic was pretty much the same as when I took it with a few new processes. :D

Same with Physics...unless you get into theoretical stuff, mechanical Physic's, Optics, Electricity and Magnetism was pretty unchanged. Orbital mechanics is a whole different ballgame which I also took. Some silly stuff going on there. :D
 

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One of my first experiences with gun oils and grease came at my first gun shop. In that part of the South are vast quail plantations with resident workers sometimes fourth generations on that land. Sometimes they're given a bonus.
An old black guy came in the shop about to cry. He had a Browning hard case containing a Grade II 22 Auto rifle that was nothing but a ball of red rust. The worst I've ever seen. The old guy was emotional and told me all about the boss giving him the rifle and telling him to keep it well oiled. I started asking questions about it, of course. He said he "Greased it up good and put it in the fancy case and keep it in the pantry where it's warm and dry."
What grease did you use? said I.

"Regular grease, ya know, bacon grease".

Browning was in the middle of the salt wood fiasco and replaced the gun with a re-blued Grade I. I thought that was fair enough.
 
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There's such a thing as "under cleaning" and also "over cleaning" Sounds like this one was under cleaned. Semi auto .22s are one of the few that create their own debris by just shooting them but I've never seen a manually operated action get so dirty from field debris that it quit working but apparently it can happen. A little garbage under the barrel never hurt anyone. 🤣
 

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The Shadow (Moderator)
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I think it depends on who and where someone is.

Between our clay, neverending sand, and all the bloody ash in this country; grit loves to accumulate.
When I was younger, there were lots of folks who knew me as the "gun guy". Which means when something "broke" they would bring it to me to 'look at'.

Much like the story in the OP, it was almost exclusively due to neglect for the conditions. The gun was constantly lubricated(occasionally some down of gun scrubber was apparently attached to a hose, and generally stoned in the direction of the gun) and or wiped, but never pulled apart and actually inspected. There were lots of bolt actions completely gummed-up, with gritty nastyness because of it.
Pull bolts and trigger groups apart, and actually clean and lubricate them properly, and as if by magic; they are "unbroken".

Cheers
 

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WD-40 is a hazardous drug to guns. In the coastal swamps of Florida it became a fix-all. WD-40 is a dust magnet and dries to a gummy goo that keeps things from working until, BEHOLD, another squirt of WD-40 loosens it up to work again, ....until it doesn't.
Clean, oil and safety check was $20 in 1969. Most came in the day before hunting season.
I found a shirt button in a Remington auto and it wasn't causing a problem. :)
Stoddard Solvent is still the best for retail cleaning by the dozens. The classic red drum with the cleaning pan on top in mechanics shops are great but not worth the rental, even in a big shop....unless you're also doing valve jobs. ;)
Military 'Cleaning Compound and Solvent' is still a favorite, too.
Jet A
Diesel fuel
Lamp oil
Kerosene
and dry cleaning fluids work, also. Cleaning dirty metal is not real complicated and has been done for a long time.
What is not usually needed are the degreasers. I saw a bunch of new Browning club guns ruined with Gun Scrubber and Brake Kleen.
As somebody wiser once said 'It's not rocket surgery!'
 

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when i was 11ish yo and i first started cleaning a rifle, my dad had either hoppes oil or 3 in 1 oil and nitro solvent. when i was 17 yo, my gunsmith gave me shooters choice and told me about copper build up. i was 18yo and in the US Army i was trained to clean my rifle every day with military clp solvents, also with the m60 machine gun i quickly learned to tear it apart and put the small parts (including the barrels) into a solvent parts washer and scrub them off. (it was Stoddard solvents in the washer).

i've used "copper" solvents (shooters choice, sweets 7.62, gunslicks foaming bore, birchwoods bore scrubber.........) along with rem oil and g96 gun 3 treatment (which i love).

i have stripped down my rifles every 5 - 7 years to really clean it off. i'll field stripped every year. i've gotten away from copper solvent, because i am using cast boolits. i think i've done 2000 fired cases and cast boolits with my 444 marlin and 30-40 krag. i have never cleaned the barrels. the last time i cleaned the barrels is about 8 or 9 years ago. i put g96 into the bores and the outside of my rifles about twice a year. i put ballistol on the outside of my rifles every time i shoot them.

i have been buying sporterized military rifles for a couple/serval years and i've seen them clean and i seen dirty and dusty and rusted. i've done evapo rust on the guns that were rusted and i oxpho blue them. the rest of dirt and gummyness (copper, lead, powder and the rest of it) is either foaming bore cleaner or copper solvents. being old military bolt rifles, i can strip them down to their basic parts, clean it and put it back together. my ability only goes so far...the remington model 14 cleaning is done by my gunsmith (i have only one arm). its parts and pieces are not for me!!! :ROFLMAO:

a couple of years ago, my dad was stripping his rifles to clean them out. most of the guns were his dad's(grandpap to me) and they NEEDED cleaning. the inside pieces of the guns were cleaned out by gumout carb/choke cleaner while the rest of the rifle was copper solvents and rem oil. the m-1 30 carbine went from a 1 shot wonder to 15 shots (a magazine worth). the action was so filthy and grimy, it was a wonder that my dad shot (only 1) it.

it always amazed me that a guy would sell his rifle because it was "shot out". if he would ever use copper solvents, he would be amazed at the rifling left. i'd talk to the guy that said "its shot out" and then i would ask him "how many causes that?", he go "300 to 500 cartridges". i'd say "what do you clean the barrel out with?" it would be either oil (hoppes or 3 in 1 oil) or nitro solvent. then i would tell him all about copper solvents and build up. a week or two goes by and then the guy thanks me about the copper solvents.
 
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