The cleaning of firearms is not the sexiest pastimes. Like washing dishes or brushing your teeth, it’s darned important. It doesn’t have to be a ho-hum experience with the right gear. Here are a couple of items that I find indispensable and even fun to deploy.
The ripcord is the latest evolution of the venerable bore snake.
The Otis product differs from the standard bore snake in several ways. First off, it’s manufactured from Nomex fibers braided over a molded rubberized core/cable combination. Nomex is a product invented by DuPont, first used for flight suits and later as standard fare for people who need flame resistant garb to protect them from burns such as firemen, racecar drivers, etc. This material is not going to melt in a red-hot barrel—not that anyone would get that close to a red-hot barrel.
Otis says Nomex fibers act as both a brush to loosen and a patch to capture fouling particles. If you compare a standard bore snake to the “Ripcord” you’ll note that the latter looks and feels more like a bungee cord. Whereas the bore snake is made of a flaccid, droopy material, the Ripcord has a rubberized core which forces the Nomex cleaning fibers to scrub the bore.
It’s anything but flaccid.
Because the Ripcord is quite rigid, and easier to insert down a barrel than a standard bore snake which has to be “gravity fed” by tilting the gun downwards. With a ripcord, all you do is place the longer, narrower end in the chamber and push/slide it–breech-to-muzzle. When the tip emerges from the end of the barrel you can pull it through. Otis says the core has a “helix shape, which helps engage the rifling throughout the length of the barrel.”
They are also easier to manipulate. One of the bore snakes I used to use for my 1911 had a bristly copper overlay which will poke you if you grab it wrong way. Not so with the Ripcord. The fiber is quite smooth—you won’t jab yourself.
Unlike a standard bore snake, the ends of the Ripcord have 8-32 threaded ends, so you can screw in jags, brushes and the like to assist in cleaning. In addition, says Otis, “the core is a helix shape, which helps engage the rifling throughout the length of the barrel.”
I use it as a post-range, quickie barrel clean up device. Essentially you want to clean the barrel while it’s still warm—before the evil carbon residues start hardening and your job becomes that more difficult later on.
What happens when the ripcord gets dirty?
You wash it with mild soap. To extend the life of the Ripcord, you can attach a slotted tip & patch to the Ripcord and place the solvent on the patch instead of the Ripcord.
The Ripcord retails for $14.99 and is currently available in every conceivable caliber. I use it for all my handguns and rifles.
The Defender was originally developed for the soldier but the folks at Otis make it available for civilians. I shoot a lot of 1911s and the Defender series is made to order for someone like me.It comes in a variety of styles and configurations. You can get kits strictly for handguns (.45, 9mm/.38, .40 cal, etc) or combo packages for rifles and handguns such as .5.56/9mm.
The Defender series differs from Otis’ (budget) “Patriot” line of cleaning kits which are useful, but bare bones. The Defender has everything but the kitchen sink. Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but let’s say it’s a very comprehensive collection of gear in one pack so you’re prepared to do a full-on cleaning, if that’s what’s called for.
Otis has dubbed this their Breech-to-Muzzle cleaning system which entails cables, bore brush, chamber brush (for the 5.56 and 7.62 kits), flex cable, slotted tip, double ended brush (the size of a tooth brush), patches, solid rods to clean the chamber and remove obstructions, and an (environmentally safe) tube of CLP.
The entire kit and caboodle are stored in a zip-up case about the size of a fanny-pack that has a snap on loop that can be attached to backpack. The case makes it easy to take to the range. Pretty slick.
Mission Critical (Synthetic) Lubricants
The newest product in the Otis Line is their Mission Critical MC-10 high performance cleaner and lubricant. This is a synthetic product that Otis says will stay on your firearm and will with stand extreme hot or cold conditions. On their website (see above) is a very persuasive video showing that even if you torch the lubricant in a beaker it won’t flame up. Maybe it’s the power of suggestion but after applying it to my finicky 9 mm 1911 the slide did seem to glide down the rails with the greatest of ease.
A little goes a long way.
Priced at about $30, the MC-10 system consists of a cleaner and a lubricant. Essentially the cleaner will prepare the metal for the lubricant by removing carbon, oil and whatever gunk is left over. You apply it with a small spray nozzle. After the surface is clean you can apply the lube.
Swab-its, the giant Q-Tip that replaces patches
Swab-its is one of these innovations that is so obvious, you wonder why no one ever thought of it before. Essentially, it’s giant Q-Tip with a foam tip that is reusable. It’s sold as another option for a patch and it makes sense.
It’s much easier to deal with than a patch.
Unlike patches or Q-Tips for that matter, they are reusable.
The foam tip is a highly durable plastic that can be washing with laundry soap or your favorite dish washing detergent and reused many times. I soak mine in dishwashing detergent overnight. You can use just about anything to clean them so long as it doesn’t melt plastic!
Thery come in a variety of sizes including 22 cal, .30cal, .357 cal/9mm, .40 cal, and .45 cal and you will not be shocked to hear you can buy them pretty inexpensively on Amazon in a multi-caliber kit. You can also get them for popular rifle sizes such as .243, 7.62/30 cal or 12 and 20 guage shot gun.
Bore-sticks are available only in 9mm, .22, .40 & .45. For the other sizes the company has Bore-tips that screw into the users standard cleaning rod, and .17 & .22 “Bore-whips” that are a pull-through cleaning tool.
SEAL 1 Signature Series Copper and Lead Remover
I’ve been a big fan of Seal 1 products for the past several years. I was introduced to their product line at SHOT and was hooked ever since. What I like about Seal 1, even before we get to the “efficacy” department is that they are very safe to use. I won’t even touch a cleaning product unless I know it is nontoxic from the get go.
It’s no secret that in the bad old days, before we even considered the consequences of using nasty cleaning compounds, all too often soldiers and civilian gun owners were often exposed to carcinogenic substances in the everyday maintenance of their guns. A very close friend, formerly an IDF paratrooper responsible for his squad’s FN MAG machine gun, suffered from a bout of cancer last year that he’s convinced came about from his daily encounter with cleaning solvents.
Thus, Seal 1’s concern about safety is a breath of fresh air. Literally.
Founded in Coronado, California (also home of the Naval Special Warfare Command, the outfit that provides oversight to all Navy SEALs) the family-owned company is managed by Dwight Settle, who served 20 years as a Navy Seal. Dwight’s job was M-60 gunner, and he became especially cognizant of the trials and tribulations of using toxic solvents to clean weapons.
When I first tested out the Seal 1 products, I was very impressed with their CLP+ which comes in several versions—paste, liquid and paste-infused patches called Seal Skinz. I particularly liked the liquid version, a goopy, gel-like, orange concoction which has a pleasant odor. This is in contrast to other products which make your house smell like a toxic waste dump. It was surprisingly effective in removing gunk from the bore, even with guns that I thought I had previously cleaned properly. After using their CLP+ the patch came out smudged. Evidently the product I had used previously didn’t quite do its job.
When I heard that Seal 1 had a new product, a copper and lead remover, I was particularly interested. Scott Lee, the Director of Sales and Operations over at the company told me that unlike most of the other Copper Removers, which use harsh chemicals, his new SEAL 1 Signature Series Copper and Lead Remover is (like the other products in the company’s line) bio-based and non-toxic. It uses a proprietary blend of multiple particles-size micro abrasives to attack the copper and lead. After applying the product, he suggests using the SEAL 1 CLP which leaves a barrier that resists copper and lead from sticking to the bore, making it much easier to remove.
I used the new product on several guns with success. It’s also a goopy yellow/orange concoction with the same pleasant odor as the CLP+. I used it both to clean the bores and removing the carbon deposits from the cylinders of wheel guns. In the latter case you have let it sit for a while and then brush with nylon bristles before the carbon comes off. You need some elbow grease to get the job done.
What I also like about Seal 1 that they are not a fly by night company. Scott Lee, who has been developing and manufacturing products for companies such as Remington, Hoppes, MPRO-7, OTIS, T/C, Michaels of Oregon, Traditions, CVA, Hodgdon and others since 1984, said that he and his colleagues formed SEAL 1 as a corporation on July 5th 2011. They distinguish themselves from many competitors because they formulate and manufacture their own products rather than having a third party do the dirty work.