After some initial reluctance on the part of gun owners, many are now discovering that ultrasonic cleaning is a safe and excellent choice for gun cleaning and refurbishing. We knew it all along, but hunters and sport shooters were hesitant about trusting the operability and reliability of their firearms to a different technology, choosing instead to spend hours disassembling their weapons and cleaning them by hand. Now that enthusiast periodicals like Guns & Ammo have endorsed ultrasonic cleaning, gun owners are flocking to it, primarily because of the final cleanliness it provides and the short amount of time it takes to get their guns back in peak condition.
Guns contain a lot of residue and contaminants after they have been used for a while. Copper, brass, and lead residue, bullet lube, burnt powder, carbon, dust, grime, rust, and old grease are commonly found in firearms that have been fired a lot. The traditional method has been to break down the weapon and meticulously hand clean it with brushes, patches, and a lot of hazardous solvent, which usually takes hours.
Gun cleaning using an ultrasonic cleaner is a very simple, two-step process that takes minutes instead of hours. The first step is the actual ultrasonic cleaning of the gun, and simply requires that it be field stripped. It does not need to be completely dismantled. Removing any obvious heavy build-up with a patch will speed up the process, but it is not necessary. Guns usually take about 15 minutes to clean completely, although heavy build-up or first-time cleanings may require a second cleaning cycle. Once the cleaning is complete, simply wash the gun with warm, clean water, and then put it back into the ultrasonic cleaning system for step two of the process—the lubrication step. In this step, a solution is used that actually wicks water away from the surface of the gun to prevent it from rusting when air dried, and leaves a lightly lubricated surface behind. After this step, the gun can be reassembled and spot-lubricated, and it is ready for use.
The standard cleaning solutions used in an ultrasonic cleaning program for firearms are safe for all metals and most plastics. Carbon steel, stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum, magnesium, titanium, and brass can all be cleaned safely, as can guns with finishes that are blued, nickel plated, Parkerized, anodized, or painted. This is also an excellent way to clean shell casings prior to reloading. Soft rubber and wood grips and stocks should not go into an ultrasonic cleaner unless the manufacturer recommends it, since they may swell or distort in the warm aqueous solution.
Ultrasonic cleaning removes all the barrel crud, carbon residue, and junk from the workings of the gun, leaving behind a well-lubricated firearm that will function as new. The entire process can be completed in less than an hour, which is great if we’re cleaning several guns, or just have better things to do with our time. Gun cleaning using an ultrasonic cleaner is effective, safe for the weapon and user, and saves time. We knew about its benefits long ago; we’ve just been waiting for the gun lovers to catch up.