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Old 01-11-2021, 03:24 AM
Dragonwing Dragonwing is offline
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Default Cleaning handguns with Ultrasonic cleaner

I'd like to clean my handguns with my RCBS Ultrasonic cleaner.
I'm not sure if I need to completely disassemble the entire gun or just separate the slide/cylinder. I'd hate to completely disassemble the weapon and not get it put back correctly. Any suggestions/information will be appreciated.
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Old 01-11-2021, 03:36 AM
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Never done it myself but if I understand it correctly one of the big selling points on ultrasonic cleaning is you do NOT have to detail strip the weapon. Just take off the grips, field strip it and tank it.
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Old 01-11-2021, 04:13 AM
Dragonwing Dragonwing is offline
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Thanks Robert. I just watched a commercial from Midway USA, Gary Potterfield and he removed the side plate on a revolver and individually sprayed and brushed every part. I have both revolvers and semi's and was more concerned with the semi's. I guess I'll remove the grips and separate barrels, slides and cylinders and see how that works out
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Old 01-11-2021, 04:39 AM
Racer X Racer X is offline
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My old room mate ran his Glock through the apartment's dishwasher. Just pulled off the slide.
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Old 01-11-2021, 06:04 AM
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Thanks Robert. I just watched a commercial from Midway USA, Gary Potterfield and he removed the side plate on a revolver and individually sprayed and brushed every part. I have both revolvers and semi's and was more concerned with the semi's. I guess I'll remove the grips and separate barrels, slides and cylinders and see how that works out
I know several people who have "difficult" pistols such as Ruger Mark pistol and use aerosol brake cleaner, spray, soak, scrub and spray again to flush out the crud.

I believe if you wanted you could take off the side plate and do the same with a revolver.

I want to state I don't see myself ever doing this with my guns.
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Old 01-11-2021, 06:34 AM
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Ruger "Mark" pistols aren't difficult. You just need to read the manual. I own 6, and one more inbound. After the first time, they got way faster to break down.

Now, that Glock in the dishwasher is probably where the Tupperware gun thing started.
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Old 01-11-2021, 06:55 AM
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I don't see parts in contact with each other actually getting clean at the contact point! Even back when we boiled Cap and ball revolvers, we oiled the parts afterwards to keep them from rusting (and most springs will rust)

Ivan
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Old 01-11-2021, 07:40 AM
STORMINORMAN STORMINORMAN is offline
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There are various solutions for the ultrasonic cleaners, some formulated directly for firearms. I would think following their directions wouldn't hurt.

Once out of the unit a complete drying and a follow-up lubrication would be the way to go. Can't imagine the contact points Ivan mentioned wouldn't have been positively affected (read that as "cleaned") along the way, though.

Removing the assemblies (if broken down) or the entire gun (say a J-frame) from the machine and working the action a couple times along the way couldn't hurt the process, I wouldn't think...?

Needless to say, all used guns (new to me) get their bath ASAP.

CHEERS!

P.S. Personally I regularly do a normal cleaning (fieldstripping, if you will?) of all my guns after every trip to the range UNLESS I am planning to return to shoot them again in the forseeable future... As in a couple days/a week.

I don't find this onerous because I prefer to insure that they will be ready the next time I use them. Quite often I will also offer to clean (not in the ultrasonic cleaner, BTW!) any of the guns my guests may have brought to the range: it is a good way to determine their condition. I also routinely inspect any of these guest guns prior to them actually being used: I feel it is my responsibility as host to do everything I can to insure there are no problems that could easily be avoided with a little effort.

Yes, I've read many of the torture tests, the "I've NEVER cleaned my GLOCK atter X-THOUSAND rounds!" testimonials, often with sincere appreciation, but...

I still believe a clean gun is still going to have less potential (and actual?) problems when called upon to perform, regardless of the seriousness (or not?) of the situation.
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Old 01-11-2021, 09:15 AM
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Don't sonicate aluminum frames/parts as the surface could become pitted. I've only sonicated individual parts, not assemblies because of the potential for fitted parts to rub because of the sonic waves. This is probably not a major issue for large components, but I don't sonicate adjustable sights.
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Old 01-11-2021, 09:40 AM
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Spray Cleaner is your friend . Do like the Midway U-Tube video.
You can use automotive carb. / brake cleaners .
Unless your ultrasonic is filled with a non-water based gun solvent , don't use it . Midway would be glad to sell them for gun cleaning if it was a good idea . My gun range has a cleaner but it is filled with something like K-1 Kerosene , actually it is an automotive part cleaning fluid ... not water based .
I think it best to keep water out of guns and cleaning a Glock by running it through the dishwasher may be the factory way to clean them ... I think running a firearm through the dishwasher is the epitome of ... dumb . But Glock owners can do what they want my guns are staying out of the dishwasher .
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Old 01-11-2021, 10:58 AM
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My go to guy on maintenance

How to Clean Handguns - YouTube
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Old 01-11-2021, 01:03 PM
STORMINORMAN STORMINORMAN is offline
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Thumbs up And many other firearm related issues as well!

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My go to guy on maintenance

How to Clean Handguns - YouTube
Absolutely! He's one of the best!

All his videos are, IMHO, well worth watching.

Thanks for reminding me!

Cheers!
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Old 01-11-2021, 03:32 PM
Dragonwing Dragonwing is offline
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Thanks everyone for all of your comments. I learned about different things I hadn't thought about. That's why these forums are so important. Common sense only gets you so far. I'll probably just run barrels and slides/cylinders through the sonic cleaner and dry with my Lyman case dryer. I'm also going to watch YouTube videos so I can disassemble and clean and lube the "guts" of my Glocks, Kimber, Sig, Rugers and my 629 Classic DX. I appreciate all of you.
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Old 01-11-2021, 05:41 PM
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I used to overhaul scuba regulators for a living and used an ultrasonic cleaner. You really have to be careful what one puts into those solutions and for how long, etc. I have seen it remove the chrome from "discount scuba" equipment in a hurry. The solution will get under plating and loosen it. Few guns receiving minimal routine care need the deep cleaning of an ultrasonic cleaner.
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Old 01-11-2021, 05:53 PM
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I'm unfamiliar with ultrasonic cleaning, but is it really needed? It seems regular, routine cleaning would be sufficient 98% of the time. Only extraordinary circumstances would necessitate a complete teardown and cleaning, but conventional cleaning methods should be more than adequate if a complete disassembly is required.
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Old 01-11-2021, 05:53 PM
ggibson511960 ggibson511960 is offline
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I'll share my bad ultrasonic cleaner experience. Never, ever put anything in an ultrasonic cleaner that is made of anodized aluminum. The cleaner will partially remove the dye in the anodizing. Anodizing creates microscopic "hair follicles" that stand straight up from the base metal and provide a texture of vertical fibers to absorb and hold dye. That's why anodized parts can be dyed so many colors, including dark blue/black that approximates bluing on ferrous metal. My cleaner made a mottled mess of an aluminum receiver. It looks worse than when I started. Hoppes No. 9, a tooth brush and an air compressor blow dry would have done an adequate job, but I experimented. Ultrasonic is O.K. for small ferrous or copper based parts, but beware anodized aluminum like an S&W airweight frame.
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Old 01-11-2021, 06:35 PM
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Don't know from personal experience, but a shooting buddy of mine told me he once used one to clean his SS J frame snubby with the clear coated aluminum frame, and it removed - discolored the clear coating on the frame.

Larry
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Old 01-11-2021, 07:02 PM
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DON’T SOAK YOUR GUN IN WATER.

How bad are your handguns that you’d think they’d need a “sonic cleaner”? In my 45ish years of gun ownership, I’ve never had an issue that a normal cleaning didn’t take care of.

Are the ultrasonic solutions not water based?

Last edited by Stroker468; 01-11-2021 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:48 PM
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How does ultrasonic cleaning affect glued in sights, think gold or white dot front and tritium night sights? The plastic insert on a front sight?
Enquiring minds want to know.

Last edited by Autonomous; 01-12-2021 at 02:43 AM.
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Old 01-12-2021, 01:39 AM
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Good points about ultrasonic cleaning being unsuitable for some materials. I've never been tempted. Instead, I usually just tear down my guns far enough to get them clean the old fashioned way. Sometimes it's a deeper cleaning, other times not so much.

If I don't trust myself enough to get a gun properly reassembled, I use RemOil aerosol. One example that I won't take down to the fiddly bits is the frame of a Model 41. I don't use degreaser lest things rust. Spray it afterwards with an oil? Might as well use RemOil spray to begin with. It does a nice job of dissolving and flushing the crud out while leaving a nice thin coat of lube. It's pretty amazing how much gunk will leave a 41 in this manner.
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Old 01-12-2021, 02:12 AM
Dragonwing Dragonwing is offline
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Well you all have convinced me that there's no need to put any of my guns through this process. None of my guns are in need of that thorough of cleaning anyway. I'll stick to the way I've been doing it for the past 55 years. Being retired and having the time, it is very therapeutic sitting at the bench enjoying the internal as well as the external beauty of each and every gun I own. I have learned a lot from all of your years of experiences. One should never stop learning no matter how old we get. Thank you.

Last edited by Dragonwing; 01-12-2021 at 02:13 AM.
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Old 01-12-2021, 03:08 AM
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There are numerous ultrasonic firearms cleaning solutions that leave behind a lubricating/rust preventative layer on EVERY surface. This is exactly how most even moderate sized Law Enforcement agencies with an armorer clean all those firearms for what I assume are regular inspections.

Same with high volume ranges with rental guns.
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Old 01-12-2021, 05:40 AM
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I am an Armorer of 15 years experience at my department, and we have an ultrasonic cleaner, but we quit using it, in most cases, because not all guns are safe to clean in it. I have seen the night-sight inserts in the sight posts fall out, and a buddy's backup Smith 438's anodized finish came off the gun. I only run steel guns through, now, and don't use it for the slide if it is equipped with night-sights.
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Old 01-12-2021, 07:05 AM
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Do not see the need to clean the inside of revolvers more than once every year or two, if that often.
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Old 01-12-2021, 08:59 AM
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Default Ed's Red

I always take the stocks off a new-to-me handgun and run it through a heated ultrasonic bath of Ed's Red.

Then leave it to soak for a few days, and run it again.

Of course, these are real blued steel and walnut type older classic handguns.

A good way to begin the cleaning process, loosen screws, etc.

Often very little is left behind for a follow-up detail strip and clean.
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Old 01-12-2021, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 66snub View Post
I am an Armorer of 15 years experience at my department, and we have an ultrasonic cleaner, but we quit using it, in most cases, because not all guns are safe to clean in it. I have seen the night-sight inserts in the sight posts fall out, and a buddy's backup Smith 438's anodized finish came off the gun. I only run steel guns through, now, and don't use it for the slide if it is equipped with night-sights.
Thanks for confirming my suspicions about sight inserts vs the ultrasonic cleaner.
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Old 01-12-2021, 09:31 PM
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Single data point - My agency cleaned 500+ Glock 22 and 23s at least once a year in ultrasonic cleaners, year after year. Fragile guns may have issues. I am aware of no issues across now nearly ten thousands of cycles.

Anodized frame - pretty much guaranteed to cause “issues” forthwith. I suggest learning the hard way, as the lesson will be unforgettable.
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Old 01-12-2021, 11:33 PM
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Did those agency guns have sight inserts?
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Old 01-13-2021, 01:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Autonomous View Post
Did those agency guns have sight inserts?
If directed at me, then yes. I would say night sights are pretty much ubiquitous these days in law enforcement. They were pretty much ubiquitous 20 years ago too.

Last issue was Trijicons I think. No vibrating loose issues to my knowledge. That said, most deputies under age 40yoa have tac lights semi-permanently mounted these days too, limiting the value of night sights somewhat. Dicks, jailers and an occasional old timer on days are the only folks with slick guns.

Regular deputy guns are cleaned annually or more often, usually in association with the annual in-service training days. That meant inspection, cleaning and reissue was a smartly performed process. My assumption was we did as part of accreditation/insurance risk management drivers more than it just being a good practice.

SWAT guns generally got dunked more often. Mostly ARs, but also 870s, MP5s and an old time Uzi on occasion.
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Old 01-13-2021, 05:07 PM
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My agency had an ultrasonic cleaner. If the ultrasonic cleaner is functioning properly, it only takes a few minutes to clean the gun. Letting the gun sit in the cleaner for a half hour or longer is not recommended. We field stripped the gun, put the metal parts in the sonic cleaner with a hot water-based detergent, dried the parts, then immersed the parts in a light oil bath. The light oil bath displaced any water that was still in or on the parts. Oiled the parts and reassembled the gun. We never had any problems with this procedure. The sonic cleaner did a really good job of cleaning the hard to access places in our MP5 SMGs and HK33s.
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