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Old 03-13-2012, 08:42 AM
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Default how do you clean your cylinders?

Hi all,

I find the biggest chore of cleaning a revolver is the cylinders, I'm talking about the accumulated lead fouling right behind the chamfer cuts specifically; in a .357 it's tough but in my experience shooting .38's in it is even worse, regardless of bullet type or load . In my quest to make this as easy as possible I've been asking this for a while and I have heard all kinds of ahem 'interesting' things, from white vinegar to dremels and drills.

What I have found to be the most effective and easiest so far is first a swab with hoppe's 9 followed by a dry patch, then alternating bronze brush, lead remover cloth patch (stainless cyl), dry patch, repeat until clean. Even so, this takes several iterations and a fair amount of elbow grease.

So, what is your method? Also, cylinder on or off the frame?

thanks,
Dave
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:14 AM
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I never use stainless steel brushes. A bronze brush and Hoppes#9 takes care of my cylinder cleaning. You should not expect a used gun to look like an unfired gun. I also tend to only use lead bullets at low velocities - ca 750 fps. For higher velocities I use plated at ca 900 fps and jacketed at ca 1100 fps.
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:55 AM
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If it needs a good cleaning I remove it from the gun put it in a rubber padded Dremel vise and use a synthetic bore brush with fine bronze wool wrapped around it spun by a power screw driver.
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:22 AM
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Bore snake works best for me and bronze brushes.

As a matter of fact I swear by bore snakes.
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:29 AM
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Bore snake and bronze brushes for me, too. After, I run some patches through just for good measure. Alternate between wet and dry patches.
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:36 AM
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Dremels and power tools are not always a safe option for cleaning, especially if you are not real familiar with them and when it comes to chambers of any kind, most particularly. If you are comfortable with using them, please be careful with the materials you use or you can quickly oversize dimensions to dangerous levels. I never use dremels or power tools on bores or chambers, as taught to me by a credible gunsmith, unless you are in the business of resizing or professionally polishing them.

I have found Birchwood Casey's lead remover cloths to be very mild and very effective for the removal of lead rings in cylinders, and works especially well on stainless revolvers; it will also remove the rings around the forward face of the cylinder and around the forcing cone easily. You can then polish the whole weapon with them for bit of extra shine, but it won't take scratches out. Works great on bores too. I recommend some precleaning with Hoppe's # 9 and a brass brush, unless you have a finish easily damaged by it; Shooter's Choice is a good alternative. Here's the Brownell's site for the cloth, I highly recommend it as a non-abrasive alternative:
LEAD REMOVER CLOTH - Brownells
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:45 AM
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I use a Hoppe's Tornado brush, a quick coat of solvent followed by a pass or two of the Tornado and the chambers are shiny. Any reason not to use the SS tornado brush in a revolver?

Seems a lot less intrusive than a powered brass brush which basically turns into a hone...

Chris
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:53 AM
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Default Cleaning Cylinders

What works for me the best is to take a brush, not stainless and wrap some copper thin wire from Chor Boy copper brushes that you can buy at the grocery store. I use a scissors to cut the wire. I place my Revovlers in a vice protecting the barrell by a rubber sleeve over the jaws of the vice. The cylinder is open and I push the Revovler forward in the vice so the crane - extracor is open like you are extracting spent shells. In this way the gun is secure and the brush is much easier to use on the in and out. I shoot some Rem Oil in the barrel and cylinders first and then follow up with clean patches. The thin wire on the Chor Boy brushes wrapped around a cleaning rod brush works miracles on lead for sure. I shoot my Revovlers a LOT, this really works well for me.
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M2MikeGolf View Post
Dremels and power tools are not always a safe option for cleaning, especially if you are not real familiar with them and when it comes to chambers of any kind, most particularly. If you are comfortable with using them, please be careful with the materials you use or you can quickly oversize dimensions to dangerous levels. I never use dremels or power tools on bores or chambers, as taught to me by a credible gunsmith, unless you are in the business of resizing or professionally polishing them.

I have found Birchwood Casey's lead remover cloths to be very mild and very effective for the removal of lead rings in cylinders, and works especially well on stainless revolvers; it will also remove the rings around the forward face of the cylinder and around the forcing cone easily. You can then polish the whole weapon with them for bit of extra shine, but it won't take scratches out. Works great on bores too. I recommend some precleaning with Hoppe's # 9 and a brass brush, unless you have a finish easily damaged by it; Shooter's Choice is a good alternative. Here's the Brownell's site for the cloth, I highly recommend it as a non-abrasive alternative:
LEAD REMOVER CLOTH - Brownells
This is the exact cloth I use on all my stainless revolvers...I second the recommendation. A good cleaning with Hoppe's #9 and the lead removal cloth will do a wonderful job on what #9 leaves behind. Cylinder out for me...makes it easier to handle the gun overall and to access the forcing cone area. I am not opposed to a power tool but I have not tried it (I would probably screw something up) and have always cleaned by hand. A small piece of this lead cloth wrapped around a smaller bore brush (it is too thick for a .38 brush) will help with the cylinders. I have done this once or twice but don't find I need to do it much...I suppose it depends on how many rounds you shoot and how often.

Last edited by lhump1961; 03-13-2012 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 03-13-2012, 11:23 AM
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My usual routine to clean my revolvers' cylinders is to take a .40-caliber bronze brush, put some Break Free CLP on it, and scrub each chamber. I let it sit for a few minutes (usually while I'm cleaning something else on the gun). Then I run dry patches through each chamber until they come out clean.

I used to use lead remover cloth to get rid of the rings on the cylinder face, but I ended up switching to CLP and a bronze brush. The results aren't quite as good, but it does a good enough job that I don't have to worry about the potential for carbon and lead build-up interfering with the cylinder gap.

I used to take the cylinder off every time I cleaned my gun, but I began worrying about excessive wear-and-tear on the yoke screw. Now I leave the cylinder on, but I'll probably take the cylinder off maybe once a year for a more thorough cleaning as long as I don't have any issues with cylinder binding or similar problems.

ETA: Except for a few cylinder-fulls of BB LSWCHP all the ammo I use is jacketed.

Last edited by ContinentalOp; 03-13-2012 at 01:56 PM.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:38 PM
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Many passes with patches and a bronze brush. I use mostly Ballistol as my cleaner. Used to use Hoppes #9, but I think Ballistol does a better job honestly. I still use Hoppes in a pinch, as Ballistol is impossible to find locally and if I run out, Hoppes works until I can get in some more Ballistol off the internets.

I'm not a fan of bore snakes on pistols, especially on the cylinders. They are great on rifles.

I would never think of using any sort of power tool on it, that has disaster written all over it.

Edit: I also use only 100% cotton patches, not the synthetic kind.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:40 PM
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Clean front of cylinder with Hoppe's #9 and scrub with a bronze "toothbrush".

Pre-clean the charge holes with a few passes using the next caliber, oversize bronze brush and Hoppe's #9. Let it soak a bit and patch.

Follow with a pass with the Lewis lead remover tool on each cylinder hole. Rotating the tool as it exits the throat area. This is very effective at removing stubborn carbon and lead buildup.

Finish with another pass with bronze brush & Hoppe's #9.

On a few guns with very severe leading issues, repeat above process.

On stainless revolvers use the lead remover cloth to clean cylinder face. Technique I use is to put a strip of the cloth on the edge of a table and slide the face of the cylinder across it. Index it 1/4 turn each pass. Works well and makes the cylinder look un-fired in a few seconds.

Be sure to clean & dry the area under the ejector star as well.

Use small patch pieces and a tool like a very small flat blade screwdriver to remove the buildup in the cylinder counterbores on .22 & magnum revolvers so equipped.

Do the same on the ratchet teeth.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:46 PM
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Try the vinegar/peroxide it works great for stainless
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Old 03-13-2012, 01:15 PM
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I just run a bore snake through each chamber and barrel a few times. then use a brush on the ends of the cylinder.

Another reason I love revolvers they take no time to clean.
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Old 03-13-2012, 01:53 PM
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.50 cal bronze rifle brush on a short rod connected to a cordless drill.......Works EVERY time! Never had any damage done. Cuts cleaning time waaay down.
P.S... this works especially well, when shooting .38s in a .357. It will knock that carbon ring right out.

Last edited by allglock; 03-13-2012 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:15 PM
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Yup, what he said: .50 cal bronze rifle brush & a cordless drill
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Old 03-13-2012, 03:10 PM
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Remove the cylinder from the frame, fill a 15 oz vegetable can half full of gasoline, dunk cylinder into the can for about 30 seconds. Use stainless steel chamber brush for about 5 in/out strokes in each chamber hole. Dunk in vegetable can to flush out lead debris. Do not use chamber brush on face of cylinder -- just wipe with cotton cloth.

Wipe cylinder outside dry with cotton cloth, push cotton patch thru each chamber and set aside to evaporate gasoline. Apply 1 drop of oil as required to extractor shaft for lubrication. Cleaning takes less than 2 minutes.

To the naysayers: I've been cleaning cylinders for 30 years this way without a problem. I don't care about the powder burn on the face of the cylinder--it all comes back the next time I shoot.
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Old 03-13-2012, 03:20 PM
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I pretty much do what you do. I swab the barrel and charge holes with Hoppes #9. I let it sit for a few mins and then run a bronze brush down the holes.

I run patches until clean and then gently use lead remover cloth on the parts that are still dirty.

I never considered it a chore and doesn't take long.

I've been reading that M-Pro 7 is fantastic so I'm going to give it a try. You may want to check out the reviews on that.
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Old 03-13-2012, 03:40 PM
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Lot of #9 use. Didn't I read(here?) that, while good for stainless steel, it should be avoided for blued and nickel?
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Old 03-13-2012, 05:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allglock View Post
.50 cal bronze rifle brush on a short rod connected to a cordless drill.......Works EVERY time! Never had any damage done. Cuts cleaning time waaay down.
P.S... this works especially well, when shooting .38s in a .357. It will knock that carbon ring right out.
Right! Use a good quality brass cored brass bore brush. Wet the brush with any quality bore cleaning solvent... I like Shooters Choice. Chuck the brush in a electric drill and run it at low speed pushing the brush in and out of the charge holes. It makes short work of cleaning the crud out of a .357 cylinder when I've been firing .38 Specials that might be a little sooty, etc. I wipe the cylinder face clean, but I don't try to scrub it down to the bare metal whether it is blued or stainless steel. I clean it and that's enough. I clean the ratchet and under the extractor star, etc.
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Old 03-13-2012, 07:50 PM
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If it's not too far off topic:

Anything special I need do or more importantly, not do, for my scandium framed 329PD cylinders?

Since I use .44 Special loads with .44 Magnum cases, I'm not too worried about lead buildup etc. in the chambers.

Thanks,
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Old 03-13-2012, 08:31 PM
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I've used stainless chamber brushes for many years with great results and no damage whatsoever . I've taken one of those brushes and ran it back and forth hard on a piece of high polished stainless steel and there was no scratching or even dulling of the high polish finish .
This lead me to believe that they are safe for a stainless guns chambers .
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:32 PM
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I'm careful of the cylinder and assembly as they seem to me to be easily knocked out of whack by vigorous movement / cleaning.

I take a bronze pistol bore brush and attach it to a segment from a M16 cleaning rod, few drops of Hoppe's no. 9, push through all chambers and put aside to let the solvent work. After a bit I run a small piece of patch using the rod bore brush to work out the dirty grit and solvent, repeating maybe once. M16 brush / toothbrush the both faces of the cylinder, not worrying that it's going to retain some black. One of my J-frames has a titanium cylinder and I don't worry at all if some black remains. Last patch has a drop of clp.
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Old 03-14-2012, 08:47 AM
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I did not mention in my original post, but I use a .40 cal bronze brush, which does work a lot better than a .38 for this.

Yesterday I tried stringing a strip of lead remover cloth in between the brush rows and that works pretty good too, used a toothbrush to clean off the lead cloth lint from the brush afterwords.

I have a small collection of lead remover cloths I've amassed, here's the best to worst as far as performance in my experience:

1) old 1990's hoppes l-r cloth (the usa white one, not current yellow chinese)

2) tipton l-r cloth (works great, but it's pretty thick and juicy, kind of messy)

3) birchwood-casey l-r cloth

4) midway house brand l-r cloth (yellow, not so great, but works for light cleaning/shining the barrel & frame and getting combustion stains off the (stainless) cylinder sides without buffing it up too much.

I only clean off the cyl face every so often, like others said above, it only gets dirty the next time you shoot.

Some good stuff posted here, thanks. Hopefully this will be of some use to you guys with the 10 chamber 617's heh heh..

Dave
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:29 AM
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I use a vice with leather pads to hold the cylinder still attached to the revolver. For solvent I've found BoreTech to be the best of the bunch. It is totally odorless so I don't get in trouble from the house commander. I also reuse worn out bore brushes to break up the surface of the carbon ring so the BoreTech can do its thing.

Only down side of BoreTech it will give false readings if using brass jags, other than that it is awesome.
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:35 AM
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I discovered de-leading wool from cylinder & slide. Others have used pieces of a Chor-boy scouring pad. With the de-leading wool, I run a patch wet with Hoppe's through all the chambers, let sit for a few minutes, then cut a few strands of the de-leading wool from the bundle, and wind them around a bronze brush. 2 or 3 strokes in each chamber and it's done. Wipe the accumulated Hoppe's and residue from the front of the cylinder and re-install on the revolver.

The de-leading wool is harder than lead but softer than steel, and will not harm your chamber. It's available at Brownell's and Midway.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:48 PM
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This is my simple solution to chamber fouling. I shoot a lot of .38's out of my .357's. I learned long ago about the issues that can arise from shooting .38's thru the .357.

I guess it depends on if you shoot at an indoor range, a gun club...or just happen to be lucky enough to shoot on private property. Anyway, you can pick up a .38/.357 chamber brush (I just use a .375 Rifle brush) and every 24-30 rounds make a pass thru the cylinders. It may not get it all out, but it keeps mine clean.

Good luck and good shooting,

Murphy2000
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:34 PM
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I also use Ballistol and it work great. To me some of the fun is cleaning my revolver after a good day in the woods.
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:48 AM
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Looks like there are as many ways to clean revolver chambers
as there are shooters.

I chuck the gun (with rubber stocks installed) into the rifle
rest with the cylinder unleashed. Holding the cylinder in my
left hand I run a long 45 cal. bronze brush, with a patch of
solvent (Butch's Bore Shine) over the top, chucked into a bat-drill
into each cylinder. A few seconds of action and you are done.
I change the patch every other cylinder. Then I degrease the
chambers with brake cleaner on a patch with a jag.
I don't do much to the cylinder face. Just wipe it off.

I never shoot specials in a magnum chamber. That's what
the Special guns are for

...Nemo...
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Old 03-15-2012, 11:45 AM
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I guess I should have mentioned in my earlier post my experience in the past with cleaning lead deposits and such and that was the use of a brass brush and solvents like Hoppe's #9 (my all time favorite), Shooter's choice, etc. I see someone mentioned Ballistöl, which can be used for a lot of other things like wood, wound dressings, sore throat spray, etc. (yup, actually seen that done!). It requires patience and some effort, but cleaning firearms has never seemed a chore to me, but more just part of the experience of owning a firearm, you want to shoot it, then you should want it to work. Nothing says you have to clean a weapon at all. Me personally, I like to clean it pretty completely after I fire it, I guess it's ingrained in me as an old soldier, however, I was taught the same approach before I joined the Army, by none other than another old soldier (my dear old grandad introduced me to Hoppe's).

Recently, I tried one of the Birchwood Casey lead remover cloths that I mentioned and was really pleased at the results. I didn't even need to use solvent or a brush, and it easily removed the powder rings on the cylinder. I understand what people say about "it's just going to get dirty again", but then you could say that about all other cleaning too. For me, a complete cleaning includes those powder rings and the area around the forcing cone and the reason I wanted to mention these lead remover cloths is that they work very well, and with very little effort, and with no power tools. I just tore off a little piece and rubbed around the forcing cone and cylinder face and also put some on a cleaning jag and very easily scrubbed the chambers. I also used this stuff on a seventy five year old Drilling with a very bad bore and was able to polish out the majority of the decades of misuse, etc on it. Once again, I would never recommend power tools; if it works for some people and they have been doing it for years, that's great, but it greatly increases the possibility of doing irreversible damage to the firearm. I have also discovered that many solvents, especially ones that are not designed for weapons can do some harmful things to weapons; to include eating finishes away. When I was a soldier, I had to moniter that often; many solvents commonly used by the mechanics for wheeled and armored vehicles were a definite no-go for weapons as they would eat away the protective finishes or damage the alloys, and non-metal parts almost all weapons use these days. I understand that even Hoppe's #9 will damage some finishes used by S&W these days (safe for carbon steel, blued finishes though). Flitz and this B-C lead remover cloth or many metal polishes on the market and a little elbow grease are the safest way to go, always. I once worked in a custom gun shop, and the gunsmith there taught me to be very careful when it comes to polishing and polishing tools; he currently runs a custom gun shop of his own and knows his business well.

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Old 03-15-2012, 03:19 PM
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Mike, funny that you mention flitz, that was one that I did try after I was already using the lead remover cloth. I have a qt. can that I got back around '88 that still has about an inch left in bottom, I use it for cleaning off all kinds of nasty from chrome and it works great for that. It was mentioned to me for the cyls, so I gave it a try, but it didn't seem to do very much, esp. compared to the l-r cloth, so I gave up on it.

The other thing I tried that I had high hopes for was Kroil; I read all the reviews about how the lead 'just falls out of the barrel with a patch run', so I got a can. I swabbed all the chambers and let it sit for about 24 hrs, but when I ran a patch through the cylinders, I got a clean patch with a little bit of kroil on it, not a speck of lead. Anyone have better luck with kroil here or in the bore as a de-leader?

I agree re. the l-r cloth on the cylinder face and forcing cone, comes right back down to stainless with very little effort. I use one of those 'devil's tail' plastic cleaning tools and a small piece of l-r cloth to get around the cone and top strap, works great. I usually only do the cyl face about every few hundred rounds, when I do a full detail cleaning.

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Old 03-15-2012, 09:06 PM
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I just tried a 24 hr "Kroil soak" for some leading in the cylinder and forcing cone of my 625. When I ran the brass brush through, I did get some lead flecks out but it didn't "fall out" of the bore like I've heard some folks report.

So, I did my "regular" routine using a brass brush wrapped in copper Chore Boy, chucked in the battery-powered drill on low speed. Bingo, clean cylinders in 30 seconds (times six)! A few seconds of spinning in the forcing cone and clean as a whistle.

I'll stick with Chore Boy wrapped around an old brush, but may use the Kroil or another light oil to carry out the fouling as I run the brush. Either that or maybe I'll use CLP or some TSI-301 that I also use on my smallbore guns.

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Old 03-15-2012, 09:57 PM
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A brass brushing with Hoppes #9 followed by a soft cloth w/ a dab of Flitz has the cylinder faces of all my stainless revolvers looking like brand new. I have had good results with Butch's Bore shine with a .40 cal. brass brush for the chambers followed by tight fitting cloth patches until clean. I know it's not part of the cylinder but don't forget to clean the forcing cone area and also under the ejector star with a brass brush and your favorite cleaner. I use no power tools. The earlier post was almost right, you can't make a blued or alloy gun look brand new BUT you definitely can make an all stainless S&W or Colt revolver look brand new. Ruger's are a little tougher because the "cast" stainless has pores.

Last edited by Az. revolver fan; 03-15-2012 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 03-15-2012, 10:26 PM
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I shoot IDPA competitively with S&W revolvers, running .38 Special equivalents in K-frame .38's, K-Frame .357's and L-frames. I like to utilize hard cast lead bullets, simply because I can shoot more for the same $$.

It is essential that the cylinder charge holes be clean for quick reloads. Shooter's Choice solvent works well. I use the Brownell's SS brushes sold specifically for cleaning cylinder charge holes; their p/n 084-455-137. This is a manual operation only, never is a power tool used, or even needed.

For the cylinder externals, as well as the rest of the gun, the Birchwood Casey Lead Remover and Polishing Cloth is the berries for SS. I cut off small chunks to use up, reserving the main part of the cloth for eventual later duty. A thorough polish-up of the gun with the BC Cloth sure makes repeat cleaning much easier.
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S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present Thread, how do you clean your cylinders? in Smith & Wesson Revolvers; Hi all, I find the biggest chore of cleaning a revolver is the cylinders, I'm talking about the accumulated lead ...
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