Copper and lead don't respond to the same chemicals equally. I've never seen heavy copper fouling in a .45 ACP; just light copper traces, but lead can build up if you don't load to minimize it.
IMHO, the best general purpose chemistry is Boretech Eliminator. There are a lot of bottles of ammonia based cleaners like Butch's Bore Shine that I used to think were great, but now are sitting idle on my shop shelves because Boretech has left them in the dust. This article describes is
. Since it was written (2006), Boretech has come out with some other products I like, too, if you have a specialty problem, and sometimes you do. I've set a cast bullet into Eliminator, and overnight it etched the surface visibly, so it does attack lead, just not aggressively. But there are some other companies in the mix whose products are terrific for specific issues:
For heavy carbon deposits:
- Slip 2000 Carbon Killer. (Fastest but harsh on Parkerizing and some stock finishes; highest odor and harshest chemicals of the bunch).
- Gunzilla BC-10. (Slowest but removes carbon by gradually turning it to sludge and letting it fall down the tube. Has the advantage of removing loose rust, too. Leaves a lubricating surface behind. l once left some of this in a barrel for six weeks and when I finally patched it out, all the carbon and rust that were in pits in this old barrel just patched out and didn't leave a trace behind. Designed for armorers who have to have the stuff on their hands all day long.)
- Boretech C4 Carbon Eliminator (fair speed; emulsifiers that penetrate and remove carbon rapidly. I let a fellow try it on the bronze nipples of his muzzle loader and he said it was the first time they'd been bronze colored since he'd first installed them. Least odor of the bunch.)
For heavy copper fouling:
- KG Industries KG-12. (Doesn't turn blue or green, but has the highest copper capacity of any copper solvent I've seen. Run a couple of patches and let it sit for twenty minutes and the patches come out brownish orange, but the copper is usually 100% gone, even if it was heavy. Main drawback is you have to run a patch of some other cleaner that does turn colors after it to see if you are done for sure.)
- Boretech Cu++. (This is the same copper solvent as is in Boretech Eliminator, but more concentrated. Cu++ is just more of it. Both products attack copper so fast a brass jag will turn a wet patch blue while you're pushing it through the barrel. Have the bore free of carbon and grease before using it to get maximum effect.)
- Outer's Foul Out III. (This is an electrolytic system for getting metal fouling out, but you use different solutions for copper and for lead. Not fast (usually takes a couple hours or more if the fouling is heavy) but it is very thorough, and you can see where in the bore the fouling build's up because that's where it comes out most heavily on the electrode center rod. Least convenient to use of the different options, IMHO, as you have to plug the chamber and fill the bore with the solution.)
For Heavy Lead Removal:
- Sharp Shoot'R (makers of Wipe Out) No-Lead. (No-lead is the only chemical solvent on the market that truly reacts with lead, turning it into a soft black crust that patches right out. You put it in the bore and cylinder chambers and let it sit for an hour. Done. The maker wants you to use it with their cleaning chemicals for carbon and whatnot, but I've had no problem preceding it with BoreTech products. I do run an alcohol patch in between, though, to dry the bore for the No-Lead.)
- Lewis Lead Remover or Chore Boy and a brush. (This is mechanical lead removal. The Lewis tool has a couple of heads for bores and forcing cones and uses bronze wire patches to scrape lead out without hurting the steel. Taking a pure copper (test with a magnet to be sure it's not copper plated steel) scouring pad and wrapping a few strands around an one-size-too-small bore brush until a fairly snug fit is achieved, and scrubbing the lead out with that. Both ideas work, though both normally leave traces, especially in the corners of the rifling lands. Both also work best if you run a patch of Kroil or other penetrating solution (PB Blaster ir Shooter's Choice lead cleaner, for example) and let it sit overnight. Sometimes the penetrant will get under the lead and sometimes even copper well enough to let you pull it off the bore and out the muzzle intact.
- Outers Foul-out III. (Again, this is for either copper or lead, as described under heavy leading above).
- Iosso Bore Cleaner
- JB Bore Compound
- Lead Wipe
- (All the above use abrasives to remove metal fouling. They work, but aren't always faster on heavy fouling than the chemicals and they require elbow grease. JB is probably the first made and may be easiest on a bore. Iosso Bore Cleaner is a white water-based and odorless paste that I think works a bit faster. Both compounds polish the metal, turning a patch black with sub-microscopic steel particles. They don't remove enough to affect dimensions significantly. The Lead Wipe cloths have 400 grit aluminum oxide abrasive in them. They give steel a polished look, but I can see the scuffs on aluminum, so I don't use them. It's a little too much metal removal for my taste, though I have no problem with the first two items.
My general purpose approach: I keep Boretech Eliminator in a 2 oz pump spray bottle that I carry to the range with me. I also keep some neoprene stoppers of various sizes with me. At the end of a shooting session, after the bore has had a little time to cool while I put other things away, I pump a spritz or two of Eliminator down into the chamber and bore, letting it run to the muzzle. I wipe off excess on the outside, but leave the bore and chamber wet and plug the ends to protect my gun case. When I get home, I run a couple more wet patches through and wait 20 minutes to run a dry patch. Usually thats all it takes and nothing else shows on the dry patch. Carbon is softer when it's still warm, so this catches it at the best time for cleaning ease.