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Old December 5, 2012, 06:16 PM   #1
warbirdlover
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Cleaning black powder rifles

I've read over the years that hot water works great for cleaning black powder rifles. Now there are tons of "solvents" for doing it. I also read that during the civil war the soldiers cleaned their rifles by urinating down the barrel (hot water?).

How do you guys do it (not urinate but clean the rifle)....
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Old December 5, 2012, 06:28 PM   #2
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There are so many different ways and none is "The Way". I read an article in Camp Chase Gazette years ago where the author advocated window washing or windshield washing fluid, the cheaper ones worked better. In RevWar reenacting a 3-in-1 solution of peroxide, denatured alchol and Murphy's Oil Soap is very popular, hydrogen peroxide is a quick and easy method though some say it's too corrosive on the bore. I prefer to use chemistry instead of elbow gease, apply your soluton and let it soak-5-10 munutes, at least. Then a proper drying and oiling. Hot water by itself really doesn't work that well, "Back Then" the official method involved flour of emory, soldiers often used camp fire ashes, nowadays dish detergent-again the cheap stuff-works fine.

Last edited by SIGSHR; December 5, 2012 at 06:42 PM.
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Old December 5, 2012, 06:35 PM   #3
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Hot water and Dawn dish washing soap.
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Old December 5, 2012, 06:35 PM   #4
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I use hot soapy water followed by flushing with clean hot water. The cheapest way and it's worked great for me for 50 years.

I've studied the Civill War for a long time and have never run across a first person account of urinating in the barrel. Could you suppy us your source for that?

In a privately published book on the 1851 Navy that is a collection of information gathered by a gentleman from Civil War books, he states the practice of cleaning revolvers - hot water with lye soap added in a container where the revolvers were hung down in with the grip fram resting on the rim. I've run across this several times over the years. It makes sense in the field an then flushing with clear water and drying.

If you've ever been over on the shotgun range at Friendship,you'll see tubs of water where the barrels can be removed from the stock after shooting rounds and the breech can be submerged to clean the barrels by using a cleaning rod to pull the water up in a pumping motion. Works good on the shotgun barrels. When I'm down there, I usually just boil some water on the fire and use that - dry and then oil.

Some folks use date/windex mixture. Everybody has their own method. The important thing is to get the gun clean, dry and then a coating of something to prevent rust. Personally, I'm not in to all the fancy solvents and cleaners. Soap and water was pretty much used by our ancestors and it worked well for them.
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Old December 5, 2012, 06:40 PM   #5
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I've never seen a reference to cleaning with urine either. Methinks that would be worse than powder residue. I have seen reference to urinating ON rifle barrels to help cool them when shooting buffalo.
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Old December 5, 2012, 06:49 PM   #6
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Using urine to "clean" is a new one on me. Granted their standards of hygiene would appal us today, but....back in 1975 I read some of a potboiler novel titled Gestapo, it started with a couple of German officers leading a punishment unit on the Russian Front, it refered to them urinating on their
boots to keep the leather soft. That's a another new on me.
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Old December 5, 2012, 07:20 PM   #7
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It depends on the gun and powder that was used.
I'll use soapy water with some Pine Sol added for cleaning C&B pistols fired with American Pioneer Powder. But usually use a combination of solvents with rifles due to firing other substitute powders that can be more stubborn to remove.
It can require more elbow grease to clean with solvents. 90% of the carbon residue comes off easy, but it's the last 10% that seems to require more effort. Especially to remove it from the nooks, crannies, threads, rifling grooves and where it can accumulate thick around the drum, nipple, lock plate and hammer cup.
I have Rusty Duck Black Off, Hoppe's Number 9 Plus Black Powder Solvent & Patch Lube and Birchwood Casey Black Powder Solvent.

Last edited by arcticap; December 5, 2012 at 07:26 PM.
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Old December 5, 2012, 07:21 PM   #8
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Three basic methods and all work !!

There are three basic methods for cleaning.

1) Hot water and soap. Some prefer warm water.
2) Solvent washes, like mineral spirits Ballistol or equal.
3) A combination of 1 And 2.

There are some barrel makers that claim would never let any water near their barrels. When I shot BP or Pyrodex and that was a long time ago. I used warm water followed by a solvent wash. Currently I only use solvent washes after a soaking period. ....

Be Safe !!!
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Old December 5, 2012, 08:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
I use hot soapy water followed by flushing with clean hot water. The cheapest way and it's worked great for me for 50 years.

I've studied the Civill War for a long time and have never run across a first person account of urinating in the barrel. Could you suppy us your source for that?

In a privately published book on the 1851 Navy that is a collection of information gathered by a gentleman from Civil War books, he states the practice of cleaning revolvers - hot water with lye soap added in a container where the revolvers were hung down in with the grip fram resting on the rim. I've run across this several times over the years. It makes sense in the field an then flushing with clear water and drying.

If you've ever been over on the shotgun range at Friendship,you'll see tubs of water where the barrels can be removed from the stock after shooting rounds and the breech can be submerged to clean the barrels by using a cleaning rod to pull the water up in a pumping motion. Works good on the shotgun barrels. When I'm down there, I usually just boil some water on the fire and use that - dry and then oil.

Some folks use date/windex mixture. Everybody has their own method. The important thing is to get the gun clean, dry and then a coating of something to prevent rust. Personally, I'm not in to all the fancy solvents and cleaners. Soap and water was pretty much used by our ancestors and it worked well for them.

bedbugbilly
Sorry, I shouldn't have said Civil war. It was some era where they fought using black powder. And it was many years ago I read it.
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Old December 5, 2012, 08:51 PM   #10
Jim Watson
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John "Pondoro" Taylor mentioned the use of "something you always have with you that is mostly water" in cleaning express rifles shot with hot Cordite and chlorate primers. He didn't say he had actually done it but was definitely of the opnion that almost anything warm and wet through the rifle barrel was better than the salts from corrosive priming.
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Old December 5, 2012, 09:00 PM   #11
4V50 Gary
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I still use soap and water. It's cheaper than solvents, has worked for centuries and will work for centuries after we're gone.

On urinating down a barrel, that was only a battlefield expedient by soldiers to clear the fouling so the gun could be reloaded. It wasn't done in the barracks or on the range.
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Old December 5, 2012, 09:00 PM   #12
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Never fails.
Either to clean.....
...or start a range conversation

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Old December 5, 2012, 11:51 PM   #13
warbirdlover
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Quote:
On urinating down a barrel, that was only a battlefield expedient by soldiers to clear the fouling so the gun could be reloaded. It wasn't done in the barracks or on the range.
That's what I meant. It was not done under normal circumstances. Only in the heat of battle.
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Old December 6, 2012, 09:04 AM   #14
Rifleman1776
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This is an oft recurring question on the muzzle loading forums.
There are hundreds of 'formulas' for cleaning.
Soap and water do just fine. Adding extra 'stuff' is just fine if it makes you feel better. But it won't clean any better.
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Old December 6, 2012, 10:39 AM   #15
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Sorry if I brought up a worn out subject. I'm a new muzzleloader hunter and don't know what's been posted in here.

I appreciate the answers.

The one product I will buy is the CVA "Something-or-other Blaster" soaking jar for small parts. Makes sense after cleaning my breech plug.
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Old December 6, 2012, 04:44 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WarBirdLover
Sorry if I brought up a worn out subject....
Next time, pick something less controversial... like best engine oil for British classic twin motorcyles.
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Old December 6, 2012, 04:48 PM   #17
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Quote:
Soap and water do just fine. Adding extra 'stuff' is just fine if it makes you feel better...
Actually, I used to use just PineSol and water -- cleaned the heck out of things.

I added 10% Ballistol when I found I was literally flash-rusting in the time interval of leaving the
barrel wet-to-soak while getting my target frame down, and before hitting things with BreakFree.
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Old December 6, 2012, 05:45 PM   #18
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When I first started muzzleloading, I bought every type of solvent imaginable to try for cleaning my rifle. Once I got some more experience, I switched to hot water with dish soap and an oily rag to punch the bore and wipe down the exterior. Worked just fine, maybe better than the solvents.
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Old December 6, 2012, 06:57 PM   #19
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cleaning

Started shooting BP back in the 70's.
Old timer back then and a book I had, both said rubbing Alcohol and warm water with or with out soap.
I like to use what they likely had back then, so no modern stuff.
When at the range shooting revolver after each cylinder or when starting to get too stiff to turn by cocking, Cloth swab around face of cylinder and pin to clean. If really bad I remove the cyclinder and clean. As long as accuracy is good leave barrel alone.
After 5 or 6 shots with the rifle I do the same.
Then when done thorough clean with warm soapy water. Inspect then lube with 3 in one oil/
Singer sewing machine oil.
My breech plug in 50 cal is a real bitch to remove so I don't.
But the revolver barrels are spotless so I would presume rifle is too. Can't see all the way to the bottom with a light though.
I leave cylinders dry, as I reload with paper cartridges after cleaning.
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Old December 6, 2012, 07:14 PM   #20
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soap and water my friend

I am a big believer in scalding water and elbow grease..... a little dawn never hurt either. Only thing that maters is a good drying/ oiling session. I've used bore butter both on the inside and outside of my tc renegade with great results. SHOOT ON BRETHEREN
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Old December 6, 2012, 07:30 PM   #21
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In-Lines vs SideLock, on cleaning

In a past post/reply, someone mentioned that In-Lines were easier to clean than Traditionals. Personally I have found just the reverse to be true. Granted, Inlines are vary in construction where Traditionals are pretty much the same. I have spent more time, cleaning In-Lines than traditionals. In-Lines may be more accessible, due to removable breech plugs and such but I'd rather clean a Traditional over an inline, any day. ....

Be Safe !!!
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Old December 6, 2012, 07:36 PM   #22
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The best stuff I have ever used is the 1/3 equal measure solution of Murphy's Oil Soap, Rubbing Alcohol, and drug store Hydrogen Peroxide. You do need to keep it in a light proof container so the peroxide does not degrade.
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Old December 6, 2012, 09:15 PM   #23
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Diluted with water. Ballistol for cleaning here.

I've heard a few Marines urinated into the Water Reserve Tank of the older 30 cal. water cooled machine-guns. After they had drank the Reserve Tanks fresh water first.
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Old December 6, 2012, 09:20 PM   #24
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I've never used anythig but hot soapy water on mine ..... rinsed with hot water, dried, light coat of oil......

Seriously, shooting a flintlock, I don't shoot it enough in an afternoon to get it that terribly dirty.....
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Old December 9, 2012, 06:52 PM   #25
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Shooting seems to have its share of pee-freaks, spreading unsubstantiated tales. Here's a few I can recall from the internet and pre-internet books and magazines. As far as I know, only one is true:

1. Long ago, to make gunpowder (black powder) stronger, soldiers urinated in the powder and then dried it.
FALSE - Urinate in powder and you'll get soggy, unusable powder. During the long, stinky process of making potassium nitrate (saltpetre) -- one of three ingredients in black powder -- it was learned centuries ago that the urine of heavy drinkers was particularly good for this use.
The microbes that converted the organic material to potassium nitrate thrived on it. This is probably where this falsity stems from.

2. Urine was used to clean black powder guns.
KINDA - It was probably a field expedient to wash away heavy fouling, but not a regular practice.
I recall reading that, during the Korean War and its bitter cold, GIs in foxholes peed on the action of their M1 rifle to keep it from freezing over with ice. I am uncertain this is true, because the M1 rifle is an exceedingly dependable arm.

3. Machine gunners in the trenches of World War I peed into the water jacket of their machine guns, when they ran low on water, to keep their guns firing.
TRUE.
I've heard this many times, and even saw reference to it at the World War I museum at Ypres, Belgium (where three of the war's bloodiest battles were fought). I believe it, but only as a a field expediency.

4. The Viet Cong peed on the sharpened punji stakes they used in booby traps, to cause greater infection.
TRUE.
But then, urinating edged weapons before battle was known long ago to cause infection.
Ancient armies also smeared feces, mashed insects and other nasty stuff on their arrowheads and blades to induce infection.

There are probably other tales of odd uses for urine, aside from being a fertilizer. Few of them are likely true.
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