View Full Version : GREAT lead cleaner !! (copper scouring pads)

July 31, 2005, 11:06 AM
I spent almost 3 hours on 4 websites reading every piece of advice for cleaning lead-fouled barrels.

There seemed to be 8 favorite methods that were repeatedly suggested (in no particular order):

1) Lewis Lead Remover
2) Shooter's Choice Lead Remover (soak; no maximum time limit)
3) Blue Wonder Gun Cleaner (5 - 10 minute soak)
4) Shoot FMJ ammo after LSWC to 'clean up' the lead
5) Copper scouring pads (for pots and pans, like the Chore Boy brand)
6) Kleenbore Lead Wipe-Away
7) Vinegar and 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (mixed 50/50; 3-10 minute soak depending on whom you believe)
8) 3% Hydrogen Peroxide only (two folks recommended this-- 3 - 5 minute soak) Straight 3% solution without the vinegar was favored by two folks because of the concern for destroying the bluing on their barrels. Supposedly, there were no ill effects when using 3% HP w/o mixing vinegar
9) Mercury (not highly recommended on any forum, but I'll mention it anyway)

My results:

I've only tried the first 5 methods. (I don't doubt the users who prefer Kleenbore Wipe-Aways, but I wonder if it can be faster or easier than what I discovered; it certainly can't be cheaper.) I had 5 guns to clean; leading was severe on 3 of the guns (no lands and grooves for the first 1 1/2 - 2 inches from the chamber; completely leaded over). I shoot LWSC as much as possible; my ratio of LSWC / Copper ammo is probably 8/1.

Before undertaking the task of cleaning these 5 guns, I had previously used methods 1), 2), 3), and 4). Of the first three "true" cleaning methods, Lewis Lead Remover worked the "best" for me; it was the fastest, and easily the most thorough. In fact, after using both Shooters Choice and Blue Wonder (on different barrels) I have always had to follow up these cleanings with the Lewis Lead Rermover to remove the last toughest deposits.

The fourth method, shooting FMJ after LSWC has never really done the job for me; I used to load my magazines this way: insert the 1st 3 rounds, FMJ, last 4/5 rounds, LSWC. I've still had lead-fouling I've had to deal with. Nowadays, I only shoot copper because I found some bullets at a better price than lead( ) and shoot them indoors.

Usually it would take me up to 45-60 minutes to clean one entire gun, most of that time spent using/replacing the Lewis Lead Remover tip and screen mesh. I'd go through 3-5 screens per gun. (These were mostly 1911's rapid-fired for 2-400 rounds of LSWC, and leading could be as severe as described above.)

I read all the articles I could find, and then went to WalMart and bought a bottle each of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, and a 3-pack of copper scouring pads. My intent was to use the scouring pads first, and if that wasn't successful, to move to the HP first, and then the vinegar/HP recipe as a last resort. There are several posts from various shooters who disdain the vinegar/HP method as too caustic to take a chance; their experience is that this method can ruin bluing, and cause pitting in the bore especially when cleaning non-SS barrels. Stainless steel bores were said to be almost impervious to this chemical method, but there were those that still said not to do it.

The reasons I decided to try other methods than the Lewis Lead Remover was expense and time. Removing and replacing the tip after each 'swabbing' is a pain; replacing the brass screen got to be expensive and time-consuming. Sure it only takes a few seconds to hunt up another screen, but they're not "cheap"--including shipping, ten 1" screens will cost $6, and I'd got through that in 3 cleanings, max. For me, that's ~ $180 per year (buy in bulk, yada, yada....no way I'll beat $3/year--read on).

Anyway, I alloted about 5 hours to clean all these guns; threw on some music and broke out the copper scouring pads. I cut the nylon retainer off the pad and that allowed me to unroll the mesh. Then I cut a 2"x4" rectangle from the mesh and wrapped it around an old used up .30 bore brush.

I'll skip describing the first two guns. They weren't fouled real badly, and cleaned easily.

I then chose one of the barrels that was severely fouled (no lands and grooves for the first 1 1/2 - 2 inches from the chamber; completely leaded over). I inserted the cleaning rod through the muzzle first so it comes out the breech end, and screwed on the bore brush with the copper mesh wrapped around it. Pulled it through and inspected the bore; repeat ~5 times. Quite a bit of lead had come out, with no discernable damage to the lands and grooves. A little more confident, removed the mesh/brush from the cleaning rod and started over, this time pull-push, pull-push for 10-15 seconds. I had to do it a second time (another 10-15seconds), but when I was finished, in no more than 2 minutes, including inspections and disassemblies, the bore was clean.

I followed that process with Ed's Red to clean out the carbon and finished cleaning 5 guns in 80 minutes.

For them who are already familiar with copper pads (aka, Chore Boy) this is old news, but for the rest of us who're dubious 'til we see it done, and with our own eyes, it was amazin' !!

I'm glad the mechanical method worked so fast and completely. For $2, I've got enough pads to last 9 months, I'd bet, and I don't have to take a chance with the vinegar/HP as I had intended.

For anyone else facing this cleaning chore I hope this helps.

July 31, 2005, 11:19 AM
Or you could have used a patch soaked in Ballistol and ran it through your barrel and let it soak for 2 minutes. Then run a brush through that was saturated with ballistol for a few times and then a few dry patches and put the gun away completely cleaned and lubed. Ballistol will dissolve lead, copper, tombat, carbon, and you can put on any cuts and scrapes and it dulls the pain and aids healing. I have deleaded up to 5 pistols and revolvers in about 25 minutes for your comparison.

BTW, if you ever put vinegar in a barrel and let it touch the blueing, it will dissolve it and lead to pitting of the metal. Never try to use it since there are so many other ways to remove lead, copper, and carbon buildup. Vinegar is an acid, which eats most metals.

James K
August 1, 2005, 11:42 AM
Copper scouring pads are excellent for cleaning surface rust without damage to bluing.

And no, copper can't scratch steel or wear out the barrel.


August 4, 2005, 02:52 PM
How about a "Tornado Brush" on a piece of cleaning rod, CHUCKED IN A DRILL.

August 4, 2005, 04:50 PM
I used Ballistol once. A friend liked it so much for cleaning his AR-15, he gave me a small aerosol can as a trial sample. It didn't clean the heavy leading very quickly or well; I really tried to be patient with it because he liked it so much, and I used it according to directions, etc., but even the Lewis Lead Remover was faster, so the Ballistol still sits on the shelf.

I'm a convert-- $2 worth of copper scouring pads, and $7 worth of Ed's Red as a chaser will keep me going for a couple years at least. That's 'way cheaper than anything on the open market for cleaning a severely-fouled gun as often I have occasion over a year's time.

August 5, 2005, 03:23 PM
Someone hawks a different metal pad for lead removal at the gun shows; white metal, but guaranteed not to scratch the bore; can't recall the name. Copper won't scratch it either, but a lot of the scouring pads I've seen are steel with a copper wash to limit corrosion; be careful you don't get one of those. Ditto for brass colored verses actual brass pads.

No mention of the Outer's FoulOut? It works just fine, but is slow.

The best cure is no lead in the first place. Much of leading can be prevented if the lead alloy base of the bullet isn't exposed to burning powder, which is hot enough to soften it at the surface. Prevention is either to use bullets with gas checks or to use poly wads (e.g., Neco P-wads; www.neconos.com) or even a single layer of poster board, cut with a sharpened case mouth then stuck to the bottom of the bullet with bullet lube. Paper patch bullets don't lead at all, but I've never met anyone with enough time or saliva to keep a self-loader fed with them.

Another big help is to firelap a fouling-prone barrel. I’ve had good luck with this process, even though the very idea of shooting abrasives down a bore scares the b’Jesus out of you until you get used to it. Neco also has kits for this.

The vinegar is a bad plan. Sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide are what we used to etch circuit boards with. The peroxide makes bubbles that keep the acid stirred and the copper sulphate from accumulating at the surface and slowing the etching down. I'm sure this is what is intended in the vinegar/peroxide mix. The problem is it will work on steel, too. The surface will become activated and thereafter both oxidize or solder to molten lead more easily.