View Full Version : Old meathod of cleaning shotgun

Ken O
March 31, 2008, 09:24 PM
I remember many many years ago, shooters having a flask of mercury to clean the lead out of barrels. This was when the plastic wad was just getting started. A stopper was placed in the breach and the mercury was poured down the barrel, the mercury almongaded with the lead after sitting a couple days and poured out.
I mentioned this at a local gun club, and no one heard of this. Any one here remember such a thing, or was it just a local to me thing. Thanks, Ken

Bill DeShivs
March 31, 2008, 09:43 PM
Mercury was used quite a bit to remove lead. It still works. Mercury has the unique property of dissolving and mixing with some other metals- called "amalgamation." Until fairly recently, this process was used by dentists to fill teeth.
As mercury is toxic, it has fallen into disfavor as a gun cleaning product.

Ken O
April 1, 2008, 09:06 PM
Thanks Bill, I wish I had a flask for my S&W 625, it is a lead magnet.

April 1, 2008, 09:15 PM
The old mercury trick does remove lead, trouble is, it also removes YOU.

These days there are much safer methods.
The best is the Lewis Lead Remover Kit, from Brownell's.

ALL the older revolver and "soft ball" 1911 target shooters had a Lewis kit.
It's also about the only way to really clean a revolver forcing cone, since the Lewis kit has a special cone head to clean the forcing cone:

They now make a kit for rifles and shotguns too.


April 1, 2008, 10:01 PM
I wouldn't use mercury these days. I've always gotten good (and probably safer) results by running a patch soaked with Hoppe's #9, followed by a bronze bore brush, followed with a bore swab and some BreakFree CLP. All I can tell you is that the shotguns are ~30 years old and still look like new, inside and out. I wouldn't have any mercury anywhere in my house.

April 1, 2008, 10:58 PM
I'd rather swig a bottle of CLP than use mercury as a cleaning solvent, thank you very much- just doesn't seem like a very healthy idea. :eek:

I've pretty much switched to non-tox cleaners. I figure my lungs and body is worth the few extra cents for safe cleaners.

Bill DeShivs
April 2, 2008, 02:49 AM
We used to play with mercury as kids. I had a bottle of it in my room. We rubbed it on pennies to turn them silver. We used our FINGERS!
40 years later, I don't think I'm dead.
Dentists put it in your mouth in fillings.
While I don't advocate using mercury, it's not near as toxic as modern alarmists would have you believe.
There are modern cleaning methods that work well.

April 3, 2008, 01:34 PM
I agree with Bill DeShivs - much ado about nothing. I'd be dead 40 years ago if that stuff and all the other toxic stuff I casually played with was really so harmful. Sheesh!