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Old November 7, 2013, 03:47 PM   #1
Willie Lowman
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Ultrasonic cleaners, anyone use them?

The name says it all. I am thinking about buying a small parts cleaner for rifle bolts/carriers, pistol barrels, suppressor baffles.

I am in the position of not knowing enough to know what I don't know. Ultrasonics are supposed to get things cleaner faster, or so I have been told. Are they all they are cracked up to be? Will they damage some things, like aluminum or certain finishes?
"9mm has a very long history of being a pointy little bullet moving quickly" --Sevens
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Old November 7, 2013, 04:35 PM   #2
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May not be much help...

I use an ultrasonic for cleaning brass for reloading, not for cleaning parts. In my research to buy a new unit about 6 months here is the one thing I remember as being important enough to be mentioned in multiple places:

The heated units are better suited to clean gun parts and most of the solutions available rely on the heat to activate and work to their full potential. Since I have no desire to use mine for gun parts, I bought a non-heated unit for my brass and have been thrilled with the results.
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Old November 7, 2013, 04:55 PM   #3
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I have one and use it mainly for cleaning my brass, however I do also use it for cleaning gun parts, dies, or anything else that needs a good cleaning.

I have heard of issues with some finishes, although I have to wonder if the issues people had was not from laying whatever in the basket and that part vibrating against the metal basket or something. Have also heard of some issues with aluminum and ultrasonics but since I hadn't planned on putting anything aluminum in there I never really followed up on it.

I clean AR bolts, Glock frames, magazine bodies, reloading dies and have not had a problem. Ultrasonics are a godsend when cleaning AR bolts, I just run it for as long as I'm cleaning the gun. Pull it out and what little bit of carbon may be left just wipes away.
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Old November 7, 2013, 05:03 PM   #4
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I ran a BIG commercial unit at work (3X 376 gallon tanks) 1 cleaner, 2 neutralizer & 3 water wash.
Needless to say it wasn't used for cleaning gun parts!

Some observations, based on that application.

Ultrasonics have "shadows" (deep angles corners or angled pipes) enclosed in a frame that won't be cleaned because the ultrasonic vibrations are greatly diminished in those areas.

Heated is better.

The most likely thing to damage any material, or finish, is the solution you use, check for compatibility. We had an 1 1/4" anodized aluminum block so badly etched we had to replace it because the solution reacted anyway & the reaction was worse with the ultrasonic agitation, recirculated liquid & heat.

Don't make stronger solutions because "stronger is better", if it starts foaming it'll foam massively with an over concentrated solution.

Are they good? As Tony the Tiger used to say they're GRRRREAT!
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Old November 8, 2013, 07:32 AM   #5
George Hill
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I used the Hornady Magnum. The heater was weak and took forever to get up to temp. But once there, it worked very well. It was also quick to shut off and cool down.
Used it to clean a number of very high value guns from an estate sale. Gold plated pistols and revolvers, engraved pieces, silver inlaid pieces... Colts, S&W's, Brownings. Some irreplaceable... priceless. The Ultrasonic cleaner did very well and we had no problem with it.
Take the grips off, field strip, carefully arrange parts in the basket, and carefully lower basket into the hot bath. 15 minutes later, it was done. Pull the parts out, dry off, wipe down, oil, reassemble... Shiny. It was a week long project, but in the end every gun was cleaned and spotless.
If I was going to do such a project again, I'd get a bigger Ultrasonic Cleaner unit, with a better heater.
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Old November 9, 2013, 12:39 PM   #6
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I have used a little harbor freight unit for jewelry for years and it is amazing how much dirt it will remove from very clean jewelry.
It does just as good a job on the trigger unit from my GP100 and my Mossburg 500. Three min in the cleaner and you don't have to do anything but re-oil. It doesn't get better than that.
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Old January 22, 2014, 05:59 PM   #7
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Night Sights in an Ultrasonic Cleaner

I have been using a Lyman ultrasonic cleaner for 1911's for a couple of years. It uses distilled water with a soap-based detergent. Rusting is not a problem, I let the parts dry overnight and give them a light oil spray before reassembling. I just bought a Kimber with Meprolight sights and don't know whether to trust these sights in this cleaner. I called both Meprolight and Kimber but couldn't get an answer. Anyone had any experience?

Last edited by Dakbroadbent; January 23, 2014 at 12:57 PM.
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Old January 24, 2014, 08:26 AM   #8
Peter M. Eick
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I have a big stullersonic unit that takes a couple of gallons of Mpro7 to fill. It cleans extremely well. The heater brings the temp up quickly and just running it 15 minutes gets the fluid nearly too hot to touch.

Guns come out surgically clean. Hard to describe it otherwise but things you though you cleaned well before, are much more clean now. Little things like the lettering on the barrels are completely clean to the bottom of the letters. No amount of scrubbing with a toothbrush would compare.

Mine was about $500 used, and refurbished. I can't comment on the cheaper ones, but I would replace mine immediately if it broke. I don't use it often, but when you want something clean it is the one I go to.
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