Monday, November 29, 2021

Homemade Gun Care Supplies

While there are many gun care products available over the counter or online, sometimes we just want to make things ourselves. Of course, sometimes there aren’t other options available, so knowing how to make do is always a good idea.

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: These recipes deal with harmful chemicals. If not handled carefully and with proper respect, they can cause serious harm to life and health. Please follow all safety precautions faithfully.

While these recipes may be adjusted to fit the user’s needs, be cautious of adding any new ingredients without an understanding of the likely chemical reaction.

Ed's Red
In the do-it-yourself firearms community, one of the most well-known solvents is Ed's Red. A creation of C. Edward Harris (no, not the actor), it gets its name from its inventor and the color of the solution.

A small container of Ed's Red.
Part of the name is obvious.

Ed’s Red is made up of equal parts: 

  • Dexron II, IIe or III Automatic Transmission Fluid
  • Kerosene
  • Oderless mineral spirits
  • Acetone

Make sure to mix outdoors in a well ventilated area using a metal container, then store in a well-sealed metal or plastic gas can. 
Many shooters swear by Ed’s Red for cleaning their guns. It’s even reported to work well at removing plastic wad residue from shotgun barrels.

Mac's Red
While Ed’s Red is a very good solvent, it's less effective on copper fouling, a common issue for guns. A modification of Ed's Red called Mac's Red was developed by Richard McQuisten and is claimed to remove copper fouling. It’s the same formula as Ed’s with the addition of 1 part Carburetor Cleaner.

Use Ed's or Mac's Red as with any other bore solvent, but take special care to avoid getting them on wood or plastic grips or stocks as the acetone can cause damage.

If a gun is very dirty, has carbon buildup, and or dried grease, an aerosol automotive brake cleaner or carburetor cleaner will remove all those things fairly well and at a much lower cost than dedicated gun cleaners.

Note: these will strip ALL the grease and oil off the metal, so make sure to put a protective coating of lubricant on before storing or shooting.

Slick Stuff
Speaking of lubricants, a formulation called Slick Stuff developed by John Nichols, can be made from a mixture of:

  • 2 parts Dexron II or III automatic transmission fluid
  • 1 Part 10W-30 motor oil
  • 1 Part STP Oil Treatment

This is reported to be a slightly greasy but very slick lubricant with good holding power. However, it may not be the best choice in low temperatures, as it could thicken to the point of causing function issues in extreme cold.

We can even make our own silicone wiping cloths by taking a piece of clean cotton flannel about one foot square, placing it on a rubber mat or protective plastic sheeting, and spraying both sides with a commercial pure silicone spray lubricant. Once thoroughly saturated, allow the fabric to sit in a well ventilated area so the carrier chemicals can evaporate, this may take several hours. Then roll or fold it up and store it in a heavy zip lock bag.

This website has many more recipes for gun cleaners and lubricants of varying complexity and effectiveness. Some of them even smell fairly nice! So for those of us who like experimenting, here’s another outlet for our creativity.

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