Ultrasonic GUN Cleaning - A Simple Cleaning Solution
By Jonathan Govednik
Intro, my new P239 & the ultrasonic setup
Purchased a used P239 from a fellow member of
Northeast Shooters, who claims
to have put about 1100rnds through this firearm and that it has been unused in his
safe for the past few years.
Took it home
and decided to open her up, check under the hood and inspect a little, took the grips off and was greeted with a
revolting display of buildup and gunk...
Obviously a bigtime detailed cleaning was in order, but decided that 3+ hours of tearing
down the frame to the springs and trigger assembly in order to give it a proper
cleaning was not on my honey-do list for the night; so I thought to give the
Ultrasonic, which has been amazing at cleaning the fired brass casings for
reloading, a shot a cleaning the firearm itself.
My Ultrasonic Cleaner
Bought an Ultrasonic cleaner to clean our brass cases using this method
UltraSonic Case Cleaning,
has been working GREAT!
They are fairly inexpensive and work like a charm. Mine is the same model as
the one from the 6mmBR article, holds 1.4L and was $85 shipped to my house (thanks
eBay); it wont hold a rifle, but it will hold my P226 frame (but only
1/2 the slide at a time) and that's the biggest pistol I own, so buy one
that will fit the things you want to clean.
My first thought was to use the same water-based solvent we use for the
brass; then thought better of it... not a great idea for the inner workings
of of a rust-prone environment like the trigger assembly and inner workings
of the slide on a semiauto pistol.
So, I had a few extra bottles of Hoppe's #9; Walmart carries the Pint
sized bottles, 2 of these and the Ultrasonic was filled enough to cover
the trigger assembly and all but the handle of the pistol frame. The Hoppe's
is oil-based and works as both a lube and a solvent; great for most gun
cleanings, and should also work well for this test.
Everything In the Ultrasonic!
Put everything in! It all gets clean. Just make sure there is enough
space between the metals so they aren't touching while the unit is on.
Mags: Took those apart, as they obviously hadn't been cleaned in a while
either. Used the mag bodies and springs as buffers between the heavy stuff
Add Hoppe's#9 until Ultrasonic is full, my unit holds 1.4L; or if you don't want to use that
much Hoppe's, add until the trigger is 1/2 submerged or the slide is
completely submerged, whichever is higher, so everything is covered. I was
only willing to risk enough Hoppes to cover the slide and the trigger
assembly; which seems to work pretty well.
After only 10 minutes, its nice and clean.
Ultrasonic cleaning uses the mantra, More is Better.. time that is.
I probably could have left the equipment in the Ultrasonic for longer;
I've heard people doing runs of 24 minutes or more (which translates to 3+
runs of 480 seconds on my unit).
For me, a single run of 480 seconds with everything, then pulling out everything
except the frame and the barrel and doing another run of 180 seconds.
The thing about Ultrasonic cleaning, the more mass in the basin, the
longer it takes to clean that mass. So if I had just added the frame to the
basin, it probably would have been clean in just a few minutes (the 180s
or 280s setting). But since I added everything, leaving it in for longer is
going to be required to get the same cleaning. Next time I'll try 24 or 48 minutes
and see if there's any noticeable difference.
The Cleanup - Some like it Hoppe...
After removing everything from the Ultrasonic basin, the color of the
Hoppe's#9 appeared to have gone from a deep golden color at the start to a dark/dirty golden color
with some sunken blobs of brass and gunk.
First thing you'll notice is that the smell of Hoppe's#9 permeates
EVERYTHING in the house when this much of it is out and about.. Normal
cleanings of my firearms leave a subtle, yet lasting, smell of Hoppes on my
hands and in the air on the 1/2 of the house with the gun desk. This is much
stronger. Once you take everything out of the Ultrasonic basin, the waft of
Hoppe's#9 hits like a train to the brain; with all that kerosene trying to evaporate
at once, be sure to open a window and have a fan going until its all
evaporated and the fire hazard has passed. The smell even after 24 hours is
still noticeable when coming in from the outside.
Maybe I did it backwards but I put away the Hoppe's#9 and cleaned up
the Ultrasonic first in a futile attempt to get rid of the smell. IMO, letting the firearm sit in a coating of
Hoppe's#9 hasn't hurt them in the past and letting it sit for 10 minutes
while cleaning the Ultrasonic wont hurt either; I did wipe off the sights on
the slide, just in case.
Using a funnel and a few coffee filters I poured the Hoppe's#9 out of the
Ultrasonic basin, into a glass, then use the funnel again to put it back into the Hoppe's#9 bottles. I used 2
regular coffee filters from
the basin to a glass (for visual inspection, ensure it is only
liquid in the glass), then 2 more filters from the glass to the Hoppe's#9
bottles; this to make sure none of the really nasty stuff got back into the
Hoppe's bottle. The coffee filters didn't filter out as much of the dark color as I
had hoped; but at least there wasn't any large metallic chunks or gobs of
gunk in the Hoppe's#9
Don't pour EVERYTHING from the basin into the bottles, even though the
coffee filters do a good job of filtering out the big stuff, the heaviest
stuff will stay in the basin until there is very little left. Wipe down the
Ultrasonic's basin with a papertowel and you'll be surprised to see what is
All the big chunks floating around inside your firearm.
Are you sure you got it all with your normal cleaning?
Also be sure to wipe down the Ultrasonic's steel basin with a degreasing
solvent like SimpleGreen so that the next time you use it, the objects you
clean aren't covered in kerosene oil (casing brass or your wife's jewelry might not like it much).
Due to the darker color of the Hoppe's#9 there is obviously some finer gunk floating
around that got past the coffee filters, so I wont be using these bottles of
Hoppe's#9 for anything until the next time one of my pistols needs to be
cleaned in the Ultrasonic.
The result of all this was an exceptionally clean, very lubricated firearm, in just
under an hour..
This is just me, YMMV.
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or improvements
you can suggest,
Jonathan Govednik, JGOVEDNIK@GMAIL.COM
People's Republic of Massachusetts