Ultrasonic GUN Cleaning - A Simple Cleaning Solution
By Jonathan Govednik

03/20/2009

 

 

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 from 6mmBR.com: 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.

Before (icky!)

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 (sidewall/mag/frame/spring/slide/spring/barrel/mag/recoil guide/recoilspring/sidewall).

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 bottle.

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 left over.


  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