Best way to clean live ammo?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by DHall_37, Sep 28, 2020.

  1. DHall_37

    DHall_37 Member

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    I’m thinking about buying some surplus 8mm Mauser ammo for a good price, I’m just afraid it might be a little dirty, what would be the best way to go about cleaning the outside of it?

    A few months ago I had some old 223 with dried out gunk stuck on it and I cleaned it with a paper towel and some WD-40, however some folks say lube and oils can deactivate primers, I’m not sure how much I believe this since firearms are oil living machines. Regardless I’d like to know what some of y’all with more experience have to say about this ordeal.

    When it comes to potential ammo cleaning stuff I have on hand, I have: WD-40, Winchester break free, hopps no.9, some 300 grit and 2000 grit sand paper. Unfortunately I don’t have a tumbling bowl or some steel wool on hand.
     
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  2. Gatoragn

    Gatoragn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A vibratory tumbler and some corncob media, same way I clean brass in preparation to reload.

    The above items are not expensive at Harbor Freight.
     
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  3. DHall_37

    DHall_37 Member

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  4. DHall_37

    DHall_37 Member

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    I hit the wrong button above^.

    I’ll check out harbor freight online and maybe go to the store if they have a price I like, they are only 5 minutes down the road.
     
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  5. tac foley

    tac foley Well-Known Member

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    In general, you are strongly advised NOT to allow oil or other liquid products on the only part of the bolt that makes contact with the cartridge on loading - the face of the bolt. Nor should there be any oil in the chamber into which the cartridge is inserted.

    I'd offer the opinion that if your guns are 'living oil machines' that you are over-oiling them, in the extreme.
     
    locutus likes this.
  6. primer1

    primer1 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm not sure I would use a tumbler on live ammo.

    Get some chrome/metal polish and use lots of elbow grease. Make sure you get it out of the rim and where the bullet seats in the neck, as it is a little abrasive.
     
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  7. DHall_37

    DHall_37 Member

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    I tend to like lubricating my firearms so they function with ease but definitely not to the extreme. But, I’ll make sure to wipe down the chamber and bolt really well next time I clean them.
     
    winds-of-change likes this.
  8. Ghost1958

    Ghost1958 Well-Known Member

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    Ar 15 you are supposed to lube the bolt lugs and bolt well.
    To think that oil doesnt get on the first round chambered well, ya know.

    Dont use wd 40 because it is designed to penetrate and will sometimes mess up a primer.
    A little oil on a rag or a silicone cloth wont hurt. Especially military surplus ammo with sealed primers.

    If its really grungy go to dollar store and get a couple of those scotch bright pads for washing dishes.
     
    PANDEMIC likes this.
  9. G66enigma

    G66enigma Well-Known Member Supporter

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    With grimy "live" ammo, about all I've ever done is to use a clean cloth (microfiber, if possible) with a couple of squirts of the Break Free CLP product. Just enough to clean the gunge off the outside, but not "wet" enough to work its way around the primer or lip. A very little assist to the cloth, then wiping down the outside enough to get rid of what can be easily cleaned off.

    In the case of ancient (or very poorly-stored) ammo where corrosion to the case has every likelihood of impeding cycling, I've not used it in a defensive firearm but have shot a few boxes of such in an older mid-'50s Mauser. Much prefer smoother brass-cased ammo that doesn't have much chance of hanging up cycling.
     
  10. DHall_37

    DHall_37 Member

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    I’ve seen some good replies so far, thanks for the help. I figure a cloth with a few squirts of my Break Free CLP should do the trick, but trying to avoid the primer area. However I’ll also consider getting a vibrating bowl too.
     
  11. Double20

    Double20 Active Member

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    I'll start off by saying that I am no expert on this subject but that what I have heard/read makes sense in regards to a vibrating bowl (tumbler) used with live ammo. The general consensus is to not do it. The reason why is because certain powders (and I believe this applies more to flake type powders vs ball type powders) can physically change size during the vibration which in turn can effect their burn rates and the amount of pressure generated when you ignite them. More so if the load is not a compressed load. So if your flake type powder turns to dust (or very small flakes) during the vibration, the theory is that it will burn faster than intended (presumably due to greater surface area) and that an otherwise safe load can become an overpressure load resulting in damage to the gun and/or shooter. I have no first hand experience or knowledge of this actually happening but have heard that same thing from at least 3 unrelated sources so there may be something to it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
  12. Gatoragn

    Gatoragn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    https://www.thefirearmsforum.com/threads/cleaning-loaded-ammo.132055/

    upload_2020-9-28_15-16-5.png

    upload_2020-9-28_15-16-49.png

    DHall, clean your ammo as you see fit.
     
  13. DHall_37

    DHall_37 Member

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    I appreciate it, also would anyone know the best route for cleaning the corrosive salts out of the barrel and action? Most say hot water then clean as normal, however I really would not like to make a mess in the house, mom would throw a fit. I was kind of thinking paper towels soaked in hot water mixed with hopps no9 or WD-40 and ran through the muzzle? Any one have experience with this?
     
  14. hairbear1

    hairbear1 Well-Known Member

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    Bit of steel wool and some elbow grease.
     
    Caveman Jim likes this.
  15. Mercator

    Mercator Well-Known Member

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    It is indeed soap and hot water first. And tell your mom to stop complaining. Just kidding, use common sense. It’s an outdoor procedure. You can flush the barrel in a garage or basement if you can contain water spills. If the barrel is really salty like some Mosin rifles, you are going to need buckets of water to do a good job. You may even need to soak the bore overnight.
     
    locutus likes this.
  16. tac foley

    tac foley Well-Known Member

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    For about sixty years, the British, whose .303 service ammunition was often corrosive, used boiling water. Then oil-wiped the bore afterwards.

    I figure that around 25,000,000 must have gotten it right over that period....
     
    locutus likes this.
  17. OldManMontgomery

    OldManMontgomery Active Member

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    Cleaning barrels. Number one problem is salts from primers. The chemical salts (not 'salt' like one puts on eggs) is not corrosive in itself, but attracts and hold moisture; that encourages rust, which is corrosive. That is why 'old timers' are rabid about cleaning rifle barrels three consecutive days after using.

    Best agent to clean a barrel so fouled is hot water and soap. I have a deep sink in my basement (and no wife), which makes this relatively easy. The salts dissolve in water much like 'salt' but has to be completely removed so no lingering traces are left. A bristle brush helps. Then rinse well.

    There are a number of products for cleaning barrels, including a US Gov't bore cleaner that is no long legal to make (pollutes). However, hot, soapy water does just fine. But the metal has to dry when done. Dry before oil, as a coating of oil will trap contaminants under the oil.

    Happily, most all the ammunition makers in the world now utilize non-corrosive primers. However, much 'surplus' ammunition was made back then and still have corrosive primers.
     
  18. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator Lifetime Supporter

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    Yes, you can clean dirty ammo in a tumbler. Keep WD-40 away from ammo.

    I shoot a crap load of corrosive- have a lifetime supply of commie 7.62x39, 7.62x54R, 8mm Mauser and .303. (I paid 7 cents a cartridge) Easy-peasy cleaning-

    Remove bolt. Place rifle in padded vise, muzzle tipped at about a 45 degree, Put a bucket under muzzle. Use a dollar store plastic funnel inserted in chamber, pour about a quart of HOT water slowly through the bore, letting it run into bucket. Put couple of drops of Dawn dish detergent on bore brush. All the way thru, all the way back. About 15 strokes. Pour second quart of HOT water thru bore. Look at what runs out in bucket- say "Ewwww!!!" Let bore drain.

    While bore is drying from the heat and air circulation, use a damp cloth, wipe down bolt, light coat of oil. That means wipe with oily cloth. In about 5 minutes, bore is dry.

    Swab bore with a lightly oiled patch, same for chamber. Replace bolt, wipe down exterior with oily cloth. DONE. For the purist, or for long term storage, wait 24 hrs, repeat.

    You can find a lot of recipes using windex and other things. The key is WATER. Corrosive primers are based on potassium chlorate. They burn into potassium chloride, a first cousin to table salt (sodium chloride). Chlorides are water souluble. Your goal is to dissolve that and flush it away. There IS a military bore cleaner that works. Stinks to high heavens.

    IMHO, dawn works just as well.
     
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  19. DHall_37

    DHall_37 Member

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    Thanks for all the info on cleaning corrosive ammo, it definitely seems like water is the key. I think to avoid making mom mad I will put some hot water in a bucket and pour it down the barrel outside in the back yard. Then dry off the wet parts and clean the rifle outside as well.
     
    Rifling82 likes this.
  20. PeeJay1313

    PeeJay1313 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mom mad???
     
  21. DHall_37

    DHall_37 Member

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    No, just if I manage to spill hot water all over the hard wood or carpet she probably wouldn’t be very happy. Also getting all the crud out of the rifle and then having it go everywhere wouldn’t be very good either, that’s why I’m going to clean the corrosive stuff outside. However, dad did say that there was a spot in the basement with concrete floors that I could use to do some work on as long as I kept it tidy.
     
    Rifling82 likes this.