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Weapon Cleaning

MedCorps

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Hello,

I am in the process of reviewing the recent (2008) US Army publication FM 3-21-75 The Warrior Ethos and
Soldier Combat Skills.

The section on personal weapons care reads:

2-6. Never clean your weapon under running water, which can force moisture into tight places,
resulting in corrosion.

What are the thoughts of the collective wisdom here?  I certainly have seen / done this over my career once or twice, especially when the weapon was especially dirty.

Hmmm....

MC



 

Fusaki

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I'm pretty sure it's against the rules, but having seen it done a number of times (I'd never break the rules, personally) I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

Especially with machine guns, it's often easiest to hose the hot gun down with CLP while still on the range, then let it sweat and cool on the way back to base. The weapon can then be stripped and ran under water, washing off most of the carbon and gunk. Just dry it off and make sure it gets another coat of CLP before the gun goes back in the vault. At least in my unit, the weapons will be drawn again on maintenance day (fridays, usually) after they've had a chance to sweat the carbon out.

If you take care not to let water sit in nooks and crannies you should be alright. Everyone knows they're getting charged if someone finds rust on their weapon, but most guys are confidant in their ability to run a weapon under water and then clean it properly.

EDIT

Or you can just use the varsol bath. ;D
 

daftandbarmy

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Well, anyone whose been on exercise or operations anytime in the rain, during water crossings, jungle operations, amphibious operations, commando courses etc etc can tell you that it's almost certain that your rifle will be immersed fully in water at least once, and sometimes for extended periods of time. As long as you clean and oil it properly 'before firing, after firing and daily', it works.

Keep a couple of grenades handy just in case though  ;)
 

Greymatters

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Telling someone not to clean using runming water is a bit silly.  I mean really, we stand in the rain for hours, patrol through bogs, let the weapons frost and defrost in Arctic environments, all sorts of abuse in other environments (see D&B above), etc.  These environments are far more damaging than a few minutes under a running tap... 

 

1feral1

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CLP is the only authorised lubricant for small arms in the CF, or it was when I left, but here in Australia CLP is still the only thing going. AKA PX-18.

No water, no soap, no diesel, no varsol.

No abrasives either.

Do what you are told, and you won't get into trouble

CLP.
 

chrisf

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MedCorps said:
Hello,

I am in the process of reviewing the recent (2008) US Army publication FM 3-21-75 The Warrior Ethos and
Soldier Combat Skills.

The section on personal weapons care reads:

2-6. Never clean your weapon under running water, which can force moisture into tight places,
resulting in corrosion.

What are the thoughts of the collective wisdom here?  I certainly have seen / done this over my career once or twice, especially when the weapon was especially dirty.

Hmmm....

MC

If you have to read a manual for weapon cleaning instructions, then the best bet is to follow the instructions laid out in said manual...

Can water be used to clean weapons? Done it many times, is it a good idea? Not if you don't know what you're doing. Can't go wrong with just CLP and patience.
 

RCR Grunt

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Wonderbread said:
I'm pretty sure it's against the rules, but having seen it done a number of times (I'd never break the rules, personally) I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

Especially with machine guns, it's often easiest to hose the hot gun down with CLP while still on the range, then let it sweat and cool on the way back to base. The weapon can then be stripped and ran under water, washing off most of the carbon and gunk. Just dry it off and make sure it gets another coat of CLP before the gun goes back in the vault. At least in my unit, the weapons will be drawn again on maintenance day (fridays, usually) after they've had a chance to sweat the carbon out.

If you take care not to let water sit in nooks and crannies you should be alright. Everyone knows they're getting charged if someone finds rust on their weapon, but most guys are confidant in their ability to run a weapon under water and then clean it properly.

EDIT

Or you can just use the varsol bath. ;D

The trick is to use super, super hot water to rinse out all the tight and weird places in your weapon.  (Trigger mech, slip ring)  First, apply liberal amounts of CLP, let it get into all the nooks and crannies where the grit hides.  Then, run the hot water, straight hot water, the scalding type.  Rinse your weapon thouroughly under said liquid hot magma.  Once rinsed, shake off excess water drops, whats left is hot enough that it will evaporate before it rusts.  If you don't use hot hot water, you will end up with a little "soldiers gold" in some very important places.  (Trigger mech)  If you don't have access to hot hot water, don't use this method.  You will find that when you use this method, you can remove all the grit from those hard to reach places.
 

Nfld Sapper

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While in the States for Ex Maritime Raider instead of CLP which was almost none existent they gave us some Remington Aerosol Gun Cleaner (I think that's what it was called). That stuff really clean the weapons some good. Still trying to find that stuff here  :-\
 

Fusaki

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Wesley  Down Under said:
CLP is the only authorised lubricant for small arms in the CF, or it was when I left, but here in Australia CLP is still the only thing going. AKA PX-18.

No water, no soap, no diesel, no varsol.

We actually have varsol baths installed in our company lines. Each coy has a weapons cleaning room with proper ventilation and a tub of varsol hooked up to a pump, hose, and nozzle for shooting the varsol into hard to reach places. Inside the tub there is also a shallow shelf where you can place smaller weapons parts without loosing them in the tub.

That said, alot of unauthorized cleaning substances can be pretty bad for a weapon. I won't name them here, but anyone who's been through Meaford knows the lengths people have gone to to bring the rifle up to "standard". ::)
 

George Wallace

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Wonderbread said:
We actually have varsol baths installed in our company lines. Each coy has a weapons cleaning room with proper ventilation and a tub of varsol hooked up to a pump, hose, and nozzle for shooting the varsol into hard to reach places. Inside the tub there is also a shallow shelf where you can place smaller weapons parts without loosing them in the tub.

I thought all varsol baths were removed from the System and all locations ten years ago.  Varsol being carcegenic and all.  They were replaced with newer baths that used other cleaning solutions.
 

MedCorps

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Thanks for all that replied.  I was sure that direction from our American friends was a little off.  I was however surprised to see Wes agree with it (someone who comes off as quite knowledgeable about weapons over the past few years). 

On a quick search of B-GL-317-018/PT-001 (the C7 & C8 pub) publication no reference is made to using hot running water.  It does clearly indicate one should not use any other "oil, solvent or lubricant" than CLP (which is a given despite the frequent use of varsol). That statement of course prevents new soldiers from cleaning weapons like they try and polish new boots with a "secret formula that will remove everything"  (such as oven cleaner, diesel, kerosene, naphthalene, Old granddaddy's Magical gun cleaner (tm), or "Goo Gone". 

Then again... water is the "universal solvent" in chemistry.  Hmmm I wonder if LFC HQ, G3 INF was thinking about "the universal solvent" when they wrote the no other solvents authorized statement in the pam :)

Thanks again.

MC 
 

OldSolduer

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Therein lies the problem, that is bringing the weapon up to "standard". That is why the old FNC1A1 wore out....we cleaned it do death. We used varsol, sand, scouring powder, steel wool, and heaven's knows what else to make sure they were spotless. Much of the cleaning materials we used were very abrasive, or corrosive.
This was to satisfy some mythical "standard" that stated if your weapon wasn't spotless, you were likely to die in battle.
In the infantry, we understand weapons maintenance, and we also understand that to scrub something til its shiny is probably going to reduce the life of the weapon and may casue it to malfunction when we need it most. Add to the fact that our C7's in the PRes are about 20 years old..I'm sure you see my point.
The best method is soak it with CLP, let it work and then wipe it off. CLP always works, so if your clean it well, don't be surprised the next time you pick it up there is carbon on it.
 

geo

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Gawd, I remember what people would use to "clean" their FN C1s.
Lord knows it had those Chromed bits - The piston rod & the Gas plug in particular.... where did the Blueing end and the chrome stop - you'd see gas plugs that were pert much stripped clean & silver.... so the armourer would then replace it with a new one - that would end up stripped clean & silver (over time).

Years ago, found that the "steam jenny" was a good piece of kit to blast away at the carbon buildup... just had to remember to use a pair of gloves and do it with a friend.
 

RCR Grunt

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George Wallace said:
I thought all varsol baths were removed from the System and all locations ten years ago.  Varsol being carcinogenic and all.  They were replaced with newer baths that used other cleaning solutions.

Varsol bath is easier to say than "alternate non-carcinogenic cleaning solution bath." Your correct, we do not have varsol baths, they were removed and replaced with a similar machine which uses a safe cleaning solution.

[quote author=OldSolduer] Therein lies the problem, that is bringing the weapon up to "standard"... to scrub something til its shiny is probably going to reduce the life of the weapon and may cause it to malfunction when we need it most.[/quote]

The infantry school still applies a "standard" to weapons being returned to stores, and it makes me want to punch babies.  Imagine a weapon with absolutely no CLP on it turned into stores for long term storage, and troops resorting to dremel tools with grinding wheels in an attempt to make gas plugs "shiny" again.  Centre of Excellence my arse.
 

God56

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Wow in Meaford we used windex it seemed to work, I saw other guys using everything that they could find under the sink.
 

geo

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God56 said:
Wow in Meaford we used windex it seemed to work, I saw other guys using everything that they could find under the sink.
most everything under the sink is corrosive.... and not a good choice.
 

OldSolduer

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A word to the wise:
The main cleaning agent should be CLP. I have heard of very hot water being used after a particularly extensive exercise involving blanks. Blanks actually are dirtier than live rounds, but the same principle applies.Soak it with CLP, let it sit for a while and wipe it off. Repeat as required.
Do not use sand, scouring powder, corrosive civilian weapons solvents etc. All they will do is reduce the life expectancy of the weapon, and in some cases incur the wrath of weapons techs and the forward thinking Company Sergeant Major.
 

Fusaki

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RCR Grunt said:
Quote from: George Wallace on Today at 08:51:57
I thought all varsol baths were removed from the System and all locations ten years ago.  Varsol being carcinogenic and all.  They were replaced with newer baths that used other cleaning solutions.

Varsol bath is easier to say than "alternate non-carcinogenic cleaning solution bath." Your correct, we do not have varsol baths, they were removed and replaced with a similar machine which uses a safe cleaning solution.

Well, I've learned something new today. I honestly thought the mystery liquid I've been inhaling for the past few years was actually varsol. Does anyone know what exactly that stuff is?

EDIT

A quick call to the weapons techs reveals they're not too sure what the stuff is either.
 

Red 6

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There are really good reasons for not using water to clean your weapons. When you field strip your rifle, there are only a few parts, but if you look at an exploded view of your rifle, you'll see that there are numerous tiny little pieces and parts. Beneath the parts you see on your rifle, for instance, are hidden little detents, springs and pins that never see the light of day. They rely on oil that works it way down to them to keep functioning reliably over many years since very rarely do they ever get replaced during the service life of your rifle. There's a big difference between a weapon getting rained on and being cleaned in water. Rain makes your weapon wet, and may even soak it through, but it's not the sort of high pressure that gets directed at the weapon when it's cleaned in the shower or under a hose. In regard to using windex or other cleaners on weapons, that should stop since these cleaners have ammonia or ammonia replacements in them and this, over time, will weaken the finish on the rifle. Something like 30% of the structural integrity of the rifle comes from the finish itself.

We had solvent baths in my company outside the arms room and I had them removed. I can't say what happened after I retired, but weapons were coming into the arms room stripped of all the lubrication and dry as a bone. They looked nice and clean, but sticking a rifle in solvent defeats the purpose of lubricating it in the first place. The solvent penetrates into the little nooks and crannies, and leaves a dry film where it will just sit and prevent the CLP (or whatever lubricant you use) from doing its job. Although you can't see it with your Mk-I eyeball, each time solvent hits your weapon, it degrades the finish a little bit. Over time, this cause the finish to soften and eventually the weapon has to be sent back to a depot for re-finishing.
 
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