Updated: Aug 26, 2022
Cleaning gun parts with an ultrasonic cleaner is new to some but has been in the gun cleaning industry for nearly three decades! We introduced the gun cleaner application for ultrasonic cleaners in the early 90's starting with military & law enforcement clients. From all the years of designing, manufacturing, and testing ultrasonic gun cleaner machines on a daily basis have given us the ultimate authority in advising or consulting on the best tips & practices when using an ultrasonic gun cleaner for cleaning gun parts. In this article we will go over some of the best gun cleaning tips that will greatly assist you with ultrasonic cleaners.
The gun cleaning video below shows a quick overview on cleaning & lubricating gun parts from a Sig Sauer 1911 Desert Warrior with the S6 ultrasonic gun cleaner machine. While the cleaning video does not go into every single detail on the entire gun cleaning process you can still get the general idea of what has to be done and if you follow the gun cleaning tips we go over you should have no problems! You can always reach out via email or phone call to one of our ultrasonic gun cleaning experts if you need any further assistance.
When you clean gun parts with an ultrasonic cleaner you only need to do a field strip, detail stripping gun parts is tedious and highly unnecessary with a powerful ultrasonic gun cleaning machine. However with the advent of cheaply or poorly made re-purposed ultrasonic cleaners hitting the gun cleaning market being advertised as "ultrasonic gun cleaners" you will need to utilize more ultrasonic gun cleaning tips for the performance to be more satisfying. You should also always make sure you have adequate gun cleaning accessories handy to make the sonic gun cleaning process that much faster. Lets start going over the gun cleaning tips!
1. Ultrasonic cleaners in general should NEVER be turned on without any liquid! If you run the ultrasonics with no liquid you will permanently damage the transducers which are the devices that create the ultrasonic energy. Similar to running the ultrasonics with no liquid, if you try to heat up the tank with no liquid you will burn out of the heaters. Regardless of what happens our ultrasonic gun cleaners are repairable and you should always reach out if this problem happens to you!
2. The gun cleaning tools & accessories needed to make the ultrasonic gun cleaning process go more smoothly are as follows. Proper sized bore brushes for the caliber of the gun you are cleaning, nylon & bronze brushes for stubborn & difficult gun debris, air compressor with blow gun attachment for blowing gun parts off, towels and heavier performance gun lubricant.
3. You should always lay gun parts vertically in the basket to allow the ultrasonics to clean through the parts better, slides should have the dirty portions facing down on the basket, frames should have the end of the magwell up so the internal pieces get maximum exposure to the ultrasonic cleaning energy. Revolvers should have the cylinders exposed with a little coin or something to keep the ejector open to get the best cleaning results. Periodically lifting the basket up and down while the parts are being cleaned in the machine will serve as manual agitation which true agitation has been proven numerous times in ultrasonic cleaning studies to provide a better more thorough clean by reducing standing ultrasonic waves.
4. More time in the ultrasonic cleaner is not better, in fact there is a point of diminishing returns due to the standing wave effect and potential finish removal issues of certain guns or coatings applied. The best ultrasonic gun cleaning tip to speed up time spent cleaning is to periodically check the parts and incorporate manual hand cleaning methods with brushes. With our ultrasonic gun cleaner machines you typically see great results in the first few minutes and after about 3-4 minutes you will bring the gun parts up to its drain position. Do a few passes through the barrel with a brush and then hit the slide/frame with a nylon or bronze brush depending on how bad the debris are just like the gun cleaning video above shows and then place the gun parts back into the ultrasonic machine. Breaking up the ultrasonic gun cleaning with manual brushing is the fastest and most proper way of cleaning gun parts with an ultrasonic machine.
5. Always use proper ultrasonic gun cleaner solution when cleaning gun parts in an ultrasonic machine. Stray away from "youtube" cocktails, our cleaners have been specifically designed for safe ultrasonic gun cleaning use with water. Built in rust-inhibitors prevent any rust formation on the gun. The issue with unproven solutions is that there are so many variables in ultrasonic gun cleaning that you could being seriously damaging the gun parts or exposing yourself to corrosion down the road. The money "saved" on a unproven gun clean or lube solutions could affect your gun when you need it the most. You can always email us for any ultrasonic gun cleaner solution questions!
6. After cleaning gun parts with an ultrasonic cleaner you should always try to rinse the parts. This assures no cleaning residue will be left on or trapped inside the gun. Any residual water or cleaner will be displaced by the ultrasonic lubing stage and eventually evaporate from the heat resonating off the ultrasonic tank. If your ultrasonic cleaner does not have a lubing accessory or capability then you only have half of a system, and you will be forced to then detail strip your gun to properly lubricate every part that was degreased internally by the ultrasonics.
7. Ultrasonic lubricating of gun parts with a ultrasonic gun lubricant is not the same as a performance gun lubricant. A true ultrasonic gun lubricant will specifically displace trapped water or moisture and leave the gun parts coated with a light protective preservative. The ultrasonically cleaned & lubricated guns will now require a heavier lubricant on high friction wear areas & rails to assure proper functionality and performance. Do not confuse a dedicated gun performance lubricant with an ultrasonic lubricant, they have different uses and functions that are both necessary in ultrasonic gun cleaning.
8. Some water sources greatly diminish an ultrasonic machine from cleaning properly and in some instances stop the sound waves dead. Hard water is generally avoided at all costs due to the negative effect on ultrasonic energy and its ability to clean. If your concerned with your water source or know that it is hard, you should use any potable water. Any clean bottled water from the store will give you perfect cleaning results. Some people like to take it a step further and give their guns the ultimate gun cleaning bath by using distilled water. DI water is almost like a solvent and is not necessary by any means in ultrasonic gun cleaning but it does have some better cleaning traits than standard water which in return produces a better cleaning job.
9. Even though you are using all non-hazardous ultrasonic gun cleaner solutions it is still highly recommend to use gloves, an apron and other personal protection when handling firearms with an ultrasonic cleaner. Keep in mind you are still touching gun parts with your hands and exposure to gun contaminates can cause serious health risks. Always call us if you have any health concerns or questions when using an ultrasonic cleaner for gun parts.
10. Ultrasonic cleaners all need to degas to perform at an optimal cleaning level. Some machines have a "De-Gas" button but simply activating the ultrasonics on any machine will allow the system to de-gas, give it a few minutes. Cold water with trapped air will be very loud when running, but eventually all the air escapes through the ultrasonic energy and the water heats up. Warm degassed water with ultrasonic gun cleaner solution will operate the best and you want to set the temperature to between 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit on any heated ultrasonic machine.
These 10 ultrasonic gun cleaning tips are just a start but get you where you need to properly use an ultrasonic gun cleaner machine. Stay tuned for more gun cleaning articles being released and please reach out to us for any ultrasonic gun cleaner questions!