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61 Posts
Simple Green is a degreaser, but it will remove powder fouling and other such chemicals. It will not remove lead or copper though.

Give the gun a good scrubbing in a washpan with soapy simple green water and get the gunk and grease off it, then clean the bore with Hoppes #9 or whatever you would normally use.

Make sure to dry gun completely (hairdrier works) and then lubricate and oil as normal.

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1,355 Posts
You should also RINSE the "simpleGreen" completely from the weapon before drying and re-lube...:wink:

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78 Posts
I got this info from Brett Morris, who got it from Mike Benedict. Brett Says Mike swears by this stuff. I haven't tried it yet.

Ed's Red Bore Cleaner December 15, 1995

Editor's Note:

Ed Harris is a well known, knowledgable gun writer with years of
experience working for Ruger and the US government. The following
article is a re-post of his famous "Ed's Red" Bore Cleaner, which is an
inexpensive, effective firearms cleaning agent.

I've mixed Ed's Red, and one HAS to use it in a well ventilated area,
preferably outside. If you use it inside, you really should use an
appropriate respirator and exhaust fan to remove the volatile and

Mix Your Own "Ed's Red" Bore Cleaner... It Really Works!

By Ed Harris Rev. 12-27-94

Three years ago I mixed my first "Ed's Red" and I still think the
"recipe" is a great idea. If you have never tried it, or maybe lost the
recipe, I urge you save this and mix your own. My followers on the
FIREARMS Echo think it's the best thing since smokeless powder!
Therefore, I'll summarize the story again for the passing parade that
didn't get it the first time...

I originally did this because I used a lot of rifle bore cleaner and was
deterred by the high price of commercial products. I knew there was no
technical reason why you could not mix an effective bore cleaner using
common hardware store ingredients which would be inexpensive, effective,
and provide reasonable corrosion protection and adequate lubrication.

The "recipe" is based on proven principles and incorporates two polar
and two nonpolar ingredients. It is adapted from a formula in Hatcher's
Notebook, Frankford Arsenal Cleaner No.18, but substituting equivalent
modern materials. I had the help of an organic chemist in doing this and
we knew there would be no "surprises" The original Hatcher recipe called
for equal parts of acetone, turpentine, Pratts Astral Oil and sperm oil,
and optionally 200 grams of lanolin added per liter.

Pratts Astral oil was nothing more than acid free, deodorized kerosene.
We use K-1 kerosene of the type normally sold for indoor space heaters.
An inexpensive, effective substitute for sperm oil is Dexron (II, IIe or
III) automatic transmission fluid. Prior to about 1950 that most ATF's
were sperm oil based, but during WWII a synthetic was developed for use
in precision instruments. With the great demand for automatic
transmission autos after WWII, sperm oil was no longer practical to
produce ATF in the quantity demanded, so the synthetic material became
the basis for the Dexron fluids we know today. The additives in ATFs
which include organometallic antioxidants and surfactants, make it
highly suitable for our intended purpose.

Hatcher's original formula used gum spirits of turpentine, but
turpentine is expensive and highly flammable. Cheaper and safer is
aliphatic mineral spirits, which is a petroleum based "safety solvent"
used for thinning oil based paints and as automotive parts cleaner. It
is commonly sold under the names "odorless mineral spirits," "Stoddard
Solvent" or "Varsol".

There isn't anything in Ed's Red which will chemically remove copper
fouling, but it does a better job on carbon residue than anything out
there. Several users have told me, that with exclusive use of "ER" does
reduce the buildup of copper fouling, because it removes old impacted
fouling which is left by other cleaners, reducing the adhesion of
abraded metal to the surface, and leaving a cleaner surface which
reduces subsequent fouling. It appears that "ER" will actually remove
metal fouling it if you let it "soak" so the surfactants will do the
job, though you may have to be patient.

The lanolin is optional. The cleaner works quite well without it.
Incorporating the lanolin makes the cleaner easier on the hands, and
provides better residual lubrication and corrosion protection if you use
the cleaner as a protectant for long term storage. If you want to
minimize cost, you can leave the lanolin out and save about $8 per
gallon. Mix some yourself. I know it will work as well for you as it
does for me.

CONTENTS: Ed's Red Bore Cleaner

1 part Dexron II, IIe or III ATF, GM Spec. D-20265 or later. 1 part
Kerosene - deodorized, K1 1 part Aliphatic Mineral Spirits, Fed. Spec.
TT-T-2981F, CAS #64741-49-9, or substitute "Stoddard Solvent", CAS
#8052-41-3, or equivalent, (aka "Varsol") 1 part Acetone, CAS #67-64-1.

(Optional up to 1 lb. of Lanolin, Anhydrous, USP per gallon, OK to
substitute Lanolin, Modified, Topical Lubricant, from the drug store)


Mix outdoors, in good ventilation. Use a clean 1 gallon metal,
chemical-resistant, heavy gage PET or PVC plastic container. NFPA
approved plastic gasoline storage containers are also OK. Do NOT use
HDPE, which is breathable because the acetone will evaporate. The
acetone in ER will attack HDPE in about 6 months, making a heck of a

Add the ATF first. Use the empty container to measure the other
components, so that it is thoroughly rinsed. If you incorporate the
lanolin into the mixture, melt this carefully in a double boiler, taking
precautions against fire. Pour the melted lanolin it into a larger
container, rinsing the lanolin container with the bore cleaner mix, and
stirring until it is all dissolved.

I recommend diverting a small quantity, up to 4 ozs. per quart of the
50-50 ATF/kerosene mix for use as an "ER-compatible" gun oil. This can
be done without impairing the effectiveness of the mix.


1. Open the firearm action and ensure the bore is clear. Cleaning is
most effective when done while the barrel is still warm to the touch
from firing. Saturate a cotton patch with bore cleaner, wrap or impale
on jag and push it through the bore from breech to muzzle. The patch
should be a snug fit. Let the first patch fall off and do not pull it
back into the bore.

2. Wet a second patch, and similarly start it into the bore from the
breech, this time scrubbing from the throat area forward in 4-5" strokes
and gradually advancing until the patch emerges out the muzzle. Waiting
approximately 1 minute to let the bore cleaner soak will improve its

3. For pitted, heavily carbon-fouled "rattle battle" guns, leaded
revolvers or neglected bores a bronze brush wet with bore cleaner may be
used to remove stubborn deposits. This is unnecessary for smooth,
target-grade barrels in routine use.

4. Use a final wet patch pushed straight through the bore to flush out
loosened residue dissolved by Ed's Red. Let the patch fall off the jag
without pulling it back into the bore. If you are finished firing,
leaving the bore wet will protect it from rust for up to 30 days. If the
lanolin is incorporated into the mixture, it will protect the firearm
from rust for up to two years. For longer term storage I recommend use
of Lee Liquid Alox as a Cosmolene substitute. "ER" will readily remove
hardened Alox or Cosmolene.

5. Wipe spilled Ed's Red from exterior surfaces before storing the gun.
While Ed's Red is harmless to blue and nickel finishes, the acetone it
contains is harmful to most wood finishes).

6. Before firing again, push two dry patches through the bore and dry
the chamber, using a patch wrapped around a suitably sized brush or jag.
First shot point of impact usually will not be disturbed by Ed's Red if
the bore is cleaned as described.

7. I have determined to my satisfaction that when Ed's Red is used
exclusively and thoroughly, that hot water cleaning is unnecessary after
use of Pyrodex or military chlorate primers. However, if bores are not
wiped between shots and shots and are heavily caked from black powder
fouling, hot water cleaning is recommended first to break up heavy
fouling deposits. Water cleaning should be followed by a thorough flush
with Ed's Red to prevent after-rusting which could result from residual
moisture. It is ALWAYS good practice to clean TWICE, TWO DAYS APART
whenever using chlorate primed ammunition, just to make sure you get all
the residue out.




1. Flammable mixture. Keep away from heat, sparks or flame.

2. FIRST AID, If swallowed DO NOT induce vomiting, call physician
immediately. In case of eye contact immediately flush thoroughly with
water and call a physician. For skin contact wash thoroughly.

3. Use with adequate ventilation. Avoid breathing vapors or spray mist.
It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner
inconsistent with its labelling. Reports have associated repeated and
prolonged occupational overexposure to solvents with permanent brain and
nervous system damage. If using in closed armory vaults lacking forced
air ventilation wear respiratory protection meeting NIOSH TC23C or
equivalent. Keep container tightly closed when not in use.

This "Recipe" is placed in the public domain, and may be freely
distributed provided that it is done so in its entirely with all
instructions and safety warnings included herein, and that proper
attribution is given to the author.

In Home Mix We Trust,



I need to clean handguns in an unventilated basement. Remington used to sell a gun cleaner that had no fumes, but I can't find it anymore. Can anyone suggest a powder cleaner that does emit fumes?

· Registered
414 Posts
The safest yet effective thing to use for complete gun care is Break Free CLP. http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com

Ed's Red will harm polymer framed guns.

Simple Green works pretty well on Carbon, but you must rinse well with hot water, and then you have to worry about rust.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Clay on 2001-08-05 13:11 ]</font>

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34 Posts
Simple Green was found to damage some steels in some testing a while back. It, or any de-greaser, will cause ferrous metals to rust if you don't immediately apply a preventative.

I tried it, because of cleaning in a basement, but I don't use it on guns anymore. I haven't tried Ballistol yet, but just got some. The MSDS on that would suggets it's environmentally harmless.

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23 Posts
I have used either "Hoppe's Benchrest," or "Shooter's Choice MC#7" for many years now, as the mainstay of my bore cleaners. I am concerned because I have heard bore cleaners containing ammonia will "etch" the barrel. I don't believe that "Hoppe's" contains ammonia, but I know that "Shooter's Choice" does. I have never discovered any damage of any kind, but I'm paranoid now.

I'm not interested in "theory" right now about bore cleaners. I want to know, point blank, if anyone has experienced any damage, of any kind, from using either of these products!

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555 Posts
On 2001-08-05 16:45, Bob C wrote:
Simple Green was found to damage some steels in some testing a while back. It, or any de-greaser, will cause ferrous metals to rust if you don't immediately apply a preventative.

I tried it, because of cleaning in a basement, but I don't use it on guns anymore. I haven't tried Ballistol yet, but just got some. The MSDS on that would suggets it's environmentally harmless.
I'm curious about Simple Green damaging steel. Do you have a reference for that information? Also, I'm interested in hearing your evaluation of Ballistol. Thanks.

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34 Posts
Re: Ballistol: Hopefully I'll get out to the range Saturday, and will check it out when I get home.

Re: Simple Green: (quoted from a post on the 1911 Forum)

"One word of caution about Simple Green. The maintenance wizards that control the maintenance done on the Navy and Marine Corps aviation fleet have banned Simple Green from any use on any portion of any aircraft, Reason: They have discovered that SG will infiltrate into areas where it can't be flushed out with water and those areas develope a corrosion-like decaying of the metal surfaces. It was serious enough that photos looked like salt water corrosion on aluminum plate. I use it to clean my appliances and the tires and wheels on my SUV, but I don't use it on my firearms -- any more..."

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1,355 Posts
There aren't any places I can't get to on my 1911...If it needed that much cleaning, I'd throw it into a tub of Varsol and be done with it...I just clean the grease and oil off of it, I don't give it a bath. If I did, water removes it anyway...The sheer smell of the stuff in Eds' Red'll kill ya'...I certainly don't need that kinda' Hazmat layin' around...

I don't shoot or drag my guns through anything that requires that level of cleaning...That's the kind of stuff that I just read about...Usually on the Worlds' Craziest Stunts :wink:

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414 Posts
Several aircraft manufacturers and contractors have posted warnings about Simple Green causing damage to aluminum.

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262 Posts
I have been using Simply Green since I saw they used it in a AGI video. I like it.

I put all the pieces in a rubbermaid container and squirt them down. Then I go over them with an old tooth brush. I then rinse them under the hottest water that I can stand. Heating the metal with the water helps the p[art to dry quickly.

I then move to making sure the parts are dry (I use a can of air...like you get for your computer keyboard). Then I throw the little parts in another rubbermaid box that I have that has Mobile One in it. Works great.

I usually clean the bore with Kroil and a bronze brush, let it soak over-night, then run the brush through it some more and then finish it off with a bore-snake.

I am probably due to run a good copper solvent throught the bore (although I haven't seen any accurance problems). Sweet's sounds like the ticket. It contains ammonia, which will cut the copper. It should not be left in the bore for over twenty minutes though.

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34 Posts
Update on the Ballistoil:

I've now cleaned two revolvers, and two pistols, and it did did well. On the pistols, I had already cleaned both with M Pro, and got a good bit of stuff off with the Ballistoil. Too soon to comment on it as a protective agent, but we'll see.

The only drawback for some will be the initial smell, which isn' that bad, but does remind me of the dressing room in Jr. High when everyone took off their shoes and socks. The smell goes away for the most part in a few minutes, and the guns don't have that smell afterwards. For comparison, i like the smell of Hoppe #9, but my wife doesn't, and that smell lasts in our basement for 3 or 4 hours.
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