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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I follow this forum, but generally have nothing to add, so keep my mouth shut! After reading so many posts where folks ask “is (xyz) corrosive?”, I became curious about how one might determine corrosive/non-corrosive just by shooting said ammo. When I bought my M1917 in about 1966, I bought a bagful of early to mid 50’s surplus ammo. After shooting that up, it was all store-bought until I began reloading. I have no recollection of how I cleaned my rifle back then, but I’m sure it involved Hoppes #9 & 3-in-1 Oil. The ‘17’s bore is still OK, so I guess I lucked out??
 

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There is an old method described in the American Rifleman many moons ago - pull bullet and powder, then fire the cartridge primer at a chemically clean (no oil) piece of sheet metal, wait a day or too depending on humidity - non-corrosive priming would just be dirty spot, corrosive would develop rust on the test plate.

Most lots of surplus ammo these days are known - but its best to check.

Old Hoppe's 9 was good at removing the corrosive salts, the new formula not so much. Your 1950s US military surplus was corrosive. The 1917's nickel steel construction is also somewhat more resistant to corrosion than many other period steels. US military ammo has well known published changeover dates for different makers and calibers.
 

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I treat any US made surplus made before the mid 60's as corrosive and any unmarked foreign ammo as corrosive. That said it is simple to clean. Just use a couple of wet soapy patches first to remove any primer salts, a couple of dry patches than switch to your normal method of cleaning. On semi-automatics be sure to clean the gas system as well.
 

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All standard-issue U.S. small arms ammunition made in 1953 and later is definitely non-corrosive. A complete list of the change dates by manufacturer, lot number and date is available at the CMP website, and elsewhere. I can tell you from personal experience that the 'old' Hoppes #9 (as of 60 years ago) was NOT effective in removing the corrosive salt residue from chlorate-primed ammunition. In fact, advertising claims and some personal observations on the efficacy of any cleaning solution which is not water based notwithstanding, there is no solvent of the salt even one-tenth as effective as plain water. The older military bore cleaners (both the white stuff and the brownish type which smells like creosote) are water-based. If in doubt as to the nature of the ammunition used, an initial cleaning with plain water, followed by any commercial product you prefer, will protect your guns.

PRD1 - mhb - MIke
 

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You really need a “controlled” primer test for corrosive primer ID. Was your environment humid enough for rust to be evident? Well you include a “positive control” primer. You pop a known Corrosive primer on the same type steel.

Would the soot from a Noncorrosive primer have rusted the steel a bit? You pop a known NONcorrosive primer on the same type of steel as well.

The steel of all three primers (test round, positive and negative control rounds) should be in a HUMID environment. Place a coffee cup half filled with water down in a large pot or bucket and put your steel test pieces in that pot. Then cover the Top of the vessel with Saran Wrap. Put the vessel in a warm area for 24-48 hours and then read your three steel test items for result.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You really need a “controlled” primer test for corrosive primer ID. Was your environment humid enough for rust to be evident? Well you include a “positive control” primer. You pop a known Corrosive primer on the same type steel.

Would the soot from a Noncorrosive primer have rusted the steel a bit? You pop a known NONcorrosive primer on the same type of steel as well.

The steel of all three primers (test round, positive and negative control rounds) should be in a HUMID environment. Place a coffee cup half filled with water down in a large pot or bucket and put your steel test pieces in that pot. Then cover the Top of the vessel with Saran Wrap. Put the vessel in a warm area for 24-48 hours and then read your three steel test items for result.
Now I understand why people ask if anyone knows specifics about various years, manufacturers and head stamps! Sounds like, “if in doubt, clean w/water!”
I load some BP cartridges (old revolvers, primarily) and have caplock muzzleloader, so am familiar w/water cleanup.
 

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I shoot about 95% corrosive ammo through guns valued at over 50K. All I use is hoppes, because that's all you need. I would consider ballistol if it were available locally. I also did a gig as a chemist back in the day and will tell you water is a bad idea. If you find yourself in third world combat conditions, then I'd use water since it's better than doing nothing, but nowhere near as good as modern solvent formulas, or old solvent formulas.

Technically, if you could evacuate the free oxygen in your pool, you could store your guns at the bottom of the pool with no rusting, but odds are you can't maintain that condition, so why would you put the pool down your gun barrel?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wish I had a pool to test this out! :) Now, is the “not water” specifically for corrosive primers?? I formerly used various concoctions/fluids/home-brews to clean my bp muzzleloader, but over time, I switched to warm water w/a hint of dish soap. Seems all the old timers/long timers were going this minimalist route. I admit that w/my antique cartridge revolvers, I just couldn’t bring myself to dunking it in a sink full of water. I always use Ballistol or similar water-based cleaner for them.
 

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I shoot about 95% corrosive ammo through guns valued at over 50K. All I use is hoppes, because that's all you need. I would consider ballistol if it were available locally. I also did a gig as a chemist back in the day and will tell you water is a bad idea. If you find yourself in third world combat conditions, then I'd use water since it's better than doing nothing, but nowhere near as good as modern solvent formulas, or old solvent formulas.

As a former chemist, please elaborate on the ingredients in Hoppe's #9 (old or new) which are able to dissolve the residual salt (KCl) left in firearms bores after firing corrosive-primed ammunition. How do they (if more than one) compare, as a solvent of that salt, with plain water? Also, why is water, if used sparingly for the purpose " a bad idea"? It has long been established that the salt must be dissolved and flushed away if corrosion is to be avoided, and that mere mechanical brushing, even with non-aqueous 'bore cleaners', cannot be depended on to do so. It is also a fact that corrosion does not occur unless and until atmospheric humidity reaches or exceeds 50%. These facts were fully demonstrated long ago:

Brown Font Wood Paper product Paper



I have had the document by which this information was established (in the United States, at least) reprinted, and will gladly furnish a copy to anyone interested in the topic for the cost of printing, plus postage - contact me by PM.

PRD1 - mhb - MIke
 

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Some years ago on the Mosin Nagant forum the issue of Hoppes # 9 and corrosive primers was put to bed for good. One contributor poured Hoppe's into a test tube containing potassium chloride. The KCl did not dissolve.

Hoppe's #9 has been around since corrosive primers were in general use and it is reasonable to expect that the original formulation was aqueous. Times have changed and so has the formulation of Hoppe's #9, in large part owing to EPA mandates.
 

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Some years ago on the Mosin Nagant forum the issue of Hoppes # 9 and corrosive primers was put to bed for good. One contributor poured Hoppe's into a test tube containing potassium chloride. The KCl did not dissolve.

Hoppe's #9 has been around since corrosive primers were in general use and it is reasonable to expect that the original formulation was aqueous. Times have changed and so has the formulation of Hoppe's #9, in large part owing to EPA mandates.
The original Hoppe's #9 formula was not aqueous, and did not dissolve the salt residue. At the time, the cause of corrosion was not properly understood, and was generally (in the U.S., at least), attributed to smokeless powder residue, and Hoppe's, and similar contemporary products, were called 'Nitro Solvents'. The changes in the formula due to the EPA's concerns only removed supposedly known carcinogens, like nitrobenzine. The later Hoppe's #9 Plus, intended for black powder cleaning, does contain water, and should be more effective for cleaning after corrosive ammunition - but why pay so much for what can be accomplished with plain water, with or without soap, etc.?

PRD1 - mhb - MIke
 

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If you bore brush and pull enough patches with whatever solvent, you mechanically remove the KCl deposits. If any KCl remains, its corrosive action can be inhibited if - very big IF - a good bore preservative is applied over it to seal the KCl off from atmospheric moisture and oxygen. The corrosive primer residue remains inert as long as it is prevented from ionizing. I suspect that all anecdotal reports of successful cleaning, i.e. with other than water-based solvent, are due to this sort of effect.
 

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... - but why pay so much for what can be accomplished with plain water, with or without soap, etc.?
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I used this when I was shooting corrosive Serb M30. This is a battery filler I found at Pep Boys and added some flexible tubing and a 7.62x54R case with its base sawed off. (I also crazy glued a neoprene O ring to the case neck to seal the chamber and keep water from getting into the receiver.) I filled the bulb with a solution of water and Simple Green.
It is useful, if not essential, to add a surfactant, or wetting agent, to the water. Plain water will bead on a nonporous surface, so soap lets the water spread as film over the surface. That assures contact with all potassium chloride.

Lots of people swear by Windex, but its only useful property is having a wetting agent mixed in. The soapy water is also a very effective bore solvent and will remove a phenomenal amount of carbon fouling. Pull a couple of dry patches after flushing the bore, followed by a preservative oil - I use Ballistol - and clean up is done.
 

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If you bore brush and pull enough patches with whatever solvent, you mechanically remove the KCl deposits. If any KCl remains, its corrosive action can be inhibited if - very big IF - a good bore preservative is applied over it to seal the KCl off from atmospheric moisture and oxygen. The corrosive primer residue remains inert as long as it is prevented from ionizing. I suspect that all anecdotal reports of successful cleaning, i.e. with other than water-based solvent, are due to this sort of effect.

The mechanical scrubbing theory is addressed - and dismissed - in the document pictured above: if the salt is not thoroughly dissolved and removed, corrosion may still occur, and you cannot know how much solvent, brushing and how many patches may be enough, if you are depending on any non-aqueous solution. You may also note the title specifying that the study addressed corrosion UNDER oil films. The only early substance reported (elsewhere) to prevent corrosion in fired barrels was BSA Safeti-paste (sp?), which was a metallic soap applied by filling the bore, thus completely excluding the air. And even that was recognized as an expedient, not a substitute for proper cleaning.

PRD1 - mhb - MIke
 

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Hatchers' Notebook mentions BSA Safety Paste. Anecdotally, a range club member that shot a lot of corrosive ammo used only undiluted Ballistol. So the "sealing theory" is not to be discounted. If the oil does not form a thorough coating corrosion will eventually occur. For this reason there were so-called "polarized" oils that supposedly guaranteed uniform coverage. I only suggested as a theory that mechanical cleaning works. I still rely on water + surfactant followed by preservative oil.

It occurs to me that original Hoppe's, although not nominally containing water, quite likely had some water content because its constituents were water contaminated. Chemical processing was not 100% perfect and ambient moisture absorption cannot be discounted.
 

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The original Hoppe's #9 formula was not aqueous, and did not dissolve the salt residue. At the time, the cause of corrosion was not properly understood, and was generally (in the U.S., at least), attributed to smokeless powder residue, and Hoppe's, and similar contemporary products, were called 'Nitro Solvents'. The changes in the formula due to the EPA's concerns only removed supposedly known carcinogens, like nitrobenzine. The later Hoppe's #9 Plus, intended for black powder cleaning, does contain water, and should be more effective for cleaning after corrosive ammunition - but why pay so much for what can be accomplished with plain water, with or without soap, etc.?

PRD1 - mhb - MIke
Highly soluble in alcohols of which there are at least 2 in Hoppes. Also a percentage of ammonia that will neutralize any active acids (formed with moisture absorbtion) . The whole purpose of 9 is to neutralize and dissolve not only carbon, acids, but many other chemicals. Of course all of these alcohols also draw in some water if not an impurity, so there is a slight percentage of water as well in addition to removing water from your barrel which is also a byproduct of shooting, but generally evaporates with the heat, but can be retained by the carbon residue if built up.
All hoppes will have some water in it due to the alcohols not being pure and absorbing it from the atmosphere.
I've used most of these solvents independently including benzene in the past. Nitro benzene is not particularly toxic, but there are better solvents available today at lower costs.


KCL is not the only potentially corrosive compound generated in firing a cartridge. There are many others including some mercury salts.

No one in their right mind intentionally introduces water into anything composed of iron based alloys. Like I said, don't put the gun in the pool, nor the pool in the gun. There's no good reason if petroleum solvents are available.

Hoppes ingredients list


Course there's practical experience. I primarily shoot machine guns, not Mosins, running perhaps thousand of rounds with stuff flying everywhere during a belt dump vs. a 20 round bench outing with a Mosin over half an hour. I've been doing this at least 20 years and using only hoppes with no rust in any barrel. That of course is anecdotal.
 

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It's kind of funny that, next to religion and politics, nothing stirs emotions more than Hoppe's #9 and corrosive primers.
I think we can all agree that, no matter what bore solvent voodoo cult you follow, clean the bore after shooting corrosive ammo immediately. The gizmo I devised and described in post #14 above was made to be used at the range.
I brought along a bottle of water + Simple Green and flushed the bores of my rifles while the bores were still warm at the range. The fellow range club member I mentioned earlier that only used straight Ballistol did the same.

It's less what you use than when you use it.
 

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johnsonlmg:

I have to disagree with your statement that KCl is 'highly soluble' in alcohol - even a fairly cursory check for information about its solubility in various chemicals verifies that nothing approaches water in efficacy:

KCl in methanol: 0.25 gr./100ml @ 25C. Another source says 5.3 gr./Kg @ 25C.
KCl in ethanol: .37 gr./Kg @ 25C. Another source says 0.288 gr./L. @ 25C.
KCl in water: 33.97gr/100Ml @ 20C.

No other substances are listed as effective solvents of KCl. And my original contention that there is no solvent or KCl even 1/10 as effective as water is evidently a gross understatement.

The small percentage of ammonia included in Hoppe's #9 is intended to assist in removing copper fouling. None of the other listed ingredients is a useful solvent of the salt residue.

Mercury compounds have not been regularly used in corrosive priming compounds since ca. 1900, with a few exceptions, such as 7.62x54r mm ammunition loaded for the Czarist Russian government, as being harmful to cartridge brass due to embrittlement. Some early NC priming compounds did include mercury fulminate, but that was eliminated (and for the same reason) with the advent of successful priming formulae containing lead styphnate and similar compounds which do not produce corrosion-inducing residues on firing.

Generations of shooters have used water as the only cleaning regimen since the advent of black powder and muzzleloading arms: they still do, and are demonstrably "in their right mind". Later generations found that water is the most satisfactory solvent for cleaning arms fired with smokeless powder and corrosive priming.

The manufacturers of gun cleaning solutions have made a great deal of money from their products, many of which are excellent when properly used, but a large number of firearms have been badly rusted or ruined because those products did/do not contain ingredients which can effectively dissolve and remove the corrosive salt residue, advertising claims not withstanding.

At this point, I'll bow out of any further discussion of this topic. Every shooter has an absolute right to do as he wishes with his firearms, but I do contend that any shooter interested in keeping them in good condition needs to study and understand what is necessary to do so, and there is a great deal of very good information available on the topic - conversely, there is a great deal of incorrect information, anecdote and opinion: each of us must decide which is which .

PRD1 - mhb - MIke barrel maker, retired
 

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And how much corrosive material do you think is in your barrel? Overall a primer is a fraction of a gram, that material is mostly consumed in the reaction, much of it stays in the case/ primer pocket, and little deposits in the barrel, thus how much alcohol do you need to dissolve and carry away the salts? The point is there is plenty of alcohol present to do the job. The ammonia is basic and neutralizes any acids that may be present if moisture has dissociated the chemicals. Again if there's a milligram or less of corrisive material, how much solvent you think you need to dissolve it?

Water is used because it's available everywhere, the price is right, and it's better than doing nothing. That doesn't make it the best choice. You can pee down your barrel and that's significantly more effective than water alone, and will remove copper fouling, yet no one here seems to have mentioned doing it?

If you're cleaning some simple bolt gun with no moving parts maybe water is good for you, but I assure you when I'm cleaning my MG34's, Maxims, Lewis guns, MP5's, etc. , barrel jackets, booster cones, flash hiders, bearings, complicated bolts and receivers.....you don't use water. It goes places you'll never get it out and will cause damage. I own a lot of old guns and the one thing they all have in common is water damage, both internally and externally. The guns I have you don't clean at the range. It's a long thorough process of disassembly, cleaning and reassembly. If your mosin gets a rust spot in the threaded barrel/receiver interface it's probably no big deal, but if I get rusting in the recouperater spring area, lug recesses, and booster cone, it's a problem and the gun won't work, whereas your rusty mosin will work just fine. Perhaps context is the problem?

Spending some time at real barrel shops, Bartlein, Rock's, and others. I've never seen them clean a barrel with water? I will ask next time I stop in. Maybe I just missed the big sink or barrel shower tucked away in a corner? LOL
I've been using hoppes and few other solvents for decades on a 7 figure working gun collection with no rust or corrosion issues in addition to the chemistry background. I'll stick with that until I can find water from the fountain of youth to bring my guns back to new condition? Then I'll start using water!
 
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