Last week I got a great email from a fellow who works for one of the major oil companies as a lubricant specialist. He complimented me on my article on lubrication, and said it was "the best and clearest explanation I have ever read." That's nice to hear from someone who does that sort of stuff for a living!
He related the tale of searching for lubricants for his shotguns, and found that none of the many oils or greases his company makes (a huge oil company whose name you would instantly recognize) were suitable for the job. He spent "several months" talking to his company's scientists and came to the conclusion that he, too, needed to go to a speciality lubricant company that makes food-service oils and greases.
What was most interesting to me, however, was that through that speciality company I managed to get a copy of the certification letters for their food-grade lubricants. I did not know this, but one of the criteria for getting certification is that the product must be able to do its job (lubrication, wear and corrosion protection) after being wiped clean from the surface being lubricated. I've mentioned before that the "miracle" lubes which claim to work even after being wiped off aren't doing anything that a food grade lube couldn't do, and now I have solid proof of my assertion!
This only reinforces my recommendation: if you want the best lubrication for your guns, use oils and greases made for food processing machinery. Their needs are the closest to ours, and they have the additional advantage of being non-toxic and non-staining. They're also a screaming bargain compared to the products sold to an often credulous shooting public.
-=[ Grant ]=-
You may have noticed that there was no Friday Surprise last week. In fact, it wasn't until yesterday that I noticed there was no Friday Surprise! Apparently I simply lost track of what day it was, one of the risks of working by and for oneself.
I need your help. I'm looking to scope a few old .22 rifles, and would like to find some vintage scopes to do so. What I'm looking for are the Weaver Model A4 (4x power, 3/4" tube) or the '60s vintage Bushnell Custom jobs with the integral full-length dovetails (also 4x magnification.) Yes, I've tried the usual places (eBay, etc.) and for such a common item they just don't show up very often. They're not exactly high dollar attractions, and I suspect that's the reason no one bothers to list them on the auction sites -- not enough return on investment.
Should you happen to possess one of these, and should its optics be in excellent condition, and should you wish to part with it, drop me an email.
Speaking of .22 rifles: there are tons of inexpensive autoloading .22s in the marketplace, and if they're not Ruger 10/22s no one seems to take much notice. I've talked to more than one person who bought a Mossberg or Savage or Marlin .22 auto at a gunshow and sold it off immediately because it "didn't work right." They usually end up going to Wally World (or the local equivalent) and getting a 10/22 on sale, secure in the knowledge that the Ruger will work where those "cheap guns" wouldn't.
I've salvaged several of those gun show rejects, and with only one exception (where I had to replace an extractor) they were returned to proper function simply by cleaning the bolt. A .22 rifle is a dirty beast, and over decades of shooting the extractor and firing pin channels become caked with goo (a technical term used by gunsmiths.) By pulling the bolt from the gun and getting rid of that sandy, greasy mess you can solve 90% of functioning problems.
Cheap .22 rifles are to be celebrated, not feared. They're easy to fix and loads of fun, even if you can't buy carbon fiber geegaws for them.
-=[ Grant ]=-
That doesn’t mean that we like it, however!
A recent email from a reader asked about protecting guns from rust in long-term storage. There are many approaches to the problem, most of them involving some type of coating or oil.
I prefer wrapping the piece in a Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI) paper. VCI paper is coated with chemicals that vaporize to provide a protection layer against moisture and rust. Properly used in a sealed container (like a Zip-Loc bag), it can provide years of complete protection.
You can get it in sheets from Brownell's.
-=[ Grant ]=-
On Monday I mentioned that my bore cleaner of choice is Ed's Red, the popular homebrew formula. I've used it for many years, and have been satisfied with its performance over a wide range of firearms.
If you don't regularly read the comments section, you may have missed a note from Ed himself. He's always coming up with something that's new to me, and this time he revealed that Brownell's carries Ed's Red in convenient bottles, all mixed up and ready to use!
I had no idea, but that's not the end of the story. Turns out that a portion of the sales of Ed's Red goes to support the Junior's programs of the Virginia Shooting Sports Association. That's reason enough to buy Ed's Red over any competing product. Well, that, and the fact that Ed's Red works!
If you're a Brownell's customer, put a bottle of Ed's Red on your next order. If you're not a Brownell's customer, you should be!
-=[ Grant ]=-
A recent email asked my opinion on bore cleaners, and to my surprise I found that I'd not written anything on the topic. It is, after all, unlike me to have no opinion - and it may be a bit of a surprise to learn that, on this topic, I don't have a strong opinion.
When it comes to bore cleaners, it's been my experience that everything works. Shooter's Choice, Hoppe's, Butch's, Break Free, it really doesn't matter - with one caveat.
I break cleaners into two basic types: general bore cleaners, and copper removers. Copper removers, such as Hoppe's Benchrest and Sweet's 7.62, usually contain ammonia to dissolve copper jacket residue. Ammonia compounds, if not thoroughly flushed, can pit steel. Pitted bores are not generally conducive to good accuracy! Those compounds are also hard on bronze bore brushes, which is why their makers often recommend nylon brushes wound on stainless steel cores. Regular use of a copper removing bore cleaner isn't recommended, and I only use them in rifles where accuracy reductions are likely to be noticed, and only when the jacket fouling gets to a point that those reductions show up. Other than that, I use a regular bore cleaner.
The bore cleaner I use most is the popular homebrew Ed's Red formula. Originated by C.E. "Ed" Harris, noted engineer and certified firearms genius, Ed's Red is both economical and effective. I've found it to be as good as anything else in cleaning rifled bores, and a bit better than most when cleaning shotgun barrels. (The acetone in the formula makes it an ideal solvent for removing plastic wad fouling.) Since I use a lot of bore cleaner, being able to mix a gallon at a time saves me both money and effort.
If you're not the DIY type, anything will work. Many people like the smell of Hoppe's #9 (the distinctive odor comes, I believe, from amyl acetate), and I must admit a certain fondness myself. My first cleaning kit, for a Winchester Model 67 rifle, was from Hoppes. The smell takes me back to my childhood and summer afternoons sitting under a walnut tree, cleaning my rifle from a hard day of plinking.
Frankly, given the generally good performance of all of the bore cleaners I've ever used, that's as good a rationale for a choice as any!
-=[ Grant ]=-
Over the weekend I got a nice email from the shooter in last week's article. Sure enough, the screw had backed out and let the crane past. He's ordered a new screw, and plans to LocTite it in. Good plan!
(The sad thing was that he was shooting really well up until that happened...ruined a perfectly good stage.)
Those of you looking for Lubriplate SFL grease may be in luck - I got this interesting email last week:
Just for your info, I'll be offering the Lubriplate "SFL" NLGI #0 grease in 16 oz. cans starting in about two weeks.
The grease will come in screw-top metal cans with a brush attached to the inside of the lid, real handy for applying the grease without making a mess.
Retail will be $19.95 plus actual shipping, without any inflated "handling" charges.
Email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Gila Hayes over at the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network recently reviewed a book that I had to buy: "Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" by Rory Miller. Miller's treatise is about violent criminal behavior - how it happens, why it happens, and what does and doesn't work to counter it. It's written from the perspective of empty hand martial arts (as opposed to the martial art of the firearm), but everything in it is applicable to the person who carries a firearm for protection.
He goes to great lengths to dispel both our romanticized notions of what violent acts are really like, and our belief in our own ability to deal with them. Early in the book, he says "you are what you are, not what you think you are." (Emphasis added.) The rest of the book shows us what why that's true, and why what we believe is not always reality. His perspectives on training, of what is/is not valuable, follow the same hard-nosed refusal to buckle under to fantasy.
This book has earned a permanent place in my library, which is not something I can say of many works. I highly recommend it to anyone who carries a gun for self defense, and perhaps even more to those who don't. (One warning: this book may be unsettling to those who've become attached to their images of how a predator interacts with his/her prey. As Miller reminds us, reality is rarely pretty - and his work is chock-full of reality.)
-=[ Grant ]=-