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320 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anybody have or use an ultrasonic cleaner on their guns?

What procedure do you use? Any problems? I've read stories about stripping paint off of sights or tritrium tubes coming loose. Any truth to either?

It seems that there are quite a few cleaners that can be had on the cheap via Ebay. Worth it for cleaning the occational handgun?

5,153 Posts
Ultrasonics work best with thinner solutions that are warm.

A good solvent to use is ordinary, cheap paint thinner. You do have to be careful about fire, but thinner is not as bad as some solutions.

If you want to spend the money, you can buy standard L&R clock or watch cleaning solution and rinse.
The cleaner is an excellent cleaner that does some light rust removal. The rinse is about as flammable as paint thinner.

Here's some info on ultrasonics from an old post:

The good points:

They really clean.

They usually clean FAST. Drop a dirty part in, and the dirt actually BOILS off in a cloud.

They DEEP clean, getting crud you normally don't even see. Ultrasonics get into cracks and holes that normally you can't get to with other methods.

They're especially good on harder fouling. (Ultrasonics work better on hard dirt).

You don't have to disassembly things. Ultrasonics are used by watchmakers to avoid having to disassembly some small components.

They work with a variety of solutions. Water with detergent works on many types of dirt, so you don't HAVE to use a volatile solvent.

The solution is heated up by the ultrasonic action. Warm solution cleans even better. Many tanks have a built-in heater also.

You can put an inch of water in the bottom and use small glass or plastic cups to hold solvent and small parts.
The ultrasonic waves are transmitted by the water in the bottom through the beakers or jars.

You can use the tank for MANY cleaning jobs, Paint brushes, dirty watch bands, electric razor heads, you're wife's jewelery, car parts, ANYTHING that you can fit into the tanks will clean up surgically clean.

The bad:
KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE TANK. Ultrasonics and bones don't mix.
This isn't something that happens instantly, it's over time.

Expense. The larger tanks are COSTLY. However, if you want to clean a stripped pistol or small parts, one of the smaller $150.00 range tanks will work fine.
You CAN put a portion of a frame or slide in the tank at a time.
After cleaning it, turn it over and clean the other half.

Any solvent that will attack plastic or gun finishes, will attack it FASTER in ultrasonics.

You've got to be careful to apply a THOROUGH coat of anti-rust lube after cleaning. Ultrasonics remove ALL grease and lube, leaving the part absolutely bare, including in tiny holes and crevices that ordinarily cleaning never touches.

They don't work as well on soft gummy grease as harder dirt. You can speed things up by pulling parts out and scrubbing with a brush.

They're electronic and heat the solvent. You have to be careful with flammables.

If possible buy a basket that holds parts off the bottom or make up wire hangers. Ultrasonics work better when the parts are suspended in the solution instead of laying on the bottom of the tank.

A tank cover is nice to hold down fumes.

NEVER run the unit when the tank is dry even for a few seconds, it'll burn out.

Be careful what cleaning solution you use. You can pull the item out and find finish or plastic parts GONE.

Be careful with Tritium sights, and sights with any kind of inserts or dots. Many can be damaged or removed in the tank.

The small tanks sold in discount stores for cleaning false teeth and jewelery really don't work too well, and most of them aren't even real ultrasonic units.

367 Posts
I got one from my dentist... He was moving his practice and had an old unit in the store room. I mostly use it for deep cleaning carbeurators. I have seen freshly cast aluminum that does not look as clean as the parts that come out of this tank..:rock:

2,914 Posts
They work for me but

They work for me but I've been really happy only with units I couldn't afford to buy and used through work. Sort of like stripping Cosmoline where nothing works nearly so well as a nice vapor degreaser but I wouldn't want to live around one. I don't plan to buy something cheap off Ebay.

When I shot bullseye I did my .22's on the stove with boiling dishwasher soap - which is formulated to rinse clean - to get the pistols AND magazines really clean. Notice I was using a carbide lamp to blacken sights and such on the pistols so the guns were more dirty than fouled. As noted I then carefully lubed and rust protected but I knew everything was really clean.

I'd like to set up an industrial tank line with a sequence of 3-4 really nice big powerful ultrasonic cleaners for clean and lube but I'd rather buy the big Dillon Super 1050 for every handgun caliber I shoot. Can't afford to do either.
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