I tried some new cleaning methods that I have read about on the Cowboy Action Shooting websites for cleaning my shootin' irons after shooting thirty rounds each in the revolvers and fifty-seven in the rifle, plus twenty-three 12 gauge blackpowder shotshells. To say that the shootin' irons were dirty would be an understatement. The last stage of the match my revolver's cylinders were getting difficult to turn. Had this been a big match with ten or more stages I would have had to pull my cylinder base pins and wipe the pins and front of the cylinders down with moose milk.
My shotgun, of course, is easy. It being a double barrel I just take the barrels off and it's an easy job. Especially by using Windex with vinegar. There are sever different formulations of Windex, try the kind with vinegar. My shotgun is rather difficult to clean after using black powder because I cheat and use modern plastic shotcup wads, the loads pattern better. At any rate the combination of the plastic and black powder residues react poorly together. The old fashioned soap and water scrub took a long time, the Windex took three patches in each barrel two wet and one dry, plus a patch to oil each barrel. When the patch is pushed out a huge amount of the plastic and powder residue comes sliding out like a discarded snake skin. Everything else was done with moose milk.
Moose milk is something that I am just now learning anything about. There is a compound from Germany called Ballistol. It is advertised as a multi-purpose sportsman's oil. It is billed to lubricate, penetrate, cleans, protects and preserve firearms, leather, knives, wood, marine, camping and fishing equipment. This Ballistol is mixed with water to clean black powder. The can says it should be a fifty-fifty mix with a note that we may increase the water. In looking at the websites the most common ratio seems to be seven to one with the seven being water. The oil does not dissolve in the water, it emulsifies into a white liquid.
To clean my revolvers I sent some very wet patches through the bore and cylinder chambers, then started scrubbing the exteriors with a toothbrush wet with the seven to one moose milk. By the time I had finished the exterior the insides of the bores and cylinders were ready, that took a dry patch through each chamber and the bore. Then the irons went into a two hundred degree oven while I did my Model '92 clone. This was a little harder as I didn't feel like taking the rifle apart, it is not as simple as a Marlin. So it took five wet patches and six dry. One of the beautiful things about this moose milk stuff is that when the water evaporates the oil is left in a very thin coat, the iron is cleaned and oiled at the same time.
When I was a boy, foolin' with Black Powder, cleaning the irons was a long and complicated affair. We'd scrub the irons with boiling water and soap, oil them up and then repeat the operation two more times a day apart.
Assuming that we pick the right bullet alloy and lubricant there is seldom any barrel leading with black powder. With this moose milk, there is no trouble cleaning the powder residue and the shootin' iron is already oiled.
Ballistol is not found in every sporting good store, if you can not find it locally my pals at Midway stock it.
Update: 2/15/06 Those who would like to buy some of this Ballistoil and can't find it locally should look on my left sidebar and click Midway USA. They will be happy to sell it to you.
Update:2/17/06 It just occurred to me that some folks still shoot that corrosive foreign military ammo. I don't bother, seein' as how I make my own, but those who do can use a more diluted moose milk to clean the rust causing salts from their bores. The Ballistoil people say to run one part Ballistoil to ten parts water. Truth be told, the water is what makes the difference with corrosive ammo.
Those who aren't sure if the primers are corrosive or not should run some moose milk, or plain water through the barrel, just in case. Water is cheap. The main advantage of the moose milk over plain water is that when the water dries, the oil remains.