Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tonight's Squirrel Report

I listened to The Squirrel Report tonight, most of it anyhow, as I was back and forth to do some things during the time it was on. For example, I got up to grab the Remington R1-1911 and some gun cleaning equipment about half way through the report. I gave the pistol a good cleaning as I listened. What got me to cleaning it was not that the show was boring, in fact it was quite enjoyable, but that someone on the show had mentioned the Northeast Bloggershoot this coming weekend and I realized that I still have a few guns to clean in preparation for it. Then again, I am in the middle of my regularly scheduled gun cleaning binge and I only have about 4 more pistols and 4 or 5 rifles to go before my whole collection has been cleaned. Earlier this evening, I cleaned my Yugo SKS. That took me about 2 1/2 hours (or more) bit it was a pretty complete cleaning. I did not disassemble the trigger group or bolt although, I tried to disassemble the bolt but could not get the pin out (I need to invest in some good brass and steel punches).

The show is just a few bloggers who get together for a couple of hours on Thursday nights to talk about current events, gun stuff, blogging or whatever suits their fancy at the moment. They also accept calls from listeners. (No, I did not call in, I started to but got distracted. Maybe next time.) Tonight they talked some politics, about guns, about the upcoming Bloggershoot, about Pennsic (where Breda just spent some time) and some other assorted topics. The hosts are Alan of Snarky Bytes, Breda of self evidence, Jay G of MArooned, and Weerd of Weer'd World. They sure sounded like they were having fun. As I said, the show was rather enjoyable for me too. I am not a regular listener, mostly because I don't think of it when it comes on as I am usually glued to the tube at the show's starting time of 9PM Eastern time, on Thursday nights, but I do hope to get in the habit of listening more often and I hope to listen again next week.

This weekend, if all goes as planned, I will meet at least one of the four hosts at the Northeast Bloggershoot. That would be Jay G. I am not sure if any of the others are attending but it would be nice if they all could make it. I am sure to have clean guns when I get there, more gun cleaning tomorrow!

All the best,
Glenn B

Product Review - GUNZILLA

Whenever I hear or see the word Gunzilla, I imagine a Japanese man, shouting "GODZILLA, GODZILLA" while looking and pointing up, above the nearby shoreline, at a huge vicious beast headed toward Tokyo. If ever there was an apt choice of names for a gun cleaning product, GUNZILLA has got to be just that. While the people of Japan have nothing to be afraid of regarding this modern day scourge - lead buildup, rust, powder residue, corrosive primer residue, and copper fouling should be trembling with fear because when it comes to barrel fouling - it seems that Gunzilla destroys all in its path.

Since I can remember, I have been a died in the wool Hoppe's 9 user. I literally have used Hoppe's products since I first cleaned a gun back in summer camp in the 1960's. Thankfully we did more shooting than gun cleaning back then but Hoppe's 9  was the gun cleaning solvent of choice. When I got older and got my first gun - a RG .25 auto, I cleaned it with Hoppe's 9. I kept using it throughout my 32 year law enforcement career and during my 14 year stint with collateral duties as a firearms instructor. I have used it on both work issued guns and personally owned guns. I also started to use their copper solvent, Bench Rest 9 Copper Solvent, probably 15 years or so ago. I got, what I thought were, great results with each. The thing was though, several years back, I was advised to start wearing rubber gloves when using Hoppe's products. This advice came along with the posting of a product safety sheet for Hoppe's. Yikes, I was surprised I was not glowing yet. Yet, I figured, heck, I had been using it for years with no problems, so why not continue despite the warnings and anyway, I liked the aroma of Hoppes 9. As for the Hoppe's Bench Rest product, I think the odor was horrendous. Like I said though, they got the job done and did it well as far as I could tell.

Then, this past year, I decided to change what I use for gun cleaning. There were a couple of few reasons. One of the driving reasons was that I had acquired a few com bloc military rifles that qualified as curios and relics. All of them utilized corrosive ammo throughout their military lifetimes and that particular ammunition is still widely available for them today. Furthermore, that ammo is cheap. Yes, I bought it and fired it, then soon learned it is a pain in the ass to clean the gun through which you fired it. A lot like black powder, ammo with corrosive primers used to require a chemical not often found in many modern day gun cleaning solvents. That chemical was/is ammonia. I did not know this when I bought my first C&R com bloc rifle, a M44 Mosin Nagant. I learned that getting the rust out of the barrel, once it started to corrode, was an almost never ending struggle, if using a product like Hoppe's, because once cleaned out it just rusted all over again. I finally learned that cleaning the bore with soapy water would help but that required cleaning, rinsing thoroughly and drying, then cleaning with Hoppe's and oiling. There had to be a better way and it seems there was one. Someone let me in on the fact that Windex, sprayed onto a cleaning cloth, and some directly sprayed down the bore, would clean the corrosive chemicals out the of barrel before it got a chance to rust (if you cleaned it right after shooting it). So I started using Windex, followed by Hoppe's 9 and or Bench Rest Solvent and then by oiling with another of my favorite gun care products - Breakfree CLP. I thought little of using the combination of cleaners and lubricants and always got the job done with good to excellent results.

Then, last year, I got cancer. I beat it or so they tell me, at least temporarily. Having had it gets one to thinking about things one may not have considered before. One of those things was my choice of gun cleaning solvents. While still at work, I noted that they had a product called Gunzilla in the firearms cleaning area. it sat right next to a bottle of Hoppe's 9 and Hoppe's bench rest that also were on the cleaning table. I picked it up and gave it a try. It had much less odor than Hoppe's Bench Rest and certainly none of the pleasing aroma of Hoppe's 9. One run of a cleaning cloth, with some Gunzilla on it, did pretty much what I expected to the frame of my Glock 26. It wiped off a lot of fouling. In the same time it took me to clean my Glock with Hoppe's, I got the job done with Gunzilla. The results looked pretty much the same to me but there was one difference, the Gunzilla seemed to have left behind a light protective sheen that Hoppe's did not.

According to the label on the Gunzilla bottle though, Gunzilla had done something that Hoppe's 9 could not do. It had removed copper fouling from the barrel of my Glock. I figured that had to have been a plus in that I would not need to use Hoppe's Bench Rest, to clean out any copper fouling, as I detested using it because of the smell (as opposed to the aromatic properties of Hoppe's 9). I read the label further. TopDuck, the company that manufactures Gunzilla, claims that Gunzilla:

"Removes rust, lead, copper, carbon, plastic and cleans corrosive ammo" (I am sure they mean corrosive ammo fouling).

They further claim, and it is right on the label, that:

Gunzilla cleans blackpowder firearms. Hoppe's 9 and Hoppe's Bench Rest, as far as I know, were not formulated to clean black powder from muzzleloaders. Gunzilla also claims the product: is low odor, non-flammable, does not contain ammonia, is non-corrosive, has no hazardous chemicals, has no petroleum products, contains no water, can be cleaned up with soap and water, and is natural based (from plants). It is also supposedly airline safe and it meets USDA bio-preferred requirements (a veritable green gun cleaner from the look of it).

In the small print, there is a warning to saying that if ingested, you should drink two (2) glasses of water and call a physician. And there are the usual warnings like to use it in a well ventilated area, that proper skin and eye protection is recommended, that if it contacts skin it should be washed off with warm water and soap, if skin irritation occurs then contact a physician, and to keep it away from children. This is in marked contrast to the warning on the label of a bottle of Hoppe's 9 (which I decided o look at after reading the Gunzilla label). The first line of which says, in bold face: "DANGER: HARMFUL OR FATAL IF SWALLOWED". The Hoppe's label then goes on to say that Hoppe's 9 contains: kerosene, is flammable, that you should avoid prolonged contact with skin or contact with eyes, if ingested you should contact a physician immediately, do not induce vomiting, keep out of reach of children and keep away from fire or flame (is there a difference between a fire and a flame). I don't even want to read the label on the Hoppe's Bench Rest solvent for fear it would make my head spin and knees knock but I suppose I would do that for my readers if I still had any of it. I threw it out not long after I got my first bottle of Gunzilla.

Now, on the plus side, Hoppe's 9 claims to prevent rust, remove leading and metal fouling (does not say copper fouling) thus the need for Hoppe's Bench Rest I suppose), and that it removes corrosive primer fouling and residue. The list, on the label of Hoppe's 9 as to its gun protective properties, is not as long as what TopDuck claims their product, Gunzilla, can clean but it sure is a lot scarier as to the contents and the dangers of Hoppe's over Gunzilla.

For me, pre-cancer, and even when first diagnosed with it, I did not care all that much about the dangers of one over the other. I had been exposed to dangerous chemicals, fumes, pollutants in water and air, kerosene fumes (jet fuel), narcotics residue, diseases, physical attacks and the like throughout my law enforcement career. What I did and do care about most was and is which one gets the job done better. The bottom line between these two product would have to be, at least for me, which cleans and protects my guns the best. Well, a few months back, I bought a bottle of Gunzilla, the 16 fluid ounce size. It looked pretty puny next to the 32 ounce bottle of Hoppe's 9 that I have on hand. Yet, when it came to doing the job, it was not the size of the bottle that mattered, at least not for the Gunzilla.

Here are my observations:

General Gun Cleaning Properties:

Both Gunzilla and Hoppe's 9 seem to do a good to excellent job as far as routine firearms cleaning goes on guns that shoot modern smokeless powder from cartridges with non-corrosive primers.

Copper Cleaning Properties:

I really did not notice a difference between gun cleaning using Hoppe's 9 and Gunzilla until I also ran some Hoppe's Bench Rest solvent down a barrel just cleaned with Hoppe's 9 and then down one just cleaned with Gunzilla. Copper jacketed ammo, in the amount of about 500 rounds, had been fired through two pistols (same make and model of pistol Beretta 92FS). The one that had been cleaned with Gunzilla came out clean, the one that had been cleaned with Hoppe's 9 came out fouled and a tiny bit greenish. I figure I had cleaned each of them equally well, the only difference being the solvent used, one cleaned with Hoppe's 9 and the other with Gunzilla. Only a one time test mind you but good enough for me to make me think of changing brands. Note, TopDuck also makes Copperzilla, a stronger copper solvent for tough to remove copper fouling. I have not tried the product yet but probably will do so in the future, especially to compare it to see how well regular Gunzilla does against it.

Corrosive Ammo Cleaning Properties:

I found that when cleaned with Hoppe's 9, bores that had corrosive ammo shot through them often tended to rust within days to weeks of cleaning. This has not happened yet after a cleaning with Gunzilla except with one gun that already had a rusted bore when I purchased it and that had been left unmaintained for several months in a closet up through and including a couple of humid summer months; that one rifle may have even been shot after the last prior cleaning and then left in the closet uncleaned (shame on me). All the others cleaned with Gunzilla remained rust free. The Hoppe's cleaned bores would sometimes rust up even when kept in the ammo locker along with a desiccant, that did not happen to my guns that had been cleaned with Gunzilla. There was no need to use Windex or another ammonia based product to clean the corrosive chemical out of bores that had been cleaned with Gunzilla, it seemed up to the job while the Hoppe's seems to have failed in that aspect regardless of what it says of the label about removing corrosive primer fouling and residue.

Rust Protection and  Lubrication:

I have never known Hoppe's 9 to be a rust preventative although the Hoppe's label claims the product does just that. I have always used a high quality oil to lubricate the firearm and to prevent rust after using Hoppe's based on, the recommendation on the Hoppe's label, and on several experiences when I did not use oil and the gun rusted seemingly in much shorter time than if oil would have been used after cleaning with Hoppe's 9. The Gunzilla label states that Gunzilla will remove old coatings of oil and that it removes rust. Gunzilla also claims to lubricate firearms and protect them against rust. Gunzilla, does seem to me to provide some level of rust prevention and lubrication. They do not recommend using it on naturally rusted/brown finish barrels as it will remove that finish.

Head To Head Test:

I cleaned several rifles and handguns multiple times with Hoppe's 9, then after they appeared to be clean, I ran a patch soaked in Gunzilla down the bore and over other parts that appeared clean. Just about each time I did so, the Gunzilla patches came up dirty. I also cleaned several rifles and handguns with Gunzilla, then after they looked clean to me, I ran a patch soaked with Hoppe's 9 down the bore and over other parts. The patches had a bit of fouling on them but nowhere near as much as the patches from guns that were first cleaned with Hoppe's and then followed up with Gunzilla. That seemed to me as if Hoppe's was leaving more fouling behind.

My Conclusion:

I arrived at the conclusion that it was time to change gun cleaning solvents and that I would stick with Gunzilla for almost all of my gun cleaning needs. The whole thing I mentioned about warning labels above also came into play with this - not so much for me but for Brendan. From what I saw on the labels of Hoppe's 9 and Gunzilla, Gunzilla just looks like the safer product and I would like to keep him safe. Guess what, he already had been using it before me. He bought a bottle of it at a gun show a month or two before I ordered mine from TopDuck - smart young man. 

Now, this was not a scientific product comparison. It is a telling of my experience with both products and my opinion of them both. Gunzilla seems to do more with less bother and with less product (only needing the one product to clean, lubricate and protect), seems to be less hazardous and thus safer, and seems to do a better job than did my old stalwart - Hoppe's 9. As much as I often stick with what has worked for me in the past, I just cannot see ignoring the what I think are the better cleaning properties of Gunzilla and that is what I intend to use for most of my gun cleaning from now on. As for harsher conditions or longer short term storage (like months unshot in the gun locker) I will continue to use Breakfree CLP to lubricate and protect my firearms from rust. I have found nothing to beat Breakfree CLP when it comes to firearms lubrication and rust prevention, but the Gunzilla sure beats Hoppe's 9 and with some testing I may find it beats Breakfree (but who wants to see if their firearms rust to prove a point). From now on, Gunzilla will be my main gun cleaning, lubricating and protective product of choice.

All the best,
Glenn B