Acetone as a Gun Cleaner?

Question:Acetone is the base for most commerical bore solvents used in cleaning firearms. I know plenty of people use regular acetone as a gun solvent and it works well. Although the acetone works well with all metal guns, will it harm polymer used in today's polymer framed guns (such as glock)? Could you use acetone all over a glock without damage to the polymer parts and/or frame?
I heard today's new polymer, used in glocks and other new polymer framed firearms, is impervious to acetone and most any solvent.


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One of the best 'home brew' gun cleaners and preservatives that a lot of old time gun guys used is a mixture called Ed's Red.

Do a search and you can find dozens of web pages devoted to this mixture. I have a friend at the range who mixes up a batch and then distributes quarts to friends for Christmas. It works great and leaves your metal protected. Not too bad on the hands either. The lanolin is optional and strictly for your hands. If you leave it out, mixing is a lot easier as no heat is required.

You will often find guys at gun shows selling bottles of this, often at a fraction of the cost of commercial cleaners.

Ed's Red Bore Cleaner

1 part Dexron II, IIe or III ATF, GM Spec. D-20265 or later. This is automotive transmission fluid

1 part Kerosene - deodorized, K1

1 part Aliphatic Mineral Spirits, Fed. Spec. TT-T-2981F, CAS #64741-49-9, or substitute "Stoddard Solvent", CAS #8052-41-3, or equivalent, (aka "Varsol")

1 part Acetone, CAS #67-64-1.

(Optional up to 1 lb. of Lanolin, Anhydrous, USP per gallon, OK to substitute Lanolin, Modified, Topical Lubricant, from the drug store)

Mix outdoors, in good ventilation. Use a clean 1 gallon metal, chemical-resistant, heavy gage PET or PVC plastic container. NFPA approved plastic gasoline storage containers are also OK. Do NOT use HDPE, which is breathable because the acetone will evaporate. The acetone in ER will attack HDPE in about 6 months, making a heck of a mess!

Add the ATF first. Use the empty container to measure the other components, so that it is thoroughly rinsed. If you incorporate the lanolin into the mixture, melt this carefully in a double boiler, taking precautions against fire. Pour the melted lanolin it into a larger container, rinsing the lanolin container with the bore cleaner mix, and stirring until it is all dissolved.

I recommend diverting a small quantity, up to 4 ozs. per quart of the 50-50 ATF/kerosene mix for use as an "ER-compatible" gun oil. This can be done without impairing the effectiveness of the mix.

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Just buy some Hoppe`s. It is safe and a lot cheaper than any damage that might occur to said weapon.

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I don't know if the polymer used in the Glock will be harmed by using acetone to clean it but acetone is a bad choice to use as a cleaning solvent because if its extreme flammability. Gun cleaners are not so expensive that it would make it worth it to take the chances involved in using acetone to clean your gun. It is worse than using gasoline as a cleaning solvent and you know how dumb that is. If you are using a LOT of solvents for gun cleaning, you can always buy Hoppe's solvent in gallon cans at a greatly reduced price per ounce over buying it in the 6 or 8 ounce bottles. Use a solvent that is designed for cleaning guns. Your guns will be much better off and you will live a safer life. Burns ain't pretty!!

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While acetone, Toluene, MEK, Naptha or commercial blends of the above will clean a gun of powder fouling it is not the Idea thing to use to clean a gun. Most gun cleaning solutions are a blend of solvents plus chemicals added to help remove lead or copper fouling from the bullet's jacket. These also have a small amount of protective oil to inhibit rust after the gun has been cleaned; which a straight solvent does not have. As for polymers they are generally stable after manufactured as then have been through a "curing" process that make them chemically stable. Basically why epoxy is so hard after it has set up. If concerned about solvent exposure on a glock I would contact them to get specific information. On a wild guess I would imagine that only MEK or Methylene Chloride would effect them, but those two effect just about anything.

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