A couple of years ago, I wandered into my local reloading shop, where the proprietor - a retired city police captain - listened to my woeful tale of my .22 revolver that had leaded up the forcing cone (the cone at the breech end of the barrel that accepts the bullet from the chamber.)
I was having fits keeping it cleaned of lead deposits, and had switched completely to copper-jacketed bullets that helped - but the ends of the chambers were so leaded up that the bullets were hard to insert.
A long-time combat competitor, he offered me a tip for a cleaning compound that worked better (he said) than any of the so-called caustic copper and lead removers on the market - without all the stink and corrosive properties.
I went home and mixed some up, swabbed the bore and chambers with the compound, and left it wet overnight. The next day, the lead buildup in the chambers, forcing cone and barrel cleaned out with swabs of more of the compound on a bronze bore brush. The lead simply fell out of the places in which it was embedded in great flakes of shiny metal.
Fascinated by the properties of this simple liquid compound, I mixed a fresh batch up, and dropped a .22 bullet in it. You could see the acidic action of the compound go to work immediately on the lead bullet, bubbles rising off of it - and within hours, it looked as if it had been chewed. Left alone, the compound ate at the brass case of the bullet and made it shiny.
I took a jacketed hollow-point .38 Special bullet and stood it nose down in the liquid and left it for a week, checking it periodically.
Not only did the liquid eat the lead completely out of the nose of the bullet, leaving a true hollow copper cavity, it also ate away at the copper jacket of the bullet and at the brass case in which it was loaded.
You could see the shiny etching on the harder metals where the liquid had eaten it away like acid.
I was amazed and impressed. I learned this was an old trick in the combat circles, and it was such a simple solution that no one even thought to promote the mixture - it simply was there, and it worked.
The really interesting part? It's non-toxic.
And while it wouldn't taste very good, the two liquids that comprise it are household liquids from your bathroom and pantry that are used in food preparation. And body and mouth antiseptic.
In fact, after using it for several years now, the only complaint I have about this VERY effective cleaning compound is it leaves a gummy, sticky residue when you leave it on a gun for any length of time. But this is easily cleaned off with the application of a little brake parts cleaner. If you use a solvent to clean it off, the embedded metal particles simple flake off, and you apply a little lightweight lubricating oil where the compound was located.
You know the burned area on the front of a revolver cylinder, that part you can never get back to the clean, shiny condition it was before it was fired? Take a bronze brush and scrub the end of the cylinder with this compound, and then touch it up with a GREEN Scotch Brite pad. You will be amazed at how quickly and easily that burned, stained area regains a like-new appearance.
So what is this wonder compound that does so much to clean up metals yet is so safe to use, practically odorless and works as well as anything on the market?
To mix up your own concoction, you will likely be able to find all you need in two places: your kitchen pantry and your bathroom.
From the pantry you need a bottle of white vinegar.
From your bathroom, you need a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.
That's it. Two simple, everyday household products that when mixed together in a 50/50 solution will eat away metal deposits in your gun, clean burned particles of metal and gunpowder that stain your gun's innards, and make the outside portions shine like new.
I keep a simple squirt bottle of this vinegar/peroxide solution in my gun-cleaning gear at all times. When I have a stain or metal deposits in a gun that even hard scrubbing with a bore brush and copper solvent won't cure, I swab the bore with this compound and leave it overnight.
The next day, I run a solvent through the barrel with patches, and you can see the lead and copper deposits breaking up and leaving tiny bits embedded in the woven cloth of the patch.
Try it yourself. Mix up a simple 50/50 solution, and drop an old bullet with exposed lead in it: You will see the compound start bubbling and eating away at the metals. You will see copper and brass come out of it after a period of time in shiny, new condition. Don't try to fire such bullets, of course.
There you have it - a simple, quick and CHEAP gun cleaning chemical you can mix up yourself and use for many gun-cleaning duties.