Chemical foams — gun cleaning magic

I don’t remember where I picked up the can of Wipe-Out Brushless Bore Cleaner — but it had been sitting on my workbench shelf for quite a while.

My Model 66 Smith & Wesson Combat Magnum revolver had been used in a concealed carry class by several students, and it was in dire need of a good scrubbing.

I thought this would be an excellent chance to check out the claims on the can — that the foam would dissolve carbon, copper fouling, brass fouling, bronze fouling, black powder fouling, and smokeless powder fouling.

The last was what I was particularly interested in, as the gun was really smoked up and filthy — not only in the barrel and chambers, but on the front of the cylinder where the barrel/cylinder gap allows all those hot gases and burned powder particles to blast their way into the pores of the steel.

This is an almost impossible task to clean up, except with the vigorous application of a green Scotch-Brite Pad.

The Wipe-Out ( can comes with two applicator tips.

One looks like the small, red pipettes on a WD-40 can for pin-point application.

A second clear hose of approximately ¼-inch in diameter is included. It has a nozzle attached to direct the foam into the chambers and barrels of guns to be cleaned.

Unfortunately, this was the only one of the two that worked. The smaller pipette, which would normally allow much less waste, would not seat properly on the can, and foam poured out of the top of the can all around it, getting all over my fingers — very aggravating.

But I did get the larger hose to work perfectly, spraying the foam as directed into the chambers and the barrel, and allowing the foam to expand until it pushed out the other end of each of these.

After a few minutes, there ensued possibly the easiest cleaning job I have ever experienced on a firearm.

I simply ran a patch through the barrel to remove the excess foam and a second patch to swab the bore, and the barrel (and each of the chambers) was shiny clean.

The instructions tell you to look at the color of the patch to determine what is being dissolved — copper will be blue, brown is carbon and gray is powder fouling.

When the patches come out clean, the bore is clean.

The company makes lots of claims, including that it doesn’t us ammonia, so there is no strong odor; it’s safe on modern gun stock finishes; it loosens lead for easy removal; and much more.

I was so impressed with the efficiency of the product that I bought a can of BREAK FREE Bore Cleaning Foam to see if this chemical foam performed as well.

I use a couple of S&W Model 317 Airlite revolvers in my classes. These little eight-shot .22 revolvers are extremely popular, particularly with lady shooters, because of their light weight and recoil. Smith & Wesson hit a home run with these pocket-sized all-aluminum revolvers, and mine are used extensively in my classes.

They tend to lead up pretty badly, and the chambers seem tight to begin with, so it doesn’t take but a hundred rounds or so and the chambers tighten up, and the .22 rounds have to be pushed in to make them seat properly.

The last class it happened again — we were having to physically push the bullets into the chambers, and extraction was very hard.

So it was an excellent test of the Break Free ( product.

I used the soda-straw sized tube to shoot foam into the barrel and each of the chambers until it extruded from each of the openings.

After waiting only about 15 minutes, I pushed a patch through each chamber and the barrel to wipe them out, and then I pushed a second dry patch after the first one pushed out the foam and filth.

The second patches came out practically clean in each case, and the chamber and barrel bores were shiny clean. In addition, I was able to wipe the burned powder and residue from the underside of the topstrap, and off the front of the cylinder with nothing more abrasive than a paper towel.

Not as perfect and shiny a clean as with a green Scotch-Brite pad — but a noticeable improvement.

Suffice it to say, I am extremely impressed with the efficacy of both of these products — and will use them from now on in all my gun-cleaning chores. These are great products that do exactly what they claim, and make a dirty job a lot easier.

Now, if the Wipe-Out folks would just come up with a pipette dispenser that works; the pin-point application would mean a lot less waste, and no foam boiling up around your finger on the top of the can.