How To Clean Your Gun After Shooting Corrosive Ammo

corrosive ammo

Need to know how to clean corrosive ammo? You’ve come to the right place.

Many people get their ammo from a military surplus store. This is a great location to buy, since they often offer some of the best ammo at the cheapest price for your AK. Unfortunately, sometimes this ammo can be corrosive. And this is bad, considering shooting corrosive ammo can damage your gun and cause it to rust.

Now this may cause you to wonder why anyone deals with corrosive ammo in the first place. Well, it’s typically because of two reasons:

  • It typically still shoots really well.
  • It’s crazy cheap.

Corrosive ammo can still be salvageable. However, many people feel that the process of cleaning it seems daunting, and even intimidating. But thankfully, once you figure out why ammo becomes corrosive and how to clean it effectively, the process will seem a whole lot easier.

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Keep reading, ‘cuz you’re about to learn…

How To Clean Your Gun After Shooting Corrosive Ammo

Why Ammo Gets Corrosive

What causes corrosion on ammunition? Basically, the primers (and whether or not they leave salts behind when firing) are the main indicators of whether your ammo will become corrosive or not.

First, let’s tackle the primers. When talking about centerfire primers, there are two major types: Boxer and Berdan. Boxer primers are not typically prone to corrosion. However, certain Berdan primers are – so it’s often best to avoid them completely if you don’t want corrosion.

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Second, let’s talk about the salts the primer leaves behind. Primers sometimes leave a residue when they burn. This residue is made up of either sodium chloride (aka table salt) or potassium chloride. When salts are left behind, they draw in water from the surrounding air. And, when metal and salt combine, and water gets involved, the three ultimately create corrosion.

Tips On Cleaning Corrosive Ammo

Note: the below information primarily covers how to clean rounds for an AK pistol. However, this cleaning method also works for most firearms.

To start off, here’s a picture of a firearm that wasn’t well-maintained. The owner did nothing to prevent/clean out the corrosion it was accumulating, and so it rusted out.

Corrosive Ammo Horror, Calguns
Picture courtesy of Pew Pew Tactical

To avoid having your firearm look like this, it’s important to clean your firearm after shooting (or at least on the same day).

In dry climates, you might be able to get up to 24 hours before having to clean – however, don’t push it. Salts absorb water from the air quickly, so you’ll want to act fast to protect your gun.

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The goal of this process is to clean out all the salts that have been accumulating in your firearm from firing. And so that means you’ll have to flush out those salts with hot water.

You may have heard you need to use soap, ammonia, or some water-based cleaner. These can work well, but the common feature of all these cleaning styles – the most important ingredient of all to rinse those salts away –  is hot water.

To do this, field-strip the firearm, and place it under running hot water (as hot as possible). In a survival situation, you can even boil some water in a pot and pour it through.

We want the water as hot as possible, because the hotter the water is, the faster it will dry.

Run the hot water through the barrel and through the gas tube, since this is where the salts will likely settle. Thoroughly rinse out the spring, bolt and piston as well.

Once everything has been rinsed, let the water dry, and then clean the firearm like normal.

You’re all done!

Rinsing out the salts and cleaning your firearm routinely will help ensure your weapon stays functional and rust-free for a long time.

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