How does corrosive ammo work?

This is a discussion on How does corrosive ammo work? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I'm curious, how does corrosive ammo corrode your gun? I know how to clean my gun after firing said ammo, but I'm curious if I ...

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Thread: How does corrosive ammo work?

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    Member Array moress's Avatar
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    How does corrosive ammo work?

    I'm curious, how does corrosive ammo corrode your gun? I know how to clean my gun after firing said ammo, but I'm curious if I can fire a few rounds (Like say 5 rounds) and not clean it until the next day since I plan to shoot more the following day.

    Is this Kosher or do I need to do a clean now? Also, after shooting i always do the full clean with windex, solvent, then lube. For quick cleans, can I just spray with windex, wipe clean, then apply a little lube?

    Thanks in advance guys

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    Member Array gilliland87's Avatar
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    The corrosive action is a chemical process that takes place on a molecular level with the steel in your barrel and action. One should clean the barrel ASAP after shooting to prevent damage to the metal.

    OK then I wish I knew what your were shooting corrosive in but in My M N's I have been known to flush a barrel with ammonia solution, wipe with a lubed patch and call it good for the night. I never let them sit much longer than a night or weekend without a full cleaning. I have seen no adverse affects or pitting in the 4-5 years I have been shooting the guns. I can understand where you are coming from and in all actuality is one night going to cause damage? probably not, but that's just my opinion take it for what it is worth.

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    As gilliland87 indicates, it's a chemical process due to the residues left sitting against the surfaces of your gun's metal parts. The longer the stuff remains in contact with your gun, the worse the corrosive effect will be. Yes, it's best to immediately go through a complete cleaning.

    Tips for cleaning a gun after shooting corrosive ammo: Surplus Rifle's Guide to Cleaning after Shooting Corrosive Ammo.
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    Ex Member Array F350's Avatar
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    As I also shoot muzzle loaders I just use black powder solvents after shooting corrosive ammo and clean as usual. If I can't get on it right away I'll at least swab the bore with a really wet patch and run a little down the bore to allow to run into the gas port.

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    The biggest problem with corrosive ammo is the primer, the residue is hydroscopic ie: it will draw moisture from the air. These residues must be removed/neutralized or they will cause corrosion. ccw9mm has provided a good link to the best way to remove the residue.
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    Member Array moress's Avatar
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    What about for a quick cleaning? Can I just use windex and skip using mu hoppes 9 to clean the gun?

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    Member Array gilliland87's Avatar
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    Short answer yes

    At least in my book if it's not a newer gun you are shooting corrosive ammo in to save money, and we are talking about an older surplus rifle or hand gun swab it out well with some windex let it dry or blow it out and push some lube down the barrel to help protect it and get to cleaning it as soon as you can.

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    Member Array mattwestm's Avatar
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    I usually clean when I get home from the range, maybe an hour later. It is really humid in NC in the summer. I usually run water with a bit of ammonia followed by boiling water when I get home. Is it wise to run water through the barrel at the range while the barrel is still hot?

    After using water, I clean the bolt of my mosin with windex. I'll run a swab of Hoppes and let it sit for 30 minutes or so. Then I'll use regular swabs, some with oil until they come out clean. Sometimes I pull out 10 or so swabs before they come out clear!

    I'm getting a Century Bulgarian AK-74 soon and I will be shooting surplus ammo. Cleaning a semi-auto is probably a bit more laborious than my mosin.

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    Distinguished Member Array bigmacque's Avatar
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    Really stupid question time: what is corrosive ammo and why would anyone use it?

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    Senior Member Array Snowman23's Avatar
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    How could one tell if their ammo was corrosive or not? Are all handgun loads corrosive?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman23 View Post
    How could one tell if their ammo was corrosive or not? Are all handgun loads corrosive?
    I think we are talking gradients here. All ammo is corrosive to some extent. I keep my stuff clean because I'm excessive/compulsive. However, I'm skeptical of any damage done to leaving a firearm dirty for a few months (other than the risk of it not performing well when you go to use it next). I have only anecdotal evidence, such as when my dad bragged that he hadn't cleaned his .22 since back in the '70's, and it still ran like a clock. I freaked out and cleaned it. What amazed me was (other than being dirty) was how immaculate the breach and barrel looked once I swabbed all the crud out. It looked brand new.

    I've talked to civil war re-enactors here at out local annual 'Battle of Aiken' and they say that black powder is a whole different game, and they get on them with boiling water immediately after the battle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigmacque View Post
    Really stupid question time: what is corrosive ammo and why would anyone use it?
    The only really stupid questions are the ones never asked.

    Until around WWII, nearly all military ammo was corrosive - that is, the primer compounds were corrosive. By the time WWII came, most of the Western allies had moved to noncorrosive ammo. World-wide, nearly all new ammo made by the mid-60's was non-corrosive.

    As other posts have mentioned, the problem with corrosive ammo is that the metallic salt deposits left in the barrel and throat after firing are hygroscopic and left untreated will work with moisture in the air to attack steel. If you check the bores of a lot of milsurp guns you'll see darkness close to the chamber and even down the full length of the bore instead of shininess, a sure sign of corrosion.

    The reason why anyone would use corrosive ammo is that there are millions of rounds of surplus ammo around which have corrosive primers. Want some 7.62x54R for your Mosin-Nagants? Unless you're prepared to pay 80 cents a round, you're going to use the old milsurp stuff at about a fourth of that price.

    Identifying corrosive ammo is virtually impossible by inspection, without looking at the headstamp to ID the ammo. Milsurp stuff made post 1965 is almost exclusively noncorrosive, and nearly all made prior to WWII can be considered corrosive (the Swiss 7.5x55 being a notable exception). Between those chronological mileposts, it's prudent to assume that non-US milsurp ammo is corrosive.
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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moress View Post
    I'm curious, how does corrosive ammo corrode your gun? I know how to clean my gun after firing said ammo, but I'm curious if I can fire a few rounds (Like say 5 rounds) and not clean it until the next day since I plan to shoot more the following day.

    Is this Kosher or do I need to do a clean now? Also, after shooting i always do the full clean with windex, solvent, then lube. For quick cleans, can I just spray with windex, wipe clean, then apply a little lube?

    Thanks in advance guys
    Corrosive ammo requires special care in your cleaning efforts especially if you have a non-chrome lined barrel. Kosher salt will have the same effect as any other salt on steel. Salt is salt. If you have a steel barrel and shoot corrosive ammo, then I'd suggest keeping some of this for the cleaning
    If you use this in a chrome lined bore, then use a good CLP to counteract and neutralize the ammonia compounds soon afterward.

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    VIP Member Array obxned's Avatar
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    Corrosive ammo is no big deal. You save a bunch of money buying it, and you were going to clean the gun anyway, weren't you? I just start my cleaning with Windex instead of Hoppe's or similar. Besides dissolving the corrosive salts, the Windex is a pretty fair crud buster. Finishing the cleaning after the Windex is quite quick and easy.
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    Distinguished Member Array bigmacque's Avatar
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    gasmitty, that was a great explanation and I appreciate it. It also explains differences in what I was taught when I entered the military -- I enlisted in 1975, and there were still quite a few crusty old grumps around, that carried very different opinions about gun cleaning than most of the young guys that were teaching us at the range.

    Thanks.

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