March 3rd, 2018

Tech Tip: Coping with Corrosive Ammo

Corrosive Ammo ammunition
Scary stuff — AK-74 after firing corrosive ammo and not being cleaned for a week.
Image courtesy

corrosive ammunition ammo BrownellsNo doubt you’ve heard the term “corrosive” used with respect to ammunition. But what exactly is “corrosive ammunition” (and how does it different from non-corrosive ammo)? What is the chemistry that leads to corrosion, and what cleaning procedures should you follow if you shoot corrosive ammunition? Brownells has come up with answers to these and other questions in a helpful TECH TIP video about corrosive ammo.

In this informative video, Brownells gun tech Steve Ostrem explains the primer-related chemistry that makes some ammo corrosive. The video then reviews suggested cleaning procedures you should follow after you have fired corrosive ammo through any firearms.

What Is “Corrosive” Ammunition?
What makes ammo “corrosive”? Generally speaking, primers are the problem. When corrosive ammunition is fired, the ignited primers leave a residue of corrosive salts. Typically these primers contain potassium chlorate, or sodium petrochlorate which, when burned, change into potassium chloride or sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is also known as common table salt.

Potassium chloride and sodium chloride are both very hygroscopic (i.e. they attract water). Because of that, these alkalis are rust generators. When exposed to the hydrogen and oxygen in the air (and moisture) potassium chloride and sodium chloride can form an acid that quickly causes metal rifle parts to rust and pit.

Given a choice, you may wish to avoid corrosive ammo altogether. However, for some types of fire-arms, particularly older military-style rifles, the most affordable ammunition may be corrosive. If you choose to use corrosive ammo, it is important to clean the gun thoroughly after use. After firing, you want to use an element that will neutralize the primer salts. Brownells suggests a water soak (see video above). Alternatively, Windex with ammonia can help neutralize the salts, but that doesn’t finish the job. After the salts have been neutralized and flushed away, basic anti-corrosion protectant (such as Eezox or other gun oil) should be applied to all metal parts.

This video ahows the effects of Corrosive Ammo after one month without cleaning:

To learn more about the proper procedures for cleaning rifles exposed to corrosive ammo, we suggest an article by Paul Markel on Markel, host of the popular Student of the Gun TV series, states that: “Windex (with ammonia) is the Corrosive Ammo shooter’s best friend. After you are done shooting your corrosive ammunition for the day, squirt the window cleaner liberally from the chamber down the barrel. Pull the bolt / bolt carrier / op rod if there is one and douse them as well. A couple of old cotton t-shirts will come in handy. A cotton barrel swab is a nice accessory but you can make do with patches. Some folks will rinse all of the ammonia and loosened corrosive salts off with hot water. Others prefer to wipe it all down and let the ammonia evaporate. Either way, once the corrosive salts have been tackled with the window cleaner, it is time for an all-purpose brush (old toothbrush) and some gun oil.” READ Full Article by Paul Markel.

Video Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.

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