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What would be the best solvent to use for cleaning old grease, oil, grime, etc. off of entire "unassembled" pistols without having to do detailed disassembly of the firearm (i.e. by immersing the whole pistol in a bucket of the solvent) but yet pose no harm to the metal finish / bluing, etc. of the firearm ?

What I am looking for is a way to clean ALL of the inner-most workings of the firearm without having to do a detailed disassembly.

Someone had suggested just dipping the entire pistol (less the grips) in a bucket of kerosene. Would the kerosene pose any possible harm (either short of longer term) to the pistols' finish if left in the kerosene over a certain amount of time ?

Thanks.
 

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There are good solvents & cleaners to use that will get it clean -er but to get it really clean you'll have to take it apart. The best cleaners will dissolve old grease & loosen accumulated crud but unless there is a way to flush it out, the residue will remain inside. There are reasons not to immerse some guns in a cleaner - like Colt swing out cylinders that have the ejector spring almost sealed in place - the solvent gets in and hard to find its way out, another example would be most firing pins in automatics.

I use solvent I get at the paint store, said to be much like kerosene, for gun parts cleaning. Automotive cleaners like brake cleaners and Castrol Super Clean you mix with water. For final cleaning before plating or bluing I have for years boiled parts in "20 Mule Team" borax.

For sure you don't want to immerse the whole gun in a water base cleaner unless you take it all apart afterward.
 

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You must have read it before I finished editing it. I gave a couple reasons. Just read the above again. Another one, all lubrication will be either diluted or removed, depending on how effective the cleaning was. Then you have to drench its inside with oil or risk parts not having enuf lube.
 

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IMO it's best to stick with solvents specifically made for use on guns. None of these should harm the finish. Over the years I've used several name brands and IMO there isn't alot of difference in them. I just buy whatever brand is available in the gun/sporting good dept of whatever store I'm at. All my guns have always gotten clean no matter which I used. Never had any finish damage. There are some designed more for bore cleaning that primarily target copper & lead fouling. Others that target powder. Now days many target all three.
IMO gun cleaning isn't as much about what you use, but how you use it. Sometimes there is just no substitute for detailed disassembled cleaning. I can't begin to count the number of "Non-working" guns I've purchased and repaired where the problem was simply that it needed a through cleaning. Some small inter part (usually a spring) got so gunked up that it could not function or broke.
And an air compressor, even a small one, is a valuable asset to blow gunk out of and dry hard to reach areas. I recently purchased for CHEAP a "junk" single shot .410 that the barrel would not lock up. Did a basic disassembly (IE: Just removed stock from receiver). Sprayed the insides of receiver w/CLP Breakfree, blew it out w/compressed air. Repeated several times. Sprayed with Rem-oil, reassembled. Worked like new.
 
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