Note:  The product featured in this article has been reformulated and is now Universal Dunk-Kit

By  Massad Ayoob
Originally Published in Guns Magazine June 2002

When I was young, I cleaned my guns with an almost religious fervor. When I got in from a day of hunting, especially in rough weather, I cleaned my guns before I ate. A cowboy took care of his horse before he took care of himself, didn't he? Same deal.

That was then. This is now.

Did I become complacent? Lackadaisical? Maybe just old?

I dunno. I don't wanna know. All I know is I don't have nearly as much time to clean guns as I did in my younger days.

This doesn't mean that my guns are filthy. I keep them in good working order. I have to: It's part of my job description. It just means I'm not obsessive about cleaning them anymore.

Call me lazy. I won't deny it. But if I'm lazy, there's method to the madness. We all know the rifleman's creed: "Without me, my rifle is nothing. Without my rifle, I am nothing." Well, let's just say I figure my gun is here to take care of me more than I am here to take care of the gun.

Cleaning a gun can be a great "leisure thing" for people like us. The thorough disassembly and meticulous cleaning of each part is an effective stress-reliever when we have time to kill. When we don't have much time though, all that's required is to get the crud out, make sure there's nothing in the way of moving parts or rounds, and get the thing back to work. Let's look at some different minimalist approaches to gun cleaning.

Base Line


Talk to the guy who wrote the book on it. Marty Hayes is the author of The Professional's Guide to Handgun Cleaning, published by the Firearms Academy Of Seattle in 1992 and due to appear as a new edition in 2002. It costs $9.95 plus $3 postage, and is worth the price.

Marty told me, "I could probably get by with a good cleaning rod. bore brush, nylon toothbrush and Break-Free, along with some rags. It's better to have solvent, but if you're going to be absolutely minimalist, Break-Free has a cleaning function as well as a lubrication function."

Living as he does on a training range (when you order the book, ask for info on the excellent courses at Firearms Academy of Seattle), Marty normally cleans his guns in great detail and uses a kit that resembles something a carpenter might carry to a construction site. For what you need to "just get you through the night," though, I think he's got it nailed down.

A Drop In The Bucket 

Several years ago, I ran across Bill Laughridge's Dunk-Kit and instantly fell in love with it. It's this, like, bucket of oil stuff. Ya strip your gun, slosh the parts around in it, and cleaning is, like, over real quick.

Well maybe Laughridge can say it better than I.

"It's a petroleum based," says Bill, "with no acetones or any other chemicals on the 'badlist.' It will discolor wood and eat through rubber or similar substances, so take your grips off 

 when you put the gun in. All you have to do is field strip your auto and put the assemblies in to soak for three to five minutes. You might want to agitate the frame a little to let carbon wash away. Then, tooth-brush the frame. That's it."

With your revolver, advises Bill, "Just take the grips off and put it in for five minutes, then reach in and cycle the action a few times under the surface. That will flush the guts of the revolver clean. Wear safety glasses, so that cycling the gun doesn't splash anything into your eyes."

Truly massive lead deposits should be brushed out of barrel and chamber as best your can before inserting them in the bucket of Dunk-Kit. After removal, a much quicker brushing should leave everything smooth and sparkly clean. If the lead has really gunked things up, Bill suggests swabbing barrel and chambers) with his special Deleading Wool.

You can get three-quarters of a gallon of Dunk-Kit for $32.95. A 1/4-gallon bucket is the most popular and perhaps the best balance of ease of dunking with ease of storage at $49.95. For those with massive gun cleaning chores, or those de-carbonizing their shotguns or their AR-15 lowers, the best bet is the 4-gallon container at $94.95. All prices include freight paid in the continental U.S.A. That De-Leading wool is $4.25 per package. Bill finds that a bit of it on a cleaning rod jag will clear the most stubborn accumulations in a half-dozen passes. (These prices have changed, since the publication of this article, please visit our online store for the latest prices)

Bill assures us that the solution won't harm night sights, and that the polymer frames of Glocks are "Dunk-Kit proof." He was surprised when I told him that a friend of mine swears the polymer frame of his old HK P95 pistol was shriveled like a prune when he pulled it out of the Dunk-Kit after an overnight bath.

Note also that Dunk-Kit doesn't need to be dumped until it reaches the consistency of crankcase oil, which takes about a year of heavy use. When that happens, it can be dropped off at any service station that is set up to recycle waste oil. Note that if you are allergic to petroleum, you should use nitrile gloves, available at any hospital supply store. This stuff will eat through regular rubber gloves. For ordering info, you can reach Laughridge's Cylinder & Slide Shop at [8001 448-1713].