Copper Remover Thrash: Modern Spartan Systems vs. Sweet’s 7.62 vs. Wipe-Out

The motivation here was to test Modern Spartan Systems line of gun cleaning kit against established known quantities with proven performance. Their promise of no foul smell, lack of toxicity and some of the other claims they made caused me to get curious enough to do a Pepsi challenge for their whole cleaning system. This includes Accuracy Oil; which claims to increase velocity & cut group size & extend barrel life. It also includes their Carbon Destroyer and Copper/Lead Destroyer and their Carbon Destroyer.

I’ve already started long term testing of their Accuracy Oil’s claims at longer barrel life and improvements in velocity, group size and consistency. Those experiments are continuing and I’ve built an impressive data set so far with more coming in every week. In the meantime, the fundamental ability of the fouling removal products to perform like they say it will had not recently been established by any kind of controlled experiment I could find. So, I’m doing it. I’ve already put the Carbon Destroyer up to the Pepsi challenge and it flat works. It’s pleasant enough to use and worked like a charm on everything from revolvers to pistols to high power modern rifles to black powder cartridge rifles. The way it worked on our set of Trapdoor Springfield rifles was terrific. What about the big one though…COPPER!?! Let’s git’er done.

I’ve got enough barrels around with sufficient fouling, including some I’m entirely willing to destroy, to give a good test of effectiveness and side-effects. In the spirit of experimentation I set up the first round of testing with 3 barrels:

  • Stock Glock 21 barrel. 1000’s of rounds since being cleaned.
  • Savage 10 .308 24″ heavy barrel, >500 rounds since cleaning.
  • Black Hole Weapons 26″ .223 barrel > 200 rounds since cleaning.

Cliff’s Notes: In short, MSS’s Copper/Lead Destroyer is effective. Zero question about that. It’s pretty gentle though, so it’s not for when you’re in a hurry.

More detailed findings and experimental procedure:

I already knew that C/L-D was gentle and would require more soak time than the more aggressive stuff like Sweet’s. I knew this because I’d done some testing using solid copper bullets in test tubes filled with various copper solvents. After prescribed amounts of time each bullet was pulled, cleaned and weighed. After a while I was able to build up a curve which represented the aggressiveness of each chemical.

Sweet’s was hugely aggressive and caused deep pitting in the bullets inside very short amounts of time. WipeOut was not that aggresssive but turned the polished finish of the bullets into what looked like a brushed finish with odd spots of light pitting. The C/L-D did not do that. It actually looked tarnished. Sweets got an aggressivness score of 3, WipeOut got a 2 and C/L-D got more like .25. Those numbers tell you the relative amount of soak time. So if you were to use Sweet’s and let it soak for 1 minutes then you’d do 1.6 minutes with WipeOut and 12 minutes with C/L-D.

As you can see, C/L-D not as strong as Sweet’s by a mile nor is it as strong as Wipe-Out as a copper remover but it’s a lot more pleasant to use than Sweet’s and marginally less messy than Wipe-Out. This is about removing copper and copper fouling is impossible to remove mechanically without damaging the barrel steel so you have to go chemical. Mechanical action is, by definition, damaging to the bore. Chemical action may or may not be damaging to the bore but it can be very difficult to know until it’s too late. Bore damage can be dependent on the length of time of exposure to chemical agents and some of them are really nasty for everyone involved.

To start I took a G21 barrel that had been belled just in front of the chamber by a squib. It had previously had Carbon Destroyer run through it and then was soaked overnight (26 hours) in Copper/Lead Destroyer, hosed out and stored. I ran some Wipe-Out into it and gave it 15 minutes to soak and pushed a patch through. Zero color change on the patch. Then I ran some Sweet’s in it and let that soak for 5 minutes and pushed a patch through. Zero color change on the patch. This glock barrel had had a mix of jacketed and hard cast lead pushed down it. What’s impressive is it seems to have been cleaned of both fouling metals.

Ok, yes, you’re right. That test’s result is a null result. The absence of evidence isn’t the evidence of absence. Still, it’s a null result I was expecting so we’re still on track. The barrel was clearly clean of copper to begin with but you don’t know the state of fouling before the 26 hour soak. Could have been a lot, could have been a little, could have been none for all you know, right?

Now to find the more interesting results. I took a factory Savage .308 Win barrel that I’d abused and not cleaned in literally years. It had at least 1000 rounds put through it before it got yanked and set aside and at least the last half of that without any cleaning. I started by running patch of Sweet’s through the barrel without running a brush through it, hoping that the carbon that stayed behind would protect some of the copper from the Sweet’s to serve as an indicator later. It came out with gooey gobs of blue on the patch with no soak at all, just applied and patched out. I immediately took the barrel outside and hosed it out for a solid couple minutes to keep the Sweet’s from finishing the job. I plugged the breech with a .45acp case and filled the bore with Copper/Lead Destroyer and gave it 2 hours to soak. After the soak I ran a patch through it a couple times (remember, no color change on the patches, C/L-D doesn’t do that) and then went and hosed it out. Now I needed to see if there was any copper still in there so I took the Wipe-Out and ran that in the barrel and gave it a 20 minute soak. After pushing a patch through what I found were traces of blue streaking on the patch and plenty of black and brown. Not much blue but enough to tell me that the carbon was in fact protecting the copper. There wasn’t enough copper coming out to make a good finish up to the experiment on that barrel so I reset the experiment by virtue of moving on to the .223 barrel.

The .223 barrel started with at least 200 rounds since the last even partial cleaning so it got a thorough carbon removal with Carbon Destroyer. When patches wrapped around a bore brush came out without any black or brown on them, I called that done. I put a fired case in the breech and closed the bolt to seal the bore. Then I filled the bore with Copper/Lead Destroyer and let it soak for 2 hours. Then I pushed a pair of patches through which came out not much different than they went in. Now to see if the C/L-D worked I ran a patch of sweet’s down the bore, gave it a solid 3 minutes to soak and pushed another patch though looking for color change and got NONE AT ALL. That was a null result I did not honestly expect. I expected to find some copper remaining, I mean Sweet’s is almost as aggressive as it gets. But no.

What’s that all mean? Leave the Copper/Lead Destroyer to soak a while and it works as thoroughly as Sweet’s or Wipe-Out. I really like using C/L-D way more than Sweet’s. I can’t even stand opening the bottle on that cat piss smelling Sweet’s. I actually really like WipeOut too and will continue to use it at the range or in the field because it’s super easy to deal with there. At home though, I think I’ve found my new cleaning product suite. All the chemicals I need are now finally not unpleasant.

Modern Spartan Systems – Copper/Lead Destroyer: No bad smell. A detergent-y, almost acid smell similar to cold bluing solution is what it reminds me of most. The directions say you can leave in barrel safely for many hours, even overnight. I left it in a G21 barrel for 26 hours with no adverse affect noted. MUST use a carbon solvent and a brush of some kind prior to applying for it to be properly effective. Modern Spartan’s carbon remover works great for that.

Getting C/L-D to stay wet in the barrel was another story. It dried quickly in my low humidity area. I eventually stuffed a fired case in the breech, stood the barrel up and filled the bore on rifles. On pistols it was easier to soak a narrow strip of paper towel in it and thread that down the bore and let it sit that way overnight. Directions say 3-5 minutes of soak. I got best results on heavy fouling after >2 hours. Downside: No color change on the patch so it’s a little hard to “know” when you’re done, thus the long soak kinda gives you the all done threshold without any color indicator.

Wipe-Out: It’s got a smell but nothing like Sweet’s. Can reportedly leave in barrel overnight, no ammonia. It’s a foam that expands so some will end up in your action and it’ll probably drip out of the muzzle so, it’s a little messy to use. Patch’s change color to blue if copper is present. Works on carbon and copper. Usually 15 minutes is more than sufficient as a soak time.

Sweet’s 7.62: Super, unpleasantly strong ammonia smell. Do not leave in barrel longer than necessary, clean residue off skin and gun thoroughly immediately after use. Known to be hard on steel. Must use carbon remover prior for full effectiveness.

I have video and all that jazz but it’s not very interesting TV. It’s just me slowly, methodically and painfully boringly working out the surprisingly obvious. On the upside, MSS’s stuff works like a dream so far. I can officially endorse the Copper and Lead Destroyer and the Carbon Destroyer because I have proven beyond any doubt that they work. I can’t say that they’re any faster but if you’re a lazy bitch like me and prefer to let time do what our hands don’t want to, it’s a nice solution.

Now about that Accuracy Oil….