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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Folks, I know the issue of how to clean, store, and protect ANTIQUE Colts has been touched on but I know there's new products and new ways being developed all the time. I think it's worth re-visiting the topic. We all made large investments in our antique Colts, and we want to preserve both our capital, as well as the guns themselves, for future generations to come.

So, what are your favorite methods to clean and store your antique Colts? What kind of products do you use? There's probably 1,000 years or more of experience represented on the forum - I'd love to hear it all! (and thank you)

For example, I always get asked questions like:
  • Do you use a particular gun oil that you can recommend?
  • Do you use a wax that you can recommend?
  • Do you oil/wax the gun inside and out?
  • How often do you clean the guns?
  • How often do you check to see if they are okay?
  • Do you store the gun in plastic/mylar bags?
  • Do you store in a fabric gun rug?
  • Do you use silicone impregnated cloth bags?
  • Do you keep the guns in a safe?
  • Do you use a Goldenrod inside the safe?
  • Do you check humidity with a particular instrument?
 

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  • Do you use a particular gun oil that you can recommend?
    • Not really, lately I've been cleaning with hot soapy water and Ballistol. Lubing with Slip2000
  • Do you use a wax that you can recommend?
    • Johnson's Paste wax...when I use some.
  • Do you oil/wax the gun inside and out?
    • Oil inside, wax on the outside only.
  • How often do you clean the guns?
    • Definitely after shooting, otherwise wipe down the outside after handling.
  • How often do you check to see if they are okay?
    • See above
  • Do you store the gun in plastic/mylar bags?
    • Absolutely not!
  • Do you store in a fabric gun rug?
    • Same as above.
  • Do you use silicone impregnated cloth bags?
    • Yes, for the wipe-down
  • Do you keep the guns in a safe?
    • Absolutely!
  • Do you use a Goldenrod inside the safe?
    • No, the safes are in the house.
  • Do you check humidity with a particular instrument?
    • No
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the info Mark! Are your recommendations for cleaning antique guns? I mean, you do say "cleaning with hot soapy water"... 😉

I do agree with some of your methods, but unlike you perhaps, I don't shoot my antique guns and don't let water get anywhere near them. I do use both oil and wax, but I don't use Johnson's Paste Wax, but rather Renaissance Wax.

I do worry about silicone bags because I think they may interact badly with the oil-stained Walnut stocks on antique Martial guns. I've heard they can also beat up varnish. I've also seen antique guns kept nice and safe in mylar bags or saran wrap, and some old timers swear by that, I personally don't trust it much.

Well, I was hoping that more than just one person would join in with some suggestions, but I guess folks already know and are comfortable with how they are cleaning their antique guns...
 

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The deal is it has been extensively discussed, debated, and argued about in hundreds of posts. Not "touched on." Questions such as, " How should you clean...what oil...renaissance wax...gun socks...?" are asked over and over here, about every month or two. And there are no right or wrong answers, just lots of techniques and preferences. So asking again only gets everyone's contradictory techniques, and not a final answer of what you "must" do. To me, I simply use the tried and true techniques of oil to preserve, grease to prevent sliding wear, and air storage.

Folks, I know the issue of how to clean, store, and protect ANTIQUE Colts has been touched on but I know there's new products and new ways being developed all the time. I think it's worth re-visiting the topic....
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
The deal is it has been extensively discussed, debated, and argued about in hundreds of posts.
Thanks for the feedback, but I'm going to push back a little bit. I did a search of the forum before I posted, to see how the issue of cleaning was discussed (trust me, this is not my first rodeo). I saw that the vast majority of postings were on cleaning modern guns, and not cleaning antique guns, and that's why I decided to post, and made that distinction. So, I didn't post in the overall forum, but rather in the "Percussion" one, and specifically related to antiques, and that's where I think value can be created.

I also specifically said, "I know there's new products and new ways being developed all the time. I think it's worth re-visiting the topic." Perhaps you don't agree with that statement, and that's okay. Personally, I was hoping to learn something new...

What actually prompted my original post, is that I received a call a few days ago from the son of a friend who bought an antique Colt Navy and then proceeded to give it a full and vigorous cleaning, "because that's the thing to do when you get something antique, dusty, and grungy." Well, when he was done, the gun's color had changed enough to alarm him, and the gun was looser and shakier than a virgin on his wedding night... He said he "looked online" and apparently found some bad advice about cleaning guns (I suppose what he read was about cleaning new guns too). So these mistakes keep happening.

And so, I think there's value in covering these topics, especially for folks who are new to the field. I suppose I personally don't mind revisiting old topics like, "will my Navy or Dragoon get a Colt letter" or "what year was my Colt made, here's the serial number" as I'd like new folks to get into the field of collecting these antique guns, and I'd like for them to know how to go about it. Just my two cents.
 

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Knock yourself out. My thought is you clean any blued metal gun the same way, whether it was made in 1860, 1907, or 1955.
 

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While I do own many old to me firearms, I currently do not own any antique firearms as described in the NFA / BATFE regulations...


National Firearms Act Definitions
Antique Firearm


26 U.S.C. § 5845(G)

For the purposes of the National Firearms Act, the term “Antique Firearms” means any firearm not intended or redesigned for using rim fire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed ammunition and manufactured in or before 1898 (including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap or similar type of ignition system or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1898) and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1898, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.

https:// www.atf.gov/firearms/firearms-guides-importation-verification-firearms-national-firearms-act-definitions-antique


However, if I did own a firearm classified as "antique"...I probably would care for it a little differently...trying to preserve it's historical significance and monetary worth by paying more attention to it's method of storage and the application or non-application of the myriad of modern waxes, oils, and other preservatives and their effect on both the older metal and wood.

I would also like to view the opinions of others as they weigh in on this subject...

.
 

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Two thoughts: If you have a mint condition $25,000 antique Colt, you might not want to ask general opinions of strangers on the internet, whatever you are doing must be working. Second, if that $25,000 antique survived in "mint" condition for 100-170 years, the classic methods worked for the previous 3-4 generations of owners, and "new methods" aren't needed. Oil worked for every generation before this one.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So, here are my two thoughts re your two thoughts: Whether I have a mint condition $25,000 antique Colt or not has nothing to do what works for me, or with "asking the general opinions of strangers on the Internet" as you say. I love hearing others' opinions because there's always something new to be learned out there.

In my mind, this forum is exactly about "asking the general opinions of strangers on the Internet"... Why else would we have a Colt forum? In other words, this is about sharing knowledge with others, and having fun with the hobby we love, and that's the spirit in which I post and read posts. I think if you go back and read some of my posts from the last few weeks, you'll see that I share my knowledge freely and without reservation.

Finally, there are precious few mint condition antique Colts out there, and in fact, they are as rare as rocking-horse poop, and so the fact that a few survived, doesn't mean that the "classic methods" as you say, are what saved them. Oftentimes we're not even really sure what saved them. The fact is that only 10% of Colt's production survived, and maybe only .01% of that 10% is in minty condition. To me that qualifies every "mint" Colt as a small miracle and a gift for future generations.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
However, if I did own a firearm classified as "antique"...I probably would care for it a little differently...trying to preserve it's historical significance and monetary worth by paying more attention to it's method of storage and the application or non-application of the myriad of modern waxes, oils, and other preservatives and their effect on both the older metal and wood.

I would also like to view the opinions of others as they weigh in on this subject...
Perfectly put... I'd add my voice to yours.
 

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Guys,

While new to Colts, I do have a room full of 18th Century Brown Besses, French 1754/1763/1777 muskets, Prussian 1740s, Austrian 1754s, Napoleonic War weapons, American Civil War carbines and muskets, Franco-Prussian War weapons. For the past 20 years I have used oil only on the internal moving components, and Renaissance Wax on the outside. Back in the day when these weapons were in use, they were cleaned with brick dust and oil to keep them shiny for barracks room inspections - not recommended now. Oil is for a gun that is in its working life, but it can oxidize and become acidic or leave the gun vulnerable to contaminants. Oil also soaks into wood components and stains them. Microcrystalline Wax is neutral, stable and can be removed if necessary.

There was a study done a few years ago on antique weapons recovered from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Guns that were protected with oil were badly corroded, those protected with wax were in better shape, and those that were warmed up before the wax was applied were almost unaffected after being immersed for days in salt water. I cannot find the actual study, but this NRA article does refer to it.

http://www.nramuseum.org/media/1007361/caring for your collectible firearms by doug wicklund.pdf

So, I leave the gun out in the sun until warms up, lightly clean it with a cloth barely dampened with mineral spirit to remove surface contaminants, and then apply a light coat of Renaissance Wax. Allow the wax to dry and lightly buff. Gun protected and looks fantastic.

Also best to keep the gun in a controlled humidity environment and keep it free of dust, which if allowed to settle can attract moisture and contaminants. If I need to keep a gun covered or stored, it is only ever wrapped in acid-free tissue paper or unbleached cotton or linen.
 

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On my small collection I use Break Free CLP after handling them.
Not to many years ago the Break Free Clp smelled so bad you could not use in your house, had to take it out to the garage, and once on your hands it stayed their a while no mater how many times you washed them. it does smell better now, and seems to clean just as good. I think some other co. bought them out, although they still use the same name. still good stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I'm glad to see folks are responding to this thread, and I learned something new, which is that some folks heat up the gun before applying Renaissance Wax. I don't think I'll be doing that, but it's interesting to read that some folks are doing it.

Personally, I don't really "clean" antique guns. That's just not something that I do. What I do, is lightly oil the inside (for example, inside barrel, or cylinder, or on arbor pin, inside hammer channel, etc). I then wax the outside with Renaissance Wax. I apply multiple layers of wax, buff and polish, reapply, etc.

I never touch a gun with bare hands, never ever. Always use nitrile gloves.

I always keep all guns in steady 45%-50% humidity, and around 65-70 degree temperature.

I never store a gun in a fabric lined wood case. Not a new case, or an antique case. It's horrible for the gun. I don't like silicone impregnated bags, because it's bad for oil-stained walnut grips of Martial Colts. Gun rugs can be humidity traps, and they also are made from nasty chemicals, so if you keep a gun in a gun rug, make sure you keep it zipped open.

Check the guns regularly. Check for any sign of trouble every couple of weeks.

By doing this, I never had an issue, ever.
 
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