Brownells 75th Anniversary - A Shooting Heritage

Gun Cleaning Clinic: EZ-Soak™ - Not Just For Shotguns Anymore!

By: Steve Schmidt


When it comes to gun cleaning, we all search for a "rounder wheel" – something that makes this dreaded chore easier and less time-consuming, especially if you like to shoot a lot. As you may recall, I tested the effectiveness of high-tech, ultrasonic cleaners in the September WebBench and had good success. Since then, I've received quite a number of requests to highlight other, less expensive products that cut carbon build-up, especially on handguns. So…with this in mind, we'll perform a simple cleaning of a Smith & Wesson Model 640 cylinder to show you how Brownells EZ-SOAK works to remove carbon.


EZ-SOAK was originally developed in 2003 to address the need for a quick, easy way to remove carbon from shotgun choke tubes and gas pistons. Since then, our customers have also been using it for everything from AR-15 bolts and carriers to compensators and pistol parts. The beauty of EZ-SOAK is that it's non-caustic and really works! Because EZ-SOAK is a parts cleaner it includes four, wire, parts hangers right inside the jar. This makes EZ-SOAK a complete, self-contained cleaning system that really reduces the amount of cleanup after you're all done.

The EZ-SOAK liquid separates when allowed to set, so begin by shaking the jar well to thoroughly pre-mix the cleaning solution. Then, unscrew the lid and remove the hangers. You'll notice right away that EZ-SOAK has a citrus odor that's actually kind of pleasant smelling. However, keep in mind it should be used with adequate ventilation.

Each 16 oz. jar of EZ-SOAK includes four, handy parts hangers.

EZ-SOAK takes the mess out of carbon removal. No toxic solvents to deal with and no stinky fumes to contaminate your work area.

I fished one hanger carefully through one of the cylinder chambers and lowered the tiny, 5-shot cylinder into the EZ-SOAK jar, then screwed the cap back on for safe measure. Dwell time really varies depending on the amount of fouling, but 15 to 30 minutes is usually sufficient for moderate to heavy carbon buildup. I soaked this particular cylinder for 20 minutes.

When removing parts from the jar, I advise lifting them straight up and out as quickly as possible and allowing them to drain into a waste pan or onto a shop rag. This helps to preserve the potency of the EZ-SOAK solution and keeps it looking fresh longer.

The case head side of the cylinder looked pretty nasty prior to cleaning, but to my surprise, a couple passes with a nylon parts brush was all it took to break loose the remaining carbon on and around the extractor star.


Shown here, before and after photos of the back of the cylinder. The carbon buildup
around the extractor was easier to remove than anticipated. Most soaked
off in the jar, leaving only light streaking to scrub off with a nylon parts brush


The front cylinder face was admittedly tougher to clean, and I was forced to follow up with a quick scrubbing with a bronze parts brush in order get every last sign of carbon off. Overnight soaking works great on really tough carbon like this and if you simply hate to pickup up a parts brush...well, you can do that. But I was impressed with how easily the loosened carbon came off with a little bronze bristle action.


Before and after of the front cylinder face shows the carbon cutting abilities
of EZ-SOAK. Minimal scrubbing with a bronze parts brush was required
after 20 minutes of soaking – a far cry better than scrubbing with solvents alone

Because EZ-SOAK completely strips all oils and residues from the metal surfaces, parts must be allowed to completely dry, then must be treated with a good rust preventive. To expedite the drying process and remove all traces of cleaner, I prefer to rinse all parts with Brownells TCE Cleaner/Degreaser. It evaporates fast and leaves all metal surfaces ready for oil. After soaking a revolver cylinder like used on the S&W 640, it's especially important to expose the extractor rod, dry it also, and treat it with lubricant to prevent corrosion.

If you'd like to try EZ-SOAK for handgun, shotgun or other parts cleaning applications check out this month's featured Shotgun Cleaning Collection and receive a 16 fl. oz. jar of EZ-SOAK combined with your choice of a Hoppes Bore Snake.

If you have questions about different cleaning products or techniques you want us to test, be sure to let me know at