Every gun owner out there has a gun cleaning solvent/lubricant product that they absolutely swear by or (at least out of habit, possibly born from convenience, availability or price) prefer. This review is not meant to promote nor endorse and specific product as THE single greatest product in the world but instead provide a synopsis of my personal experience and impression of the product (FireClean).
Fire Clean is one of the latest products on the market that has been getting nods from a lot of the pros so I thought I would give it a try. Up till now, I have been using Non-chlorinated brake cleaner, or OTIS CLP and gun oil. I run an AR and found myself doing a lot more cleaning than shooting lately and have been eager to try something that would dissolve the carbon buildup easier. After a bit of research I decided that Fire Clean may just be the product I had been searching for. I contacted a local distributor (Canadian Tactical Cowboy Supplies, Vancouver, BC) and Phil was kind enough to supply me a bottle to try (retail cost :$17/2 FL oz bottle).
Now, I realize that no manufacturer would purposely promote a product that does not work and to varying degrees they all do the job in the end. For me it was more about finding a product that could considerably cut down on the time I found I was spending cleaning my gun. I wanted a single product that could do this efficiently, with ease and with minimal tools and would provide long-term protection to keep my investment, my gun running and ‘in the fight’ for years to come. Fire Clean seemed to be just that product.
Fire Clean describes itself as an ‘all in one’ cleaner, lubricant and protector, that not only dissolves carbon with ease but also coats high friction surfaces with a lubricating film keeping the gun ‘wet’ which for many guys running AR’s is a big concern. The company touts their product is an odorless, non-toxic, non-flammable, con-combustible, chlorine-free, VOC-free and Carcinogen-free, anti carbon solvent.
For this test, I used a Daniel Defence Mk18 SBR. The barrel is a 10.3″ Cold Hammer Forged, 5.56 NATO Chamber, 1:7 Twist, Govt Profile, Carbine Gas Port, Chrome Lined, Mil Spec Heavy Phosphate Coated, HP and MPI tested barrel. The bolt carrier group (BCG) is a F/A BCG, HP and MPI Tested, Shot Peened Bolt, Extractor Booster, Properly Staked Gas Key. Prior to this review I put 350 rounds of through the gun, unsuppressed. Let the gun sit for 4 months giving the carbon a chance to calcify to the surfaces. *Note that in this review I have only detailed the cleaning of the Bolt Carrier Group*
The bottle was nothing special; a white plastic bottle with a black twist off cap with a flip up spout applicator. Initially I had to remove the inner plastic stopper before replacing the applicator cap. The liquid is a slightly yellow-ish colored oily looking substance with about the same consistency as cooking oil. As Fire Clean claimed it is completely odorless, which is great since I often clean my gun indoors with minimal ventilation, making the brake cleaner option a very unpleasant choice leaving me wondering how many brain cells I was sending to an early grave.
There are some very basic instructions on the label that are not all that useful. Squeezed a droplet onto the tip of my finger, nothing unusual so far, I did notice that the solvent really stayed quite greasy even after attempting to wipe it off on some chamois cloth. I can see how this product could really help an AR’s performance.
I got to work; (firearm was unloaded, and broken down into a basic field strip order prior to application of Fireclean) per the Youtube instructional video posted by Fire Clean, that claims that all you need is some paper towels and Q-tips. I started by dropping 1 drop in each of the channels on the bottom of the bolt carrier, a drop on each of the inside surfaces, and as well as on the firing pin, firing pin retaining pin, cam pin, and on the bolt itself. Using my finger i spread the solution over all the surfaces. With a fresh paper towel I gave all the parts a wipe-down. I applied a drop of FireClean (FC) to the end of a Q-tip and inserted it into the gas key a few times while twisting it. Applying a drop to a few more Q-tips i detailed the other areas of the BCG that were impossible to reach with my nubby fat fingers. This seemed to get most of the carbon and gunk off but there were a few areas that proved to be just a bit more stubborn, such as the inside of the bolt carrier tail, the flat surfaces of the firing pin, cam pin and especially the fluted tail of the bolt (the nomenclature for this part escapes me at the moment) the latter of which has always been the most challenging area. 2 paper towels and 3 Q-tips were used. All very much pitch black at the end of this process.
I repeated the steps I took in the first application This time around, with a toothbrush I scrubbed the insides of the bolt carrier, focusing on any areas where visible carbon remained. The results were not notably different that the first application albeit the parts that i was unable to get at with the pare towels and Q-tips were now surface clean. As with the end of the last application the aforementioned part where visible carbon deposits had created a caked layer remained. 1 paper towel and 3 more Q-tips were used. The paper towel was mostly white/grayish in areas, the Q-tips about the same.
At this point all the parts felt heavily lubricated but not sloppy, so i just gave all the parts a wipe-down as I did before. With a scraper I focused on the carbon deposits in the problem areas mentioned previously. To my surprise they pretty much lifted off with very little coercion. Taking the same paper towel I had just used, I gave the surfaces another wipe-down taking the little bits of gunk right off. Now that all the parts were cleaned to my satisfaction, I applied another few drops to the high friction areas of the BCG and the gas rings on the bolt, and the lugs.
I was very pleased with this product. And while I am not yet convinced that one can sufficiently clean a firearm with Fire Clean with nothing more than a handful of Q-tips and paper towels I do think the product works very well. What normally would take me anywhere from a 2-3 hour ordeal using a few different products (cleaning the entire gun including letting the parts soak in cleaning solution.) has been reduced to a much easier and consolidated, relatively less painstaking process. The treated parts are indeed ‘coated’ with a lubricating film that really does seem to stick to the surfaces while not being as ‘sloppy/soppy’ as some of the other products I have tried. I will update this review after I have run FireClean through my gun and after putting a few rounds through it. I am curious to know how well the product keeps the carbon build-up to a minimum as the company claims. If all goes as I hope, using FireClean will drastically reduce wear, and will make the gun easier to clean over prolonged use. Hope you found this write-up informative and somewhat useful. Thank you for reading my review.