There are times when firearms are set down in barns, attics, closets and forgotten about. The reasons are limitless, sometimes it’s the end of hunting season, sometimes the owner dies or just grows tired of the particular gun. Days turn to weeks, weeks turn to years and years quickly turn into decades, and the gun just sits and collects dust and grime. When one of these long lost treasures is found, we are left with the eventual question of “How do we clean it and not ruin it or damage the metal”
That is the situation I found myself in recently as I began to look over a rifle I inherited, a 1943 Saginaw Gear produced M1 Carbine that was left with nearly 60 years of grime and carbon build up. This rifle belonged to my Grandfather, who was not a gun enthusiast at all which makes the fact he kept it all those years even more puzzling.
I wish I could report that this was his duty weapon from serving in the 20th Army Air Corps in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II, but I quickly found based on its configuration it was not. Although I suspect it was about as close as he could get and might have held some nostalgia value to him. The other likely scenario is he had a house in Detroit in the 1960’s and it was becoming an increasingly violent and turbulent time with race relations and anti-Vietnam War protestors. In order to protect that house and family it would have made sense for him to get a weapon he was familiar with during his time in military service. It would be no different than a Veteran today getting an AR15 in a similar scenario. I wish I had a chance to ask him these questions about the rifle.
Why not leave it alone?
I pondered that for a few minutes but the answer was way too easy, cleaning and removing all the decade’s worth of debris without damaging the wood or the patina that the M1 carbine had acquired would be a fun project and keep the memory of a man who was important to me alive. Plus, shooting it would be a lot of fun, in my mind we restore things to appreciate them and the best way to appreciate a firearm is to use it. So who should I go to for help with my M1 Carbine restoration project? Before we get into that let’s take a look at the specifics of my M1 Carbine and what research has shown me.
M1 Carbine Specifics:
Year of Production: Jan-June 1943
Manufacturer of Components :
Receiver: Saginaw Gear, Saginaw Michigan Plant
Barrel: Saginaw Gear, Saginaw Michigan Plant
Barrel Band: J.M. Mueller Company (for Quality Hardware)
Bolt: Inland (Early oval bolt)
A project with this much meaning I knew I had to be careful when reaching out to companies and what specific products I was looking for. I didn’t want to change the appearance of the rifle in a negative way, the main goal was to remove the grime and fouling from the rifle and the overspray of varnish from when the rifle was refitted by U.S. Army run arsenals after World War II. I wanted the rifle to look and function like it was issued off the rack back in it’s service days.
We considered several companies but ultimately we selected Slip 2000, for our primary cleaning agent we will be using their 725 Gun Cleaner. We will be soaking the action and all the metal parts in a 42 liter container full of a concentrated solution of the 725 Gun Cleaner. Following a nice long soak we will use what will feel like a million patches and an array of nylon bristled brushes to clean this 73 year old rifle and the entire process will be documented along the way.
This is going to be a multi part article and I will say right up front we won’t be rushing this process in the name of deadlines. Some projects are meant to be enjoyed and done correctly and in my opinion restoring or performing a deep cleaning of a vintage war era relic like this is one of those projects. If you have any tips, tricks or tales of the M1 carbine that you care to share we would love to hear them. Until the next installment of the M1 carbine restoration I will leave you with a little climes of the chamber that awaiting me when this project started, it’s not for the faint of heart.
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