Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath. Credit: Sgt Dan Birks
Weapons and Kit

Could Cleaning Weapons By Hand Be A Thing Of The Past?

Could this new invention mark the end of cleaning weapons by hand?

Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath. Credit: Sgt Dan Birks

After a long patrol or exercise, the first thing you need to do - and probably the last thing you want to do - is spend valuable time stripping down and cleaning your rifle.  

Whether you’re a seasoned soldier or a fresh-faced recruit, every service person knows how irksome cleaning weapons can be.

Royal Marine Sergeant, Daniel Burks may have just answered the prayers of thousands of military personnel with his innovative weapon cleaning solution.

Sgt Dan Birks displays the Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath at DSEI fair. Credit: Georgina Coupe, BFBS
Sgt Dan Birks displays the Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath at DSEI fair. Credit: Georgina Coupe, BFBS

The ‘Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath’ is electric powered and contains a wire basket capable of cleaning up to a section’s worth of weapon parts in just 20 minutes.

Sgt Birks is part of the Infantry Trials Development Unit in Warminster and he first came up with the idea last year, following a trial of the SA80 A3.

He wants to reduce the time the military spends cleaning weapons - both in barracks and out in the field - and save money currently spent on repairing damaged weapons.

The Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath on show at DSEI. Credit: Sgt Dan Birks
The Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath on show at DSEI. Credit: Sgt Dan Birks

He was awarded £15,000 from an Innovation Fund to develop his idea which saves significant time, and reduces the amount of damage caused to weapons, by certain cleaning techniques. Sgt Birks said:

"In a recent trial using Army and Royal Marine recruits the Ultrasonic Bath resulted in a 60% saving of their their time which could be invested in other training."

 

The Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath. Credit: Sgt Daniel Birks
The Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath. Credit: Sgt Dan Birks

The trial was also successful in cleaning General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG) from the Specialist Weapons School in Warminster.

Some of the current abrasive cleaning techniques and equipment used in the British military (like Scotchbrite and wire brushes) can cause damage to weapon parts. However, the cleaning bath solution aims to eradicate the need for these kind of practices.

 

Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath used during a trial. Credit: Sgt Dan Birks
Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath used to clean GPMG parts during a trial. Credit: Sgt Dan Birks

The Bath offers a carbon and copper removing solution that minimises the use of OX24, the standard issue weapon oil that has been used in service since 1920.

Cleaning by the Ultrasonic Bath aims to be much more environmentally friendly, using a mix of 95% water to 5% cleaning solution.

Sgt Birks believes that a cultural change is needed across the military and suggests that the Ultrasonic Bath offers a way of replacing what he considers the 'prehistoric' way that the military currently cleans its weapons.

 

Weapon cleaning kit of the future? Credit: Georgina Coupe, BFBS
Weapon cleaning kit of the future? Credit: Georgina Coupe, BFBS

If the cleaning bath becomes commonplace across the military, he envisages a much smaller weapon cleaning kit being issued with just a breech tool, barrel rods, a pull through,nylon and some small containers carrying copper and carbon remover and OX24.

The Ultrasonic Cleaning Bath was among the exhibits at the 2019 Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition at ExCel London in September.