Weapon-mounted lights and pistol optics both get dirty. Within a range session or three, it is not difficult for a layer of burnt-on crap to begin solidifying on the downrange lens.
That crud causes two problems. With a weapon-mounted light, it robs you of lumen and candela that should be going down range to help gather information visually. That information would aid in making better decisions. With an optic, that debris can obstruct your view. While it will not hinder decision-making, it can interfere with your visual processing of aiming points and suspect behaviors during the shooting.
The lens of a Surefire light on a Vang Comp’d Mossberg 590 after a couple of range sessions – before I started to clean it.
There are a few ways to clean your optics and weapon lights. Looking at various manufacturers, you see commentary on cleaning, such as:
Do not use organic solvents like alcohol or acetone (Holosun);
First, use compressed air to blow off debris without scratching the lens, and use glass cleaner or fresh water. Keep lacquer thinner and bore cleaner away from the lens. Do not use an electric-powered polisher (think Dremel tool) because of the risk of damaging the glass (Trijicon);
Blow away debris with compressed air. Then mist the lenses or pour water on them before wiping them down with a soft cloth. You should never clean the lenses with your fingers; always use lens paper or fabric (Aimpoint).
Then we get to cleaning the weapon lights. Non-toxic cleaners, like Slip2000 or BreakFree, can be used on the lens, followed by a plastic toothbrush – not a stainless steel or brass one. Maybe toothpaste and a plastic brush works for you. Follow that up with a drop or two of lubricant or, perhaps, a pass from a Chapstick tube.
All of those work. Some are better than others.
What if some company produced solutions (pun intended) that would do those things more efficiently? Well, there is a company doing that – Paragon Weapon Light Cleaner. They were initially known as Clairvoyant Solutions, and I first bought their weapon light cleaner at least a year and a half ago.
Before we start working on any of the lenses, let’s begin with Step one:
• Unload and clear the firearm.
• Remove the magazine.
• Lock the slide to the rear, then visually and physically check the chamber and the magazine well.
Why, may you ask? First, it is a good idea. Second, remember Rule #1 – All guns are always loaded, and you should treat them as such. Nobody wants a pistol to discharge when the front of the optic or the weapon-mounted light is facing you.
The WML on a Vang Comp’d Mossberg 590 after a couple
For their WML solution, point the light’s lens upward and tap five to six (5-6) drops onto the lens. After about thirty seconds, scrub the lens with a cotton swab until the crud is dissolved, and then wipe it clean.
With a clean lens – the lumens and candela are flying out of that light.
Having used this on both pistol and shotgun lights (see the picture), it works as designed and advertised.
Paragon’s instructional materials tell you not to use their light cleaner on optics lenses. So, it made sense when they came out with their optics cleaner fluid. Which I bought and used for a series of optics classes I taught at Gunsite. While I have not used the optic lens solution as much as the weapon light fluid, it works just as well.
This Holosun 508T has gotten a bit dirty.
The optics lens solution comes in a dark bottle with Optic Lens Cleaner markings, while the fluid for the lights comes in a clear bottle. With the optic lens facing up, tap out two or three drops onto the surface to saturate it. Using a cotton swab, move the fluid around on the lens before wiping it dry with a microfiber cloth.
After being cleaned with Paragon’s Optic Lens Cleaner. There is a difference.
After You’ve Used It
After cleaning the lenses on the optics, I’ll use a light coat of Cat Crap, an anti-fogging gel that can also be a cleaner. I’ll work that in before removing the excess with a cloth or a cotton swab.
As for the pistol light, I put a single drop of whatever lubricant I’m using – generally Slip2000’s EWL – on the lens. Any excess is wiped off.
Cat Crap goes on the optic lenses after the cleaning is done.
When all of this is done, if I am carrying the firearm, I will load and holster or case it as appropriate.
Your weapon-mounted light must be able to push out those lumens and candela to be useful. Your optic must allow you to see whatever is on the other side for it to be useful. While there are several ways to clean both of those, Paragon’s cleaning solutions maximize the ability of your equipment to do their jobs for you.
Paragon – www.weaponlightcleaner.com
Cat Crap – www.ekusa.com