Pro-Clean Barrel Cleaner
© Ravi Chopra, 1996
Printed in Action Pursuit Games, October 1996
Pro-Clean barrel cleaner is a strong detergent laced with solubilized Teflon. Forest Hatcher (president of Pro-Team) tells me that the detergent solution was specially concocted to best clean off paint residue and to leave a Teflon coat to improve barrel performance. Frankly, I was somewhat skeptical about this stuff when I first saw it. $4.95 seemed like an awful lot to pay for a 4 oz. bottle of stuff that looks suspiciously like dishwashing detergent. But then, PCRI tested this stuff a couple of years ago on a stock Tippman barrel and claimed something like a 20% improvement in accuracy over cleaning with soapy water so I figured it was worth a serious look-see.
My primary interest in Pro-Clean was with its properties as a cleaner. As I've mentioned, it is loaded with Teflon, which does have a beneficial effect on performance as I'll discuss in the section below on the Pro-Plus barrel treatment. But then, if you want Teflon, Pro-Plus provides an even better Teflon treatment than the Pro-Clean detergent. So to justify its existence, Pro-Clean would have to be an extremely good cleaner above and beyond its Teflon-coating characteristics.
Now to start, I should mention that I am a total paranoid when it comes to the internal surface of my barrels. After using a barrel for a day, I scrub it out with a dish-washing detergent and water solution on a barrel brush (also sold by Pro-Team, virtually indestructible, and worth every cent), and then rinse it out with the hottest water I can stand to get out ALL the soap. Additionally, every year or so I scrub out all my brass barrels with brasso to remove the layer of tarnish that inevitably accumulates. Suffice it to say, my standards are pretty high.
I tried cleaning out my barrels with the Pro-Clean detergent and, quite frankly, I couldn't see any great difference from my standard Dawn dishwashing detergent that I couldn't attribute to the Teflon treatment (which I was later going to get from Pro-Plus barrel treatment anyhow). Forest insisted that the stuff was better than dishwashing detergent, and suggested I try cleaning all of my paintball gear with Pro-Clean so I could see the results externally. It was there that I started to see something of a difference.
From what I could tell, the Pro-Clean detergent left less residue than dishwashing detergent (actually it left no residue) and it appeared to leave a brighter finish which didn't collect dust as easily (though that probably had more to do with the Teflon treatment than superior cleaning). Subsequent to cleaning with the Teflon-impregnated detergent, the 'gun surface was much easier to wipe clean and didn't collect dirt as easily, though this was again probably due to the Teflon.
So does Pro-Clean actually clean better than any other old soap? Under mild cleaning conditions, it does appear to leave less of a soapy residue on surfaces. After the vigorous scrubbing I give to the inside of my barrels though, I really can't say that it removes more paint or leaves less of a soapy film. In the end, if you tend to clean your barrels by simply rinsing them out with soapy water, Pro-Clean will probably do a better job for you than the detergent you're currently using. If, on the other hand you clean your barrels out with the same vigor that I do mine, I can not say conclusively that Pro-Clean will do any better a job than simple dishwashing detergent.
One nice use I did find for Pro-Clean was in cleaning paintball gear OTHER than the barrel. It was very effective in stripping away oil, grit, and other built up crud that tends to accumulate in the various nooks, crannies, and corners of paintball gear. In addition, it leaves a light Teflon treatment that improves the finish and smoothness of the parts cleaned. I plan on using it to clean all of my paintgun internals during future strip-downs.
So is Pro-Clean worth buying? I guess it really depends on your particular needs. If you're a total barrel paranoid like myself, you'll buy it just in case it does do a slightly better job. If you're concerned about the cleanliness and finish of your gear, you'll probably find it worthwhile (consider the cost of that shiny new splash anodizing...). It's a unique product designed specifically for paintball, and at five bucks it isn't terribly expensive to try out.
All material at this site is © Ravi Chopra, 1999