I was a Civil war reenactor years ago and I know during the Civil War they would get a fire going at night and boil a kettle of water. Then they'd throw in some soap and begin scrubbing. Quite often they would dunk revolvers right into the kettle and pull them out and wipe them down. They would do this every night after they had used their weapons. Some day I may get into Rev war reenacting and then hopefully I'll learn the finer points of 1770's gun care.