Top Gun Oils And Grease: Gun Lubricant Guide

Why Are Gun Lubricants Important?

Gun Oil and Grease: Lubricants Explained

Oiling a firearm is a serious maintenance ritual which keeps the weapon functioning properly and in aesthetically-pleasing condition. Depending upon the type of firearm, the maintenance and cleaning routines may be different, including the type of oil or grease that should be used. In general, however, the more a firearm is operated, the more it will need to be cleaned and oiled. As a firearm is discharged, gunpowder residue, dirt, and other contaminates, collect on the gun. The greater the buildup of carbon and other contaminates, the greater the likelihood of a malfunction. Additionally, failure to regularly clean and oil a firearm can contribute to corrosion, where applicable. Some carbon buildups are so bad, they can actually create a flammable, explosive risk. These types of residue buildups most certainly have an affect on accuracy. Keeping a gun oiled ensures moving parts do not rub upon one another and keeps a gun performing at its peak potential.

What Kinds of Oils Are Okay To Use With Guns?

The terms “lubricant” and “oil” are sometimes used interchangeably. Thin oils may be efficient for many applications, allowing gun function with minimal friction, however, wetter conditions may require a more durable solution. Grease is of thicker viscosity than oil, almost of a gel-like texture. Grease can be used in extreme environments, or for long term storage. This is especially helpful in situations where the gun is stored in cardboard or paper-based containers, as these materials tend to absorb thinner oil layers much easier. Leaving a gun in storage without properly greasing it will dramatically raise its corrosion risk.

Many of the bases used to mix grease reduce oxidation, and/or improve resistance to water and extreme weather. The various types of greases carry different NLGI numbers, with the smaller the number being the thinner the grease. Comparatively, the higher the NLGI number, the thicker the grease.

Many gun oils have some special additives which target varying functionality. The marking AW/EP means that the oil is rated for anti-wear and extreme pressure. Many quality oils are equipped with a variety of additive compounds which also contribute to increased viscosity and corrosion resistance. An increased thickness of the oil reduces friction between moving parts, and also keeps the oil from immediately running off the applied parts. Some of the most commonly used oil additives include:

  • Antimony dialkyldithiocarbamate
  • Boron
  • Phosphors
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene
  • Sulphur compounds
  • Tackifiers
  • Zinc dialkyldithiophosphate
  • And hundreds of others1

Those guns stored in more temperate regions are at a greater risk for corrosion and environmental wear. Therefore, these regions require thicker oils, and a more regular oiling routine. Many times detergents are also used as additives in oil mixtures. This is to help break down grime and dirt anywhere it is applied for lubricant. Boundary agents are added to keep the oil more adhesive to the gun. This allows the oil to create a longer-term barrier between the gun and corrosive agents, as well as contribute supremely to the oil’s lasting ‘reduced friction’ properties (as it is considered a thin-film lubricant). Hydrodynamic agents create a thicker film-like lubricant which keeps a oil-based connection between moving parts. The pressure of the moving parts is transferred entirely into the lubricant in the form of an “oil wedge.”2

Best Gun Oil Lubricant Available

Almost all gun enthusiasts have wondered “What Are The Best Gun Lubricants?” After thorough testing, Armory Bay has isolated some of the best gun lubricants available.

Hoppe’s No. 9 Lubricating Oil

Hoppe’s No. 9 Lubricating Oil has been around for a really long time. In fact, Hoppe’s is one of the most used and trusted brands for gun oil. It comes in an awesome applicator bottle. The bottle is fitted with a precision needle which allows the application of oil to even the tightest of spaces. It is a high viscosity oil that never hardens or gums. While a few people have complained about it leaking in transit, it seems to be rare. Most people who use Hoppe’s have nothing but good things to say about it. It is extremely popular in the gun community, and is used on a variety of gun types. It also works very well with a bore snake. Hoppe’s No. 9 is very regularly used along with a CLP.

Lucas Synthetic Gun Oil

Lucas is a well-known company that has been around for ages. They are one of the best oil companies on the planet, making a variety of oil products used in many industries. The Extreme Duty Gun Oil by Lucas comes in a precision needle bottle. There are refill bottles available, so that the same applicator bottle can be reused. While this oil is thin enough to be easy to apply, it is thick and adhesive enough to not run everywhere as it is being applied. Even just a few dots can go a long way with Lucas. Many people find Lucas a significant upgrade to their current gun lubricant of choice.

Hoppe’s No. 9 Synthetic Blend and Lubricating Oil

Obviously Hoppe’s has been around for a long time. They are known for their oils and Hoppe’s No. 9 Synthetic Blend is one of the best! The synthetic blend of Hoppe’s No. 9 still smells like the original, and functions great too. The difference is that it is user-friendly (not considered hazardous), and it is safe to use on all gun surfaces. It is a biodegradable solution. It was formulated specifically for newer guns (although it can still be used on any gun). The formula includes plenty of anti-corrosive agents. One con, however, is that Hoppe’s No. 9 Synthetic Blend does rely on a mineral oil base.

Break-Free CLP-4 Cleaner and Lubricant Preservative

The Break-Free CLP-4 formula is a thick oil, but still fluid enough to evenly spread along all metal surfaces. Break-Free penetrates all metal pours, providing a deep clean of contaminants. After the filth has been lifted up off the metal surfaces, a light layer of long-lasting lubricant film will remain. This specially crafted synthetic oil is made to withstand extreme environments. There are also many anti-corrosion additives which help protect the gun’s metal finishing. It is a little tough to apply, and does require a little light labor. It is sold as a spray bottle or aerosol solution as well.

Mil-Comm TW25B Gun Grease

The Mil-Comm TW25B Gun Grease is used by US Special Forces and uniquely engineered for that exact purpose (special forces tactical use). It is a great grease for heavier weaponry, such as ARs, a variety of rifles, and shotguns. While it is a thicker viscosity, and a longer-lasting gun lubricant, it can be a mess to work with, dramatically overpriced for the value, and can separate in the tube. It is a great lubricant, but much harder to use than oil. And despite how viscous it may be, it can absolutely run dry at a surprisingly quick rate.

Sage & Braker CLP

Sage and Braker make a quality CLP lubricant that penetrates deeply on the micro level and does not leave behind an undesirable oily coating. Although a little expensive, it was designed with the military in mind. The formula is anti-static and helps reject many types of contaminants, including sand and heavier grime. It is a biodegradable and non-hazardous formula with no harsh smelling chemicals. It is fairly easy to work with, being deployed from a simple spray bottle. The down side: there are some reports of this product drying out and discoloring some guns.

FrogLube CLP Paste

The FrogLube CLP Paste comes in an 8 ounce container, is non-toxic, and is a 3 in 1: Cleaner, Lubricant and Protector. Froglube is a bio-preferred product, and biodegradable. It comes in a mint scent, which makes using it a lot more enjoyable and aromatic. This paste dissolves carbon and rust nicely and neatly seats into metal to provide a deep clean. The sleek, wax-like layer that is formed greatly reduces friction and greatly eliminates fouling. There are no petroleum or water additives and Froglube is non-hazardous.

Seal-1 CLP Complete Gun Care Lubricant

The Seal-1, non-toxic, 3 in 1 cleaner, lubricant, and protector dissolves carbon on contact and has excellent reviews. It may not be the absolute best lubricant on the market, but it’s pretty effective for most guns and creates a barrier that prevents particles and fouling from sticking. It is very similar to Frog Lube CLP in many ways, even in smell. It works great with just a toothbrush and a rag and is a dry lubricant. There are roughly 50 pistol cleanings per 4 ounce bottle. The layer it forms as a lubricant prevents carbon from forming as thick.

Ballistol Multi-Purpose Lubricant and Cleaner

Many gun enthusiasts have recommended Ballistol for gun lubricant many times over again. It is an general purpose cleaner, however, and was not made specifically to be used as a gun lubricant. It is slightly alkaline in formula, thereby also reducing the effect of sweat and human oils on the gun. It is a biodegradable formula, skin friendly, and a natural preservative of metal, wood, rubber, and plastics. Ballistol is deployed from an aerosol can, making it a very easy to work with CLP. One big downside is that the base oil is mineral.

Hornady One Shot Gun Cleaner and Lube

The Hornady Dynaglide Plus Gun Cleaner and Lubricant is a “One Shot” solution. This means, the gun is both cleaned and lubricated with one shot from the aerosol can. The lubricant is odorless and corrosion-resistant. It’s an expensive product, but an effective cleaner and lubricant. It is not as protective or satisfying as a more traditional oil, however, it absolutely oils a firearm and meets the minimum acceptable necessary lubricating standards.

M-Pro 7 Gun Oil LPX

This oil is reasonably priced, however, slightly harder to work with than other lubricants. It helps prevent rust, works well with a polyester cloth, and can be used on any firearm. The lubricant can separate in the tube, and creates some distrust in the overall effective application of the oil. The bottle also leaks often, creating a number of dissatisfied clients. It’s a poor scent, and has a reasonably cheap feel, but it does work when properly applied. Also, not all of the additives have been isolated, and thus the ultimate jury is still out on whether it is safe to apply to all gun parts of all types.

Gun Butter

Gun Butter does have a unique name, and their application bottle is very easy to use. There are reports, however, that it has ruined some gun parts (things like brass receivers and brass parts). It has also been reported that it increases the attraction of dirt, while leaving only a sticky residue behind rather than a lubricated surface. Still, Gun Butter has a decent following, many very positive reviews, and the easy application needle-based bottle is nice.

Fireclean Fouling-Resistant Oil

The cotton swabs somehow come apart a lot easier and leave a lot of cotton residue behind. It’s basically just a vegetable oil (soy bean oil, actually). This is not the best oil for a gun, especially not a gun that will be stored for any duration. The gun will gum up, ranking Fireclean lower than CLP and many other routes. Many people who have left it on a gun for any duration of time have seen only negative effects.

Substances and Solutions to Avoid Using As Lubricants

Some substances and solutions may appear to be a reasonable lubricant for guns, but ultimately can cause more harm than they are worth. The following ingredients are horrible for use in a gun lubricant and should be avoided at all costs:

  • Benzene compounds – Very prevalent in motor oils, and bad on the human skin. Because humans then handle the firearms, benzine-based oils should be avoided.
  • Chlorinated esters (and other Chlorine compounds) – These solutions create an affinity for corrosion and cracking in an applied gun. They create an increased risk of stress corrosion cracking (SCC). These imperfections that result from gun parts having contact with chlorine compounds can increase the likelihood of a malfunction.
  • Mineral Oils – These types of oils are poorly fluid, and do not transfer very evenly throughout an application on a gun. This leaves some moving parts more lubricated than others.
  • Silicone-based compounds – Solutions with Silicone lead to a further wear and tear of the applied moving parts.
  • And other substances which have no actual benefit to a firearm (such as Graphite).

How to Pick a Gun Oil or Grease

Obviously the sheer amount of gun lubricant choices available can be daunting. There are liquids, solids, and greases. There are bottles with applicator needles, bottles that require rags, and aerosol cans. There are even tubs of lubricant. Deciding which gun lubricant or grease is right for any one particular application, means determining how efficient the lubricant will be for the purpose. Some guns need to be oiled more frequently than others, specifically those which are fired more frequently. Complicated greases and application processes may not be ideal for these weapons, at least at the range or on the field anyway. Aerosol cans may make sense for a lot of quick jobs. Grease may make more sense for firearms that are stored for long periods of time.

Ultimately, selecting the highest quality oil for the job should be top priority. Picking the right oil means avoiding oils which rank low on the list (generally also having poor reviews or user experiences), and any oils which use unwanted additives. Good lubricants are able to easily migrate, meaning as the oil is applied, it needs to be able to span the adjacent surface areas of the weapon.

How to Oil A Gun

Oiling a gun is generally not considered a fun task for most people, however, necessary it may be. Though the truth is: most firearms do not take much time to oil and it is most certainly worth the time. These are the basic steps for oiling a firearm as a part of routine maintenance:

  1. Ensure the firearm is not loaded and then disassemble the firearm.
  2. Clean everything with a solvent. This means one of the cleaning solutions that specifically states it is a CLP or can actually cleana firearm or metal surface.
  3. A wire bore brush is typically used to scrub many of the parts.
  4. More solvent may be used when necessary (and to ensure the parts are fully cleaned).
  5. Protectant or oil is applied to all parts as the gun is reassembled.

Q-tips, cotton swabs, tooth brushes, and rags are all very commonly used throughout the cleaning and lubricating process. There are also a variety of brands that sell “copper remover” which can be useful in eliminating any copper remnants left behind in the barrel. Hoppe’s, M-Pro 7, and Bore Tech all make excellent copper removers.

Best Tips For Oiling a Gun

Remember that lubricating a gun helps protect it from wear and tear, as well as allowing the firearm to operate at its peak efficiency. Keeping a gun well maintained, including regular oiling, is essential for keeping the firearm in good working order and peak condition. Areas of greater temperate conditions will require more oiling and oil/grease of a higher viscosity. There is no substitute for fully learning how to oil any particular gun, as it is more than possible to over, or under oil a firearm. Still, regularly lubricating a firearm increases the firearm’s overall lifespan and improves performance. It is also worth mentioning that many firearm finishes exist and certain finishes will benefit from being cleaned and lubricated differently. It is important to verify that the selected oil is acceptable for use on the desired gun finish.

Disclaimer: All firearms are different and require varying care and maintenance plans. It is important to pay special attention to owner’s manuals, and firearm-specific instructions for keeping a gun oiled.

Citations:

1Lubrizol. (2019). Lubricant and Fuel Additives. Lubrizol. Retrieved from: https://www.lubrizol.com/Lubricant-and-Fuel-Additives

2Aggeliki, K.. (2010). Types of Lubrication – Boundary, Hydrostatic, and Hydrodynamic. Bright Hub Engineering. Retrieved from: https://www.brighthubengineering.com/manufacturing-technology/73568-hydrostatic-lubrication/

About the Author:

Mark Doberman, The Proprietary Gun Smith

The Proprietary Gun Smith is a marksman, expert gun handler, ammunition specialist, survival guru, and lifetime gun enthusiast. He owns (or has owned) nearly every legal firearm and ballistic available, has fired nearly every gun, and regularly consults professionally in the firearm world. He has studied firearms and similar tactical lifestyle for more than 40 years. In addition to writing for ArmoryBay.com, TheProprietaryGunSmith has guest written for more than a dozen other sites and/or magazines in the industry.

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