Lubrication wars!

Everyone is selling firearms lube these days. And the marketing speak that goes with some of these “new” products is pretty ridiculous. Seriously, if I have to read one more press release about how AmphibianGlide is going to wick into the pores of my 1911 and provide miraculous lubrication under any circumstances, I’m going to shoot someone.

Gun cleaning products

The biggest problem I have with all these products is that they don’t do anything that I can’t do with the three products in the photo above. From left to right: 5W-30 engine oil for lubrication, non-chlorinated brake cleaner for cleaning, and white lithium grease for well, grease. The lithium grease and 5W-30 will last for 3 years or so, and have a combined cost of less than $10. Meanwhile, four ounces of Miracle Grease will cost you anywhere between 20 and 40 bucks. That’s crazy talk. Think about that cost spread out over the course of three or four years. If you shoot say, 5,000-10,000 rounds a year through your competition gun, you’ll go through an entire one of those little lube bottles in a year. That’s 20 bucks. You’ll go through it quicker if you shoot rifle and pistol. So you’re looking at maybe $40 a year, which isn’t a lot of money in the grand scheme but is also a couple more boxes of ammo to train with.

I wouldn’t have a problem with paying an increased price for weapons lubricants if they actually offered performance advantages over motor oil and lithium grease. I will say that for gun cleaning, don’t use brake cleaner on your polymer guns unless you want to mess them up; but for metal guns it’s generally good to go. But back to the main point, which is why bother? The only reason I can think to use a product specifically designed for guns is because it comes in a handy dispenser tube, and with motor oil you have to buy some plastic syringes to apply it neatly. Or you could class it up and buy an aluminum precision oiler
, and oil your guns like a sir.

I’m not trying to bash gun lubes, because there are plenty of good ones on the market. I’ve used Gun Butter, Wilson Combat Lube, 10-8 Performance Lube, and even FrogLube. They all work just fine, but they don’t work any better than products designed to work inside a V8 at 4000 RPM.

25 thoughts on “Lubrication wars!”

  1. I agree, Caleb. I have been using the same quart of Mobil 1 and High pressure Grease for zerks (cheap stuff from Walmart) for the past 5 years or so on everything….. Open guns, carry guns, ARs, Benellis, SMGs,,,,, all without lube related problems. The two cost about $8 total back then and I have used about 20% of the Mobil 1 and less than 10% of the grease.

  2. But…but…Special Forces! And used in Iraq and Astan! I’ll confess to having one bottle of an all in one Clean/Lube/Protect and a set of cleaner, oil, and grease that was a deal on some deal of the day site a while back, but mostly I find that my guns are pretty happy being cleaned maybe once a year (or they might get a quick spraydown/wipe at night on a multi-day class).

  3. I agree with most of your comments, there really is no need to buy firearms specific lubes and cleaners. Where we part ways is at this comment:

    “I will say that for gun cleaning, don’t use brake cleaner on your polymer guns unless you want to mess them up…”

    I have to ask, what empirical evidence do you have to support this comment? I have used non-chlorinated brake parts cleaner (BPC) on every part of over a dozen personal Glocks for nearly 10 years. I have also recommended this same practice to a number of others over the years. I am a Glock Armorer and am constantly getting questions on proper cleaning of Glocks and have always recommended BPC. I have never experienced myself or heard from anybody I’ve recommended it to that BPC caused any damage to their polymer gun. I can’t cite my own experience on M&P’s and XD’s but I have also heard reports of M&P and XD owners using BPC without problem as well.

    I don’t intend to sound like an a-hole or “internet gun expert”. I’m just citing my own experience and wanted to know if you have had negative experience with BPC on polymer.

    1. I was warned once that brake cleaner could damage polymer frames, so I never tried it. I figured better safe than sorry.

      1. Understood. Thanks for the response. I would have probably handled it the same way had I heard before I started using and recommending it, that it would do damage to polymer. I never heard that and fortunately after years of use I’ve noticed no issues. Anyway, thanks for the post!

    2. I never used anything on my guns except Hoppes #9 and WD 40 electrical grade. Although I have used one or so times a product that I used to get at the electronics wholesaler; a electrical contact cleaner spray designed for missle components. Never saw any negatives to it except you can’t find it any more. Try Mechanics brand automotive parts cleaner in the 1 gallon can w/ the dipping basket inside for carburators. Says safe for plastic and rubber components. Can’t say for Glocks though. Try it first on your synthetic 10-22 stock or magazine first, Ha Ha. Bardahl transmission additive?

  4. I agree wholly, Caleb. I still keep less noxious cleaners around because I dont have a private, well-ventilated area at my disposal, but my lubrication concerns are covered by wheel bearing grease and Dexron VI Automatic Transmission Fluid. Cost me about 20bux total and I’m nowhere close to running out of them 3 years of relatively heavy shooting later.

  5. why are you only spinning your V8 to 4krpms? is it a chevy and cant spin faster then that? 😛

  6. I agree. Plain old wheel bearing grease performs just as well as any of the wonder lubes. That being said, carbon seems to clean off easier with guns I’ve used froglube on, and I really like the fact that its non-toxic. The minty fresh smell is nice too.

  7. Caleb; We all know you wouldn’t shoot someone. Just remember how much trouble you could be in if zero tolerence types get hold of you. It could end up on your ‘permanent’ record. Now thats trouble.

  8. Where I work, we had an electrical cleaner that would flat melt plastic down. I have noticed that several of the rapidly evaporating cleaners do the same, but never tried on a plastic framed firearm, but that stuff we had was something else again.

    As far as lube, I am in total agreement with Caleb here. There’s only so many ways to make oil and grease, and the auto industry, as well as the outfits that make lubes for manufacturing machinery seem to have pretty well figured out the most effective ways to do it . All I can add is that I opted for synthetic 5W-30 rather than conventional.

  9. I’ve been using synthetic oil and regular wheel bearing grease for a long time with no troubles. The only thing I would add is that lithium and molybdenum based lubes always made me nervous. I’ve had some experience with galvanic corrosion in my work (but never with firearms) and the thought of adding another metal to the mix gave me pause. I imagine it would only be a concern for long-term storage, but something to consider.

    1. 3-in-1- oil has been around forever. Cheap and pocket size, no need for anything else unless you have icecycles in your shorts. It’s even good in my Martini’s, a few drops with the olive. A few drops in my Jim Beam flask and I can get up from the prone position easier and faster. Try bacon grease, sticks to anything, smells good when hot and makes you hungry. Kidding aside, it’s not rocket science (well, maybe it is?).

  10. Complaints of noxious odors from my wife stopped when I tried the frog lube. That’s worth the $20 – $30/ year to me.

  11. As HCL3 and Keith have said, I switched to primarily Froglube mostly because of the non-toxic factor (and nice smell). The non-toxic angle is worth the cost to me. Also the paste is a nice take on the lithium grease I used to use. Very similar in that it stays put but also gets very slick.

    FWIW, while I used to use it for heavy duty cleaning, I now primarily use Brake Cleaner as a paint remover/degreaser before paint. It will remove Krylon and the factory paint on a Arsenal AK or Saiga rifle pretty easily. Be careful using it if your firearm has paint on it!

  12. I had issues with my head shaver until I used Slip 2000 Extreme Weapons Lube on it. Seriously – it worked. Hasn’t been lubed or stopped cutting my hair to 1/32nds of an inch since being used almost a month ago.

    If it is good enough for my hair, it’s good enough for my gun!

  13. I’ve a couple of friends with significant machine gun collections. I clean them in exchange for getting to turn their ammo into smoke and noise. After trying a number of lubes we settled on Mobil 1 5w30 (no particular brand loyalty – i think any decent synthetic would be fine). We’ve seen no signs of poor lubrication, and cleanup after even a 3 day shoot is significantly easier than any other lube we tried.

  14. This post is extremely incomplete without a mention of Ed’s Red. http://www.handloads.com/articles/?id=9

    I do find some of the “natural” CLP products offer one advantage over petroleum products : I can use them in my house with the windows closed, and they don’t destroy furniture finishes if you spill.

  15. I just throw my short guns in a stainless steel pan, add hopes #9 and set in my Dr. Shoales foot bath. A few minutes later, pull them out, spray them dry with brake cleaner; a little compressed air, then WD 40 done. Been doing this for 30 + yrs. Works great every time. I don’t think I ever cleaned my Ruger 10-22 except once and its still shooting in that same 30+ yrs.

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