Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lubricants for Firearms?

There has been a bit of a debate over gun oil and grease in the Black Rifle Forum on GlockTalk.  One post has a link to this lubricants article by Grant Cunningham, which I found to be very interesting.

What about greases - do we even need them? You bet! I use the General Rule of Lubrication: oil for rotating parts, grease for sliding parts that carry a load. In firearms, grease is most appropriate for any part interaction that has a scraping (aka "shear") type of action, and will be subjected to pressure or shock. What kinds of parts are we talking about? Slide rails, bolt carriers, and sears - especially double-action sears.

One product that scores pretty well in corrosion testing is also the readily available and dirt cheap. It also has good migration, a good boundary lubrication package, is the right weight (thickness) for general firearms use, doesn't oxidize over long periods of storage, and is compatible with a wide range of metals and plastics. In addition, it is recommended by at least one real degreed firearms engineer! Just what is this miracle elixir??

Dexron-type Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF). That's right, plain ol' ATF.
For such things as autoloader slides and rifle bolts, Lubriplate "SFL" NLGI #0 grease is my choice. In my testing it's proven itself superior as a general lubricant. It is white, aluminum-based, low odor, has superb boundary lubricants, and is designed specifically for use in environments that encounter a huge temperature range. It's also resistant to water washout and acid/alkali environments, has great shear resistance, and doesn't oxidize like lithium greases will. As an all-around grease I've found nothing better. It's available from, in their online store. It comes in a 14oz can which will last you for years - no matter how many guns you have!
If there's benzene in motor oil, you really shouldn't get that on your hands.  I'll have to remember to put on some gloves next time I do an oil change.

As I said in my cleaning article, I've pretty much given up on "miracle gun lube."  Although I'm sure that Slip 2000 and TW-25 work very well, they are very expensive, if you break everything down to a dollars per ounce figure.

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