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A wise man once said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. With the power that comes with owning a firearm, comes the responsibility of its maintenance. I know that cleaning and caring for guns can seem like a burden, but to many shooters, tending to their firearms can be therapeutic and relaxing. Preventative care and cleaning isn’t just for keeping your gun looking shiny; proper upkeep can determine whether or not a firearm is safe to shoot. Tarnished components can lead to serious malfunctions, even life-threatening ones. There are three major questions when it comes to maintaining a firearm:
1) How often should it be cleaned?
2) Why does it need to be cleaned?
3) How should it be cleaned?
To answer the first question, it really depends on how often it’s fired. The second two questions are a little easier to answer. When a gun is shot, gunpowder and other contaminates leave a build-up of carbon residue which may lead to malfunctions, or worse; it can even cause an explosion. Higher quality guns, such as the Glock 17 or 19, or Kel-Tec KSG, may require less care – but all guns require care nonetheless. When a weapon is fired, a tremendous amount of force is exerted, which over time can have a serious impact on the components. Keeping these parts (and the gun as a whole) clean is vital to ensure their longevity. Besides for the safety concerns, a weapon that’s not properly cleaned won’t fire as well or as accurately as it’s designed.
Whatever type of shooter you may be, nobody wants an inaccurate gun. A third, but less imperative reason to clean your firearm is to keep it looking good. I believe that every owner should be proud of their gun and keeping it looking shiny and new is a big part of that. The final question is one of the most debated issues on gun forums. There are tons of tips and advice out there on how to clean a gun, many of which are conflicting. Not only is there debate about how to upkeep a firearm, but also with what materials. Some experts swear by gun oils and some by lubricants/greases; no matter where you look, you’re sure to find plenty of assistance.
Our goal here at Gunivore is to help you understand the difference between the different types of cleaning materials, so that you’re better equipped to make an informed decision of how to maintain your gun. However, if you still have any doubts, most major firearm manufacturers provide detailed information on how to properly upkeep their products.
Gun Oil, Lube, and Grease: What’s the Difference?
There’s a ton of debate about which products are best for treating guns, but it’s unanimous that every firearm requires at least some level of chemical treatment once in a while (whether with oil, lube, or grease). Experts will often use the terms oil and lubricant interchangeably, whereas grease is a completely different solution. The main difference between them is their viscosity. Gun oils/lubricants tend to be less viscous, while grease has a generally more gooey and gelatinous texture.
The upside of grease is its resistance to extreme conditions; but nowadays, most people stick with gun oils for their average needs. Shooters who expect to be in harsher environments should treat their gun with grease, but for the most part, investing in a good brand of oil (Hoppe’s No. 9, M-Pro 7, or Ballistol) should be more than enough. Be aware that there are people out there who swear by certain techniques that may not be ideal for your specific gun. For example, I’ve been told dozens of times that “if it rotates, oil it; if it slides, grease it”. This is just a generic saying that could end up screwing you over. Don’t listen to blanket statements like that. Guns are way too complex now to be summed up by some clever mnemonic.
You gotta do the proper research for your specific gun- check out forums or speak to the manufacturer directly. Another piece of advice: be very careful when applying these liquids to your firearm, because they can end up damaging or even ruining your gun. At the end of the day, keeping your gun clean and lubricated is vital to its longevity and performance, but nevertheless always err on the side of caution.
Overview of Top Gun Oil and Lube
Now that we know a little bit about gun lubrication and cleaning, it’s time to look at which companies have the best products. Honestly, there are tons of great gun lubes and oils out there, but there are a few that stand out above the rest. For starters, I’d be suspicious of any gun cleaning article that doesn’t feature Ballistol. This originally German company has been making environmentally friendly lubricant for over 100 years, and is famous for its multi-purpose abilities.
Currently, Ballistol is Amazon’s number one selling product in the gun lubrication category, and understandably so. Nevertheless, there are some other really great cleaners on this list; Hoppe’s No. 9, FrogLube, and Slip2000 just to name a few. A good oil or lubricant ensures that your gun will shoot at peak performance even in extreme conditions be it the dusty prairies of Wyoming or the Alaskan tundra.
— Shrek (@Shreksoutdoors) August 25, 2016
What is the Best Gun Oil?
When I think of the most versatile and advanced gun oil on the market, Hoppe’s No. 9, is one of the first that come to mind. I’m not sure if it’s their distinctive orange bottle or if it’s my childhood memories of my dad using it to clean his .22 Beretta; either way Hoppe’s is a company you can trust. Hoppe’s No. 9 not only offers superior long-lasting lubrication, it also effectively reduces the wear and tear while simultaneously protecting against further moisture & corrosion damage. To make things even better, Hoppe’s is American-made and does wonders on other camping/survival equipment, like fishing rods and boots. Hoppe’s No. 9 is an advanced oil designed for advanced firearms. I highly recommend this top of the line product for all semi-autos and other camping materials.
What is the Best Gun Lube?
When it comes to gun lubricant/grease, one company stands out as the best overall buy, and that’s the American FrogLube company. With years of experience in the weapons care industry, they’ve solidified themselves as a top ten seller on Amazon’s gun lubricant section with an impressive 5-star overall rating. Bio-based and food grade ingredients are part and parcel of what makes FrogLube a high-quality, trusted product.
Another factor that sets them apart is that their product is both a lubricant and a degreasing solvent. So the above average price tag shouldn’t deter you; in fact, the simple-looking tub actually contains a highly sophisticated 3-in-1 weapons cleaner. Besides for cleaning and lubricating your gun, FrogLube also protects against the toughest carbon and rust buildups. The cherry on top of it all is that after using FrogLube, your gun isn’t going to smell like harsh chemicals; FrogLube actually smells refreshingly minty.
To be clear, as important as it is to clean and lubricate your gun, it’s equally important to not oversaturate it. Proper lubrication can guarantee that your firearm will perform at peak efficiency while also adding a level of protection from future wear and tear. I highly recommend researching cleaning techniques before disassembling. There are way too many misconceptions about gun upkeep that can actually do more harm than good.
There will always be folks who swear by oil and those that swear by grease; but at the end of the day, both are important for their particular purposes. It’s definitely worth it to invest in the best, not only because they’re superior, but also because a single bottle/tub can go a long way. Stay tuned for more in-depth reviews of companies like Slip2000 and Ballistol!