Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Opinion: Firearms Cleaning and Lubrication

M-Pro 7

When it comes to lubrication of a firearm, there are as many different opinions as there are brands available. Quite frankly, it is dizzying enough to give the average shooter a headache. There are more and more solvents, greases, and all-in-one solutions coming out each year it seems. One might ask “Why the need for all these different products?” The simple answer is that there is a market for them. People are constantly looking for the latest and greatest wonder products to properly maintain their firearms. Of course, firearms cleaning and lubrication isn’t new, and there are plenty of antique weapons out there that are in great shape. They didn’t maintain their appearance and integrity with the latest and greatest product. Simple, proper cleaning and lubrication seems to be of utmost importance, with the products coming in at a distant second. This raises the question: what really works?

There are different products for different uses. Solvents help to dissolve copper and/or lead buildup and fouling caused by gunpowder ignition, and preservative “protectants” are used to prevent the firearm from corrosion caused by humidity. Lubricants are usually only good for eliminating friction on metal-to-metal contact parts of the firearm. Then, there are the all-in-one products that usually bear the name CLP, which stands for Cleaner, Lubricant, and “Protectant”. If the CLP type products exist, why bother with the others? Well, for starters, most people find that the CLP type products are good at achieving all three goals, but they don’t particularly excel at any one job. In sum, these products work well, but you may find a cleaning or lubrication situation where the CLP products just won’t get the job done. One such situation is a barrel with excessive copper fouling. This copper sticks to the rifling of the barrel, and can adversely affect accuracy. In this case, you really need to use a proper solvent to clean this up. Another example would be a high caliber firearm such as the Garand or the M1A/M14 type rifle. These rifles have a vigorous cycling action and subject the metal to extremely high temperatures. In these cases, grease is the proper lubricant, as liquid oil will either be flung off or dry up rapidly. Finally, if you intend to store a firearm for a very long time, you’ll need an appropriate “protectant”, as changes in temperature and the resultant humidity can destroy a firearm over time. Fair enough, but what do WE think works?

The folks at On Point stand by Break Free CLP as the CLP of choice. It meets the Military’s standards, is fairly cheap, and is effective to use, provided you don’t have any serious cleaning issues at hand. When used properly, your firearm will be reasonably clean and lubricated properly. When it comes to cleaning copper and powder fouling, we’ve found that both Hoppes #9 and Gunslick Copper-Klenz are extremely helpful. Most will tell you that Hoppes #9 has a pretty offensive odor, whereas Copper-Klenz is odorless, so the Gunslick Copper-Klenz product gets the nod. When something more than oil is needed, Tetra gun grease has always served us well. Unlike oil, it stays put for a long time, continuing to do its job. Some guns tend to operate better with either more or less lubrication, and we advise that you refer to the owner’s manual of that particular firearm to find out what is best. Unfortunately, we can’t comment on “protectant” products, because our firearms don’t sit around in storage, they get brought out to the shooting range!

There are many newer products out there at various price points. Are some of them more effective than what we use and recommend? That’s quite possible, but in using the previously mentioned products, we’ve not had any need or desire to try out the next generation of wonder products.

-- Erik

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