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#620635 - 05/07/04 09:51 AM Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
Bio-T Offline

Registered: 05/27/02
Posts: 5336
Loc: London, AR
I received this question from a member, and he is looking for some answers from our knowledgeable gun lubricant members. His question and comments are:

Specialty gun oils like BreakFree and FP10 are like $9 for 4 ounces. This is like $70 a quart. Some, like Miltec-1 are $200 a quart.

Knowing what you know about lubricants, is it likely they are just cleverly marketing synthetic motor oils? Specialty gun oils like BreakFree and FP10 are like $9 for 4 ounces. This is like $70 a quart. Some, like Miltec-1 are $200 a quart. Specialty gun oils like BreakFree and FP10 are like $9 for 4 ounces. This is like $70 a quart. Some, like Miltec-1 are $200 a quart.

Some people are using 15-50 Mobil-1 for their guns. Does this sound likely to be as good or better than specialty lubricants?

#620636 - 05/07/04 06:34 PM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
GSV Offline

Registered: 05/08/03
Posts: 696
Loc: Utah
I do buy gun lubes like Tetra and CLP but it is probably unneccessary. Most guns are cleaned, lubed, shot and then the cycle is repeated. Guns usually get dirty before the lube fails. Automatic weapons might be the exception to this rule. Motor oil should be fine.

In WWII the military found the best lube for the M1 Garands being used in the Pacific theatre was mutton tallow (sheep fat for you city boys).

In Desert Storm the Navy Seals ran their M14s dry (no lube). Some had teflon finishes but others were still just parkerized. In some artic conditions this is done as well.

On my Fulton M14 NM I use the recommended sta-lube grease. This gets applied to the cylinder pawls of my single action revolvers as well.

I've used syn motor oil on my road and mtn. bikes for 15 years with great results. This is another mechanism that gets cleaned lubed and before the lube breaks down it gets cleaned and lubed again.

[Cheers!] [Patriot]

#620637 - 05/07/04 06:47 PM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
rugerman1 Offline

Registered: 07/26/02
Posts: 1871
Loc: .
Some people are using 15-50 Mobil-1 for their guns. Does this sound likely to be as good or better than specialty lubricants?
Talk about a can-o-worms topic! [Roll Eyes]
HYDRODYNAMIC LUBRICATION is acheived with grease or a thick viscous oil.
MIXED FILM LUBRICATION & BOUNDARY LUBRICATION are where the additive packages of the lubricant come into play.

Mobil1 will work,no doubt.Is there better lubes?That's a no-brainer! [Dummy!]
In the general CLP area, I use/like:
Purple Problem Solver
MIL-L-63460D AMD 3 9150-01-054-6453 CLP
Break Free CLP
Outers Tri-Lube
Lube Control
Fuel Power
Neutra #131
countless others

On slide rails,I now use:
Shooters Choice Synthetic gun grease
Schaeffers #238 grease
Purple Problem Solver
Schaeffers Penetro 90
Royal Purple Max-Film
Schaeffers #132 Moly EP

To fight rust on blued-steel:
Purple Problem Solver
car wax!
I started using car wax after reading many articles by Finn Aagaard.Wax is more tolerant of "wipe-off" than just about any oil.The only exceptions I can think of are oils that have a surfactant.Penetro 90,Purple Problem Solver,RP MaxFilm are 3 that stand out in this area.

There are a bunch of others I havent mentioned because I'm not familiar with their properties and am not qualified to discuss their uses.I'm sure that Mobil1 15w-50 will work satisfactorily in many applications.Just like dino oil with 3K oil changes.
Dan,Jason & I are gonna' have fun in this new forum [Big Grin]

[ May 08, 2004, 09:50 AM: Message edited by: rugerman1 ]

#620638 - 05/07/04 07:19 PM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
JohnBrowning Offline

Registered: 05/01/03
Posts: 9448
Loc: USA
I quite useing specialty gun products a long time ago. I use a good HDEO synthetic oil thined to what ever viscosity I need. FOr grease i use standard moly EP grease. If you wanted to store a firearm for years packed away comoline and anti-corrisive treated wpper are the way to go. Dessicantrs help.

If you want you put your lubes in an aerosol can your self.

I use the following as I have them on hand for other use.

Prestone 100% Silicone Spray
M1 15W50
B-12 Chemtool
Linseed Oil
Lemon oil
Tongue oil
Sunoco Moly EP grease
Lighter Fluid
Shooter Choice Copper Remover(only specialty product I use.)

Now I grew up useing BreakFree. Dad use it to clean his work weapons and for everything else imaginable. It is good but not really needed. BreakFree willnot remove copper or other material bonded to your bore. The military has chrom lined bores and is not concerned about some copper fouling. Miltec one can be had for $200 a gallon. DO not buy it buy the little bottles if you are going to buy!!! Miltec-1 is over kill. If you are not useing your weapon under extreme conditions then the benifitt s of Miltec-1 are really not realized.

Some people do not belive that any penaterateing type oil should ever be used with a blued weapon. They think it will chemicaly remove the blueing at a faster rate then non-penatrateing oils. I do not belive this myself. I have used penatrteing type products in the past with no problem at all. If you are looking for an all round product tht is going to protect it from corrision and give lubpricity you might look into PENTRO-90 from Schaffers!!

P.S. For an experiment I have had a Mauser Trigger Guard sitting in a ziplock bag for 2 years. THe parts only protection from rust is a coating of olive oil. I have some other parts that are not baged just wrapped up in cloth also only protected by olive oil. TO date the test has been amazeing as non of the parts have any corrision on them at all!!!

I am not saying that one should use olive oil for anything other then cooking! I just wanted to see how little we need fancy products to protect or firearms.

[ May 08, 2004, 10:23 AM: Message edited by: JohnBrowning ]

#620639 - 05/08/04 09:33 AM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
MolaKule Offline

Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 17869
Loc: Iowegia - USA
These specialty synthetic gun oils contain ingredients that prevent/remove rust and are specially formulated for gun mechanisms. For gun mechanisms, you need a fluid that contains a special surfactant that helps spread the ingredients, such as anti-wear and rust inhibitor chemicals. This surfactant and gun-specific AW is expensive. In addition, the cleaning ingredient needs to be non-toxic and have the charateristic that it evaporates with minimal vapor and leaves behind the AW and anti-rust ingredients. It must not gum up or leave residues that attract moisture and dust, field debris, etc.

IMHO, Ammonium-based cleaners are most objectionable when it comes to odors and toxicity.

Engine oils may contain additves that actually harm metal and wood finishes, such as sulfur and phosphorus that attracts moisture to form acids. In an engine, most of this moisture is evaporated out with high temperatures, but with guns, that moisture just collects on surfaces.

A smokeless propellant gun cleaner/lubricant should never be used with blackpowder guns, especially the mineral oil based type.

#620640 - 05/07/04 10:05 PM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
JohnBrowning Offline

Registered: 05/01/03
Posts: 9448
Loc: USA
Mola, I am not totaly disagree with about the cost of some of the ingredients or that they work. I disagree with how much these specialty products are needed. I have about 50 firearms. My arms range from an old springfield trapdoor(origanal) to a Barrett 50 BMG. I have yet to have any issues with rust or corrison or wear. I do not use a safe I have a complete room. It is temp controled but not humidity controled. I only lube them 1-2 times per-year. I just can not see the use of these specialty products for the average joe! I have tried most of them and did not notice a difference.

I guess my real question is how does a non-hobbiest hunter know if he really needs to spend the money on specialty products?

The acetone is for scope cleaning. Burris recomends acetone for cleaning the optics.

P.S. If you think my list is bad I know two guys thaqt use nothing but 3in1 oil and have not had any problems. They claim to have use nothing put this since about 1968. Again no rust at all.

#620641 - 05/07/04 11:27 PM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
MolaKule Offline

Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 17869
Loc: Iowegia - USA
3-in-1 oil has a lot of rust inhibitor and penetrant and is about a 10 weight oil.

John, a Barrett 50 BMG? You are one serious shooter. Your question is an excellent one and quite honestly, it probably boils down to preference and what works for you.

When I developed PPS, one of the many goals (my personal preferences if you will) was a fluid that possessed cleanliness and smooth recycling in automatics and semi-automatics with minimal viscosity, but one that kept wear to a minimum.

The only set of fluids and ingredients that met these goals after two years of research and testing was a set of synthetic components.

#620642 - 05/08/04 12:50 AM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
1sttruck Offline

Registered: 03/20/04
Posts: 4378
Loc: Camas, WA
I use to work in a mechanical inspection area that was tmperature but not humidity controlled, so we'd sometimes get conditions where stuff would readily rust. In addition we didn't do any screening for 'acid hands', which use to be a criteria for working in a tool shop, where freshly machined steel was handled and monitored for excessive corrosion due to body chemistry. Anyway, people were using LPS to try to prevent rusting and corrosion on all of the inspection tools, equipment, fixtures, etc., and it wasn't working very well. I suggested that they try Break-Free, it worked better so they used that for quite awhile. They later tried other firearms lubes and ended up switching to EEZOX.

I've picked up Break-Free and TriFlow when it's been on sale for a good price, and have tried some Tetra. Break-Free makes a nice one bottle cleaner-lube-protecter for travelling light, which I use on a lot of stuff, but I usually use EEZOX on my carbon/tool steel knives and use it to finish off my firearms. Tetra works well, but I got rid of the liquid as I had used it around the house and yard and it cracked a lot of plastics that it got on. Also, it seems that some of the Tetra grease is seperating, which isn't a good sign. I also have some

After buying some Mobil 1 grease I've been regreasing a lot of equipment as it works better than the Pennzoil high temp bearing grease that I used for years. I'll try that next instead of Tetra for slides, and may also try some Delvac 1. Synthetics seem to be the way to go.

#620643 - 05/08/04 05:29 AM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
Chris B. Offline

Registered: 03/16/03
Posts: 3305
Loc: Colorado
I think it is safe to say some gun oils and lube will out perform motor oils and other gun oils by a large margin. I shoot over 1,000 rounds in various guns every other week so I get a chance to really test out different oils to see which keep the gun cleaner and how long it will last.
I keep trying different oils but I feel Mil-Comm TW25B is a top oil/grease and there are a few right behind it. As long as you clean after every shoot it really does not make a huge difference that you wold even notice but in harsch conditions is when you will notice how your oil is doing.

#620644 - 05/08/04 05:35 AM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
Chris B. Offline

Registered: 03/16/03
Posts: 3305
Loc: Colorado
Originally posted by 1sttruck:
Tetra works well, but I got rid of the liquid as I had used it around the house and yard and it cracked a lot of plastics that it got on. Also, it seems that some of the Tetra grease is seperating, which isn't a good sign. I also have some

I know about Tetra seperating like a lot of gun products do but I never heard of it cracking plastic. Tetra is a top quality product, can you tell me how this happened and how long this took? I'll report this to my gun club/friends to watch for this as a potential danger. Thank you!

#620645 - 05/08/04 06:16 AM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
Eric Offline

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 123
Loc: Pa
I've used the three in one oil also to good effect. i sometimes add teflon to it. Ed's Red is still the winner for me though:


Subj: Ed's Red Revisited

Conf: FIREARMS (286) Read: No Status: Public

"Ed's Red" - - Revisited

By C.E., "Ed" Harris

Since I mixed my first "Ed's Red" (ER) bore cleaner five years ago, hundreds of users have told me that they find it as effective as commercial products. This cleaner has an action similar to military rifle bore cleaner, such as Mil-C-372B. Itaner, such as Mil-C-372B. It is highly effective for removing plastic fouling from shotgun bores, caked carbon inn semi-automatic rifles or pistols, or leading in revolvers. "ER" is not a "decoppering" solution for fast removal of heavy jacket fouling, but because is more effective in removal of caked carbon and primer residues than most other cleaners, so metal fouling is reduced when "ER" is used.

I researched the subject rather thoroughly and determined there was no technical reason why an effective firearm bore cleaner couldn't be mixed using common hardware store ingredients. The resulting cleaner is safe, effective, inexpensive, provides excellent corrosion protection and adequate residual lubrication. Routine oiling after cleaning is unnecessary except for storage exceeding 1 year, or in harsh environments, such as salt air exposure.

The formula is adapted from Hatcher's "Frankford Arsenal Cleaner No.18," but substitutes equivalent modern materials. Hatcher's recipe called for equal parts of acetone, turpentine, Pratts Astral Oil and sperm oil, and (optionally) 200 grams of anhydrous lanolin per liter into the cleaner.

Some discussion of the ingredients in ER is helpful to understand the properties of the cleaner and how it works. Pratts Astral Oil was nothing more than acidg more than acid free, deodorized kerosene. Today you would ask for "K1" kerosene of the type sold for use in indoor space heaters.

An inexpensive, effective substitute for sperm oil is Dexron III automatic transmission fluid. Prior to 1950 most ATF's were sperm oil based. During WWII sperm oil was mostly unavailable, so highly refined, dewaxed hydrofinished petroleum oils were developed, which had excellent thermal stability. When antioxidants were added to prevent gumming these worked well in precision instruments.

With the high demand for automatic transmission autos after WWII, sperm oil was no longer practical to produce ATFs in the needed quantities needed, so the wartime expedients were mass produced. ATFs have been continually improved over the years. The additives contained in Dexron include detergents or other surfactants which are highly suitable for inclusion in an all-purpose cleaner, lubricant and preservative.

Hatcher's Frankford Arsenal No. 18 used gum spirits of turpentine, but turpentine is both expensive and also highly flammable, so I chose not to use it. Much safer and more inexpensive are "aliphatic mineral spirits," which are an open-chain organic solvent, rather than the closed-chain, benzene ring structure, commontructure, common to "aromatics," such as naptha or "lighter fluid." Sometimes called "safety solvent," aliphatic mineral spirits are used for thinning oil based paint, as automotive parts cleaner and is commonly sold under the names "odorless mineral spirits," "Stoddard Solvent" or "Varsol".

Acetone is included to provide an aggressive, fast-acting solvent for caked smokeless powder residues. Because acetone readily evaporates and the fumes are harmful in high concentrations, it is recommended that it be left out if the cleaner will be used indoors, in soak tanks or in enclosed spaces lacking forced air ventilation. Containers should be kept tightly closed when not in use. ER is still effective without acetone, but not as "fast-acting."

"Ed's Red" does not chemically dissolve copper fouling in rifle bores, but it does a better job of removing carbon and primer residue than most other cleaners. Many users have told me, that frequent and exclusive use of "ER" reduces copper deposits, because it removes the old impacted powder fouling left behind by other cleaners. This reduces the abrasion and adhesion of jacket metal to the bore, leaving a cleaner surface condition which reduces subsequent fouling. Experience indicatesrience indicates that "ER" will actually remove metal fouling in bores if it is left to "soak," for a few days so the surfactants will do the job, when followed by a repeat cleaning. You simply have to be patient.

Addition of lanolin to ER is optional, because the cleaner works perfectly well and gives adequate corrosion protection and lubrication without it. Inclusion of lanolin makes the cleaner easier on the hands, increases its lubricity and film strength and improves corrosion protection if firearms, tools or equipment will be routinely exposed to salt air, water spray, or corrosive urban atmospheres.

I recommend the lanolin included if you intend to use the cleaner as a protectant for long term storage or for a "flush" after water cleaning of black powder firearms or those fired with military chlorate primers. This is because lanolin has a great affinity for water and readily emulsifies so that the bore can be wiped of residual moisture, leaving a protective film. If you inspect your guns and wipe them down twice yearly, you can leave out the lanolin and save about $10 per gallon.

At current retail prices you can buy all the ingredients to mix ER, without the lanolin for about $12 per gallon. I urge you to mix some yourself. I ame yourself. I am confident it will work as well for you as it does for me and hundreds of users who got the "recipe" on the Fidonet Firearms Echo.

CONTENTS: Ed's Red Bore Cleaner

1 part Dexron ATF, GM Spec. D-20265 or later.

1 part Kerosene - deodorized, K1

1 part Aliphatic Mineral Spirits

CAS #64741-49-9, or substitute "Stoddard Solvent", CAS #8052-41-3, or equivalent.

1 part Acetone, CAS #67-64-1.

(Optional 1 lb. of Lanolin, Anhydrous, USP per gallon, or OK to substitute Lanolin, Modified, Topical Lubricant, from the drug store)


Mix outdoors, in good ventilation. Use a clean 1 gallon metal, chemical-resistant, heavy gage PET or PVC plastic container. NFPA approved plastic gasoline storage containers are OK. Do NOT use HDPE, which is permeable, because the acetone will slowly evaporate. Acetone in ER will attack HDPE over time, causing the container to collapse, making a heck of a mess!

Add the ATF first. Use the empty container to measure the otherainer to measure the other components, so that it is thoroughly rinsed. If you incorporate the lanolin into the mixture, melt this carefully in a double boiler, taking precautions against fire. Pour the melted lanolin it into a larger container, rinsing the lanolin container with the bore cleaner mix, and stirring until it is all dissolved. I recommend diverting up to 4 ozs. per quart of the 50-50 ATF/kerosene mix to use as "ER-compatible" gun oil. This can be done without impairing the effectiveness of the remaining mix. Label and safety warnings follow:



Contents: petroleum distillates, surfactants, organometallic antioxidants and acetone.

1. Flammable mixture, keep away from heat, sparks or flame.

2. FIRST AID, If swallowed DO NOT induce vomiting, call physician immediately. In case of eye contact immediately flush thoroughly with water and call a physician. For skin contact wash thoroughly.

3. Use with adequate ventilation. Avoid breathing vapors or spray mist. It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with itsonsistent with its labeling. Reports have associated repeated and prolonged occupational overexposure to solvents with permanent brain and nervous system damage. If using in closed armory vaults lacking forced air ventilation wear respiratory protection meeting NIOSH TC23C or equivalent. Keep container tightly closed when not in use.


1. Open the firearm action and ensure the bore is clear. Cleaning is most effective when done while the barrel is still warm from firing. Saturate a cotton patch with bore cleaner, wrap or impale on jag and push it through the bore from breech to muzzle. The patch should be a snug fit. Let the first patch fall off and do not pull it back into the bore.

2. Wet a second patch, and similarly start it into the bore from the breech, this time scrubbing from the throat area forward in 4-5" strokes and gradually advancing until the patch emerges out the muzzle. Waiting approximately 1 minute to let the bore cleaner soak will improve its action.

3. For pitted, heavily carbon-fouled service rifles, leaded revolvers or neglected bores a bronze brush wet with bore cleaner may be used to remove stubborn deposits. This is unnecessary for smooth, target-grade barrels in routine use.

routine use.

4. Use a final wet patch pushed straight through the bore to flush out loosened residue dissolved by Ed's Red. Let the patch fall off the jag without pulling it back into the bore. If you are finished firing, leaving the bore wet will protect it from rust for 1 year under average atmospheric conditions.

5. If lanolin is incorporated into the mixture, it will protect the firearm from rust for up to two years, even in a humid environment. (For longer storage use Lee Liquid Alox or Cosmolene). "ER" will readily remove hardened Alox or Cosmolene.

6. Wipe spilled Ed's Red from exterior surfaces before storing the gun. While Ed's Red is harmless to blue and nickel finishes, the acetone it contains is harmful to most wood finishes.

7. Before firing again, push two dry patches through the bore and dry the chamber, using a patch wrapped around a suitably sized brush or jag. First shot point of impact usually will not be disturbed by Ed's Red if the bore is cleaned as described.

8. I have determined to my satisfaction that when Ed's Red is used exclusively and thoroughly, that hot water cleaning is unnecessary after use of Pyrodex or military chlorate primers. However, if bores are not wiped between shots and shots and areand shots and are heavily caked from black powder fouling, hot water cleaning is recommended first to break up heavy fouling deposits. Water cleaning should be followed by a flush with Ed's Red to prevent after-rusting which could result from residual moisture. It is ALWAYS good practice to clean TWICE, TWO DAYS APART whenever using chlorate primed ammunition, just to make sure you get all the corrosive residue out.

This "Recipe" has been placed in the public domain, and may be freely distributed provided that it is done so in its entirely with all current revisions, instructions and safety warnings included herein, and that proper attribution is given to the author.

Reply To: [email protected]
--- msged 2.05

* Origin: Home of Ed's Red (1:109/120.3006)

#620646 - 05/10/04 09:36 AM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
rgl Offline

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 319
Loc: The holy city of Madison, WI
I have been using Mobil 1 0w30 for about 4 or 5 years and Castrol 5-50 for 10 years before that. For semiautos like the Garand I am using Mobil 1 grease on the rails, op rod, spring and bolt lugs. Never a problem on the Garands even at 20-25F. My main concern with using auto oils is that using say a 10-30 appears to be much much thicker than say Rem Oil or Hoppes. Those are very thin like sewing machine oil. So I tend to use the thin oils that will not mind temp changes.

I frankly don't think that most gun lube manufacturers spend .001% of the research funds that go into making motor oil. Most cheapo gun oil is just overpriced sewing machine oil repackaged to sell at $50 per quart when you consider the puny little bottles for $1.99. Many of the conditions that occur in a gasoline engine also are occurring in especially a semi auto rifle, including wide temperature changes and the desirability to have a detergent lube to dislodge contaminants. I also wipe the metal exterior and have yet to have any problem on either blued or parkerised surfaces over many many years. I ran a test once and I do not think that motor oil would be the greatest long term corrosion protection (water splashing), however it is not designed for this. I have never tried any of the super gun oils as I just do not get wear with the motor oil.

#620647 - 05/10/04 07:10 AM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
tom slick Offline

Registered: 05/26/03
Posts: 9093
Loc: Central Coast, Calif.
i was wondering how long it would be before someone brought up ed's red. i haven't used it but i know some that swear by it.

#620648 - 05/10/04 01:02 PM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
Shannow Offline

Registered: 12/12/02
Posts: 35193
Loc: Oz
Admittedly, as semi autos are banned here and I only have bolt and lever rifles, the lubricants that I use don't need to be E.P.

To clean, I use Ed's Red (with lanoline). It deals very well with (smokeless) powder fouling, but the acetone can be hard on a laquer finish if you're careless.

On the external metalwork, I use a synthetic chamois impregnated with 50:50 lanoline and petroleum jelly.

To stop firing pin sticking (which I've only ever seen with gun oils), I make up a 10:1 "two stroke" mix of dry cleaning fluid and ATF.

I've had great results.

For copper, I don't like the harsh (on the hands and smelling) ammonia based solvents, but use good old Hoppes #9 and time. Douse the barrel, and leave overnight. Dry patch in the morning, sne repeat. Do again that night, following morning store with Ed's Red.

(BTW, I use a lot of Lanoline.....a major part of AutoRx) [Wink]

#620649 - 05/10/04 11:33 PM Re: Gun Lubricants and Synthetic motor oil
Dick in Falls Church Offline

Registered: 06/01/02
Posts: 1412
Loc: Falls Church VA
Acquaintance works for a govt agency.
At the range one day, firing "street sweepers", heat was getting to the weapons. He got some AMSOIL 0W-30, used it liberally, and there were no more problems that day.
Later did the same thing with Colt 45s--worked fine.

How's that for scientific???

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