Thursday, December 3, 2015

LubeGate 2015 Common Sense Gun Lubrication

LubeGate 2015 Common Sense Gun Lubrication


FireClean had its backside handed to them from a public relations perspective after the wake of what I now refer to as LubeGate 2015. For many gun owners this was shocking news when Vuurwapenblog.com provided data indicating that a spectral analysis noted significant similarities between FireClean and canola oil - ohh no!!!.

What most people tend to leave off the headline is that Vuurwapenblog is the only editor which had conducted a long term one year “gumming” storage test of FireClean which the lube passed. He also went on to note that he still uses and supports the use of FireClean even after his report and published analysis. The kicker his is that allegedly as of March 2016 FireClean is now suing this editor for defamation and slander - this is not the way to win hearts and make friends.


What more of the republishers of the Vuurwapenblog’s analysis miss is that even if FireClean is predominantly canola oil, its still a legitimate gun lube, so I believe the lube has been unfairly treated by the media. After all, none of the gun lube we buy is much more than some type of basic wax, vegetable, petroleum based lube. Not to intentionally pimp a fellow writers site even more, however he now has a done of spectral analyis plus the totally moronic public relations FireClean has delivered in response to his original anlysis - Its a worth a trip over there to read through his posts.


Don’t take my word for it vegetable based lubes are still awesome. A professional group of corrosion nerds call the National Association of Corrosion Engineers recently published a paper and study which stated; “Recently, the use of vegetable oils and their esters has been found to offer many similar properties to their petroleum derived counterparts. “ - NACE - 2010 National Association of Corrosion Engineers.  The paper tested many perspectives of corrosion with a variety of vegetable based lubes and found they performed similar to standard petroleum lube. If FireClean is vegetable based, it would seem that it really does not matter at all. See the sleep inducing NACE paper here


Many firearms owners are conditioned to think that gun oil can only come a $15 4oz bottle, but the reality is that pretty much any lube will work short term - any lube. Long term storage and operation in very harsh environments is a different lubrication requirement completely requiring a corrosion protectant additive and acidically neutral based lube. The personal question I ask all readers is; “Do you operate in such a hardcore environment and drive your firearms so hard that a WD-40 or quart of Mobil 1 automotive oil will not satisfy any requirement lubrication need you might have?” I do not and WD-40 or Mobil 1 works fine for all my general purpose firearm cleaning, lubrication and storage needs.. as does Marvel Mystery Oil, 3-in-1, Norvey Turbine Oil and a host of other general purpose lubes.


People will say that “Lube is lube” however that is not the case. KY Jelly for instance is not a good gun lube, but then again Mobil 1 is not recommended for fornication. When it comes to firearms, an aggressive rust and corrosion inhibitor is a required additive to any oil you expect to prevent surface damage.  Too thin and oil on firearms runs off, then drys of and ultimately leaves your firearm unprotected. Conversely thick grease is a pain in the butt to apply/remove and when cold can in some cases actually lock up the weapon. There is a happy medium of oil weight, viscosity, and corrosion resistance, but there are a ton of lubricants that meet all those criteria. Some work better than others for a specific need. It is important to note that corrosion inhibitors can be properly suspended and applied in either water or oil lubricant bases.


If you are assembling handguns and want to assure there is no potential what-so-ever of a locked or gummed up slide from extended long term storage, you may want to use something like Anti-Seize like Glock does.  Long term gun storage may require a heavy grease or heavy oil or wax based protectant. Water displacement is another lube trait as well. Some lubes are also pretty good solvents and provide a decent one shot clean, lubricate, and protect. This category is known generally as CLP lubricants. Within that general purpose lubrication category, a blind man in the lubrication isle at Ace Hardware could not make a poor decision for gun lubrication.


There really are two major topically applied lubes available for consumer - hydrodynamic and boundary lubrication. Hydrodynamic is basically just a fancy term for surface lubrication of the metal. Boundary lubrication has some type of additive such as Cerflan (nano ceramic), graphite, Teflon, copper, or aluminum which fill the micropores of the metal and partially or fully support the load between the contacting metals.


Over the years, I have tested a number of typical and nontypical lubes just to see how they work. Note that I am not recommending all of these lubes, but a few really like. I have a raw naked un-anodized ASA 5.45x39 AR build which fires exclusively corrosive ammo. I should see some corrosion correct? Nothing I tested on this build delivered any signs of corrosion and I treated this rifle really badly waiting at least 1-2 weeks between each cleaning. One of the rather unforgiving platforms on lubricants are the insanely dirty semi-auto .22LR pistols - my prefered lubes are wax based because the clean up faster and last longer. Lets look at a few of these lubes I have tested and thus supply some recommendations based on nothing more than my un-scientific opinion and experience.


WORKABLE LUBE OPTIONS
Cooking Vegetable Shortening - When I tested this it thinned very quickly but was frankly was a little messy to apply and drippy after the gun heated up but held up really well. It is a great lube if you have nothing else, however the big shortcoming is that there are zero rust inhibitors. Use this and your gun will rust over time. Vegetable based lubes will also go rancid in their food safe state after expiration, so expect an off scent after about a year. Butter flavor rocks.
Lube Type - Hydrodynamic
Rust Inhibitors - No
Special Characteristic - Super freaking cheap and can even smell like cookies if you use the  butter flavor.


Canola Cooking Spray - This worked awesome, and was super easy to apply. I really liked this lube and it stayed put and lasted quite a while after a couple light coats. Clean up was also very easy which typically only required a soft rag wipe down. Again there are no rust inhibitors and there is an expiration date, so you are taking chances with rust and smell.
Lube Type - Hydrodynamic
Rust Inhibitors - No
Special Characteristic - Cheap and easy spray can application.


Virgin Olive Cooking Oil - This is a good vegetable based lube which is good on toast as well, however it is not Ph balanced which means the acidity will attack gun finishes over time. The oil will eventually go rancid. Interestingly olive oil does seem to have about the perfect consistency for a gun oil.
Lube Type - Hydrodynamic
Rust Inhibitors - Antioxidants and Rust Inhibitors
Special Characteristic - Good on toast, frying meat balls, and a great workable lube in an emergency.


Renaissance Wax  - Not really a lube, however it is a great example of a specialized lube which is designed to prevent rust and corrosion on metal even when there is a significant amount of hand contact and environmental exposure. Perfect for swords and those top end collector guns that live in a safe. Not a lubricant. Of note, Carnauba wax does a pretty good job on guns as well.
Lube Type - Not a lubricant
Rust Inhibitors - Rust Inhibitors
Special Characteristic - Special blend of micro-crystalline waxes will not stain or discolor with aging. It is acid neutral, water and alcohol resistant. Preferred by museums worldwide for protecting furniture, leather, marble, paintings and metal.


Vaseline - Yep, it's that same all purpose lubricant servicing personal needs all over the body, to a very awesome grease alternative for everything from bearings to bike chains and even works well as a gun coating for long term storage. Pain in the butt to work with and gets everywhere… but you knew that already. I found it does get a little sluggish for BCGs and triggers when things turn cold.
Lube Type - Hydrodynamic
Rust Inhibitors - Natural Rust Inhibitors & water displacement
Special Characteristic - Good workable lube with service from human bodies to guns.


Mineral Oil - Generations have been using mineral oil as a general purpose lubricant. Most notably, this oil is 100% food safe and used on wooden handle kitchen and outdoor knives, sewing machines, and watches/clocks for years. Rem Oil and Hoppes No 9 is reportedly mostly mineral oil with additional rust inhibiting additives. In fact almost all our most loved fine clear lubes are mineral oil based - See this article http://www.nynas.com/Segment/Other-process-oils/Knowledge-Tank/Technical-articles/Naphthenic-oils-are-ideal-for-rust-preventive-agents/. Mineral oil is an awesome all around lubricant, however I found it does require frequent reapplication for the natural rust inhibitors to work.
Lube Type - Hydrodynamic
Rust Inhibitors - Natural Rust Inhibitors & water displacement
Special Characteristic - Available anywhere and it is cheap.


MAJOR PANDEMIC RECOMMENDED LUBES
Would I recommend cooking oils, preservation waxes, Vaseline, or raw mineral oil as lube when other more appropriate options are available? Heck no. Natural deterioration and lack of rust inhibitors are the major reasons to look elsewhere. Greases and petroleum jelly are just too heavy for general purpose firearm lubrication unless long term storage is the goal.


I am not the guy that is attracted to snake oils or whatever lube is hot this month. My grandfather’s guns were cared for with the equivalent of motor oil or 3-in-1 oil and they all look great nearly almost a hundred years after their manufacturing dates. Here are few lubes I like and use a lot.


White Lightning Clean Ride - This is a paraffin/wax Heptane alcohol based lubricant with Cerflon additive. What all that means is that it deliver both hydrodynamic (standard) lubrication and boundary lubrication (think graphite or nano ceramic ball additives). This is one of my favorite lubes for .22LR firearms and really dirty running 5.45x39 ARs running corrosive ammo. Dries to a soft film which melts when heated but solidifies. It is also a very clean and clear lube which means that you will not have oil spots all over your clothes from your concealed carry gun. Application does require full cleaning of parts with brake cleaner before application. Parts can be hosed off without removing the lube.
Lube Type - Hydrodynamic and Boundary
Rust Inhibitors - Antioxidants and Rust Inhibitors
Special Characteristic - High lubricity, debri capture, self cleaning (shedding)


Norvey Turbine Finest Turbine Oil in Zoom Spout - Think of this paraffin/wax mineral based oil as Hoppes No 9 combined with wax. The result is a extremely long service life that has zero gumming issues. It has the consistency of medium weight automotive oil but sort of dries to a soft film. I really like this lube as it delivers a silky smooth feel unlike any other lube I have used on guns. For bearings it is awesome, but it also makes 1911s, charging handles and BCGs and bolt actions slide like glass. Probably my #1 go to lube, but it does not have a cleaner additive - clean with brake cleaner before application. This oil can easy hand anything a firearms will throw at it. After all this lube is designed to handle 50,000+ RPM and very high heat. The lube comes packaged in the widely used Zoom Spout bottle which makes getting into tight areas easy. Note the name of this lube is Norvey not Zoom Spout - Zoom Spout is a patented bottle used by a lot of manufacturers.
Lube Type - Hydrodynamic and Boundary
Rust Inhibitors -  Antioxidants and Rust Inhibitors
Special Characteristic - Non gumming & very long service life, not harmful to wood, one of the purest most refined oils available, clean running, does not pick up dirt like petroleum oils.


VersaChem or LockTite Anti-Seize - This is the lube I use on my core CCW pistol slides and is the same magic copper grease used by Glock. Most Anti-Seize greases are a copper graphite petroleum formula which delivers both hydrodynamic and boundary lubrication. A tiny amount is all that is required and the lube will not migrate/run. Where you put this is where it stays. Apply with a tiny screwdriver or toothpick - messy application otherwise.
Lube Type - Hydrodynamic and Boundary
Rust Inhibitors -  Antioxidants and Rust Inhibitors
Special Characteristic - Non gumming & very long service life, High Temp 2000+ Degrees, non-migrating (stays put)


Marvel Mystery Air Tool Oil - This petroleum based lube has special antioxidant and rust inhibitor additives. This is a lubricant which will dissipate more noticeable over time down to a red thick grease, but it will take years. This was my go to oil for years, however I now prefer other options. You do want to reapply often with this lube. This is a great rust inhibitor and corrosion oil, however I think there are better options out there that do not have the long term gumming issues.
Lube Type - Hydrodynamic
Rust Inhibitors -  Antioxidants and Rust Inhibitors
Special Characteristic - Non Gumming, designed for extremely high cycle rates


WD40 - There are WD40 (Water Displacing 40 weight oil) fanatics both for and against this historic lubrication. Some hat it and some love it. When disassembled parts are saturated with WD-40 and allowed to dissipate, the lube works well. If WD-40 is just sprayed into dirty contained mechanism (think Ruger Mark III .22LR) without disassembly or without full cleaning level saturation, WD-40 will gum up as a result of whatever it dissolved. Degrease first and likely you will be a fan again of WD-40.  In many tests including the Brownells test listed below, it has performed amazingly well as a corrosion and rust inhibitor. A really interesting read here  Where it does fall down is with very long term storage where handling of the gun will occur and a thicker protection product is required. I use this as my all purpose gun cleaner and lube in one.
Lube Type - Hydrodynamic
Rust Inhibitors -  Antioxidants and Rust Inhibitors
Special Characteristic - Everywhere, cheap, easy to use, available in a variety of application formats, water dispersing, cleaning, lubrication and protectant blend based on mineral oil.


Mobil 1 Synthetic Oil - In a recent interview with Andrew Barnes (President BPM - Barnes Precision Machine), he noted to me that he uses Mobile 1 synthetic oil on his firearms and parts - personally and in production. Since BPM is one of the largest OEM manufacturers of AR parts, I tend to trust that they know a thing or two about lube and protection. As it turns out quite a large number of manufacturers also use Mobil 1 or an equivalent as their base factory assembly and lubrication oil for new firearms. Car cylinders and AR15 BCGs have many similarities. Each of your car cylinders cycle and fire somewhere around 108,000 times per minute at 60 MPH with direct exposure to combustion during each cycle. by comparison an Dillon Minigun has a cycle rate of 3000 rounds per minute where the lube is not exposed to combustion. Seems to me that if Mobil 1 Synthetic can guarantee 5000 mile oil change life, it should be able to handle the demands of lubricating a firearm. Over the last year I have been using this more and more as my all purpose general gun lube applied after final cleaning. My method is clean with WD-40 and then lube the friction points and potential corrosion point with Mobil 1. A $10 quart will last you a lifetime.
Lube Type - Hydrodynamic and Boundary
Rust Inhibitors -  Antioxidants and Rust Inhibitors
Special Characteristic - Protection against wear sludge, deposits, extended life, rust, corrosion, high temperature, 15,000 mile oil change guaranteed - Chosen by NASCAR, most major consumer and industrial engine manufacturers, specified for machine guns by US Military.


FINAL THOUGHTS
Everyone has their favorite firearm lube. It may be FireClean, RemOil, Frog Lube, or Birchwood Casey Defender, something I noted here… or a seemingly unlimited number of lube options now on the market. The reality though it that Mobil 1 Synthetic is $10 a quart and my recent purchase of Norway Turbine Oil was $9.99 from Ace. I could live my the rest of my gun toting life with just these two lubes for my heritage heirloom guns all the way to my beater AR15s. Whatever your choice, just makes sure to use something. In a discussion with two different major firearms manufacturers both indicated it really does not matter what non-grease oil you use as long as it has rust inhibitors and you do use something. Both noted that no gun owner will outrun the abilities of any basic oil.

3 comments:

scot said...

I've been looking at the White Lightning chain lube for a while. As I recall, the early literature on it said it was like a solid grease, with a wax (in place of the oil in a grease) and a soap suspended in the volatile carrier. With greases, the soap acts as a thickener when it's still, and lets the grease thin out to the oil's normal viscosity under shear. I assume that the wax/soap mix would act in a similar fashion, with differing viscosities under static and kinetic conditions.

Based on your recommendation, I picked up some of the "Easy Lube" variant at the store. I can't find the MSDS for it, so I don't know what's in it other than the EP additive "Cerflon". That appears to be a trademark for a variant on the Teflon theme, a fluorine based polymer with boron nitride added to make it tougher. That should make it perform very well under impact loads. That's probably ideal for firearms; graphite has issues (at least when used in isolation) with galvanic effects on stainless steel, and both graphite and molybdenum disulfide can leave black stains. The Cerflon appears to be white (I'm guessing it made up the bulk of the sediment in the bottle--definitely shake well before using) so it won't stain.

On the other hand, the high viscosity has some downsides. I put some on my pocket knife and pocket tool (a Gerber Paraframe, and a compact front-opening tool) a couple of hours ago. It's had time to soak in and dry. I've opened and closed the knife a few dozen times. Normally the blade flicks out with pressure from the thumb, and the inertia locks it open. After lubricating with the White Lightning, it won't quite make it open. I think it's going to need to be flushed out and lubed with 3-in-1 again. The pocket tool works fine, since the heavy pliers have plenty of inertia to slip out and lock into place with a flick of the wrist, and the other tools deploy smoothly, if with a tiny bit more resistance. I think the White Lightning will work in most applications where a grease would be acceptable, but not things that need a low viscosity oil or dry film.

scot said...

I think this is the patent that the White Lighting wax lubes are based on: http://www.google.com/patents/WO1999011742A1?cl=en

scot said...

I was looking at information on wax lubricants again, and this link popped up again, along with one I hadn't seen before: http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/friction-facts-measuring-drivetrain-efficiency/

"However, Smith has used that data to develop his own 'UltraFast' chain, which is essentially the fastest chain he's tested (Shimano's Dura-Ace CN-7901) ultrasonically cleaned and treated with a blend of paraffin wax, pure PTFE, and molybdenum sulfide lubricants. This recipe produces, Smith says, provides the lowest consistently measureable frictional losses of everything he's tested."