On Oils for Guns

TTAG reader Dyspeptic Gunsmith posted this in the comments section. I’ve cut and pasted it here ’cause it’s the best damn gun lube guide I’ve ever read. Wait. That doesn’t sound right . . .

1. WD-40 is a mediocre lubricant and an OK rust preventative. It’s original purpose was as a water dispersant for machining – since the 60′s, machine shops have gone to water-based machining lubrication/coolants and when you’re done machining a part, you want to get the water-based lube/coolant off the part quickly. WD-40 does this well, and prevents corrosion on most naked machined steels. But, WD-40 then dries over a period of weeks, leaving behind not much in the way of lubrication. The downside of WD-40 is that is can harm some gunstock finishes and plastic parts . . .

When thinking of lubes and rust prevention, it’s best for people in high-rust areas (the high humidity south, or coastal areas near salt water) to think of lubrication and rust prevention as two distinct issues and use two different products on guns that won’t be shot/cleaned/lubricated on a frequent basis. RIG gun grease, Cosmoline, LPS-3, Boeshield T-9 are all good rust prevention products in areas with high humidity and salt water exposure.

These will have to be removed when you want to use the gun, but they will prevent rust in even the most humid and salty environments if applied correctly. Boeshield is good because it won’t act as a solvent on plastics, varnishes, etc.

In general, I like Boeing’s lubricants, whether we’re talking about Boelube for tapping/drilling/threading or Boeshield. Those boys at Boeing ain’t idiots.

For lubrication, think in terms of lubes that won’t run off or evaporate in high heat, are still lubricating (and not gumming up or congealing) at -30F. RemOil isn’t bad, Tetra Gun Grease, etc. I’ve started testing MilTec-1, have not used FrogLube (about which I’ve heard rather lofty claims).

For guns that I use or lube often, I make my own “bulk lube” from ATF (Mercon-III will work fine), synthetic motor oil, STP and Marvel Mystery Oil. It works OK for most everything, especially semi-autos where I’m going to run them sopping wet. For dry, dusty areas with fine blowing dust (much of the Great Basin region of the US, or southwest TX/NM/AZ), look into graphite or moly-based dry film lubes.

For people who want something non-toxic and food grade, examine Ballistol and Froglube. “Food grade” doesn’t mean that you eat it, but that it can be thought of as being “generally safe” to use, unlike many of the oils based on petroleum distillates.

2. Stock preservation: Boiled linseed oil is indeed the stuff to preserve wood… but it can take forever to dry to a non-tacky finish on a stock in some areas of the country. Like days and days, perhaps even weeks in cooler temps.

You can either cut the linseed oil with some mineral spirits, or go seek out a product a lot of gunsmiths and gunmakers (who make stocks, not just shine them up) use called “Lin-speed Oil.” It’s linseed oil that has some carriers and thinners in it to speed drying. It is used by many high-end custom stockmakers and gunmakers on stocks that cost more than a half-dozen Garands put together.

You can obtain Lin-speed directly from the maker or from Brownells. A 2 oz. jar would last the average gun owner nearly forever. You’ll need only a few drops of the oil on your fingertips and you rub it into the stock in a thin, uniform film and then allow to stand overnight in a dust-free area to dry.

Don’t use oils on the high-finish glossy acrylic stock finishes like Brownings and such. Those finishes aren’t restored by adding oil, but rather by buffing with a very fine buffing compound.