On a regular basis, I see firearms come in because they are not functioning properly. Sometimes it’s a mechanical issue, but a lot of the times the gun is bone dry. Just as your car needs lubrication, so does your firearm. The friction of metal-on-metal contact can cause undue wear and can keep the firearm from cycling at the proper speed to keep it operating correctly.
Cleaning and lubricating your firearm is one of the things that keeps the gun operating properly. A build-up of carbon from firing your gun, as well as dust and dirt, can also keep the firearm from operating correctly. The question is, how do we properly clean a firearm and what cleaners and lubricants should we use?
There are hundreds of cleaners and lubricants on the market. Most people go to the old reliable Hoppe’s No. 9. Its history starts in 1903 with Frank Hoppe, who mixed 9 different chemicals to create the original Hoppe’s 9 solvent. While Hoppe’s 9 is a great bore solvent, it contains a few chemicals that concern me. Remember, that you will be exposed to these chemicals when cleaning your firearms, possibly for long periods of time. If you read the Material Safety Data Sheets on all of the cleaners out there, you will see which chemicals are considered hazardous.
The chemical make-up of the cleaners is what makes them work. There are other cleaners out there with the same ability to clean without the hazards to you. I clean a lot of guns, so for me it’s important to limit my exposure to potentially harmful chemicals as much as possible. During my training as a gunsmith, I learned to use a few cleaners which were not as intrusive and still get the job done. The nice thing is that with technology the way it is, there are many products on the market that are better than the old tried-and-true.
Since I started training as a gunsmith, we used two cleaners. For primary cleaning and lubrication, we use Break-Free CLP. This cleaner is chemically stable, has no harsh smell to it, and is non-acidic. It works very well for cleaning normal build up of carbon, and keeps the gun lubricated. If we need to get a little more aggressive, we use Ballistol. Ballistol only has one chemical in it that is considered hazardous according the MSDS sheet, and that is a form of alcohol. It does the job for guns that need a little more aggressive cleaning.
Now there are some other cleaners and lubricants that are new to the market that we have tried and do use. One of them is a fairly new product called Fireclean. Fireclean was designed for AR-15 rifles to repel carbon build up and works very well on carbon fouling, and is also effective at lubricating and protecting the steel. I have used it on heavily fouled guns instead of Ballistol and had great success in cleaning the fouling,
Now the other lubricant I have used is a product by a small gun company called Crusader Weaponry. This product is called Slipstream. Slipstream is available as a treatment for the metal, as a liquid lubricant, and a grease. Now, I have never been in favor of a grease, however after watching the videos on the product and application of the grease, I decided to give it a try. I followed the instructions and treated my personal AR-15 with the grease and the liquid and test fired the gun for several thousand rounds. The gun operated flawlessly, after shooting I cleaned the gun and had no build up of carbon fouling on the bolt or the carrier group. Since that point I have treated every firearm I have worked on with Slipstream, either liquid or grease depending on the firearm. I have never heard anyone say that they have had a problem with the firearm with Slipstream applied.
No matter what product you use we will always suggest that you use a good quality cleaner and lubricant. Firearms are not designed to run with out lubrication.
Here are a couple of links to the products we use as well as a video testing that I found on the protection different lubricants offer.
Breakfree CLP: http://www.break-free.com/
Products used: Corrosion X, Frog Lube, Break Free CLP, Slip2000, M-Pro 7, Tetra Gun, Pro-Shot Zero Friction, Rem Oil, Outers Metal Seal.