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Gun Oil: Lube Lessons

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December 19, 2013

Gun Oil: Lube Lessons

By David E. Petzal

I read with alarm, a few posts back, that one blogger never went to the range without his chosen gun lube in order to prevent malfunctions. In the experience of this hoary, embittered old observer, however, far more malfunctions are caused by gun lube than the other way around. This is because most lubes attract dirt, and because they gum up or freeze in cold weather.

In 1973, I was hunting in Montana with a rifle that had a Canjar trigger that was, like all fine triggers, made to very close tolerances. I had happily honked it full of gun oil, and when the weather went down to -20 degrees, the rifle refused to cock; the bolt rode right over the sear and into the locked position with the firing pin pressing on a live round. Such fun!

I had to take the barreled action out of the stock, pour boiling water through the trigger until it unstuck, put the rifle back together, and re-sight it. Such joy!

Since then I’ve looked with a jaundiced eye at all lubes. Without exception, their labels state that they can be used anywhere from the surface of Venus to the summit of Everest without freezing or losing viscosity. That’s what the labels say. The reality is somewhat different. 

If you’d like your rifles to function, keep them clean and keep the oil off them except for miniscule amounts, or altogether. I wipe off the bolts with a patch on which I’ve put half a dozen drops of Rem-Oil (which I mistrust less than other lubes). This gets the powder fouling off, and let me tell you, if you’d like to see a rifle come to a grinding halt, just let the powder fouling accumulate on the bolt for a while. I also run a lightly-oiled patch through the bore and follow it with a dry one to get nearly all the oil out.

It’s a good idea to periodically take the barreled action out of the stock and wipe the oil off the receiver. Since you didn’t put it there, how did it get there? Because the First Rule of Oil is, it goes where it wants to be, not where you want it to be. Before you put the gun together, run either lighter fluid or Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber through the trigger. If you use the latter, wear safety glasses because if you get it in your eye and you live in Walla Walla, Washington, your shrieks will be heard in Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

And there should be no oil, ever, in scope base screw holes, or on the ring or base screws. None. 

For some firearms, you do need a little lube. There are a couple of spots on my beloved Smith & Wesson Model 41 .22 auto where the slide contacts the frame. I put the merest scintilla of an iota of Break Free on a fingertip and apply it where the bluing has rubbed away. On my trap gun, I use white (lithium) grease, that you buy at the hardware store. It stays where you put it even when the gun gets too hot to touch.

If you’re looking for gun lube that will stand up to truly cold weather, I understand there are two. The first is Lubricant, Arctic, Weapons, which is issued to the armed forces and is not, as far as I know, available to civilians. The second, which you can buy, is Renewable Lubricants Bio-Arctic Oil. I haven’t used it, but the maker claims it’s good down to 50 below, and if you’re willing to hunt in those temperatures, your rifle freezing is the least of your problems.

Comments (46)

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from 5280Shooter wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

I am guilty of learning the hard way that a little oil goes a long way. With the emphasis on 'little'. True that it is sometimes hard to resist putting on more because it just feels good to oil our rifles. Amazing how many products are now available for such things but no real proof that something truly better has come along.

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from chuckles wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

Mr. Petzal, while I wholeheartedly follow your advice about oil on the base and ring screws I am curious as to why the manufacturers often recommend leaving it on. Many claim that Loctite is unnecessary if torqued to the proper spec. Do you have any insight as to why?
Otherwise since I hunt in MN I basically never use lube in any quantity.I apply a tiny bit to the bolt lugs of my ER Shaw rifles based on their recommendation to prevent galling and some on the lever of my lever action Henry. For everything else I rely on Birchwood Casey Barricade and Rand CLP both of which leave a microfilm of lubrication and seem to work well.
A Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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from deadeyedick wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

To oil or not to Oil that is the question. Less is more. How many stocks have you seen ruined by eccesss oil ? I have had guns brought into my little shop over the years with the stocks full of oil. Customer, "my stock is loose" ME, " no your stock is so full of oil it is worthless. I've seen people squirt motor oil into the actions of thier guns. I don't really care all that much for gun-scrubber it does work but you have to be oh so very careful. I've seen guns where the finish was gone from the stocks and the coating was gone from the scopes. be sure to wear rubber gloves when using it because it will penetrate your skin.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

Dave you're dead on, using the wrong lubricant, weather and lubricant that turned to cosmoline due to age is the number one reason for equipment failure. For lubricants, I like Break-Free® it worked very well during High Power Competition in my M1 Garand and M1A. I used it to educe copper fouling in the bore, the only draw back, you had to fire 2 fouling shots before the match. While in Alaska in sub zero arctic temps, automatic transmission fluid was my #1 choice, don't plan to do a lot of shooting using it

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from fordman155 wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

Dry graphite is a great lubricant for bolts and receivers. Sprinkle a few drops of it on the lugs, the rails of the receiver, or anything else you think needs lubricant and then rub it in with a finger tip. The graphite doesn't attract or hold dirt. It also doesn't freeze or turn gummy when cold. And a tube of it will last a long, long time.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

I have always been a disciple of cleaning a gun when it is in need, not methodically. I have been told more good .22s had their barrels ruined by overcleaning than were ever taken out by gunpowder or harsh elements.

I regularly hunt hard in very harsh conditions. Mud, rain, snow, and terribly cold temps. I too have learned the lesson of using too much oil. I use 3-in-1 oil liberally on outer surface areas of the gun, NEVER in the mechanism. A bit of WD-40 may find its way into the mechanism but that's it! And I only use that crap in there because I know it's going to disappear soon. I prefer gun mechanisms that are clean and DRY ... especially dry of oil!

I also had a gummy firing pin seize at -20 ... with a moose standing broadside fifty yards away. Fortunately, it stood there long enough for me to quietly free things up with several dry fires (which could have broken that Springfield's firing pin at that temperature!). I didn't miss when it did fire although by then I was so hypothermic it seemed through my scope the moose was doing jumping jacks.

By the way, the worst gun oil in my books was the sh*t they made us use in the military. Looked like blended butter and vegetable oil. Perhaps it was.

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from ejunk wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

this isn't really the appropriate forum, but its on topic: I have an old remington 141 gamemaster. it used to fail to fire 100% of the time once the mercury dips into the neighborhood of freezing. if you've never seen one, the bolt of a 141 is one unit that is (apparently) composed of ~22 parts. no non-gunsmith in their right mind would try to disassemble it to clean it, though I am fairly certain that a thorough cleaning is exactly what it needs. I am also fairly certain that the internal workings of that bolt have probably not seen the light of day since it was manufactured. I have improved the performance greatly by liberally spraying it down with a gun scrubber type product, but it will still occasionally fail to fire until I cycle the action - not so useful a fix in a hunting situation. I am aware that the volume of oil based product I am injecting into the bolt is not advisable and it's not like I can really "rinse" the dirt and oil out of it. anyone have any advice? I know the real answer is to take it to a gunsmith, but that's actually easier said than done in my area.

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from davidpetzal wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

To Chuckles: The only scope rings that should have the lube left in place are the Leupolds that pivot into position. They come from the factory with what appears to be graphite grease on the dovetail studs, and it should be left there, otherwise the rings will gall as you turn them into position, and if you do it often enough, they'll lose their grip.

As for no Loc-Tite, I hardly ever use it for scope mounts. I've found that if you de-grease all the screw holes and screws with lighter fluid and use Torx screws, nothing comes loose unless you want it to.

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from tootall75 wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

I am quite anal when it comes to rifle maintenance/cleaning/lubrication etc... and read almost everything I can about the subject. You have been at this a long time DEP so when you broach the topic I pay close attention (you have said there is no "wrong" way to clean a gun but I still fret about it) You mention in the article "I also run a lightly-oiled patch through the bore and follow it with a dry one to get nearly all the oil out." So to be clear, there should be a bit of oil left in the bore to stave off rust after cleaning or should it be void of any oil. I hope that isn't a silly question.

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from Trap12 wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

While less lube is generally better, the amount needed depends on the type of weapon you're firing and the number of rounds you're putting through it. For example, gas impingement AR's can start hanging up after only a hundred rounds or so. Those who use them in an operational environment know that having some CLP available can keep them running when the chips are down. It's a much different matter if you're just out to sight-in your bolt rifle for the afternoon.

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from VicF wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

The aerosol cleaner for computer keyboards and other electronic whatnot works well for blowing out the crap that accumulates in the chamber of semiautos and pumps.

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from Mark Diman wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

Thanks for the story Mr. Petzal. A "lubed" rifle/firearm does not have to be wet. A small NH company, Sentry Solutions makes a full line of oil-free lubes. I first read about their TUF-CLOTH in a Bob Brister article. A friend's son was issued a TUF-CLOTH and TUF-GLIDE when in Afghanistan and then Iraq. These products replaced the use of CLP during the War for about 70,000 troops. Brownells sells all of Sentry Solutions' products and even puts their name on several- Action Lube Plus and Action Magic. TUF-CLOTH is one I rely on for all of my gear. You should take a look. My guns are practically self-cleaning.

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from Amflyer wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

VicF:

"I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like,
It's got a basket, a bell that rings,
And things to make it look good.
I'd give it to you if I could...
But I borrowed it."

Nice Avatar. Took me back to college.

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from davidpetzal wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

To Tootall75: Oiling the barrel is probably overkill. I've never had a clean barrel rust on me, and with the stainless ones, it's really not necessary. However, I've always lived in damp climates, and with a good barrel going for $600 in the blank...

To Trap 12 and Mark Diman: Noted, and thank you.

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from Tim Platt wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

I believe I mentioned Hoppe's Blast & Shine in that post, I hope you are not referring to me. It is a spray can that claims to remove all oil, grease, and deposits from metal gun parts. It is the solution when too much oil is the problem, and I have found it invaluable in cold weather when guns gook up, to use the technical term.... in short, it works.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

A little bit of Rem Oil wiped clean goes a long way. No oil ever in a rifle chamber! IIRC, the main malfunction with the early M-16 was improper lubricant combining with high residue powder fouling from the direct impingement gas system.

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from jhjimbo wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

I clean the bore with J-B non embedding paste and rinse with Hoppes 9 which is 75% Kerosene, or straight Kerosene. I may wash bolts and triggers with K-1, I do not use oil as K-1 leaves a very thin oil film when it dries. There is a cotton roll I use to go in and clean the bolt lock lug area in the action/barrel. It looks like a long cigarette filter made out of cotton.
For heavy copper or lead fouling I have the original Outers Foul Out electronic bore cleaner that works great.
The only thing I oil at the range is the slide on my Browning Challenger .22lr when shooting bowling pins.
Lately I am trying a new friction reducer on the bolt lug high pressure bearing surfaces - it's called motorkote. It combines with the steel at the molecular level for high performance friction reduction. A demonstration video is at their web site and it is sold by WallMart. www.motorkote.com Let me know what you think of the demo.
The other thing I do is twice a year I clean the bore of every rifle and handgun, whether fired or not.
In the '50's I had a Remington 11-48 that would 'freeze' up and not fire every time it got cold. Washed it all out with K-1 and it worked fine.

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from tootall75 wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Thank you for responding DEP, I am certain I read somewhere you should run a lightly oiled patch down the bore after cleaning to stave off rust, perhaps some recommend doing that but nice to know it's not necessary. On a separate note, I am due for some new cleaning materials, you have made several recommendations in the magazine in the past as to what you feel are the best products, any recommendations for a "universal" cleaning kit, thanks in advance.

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from tootall75 wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Thank you for responding DEP, I am certain I read somewhere you should run a lightly oiled patch down the bore after cleaning to stave off rust, perhaps some recommend doing that but nice to know it's not necessary. On a separate note, I am due for some new cleaning materials, you have made several recommendations in the magazine in the past as to what you feel are the best products, any recommendations for a "universal" cleaning kit, thanks in advance.

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from tootall75 wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Thank you for responding DEP, I am certain I read somewhere you should run a lightly oiled patch down the bore after cleaning to stave off rust, perhaps some recommend doing that but nice to know it's not necessary. On a separate note, I am due for some new cleaning materials, you have made several recommendations in the magazine in the past as to what you feel are the best products, any recommendations for a "universal" cleaning kit, thanks in advance.

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from tootall75 wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Sorry for the triple post...darn website can be fickle sometimes.

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from buckstopper wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Beware of some cleaners like BreakFree that can remove the finish from some firearms that have a Duracoat or a camo dip on the receiver or stock.

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from VicF wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Amflyer:

I know a mouse and he hasn't got a house
I don't know why I call him Gerald
He's getting rather old but he's a good mouse.

One of the greats. And one of their great albums. Glad somebody recognized it.

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from davidpetzal wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

To Tootall75: For powder fouling, Shooters Choice. For copper fouling J-B Bore compound.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Dave wish my server got FS posts here same day as others. Otherwise as fordman 155 said dry grafite is wonderful.
I do love Rem. oil as you mentioned. In pistols I prefer the silicone.

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from O Garcia wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Dave,

Maybe (I'm guessing) the blogger in question was bringing an AR to the range. Manually operated rifles are better off dry. The AR, like an internal combustion engine needs oil, and the AR needs oil more than any other auto-loader.

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from kudukid wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Been to intercourse, PA so I know whereof I speak...lots of people wearing strange hats and bib overalls.

Also know from experience what oil can do in cold weather inside a Springfield '03 bolt - it can cost you the biggest buck you've ever seen.

The best gun lube you can find will be EEZOX. It will clean, lubricate, prevent rust and not collect dust/debris. It is good between 450F to -95F. No, I don't own stock.

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from kudukid wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Another worthwhile tip. When you put rifles and shotguns into your safe or closet, stand them up on their muzzles. Excess oil will run down to the muzzles thus protecting them and keeping it out of your wood stocks.

This will also allow you to put almost twice as many in your safe if you're running out of room standing them on their butts.

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from SL wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

I'll tell you one gun that needs some lubricant, and a lubricant like grease, not just oil is the Mosin- Nagant. I know, it's an old. outdated war rifle, but when I bought one just for the hell of it I was having the sticky bolt syndrome, which those rifles are supposed to be famous for. All the talk about getting the cosmoline out, and the scores of other things that have been written up about the sticky bolt issue were all BS. I tried everything and was still having trouble with the bolt. Finally decided to try some grease, and not just oil on the bolt around the camming slide section in the back that closes down over the sear. Worked like a charm! Never had a problem again. The volumes of stuff written about the sticky bolt issue and NO one ever mentioned some good old fashioned grease as a solution. Just proves to me that many of the self proclaimed gun experts out there don't know JACK. LOL

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from kudukid wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

ejunk:
Break that 141 down and stand the action in gasoline overnight (outside). Take it out and let it dry then give it a light spray of EEZOX synthetic. Reassemble and you're good to go.

Do not drink either the gasoline or the EEZOX.

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from kudukid wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

tootall75:
If you leave oil in the bore your first shot is unlikely to go where you want. It can easily be off more than enough to give you problems by wounding animals.

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from kudukid wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Re JB bore compound:
One more...for those using the excellent JB bore compound; you might give FLITZ a try. A lot cheaper than JB and seems to do a better job. The heavy liquid in plastic bottles and paste in tubes are both good - the liquid maybe a bit easier - especially with bore guides with the hole that lets you apply stuff inside the guide.

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from keithjoyner wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

I've been extremely impressed with Nano-oil #10. My wife's PPA .22 is finally shooting without jams! I have a door that wouldn't close without a cuss word and some force and it has been gliding shut for a couple of years now from one application. It is really amazing stuff. You use very little (a drop or two) and the results improve the more you use the gun (or other device). It's made by St. Claire. Not very expensive and a little goes a long way. Try it and see what you think. I was impressed and use very little other lubicants (if any) on my guns. I found it on-line.

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from Ken Cuff wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Hoary. embittered, old, cheer up tis the season to be jolly and remember, growing old is not for sissies. That said very good article. Anyone who has been in the military should remember this. Put too much on your Garand and you could be walking guard duty an extra time or two.

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from Tim Platt wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Ken I have an embroidery hanging in my kitchen my mother made that says "Old age is not for sissies". Couldn't agree more. Killed two deer this morning and my whole body hurts from dragging them out. I almost passed on the second one just because I knew how much work it was going to be. I have heard WD40 works on human joints. I am thinking about trying it...

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from TLF Nevada wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

I like Rem Wipes. Disassemble, wipe down all parts, and reassemble. Cleans and lubes in one simple step. Even leaves a bit of Teflon.

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from idahoelkandflyguy wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Some years ago when I carried a Glock to defend the constitution and up hold the laws of the state of Idaho I was taught by the regional Glock rep how to properly clean and oil my weapon. From a disassembled state it took exactly 3 drops of oil. This lubed the entire weapon including wiping the outside of the barrel. No failures to feed, no failures to go bang. My hunting weapons don't get much more than that.

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from Marion Johnson wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

An opossum Police friend of mine was given a Rem.788 in 6mm because "The sumbitch won't go off half the time". He sprayed the bolt with brake cleaner and had a minute of angle rifle for about $#1.95.

As a callow youth (what other kind is there?), I used my Mom's 3-in-1 oil liberally on my two guns. One cold day, my Win. M12 failed to fire on some winged creature. Learned two things; too much of a good thing is not a good thing & I had a heck of a flinch. Installed the first of many recoil pads after that epiphany.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 16 weeks 4 days ago

Chain saw bar lube works pretty good, a light coat on the barrel on autos doesn't evaporate and sticks well and less wear from the slide. Remember, "A LITTLE DAB WILL DO' YA"!

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from RockySquirrel wrote 16 weeks 3 days ago

Rem oil, light coat and let it sit while you work on other parts, Then wipe it off after teflon has had a chance to settle. The teflon is the key. I believe that It will build to a nice second skin on the part that will prevent rust and prevent seizing. So lubing is less and less necessary.

I use CLP for auto pistol and a few drops on the bolts of the pumps then wipe off. All those M4’s cleaned with the thing in Iraq and Afghanistan in the worst possible desert and mountain conditions and they still fire when your life depends on it is a hell of a recommendation. Sorry DEP.

Flintlocks is a different animal. Clean it very well and grease the bore and outside. The only place I use light oil on is the frizen to keep it from rusting during the off seasons. I always rod it before loading and after every shot.

All guns get a through winter clean and lube if they have been used or not. Then put away until practice time or hunting in the fall.

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from Ruger wrote 16 weeks 3 days ago

FrogLube Best stuff ever!

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 16 weeks 2 days ago

The cold weather-lubricant problems I read here cause me to think of another cold weather-shooting issue, namely how cold weather effects some powders significantly by reducing chamber pressure and thereby decreasing muzzle velocity. A blog post on this topic would be handy and useful, I would think, to many, including this shooter.

I live in NE TX, which nine months out of the year is hot ("Do you know why Smith County, TX is hot? Because hell is hot.") At present, however, my local geography is experiencing a second cold front in as many weeks. At night the temperatures are in the 20s. This morning at the (almost completely empty) rifle range, the temperature was 38 degrees, but the air felt much colder due to high humidity and about a 12 kt. wind. It was nasty this morning.

I shot H-380 powder in one rifle, H-414 in another. The loads I used are ones I've fired thousands of times, but I had never before chronographed loads in cold temperatures.

I was astonished at the drop in muzzle velocity.

In the .257 Roberts rifle, I was shooting 75-grain Hornady V-Maxs pushed by 48.5 grains of H-380, a load that typically (and completely safely, in my rifles) gives me 3600 FPS MV. This morning the velocities using that load averaged 3400 FPS. For any kind of long shot, that's a significant trajectory change.

With the H-414 loads in my two 7x57 AI's pushing 139-grain Hornady SSTs and 140-grain Barnes TTSXs, I normally expect to see around 3075 FPS MV when the temperature is from about 72 degrees F to about 92 degrees F, and around 3100 FPS when the weather is hotter. (I won't shoot if the MVs approach 3150 FPS with either of those two loads, because although both rifles seem to handle the pressures fine, I choose not to push things too far.) This morning at 38 degrees F, I saw 2990-3000 FPS MV in both rifles (out of 24" barrels), with some rounds going out the muzzle at 2950 FPS. As the morning wore on, the MVs kept dropping. At any range of 300 yards or less, the trajectory difference would still be pretty small--an inch to an inch and a half or so, maybe a little more--but at longer ranges, the lower MVs could make a real difference. (I dispute that penetration potential would be significantly changed unless at extreme long distances.)

So . . . what are the best cold weather rifle powders for the quarter bore rounds, the 270, the 7mm family and the 308, 30-06 and 300 magnums? Please write a blog post about this.

TWD

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from jhjimbo wrote 16 weeks 2 days ago

TWD,
I have read that Ramshot is NATO Spec powder and probably more stable with temp variance. Also, have read Varget, Benchmark and Rel 15 tend to be stable.
I don't have first hand experience with them. I keep re loads in cooler out of the sun in the summer if I am checking them at the range and keep shells warm in the cooler months before use.
Good Luck.
Jim

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 16 weeks 2 days ago

Jim.

Thank you.

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes to all.

TWD

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from Shellcracker wrote 16 weeks 1 day ago

I took all of my actions out of the wood stocks, which for the most part were properly finished, for this very reason, and gave them all a light spray of spar marine urethane so they are impervious to oil and water. Same with the butt plates. I dont use oil on the bluing to prevent rust as some do, I use car wax which beads water off perfectly. For the barrels and actions, maybe 2 patches of breakfree then dry patches for my rifles every 20 rounds or so and never before hunting season after sighting in. Foaming bore cleaner maybe after 100 rounds or once per year for copper fouling. I did strip my scope screws of grease with alcohol and put a drop of breakfree when torquing as I read should be done, but I supposed that is wrong after reading this. For my 1911 it gets cleaned out with breakfree and then wiped dry and a drop of gun grease on each rail and one of break free on the internal recoil spring.

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from elmer f. wrote 16 weeks 5 hours ago

personally, it is my belief that if you want to trust something to work a certain way, you need to test it, repeatedly, in those desired conditions. if you want to see how oil flows in sub zero weather, put a half an ounce of it in the deep freeze, wait a couple of days, take it out and immediately pour it. most oils just sit there like a lump, taking their own sweet time to even move an inch. let alone pour. most oils will take a ridiculous amount of heat before breaking down. much more than anything but full auto for extended periods will create. dirt collection on the other hand, is amazing. oil attracts dirt so well, anything except for a 20+ pound neodymium magnet would be jealous.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

Dave you're dead on, using the wrong lubricant, weather and lubricant that turned to cosmoline due to age is the number one reason for equipment failure. For lubricants, I like Break-Free® it worked very well during High Power Competition in my M1 Garand and M1A. I used it to educe copper fouling in the bore, the only draw back, you had to fire 2 fouling shots before the match. While in Alaska in sub zero arctic temps, automatic transmission fluid was my #1 choice, don't plan to do a lot of shooting using it

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from Tim Platt wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Ken I have an embroidery hanging in my kitchen my mother made that says "Old age is not for sissies". Couldn't agree more. Killed two deer this morning and my whole body hurts from dragging them out. I almost passed on the second one just because I knew how much work it was going to be. I have heard WD40 works on human joints. I am thinking about trying it...

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from deadeyedick wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

To oil or not to Oil that is the question. Less is more. How many stocks have you seen ruined by eccesss oil ? I have had guns brought into my little shop over the years with the stocks full of oil. Customer, "my stock is loose" ME, " no your stock is so full of oil it is worthless. I've seen people squirt motor oil into the actions of thier guns. I don't really care all that much for gun-scrubber it does work but you have to be oh so very careful. I've seen guns where the finish was gone from the stocks and the coating was gone from the scopes. be sure to wear rubber gloves when using it because it will penetrate your skin.

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from Marion Johnson wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

An opossum Police friend of mine was given a Rem.788 in 6mm because "The sumbitch won't go off half the time". He sprayed the bolt with brake cleaner and had a minute of angle rifle for about $#1.95.

As a callow youth (what other kind is there?), I used my Mom's 3-in-1 oil liberally on my two guns. One cold day, my Win. M12 failed to fire on some winged creature. Learned two things; too much of a good thing is not a good thing & I had a heck of a flinch. Installed the first of many recoil pads after that epiphany.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from T.W. Davidson wrote 16 weeks 2 days ago

The cold weather-lubricant problems I read here cause me to think of another cold weather-shooting issue, namely how cold weather effects some powders significantly by reducing chamber pressure and thereby decreasing muzzle velocity. A blog post on this topic would be handy and useful, I would think, to many, including this shooter.

I live in NE TX, which nine months out of the year is hot ("Do you know why Smith County, TX is hot? Because hell is hot.") At present, however, my local geography is experiencing a second cold front in as many weeks. At night the temperatures are in the 20s. This morning at the (almost completely empty) rifle range, the temperature was 38 degrees, but the air felt much colder due to high humidity and about a 12 kt. wind. It was nasty this morning.

I shot H-380 powder in one rifle, H-414 in another. The loads I used are ones I've fired thousands of times, but I had never before chronographed loads in cold temperatures.

I was astonished at the drop in muzzle velocity.

In the .257 Roberts rifle, I was shooting 75-grain Hornady V-Maxs pushed by 48.5 grains of H-380, a load that typically (and completely safely, in my rifles) gives me 3600 FPS MV. This morning the velocities using that load averaged 3400 FPS. For any kind of long shot, that's a significant trajectory change.

With the H-414 loads in my two 7x57 AI's pushing 139-grain Hornady SSTs and 140-grain Barnes TTSXs, I normally expect to see around 3075 FPS MV when the temperature is from about 72 degrees F to about 92 degrees F, and around 3100 FPS when the weather is hotter. (I won't shoot if the MVs approach 3150 FPS with either of those two loads, because although both rifles seem to handle the pressures fine, I choose not to push things too far.) This morning at 38 degrees F, I saw 2990-3000 FPS MV in both rifles (out of 24" barrels), with some rounds going out the muzzle at 2950 FPS. As the morning wore on, the MVs kept dropping. At any range of 300 yards or less, the trajectory difference would still be pretty small--an inch to an inch and a half or so, maybe a little more--but at longer ranges, the lower MVs could make a real difference. (I dispute that penetration potential would be significantly changed unless at extreme long distances.)

So . . . what are the best cold weather rifle powders for the quarter bore rounds, the 270, the 7mm family and the 308, 30-06 and 300 magnums? Please write a blog post about this.

TWD

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from chuckles wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

Mr. Petzal, while I wholeheartedly follow your advice about oil on the base and ring screws I am curious as to why the manufacturers often recommend leaving it on. Many claim that Loctite is unnecessary if torqued to the proper spec. Do you have any insight as to why?
Otherwise since I hunt in MN I basically never use lube in any quantity.I apply a tiny bit to the bolt lugs of my ER Shaw rifles based on their recommendation to prevent galling and some on the lever of my lever action Henry. For everything else I rely on Birchwood Casey Barricade and Rand CLP both of which leave a microfilm of lubrication and seem to work well.
A Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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from fordman155 wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

Dry graphite is a great lubricant for bolts and receivers. Sprinkle a few drops of it on the lugs, the rails of the receiver, or anything else you think needs lubricant and then rub it in with a finger tip. The graphite doesn't attract or hold dirt. It also doesn't freeze or turn gummy when cold. And a tube of it will last a long, long time.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

I have always been a disciple of cleaning a gun when it is in need, not methodically. I have been told more good .22s had their barrels ruined by overcleaning than were ever taken out by gunpowder or harsh elements.

I regularly hunt hard in very harsh conditions. Mud, rain, snow, and terribly cold temps. I too have learned the lesson of using too much oil. I use 3-in-1 oil liberally on outer surface areas of the gun, NEVER in the mechanism. A bit of WD-40 may find its way into the mechanism but that's it! And I only use that crap in there because I know it's going to disappear soon. I prefer gun mechanisms that are clean and DRY ... especially dry of oil!

I also had a gummy firing pin seize at -20 ... with a moose standing broadside fifty yards away. Fortunately, it stood there long enough for me to quietly free things up with several dry fires (which could have broken that Springfield's firing pin at that temperature!). I didn't miss when it did fire although by then I was so hypothermic it seemed through my scope the moose was doing jumping jacks.

By the way, the worst gun oil in my books was the sh*t they made us use in the military. Looked like blended butter and vegetable oil. Perhaps it was.

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from ejunk wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

this isn't really the appropriate forum, but its on topic: I have an old remington 141 gamemaster. it used to fail to fire 100% of the time once the mercury dips into the neighborhood of freezing. if you've never seen one, the bolt of a 141 is one unit that is (apparently) composed of ~22 parts. no non-gunsmith in their right mind would try to disassemble it to clean it, though I am fairly certain that a thorough cleaning is exactly what it needs. I am also fairly certain that the internal workings of that bolt have probably not seen the light of day since it was manufactured. I have improved the performance greatly by liberally spraying it down with a gun scrubber type product, but it will still occasionally fail to fire until I cycle the action - not so useful a fix in a hunting situation. I am aware that the volume of oil based product I am injecting into the bolt is not advisable and it's not like I can really "rinse" the dirt and oil out of it. anyone have any advice? I know the real answer is to take it to a gunsmith, but that's actually easier said than done in my area.

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from davidpetzal wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

To Chuckles: The only scope rings that should have the lube left in place are the Leupolds that pivot into position. They come from the factory with what appears to be graphite grease on the dovetail studs, and it should be left there, otherwise the rings will gall as you turn them into position, and if you do it often enough, they'll lose their grip.

As for no Loc-Tite, I hardly ever use it for scope mounts. I've found that if you de-grease all the screw holes and screws with lighter fluid and use Torx screws, nothing comes loose unless you want it to.

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from Trap12 wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

While less lube is generally better, the amount needed depends on the type of weapon you're firing and the number of rounds you're putting through it. For example, gas impingement AR's can start hanging up after only a hundred rounds or so. Those who use them in an operational environment know that having some CLP available can keep them running when the chips are down. It's a much different matter if you're just out to sight-in your bolt rifle for the afternoon.

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from VicF wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

The aerosol cleaner for computer keyboards and other electronic whatnot works well for blowing out the crap that accumulates in the chamber of semiautos and pumps.

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from Mark Diman wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

Thanks for the story Mr. Petzal. A "lubed" rifle/firearm does not have to be wet. A small NH company, Sentry Solutions makes a full line of oil-free lubes. I first read about their TUF-CLOTH in a Bob Brister article. A friend's son was issued a TUF-CLOTH and TUF-GLIDE when in Afghanistan and then Iraq. These products replaced the use of CLP during the War for about 70,000 troops. Brownells sells all of Sentry Solutions' products and even puts their name on several- Action Lube Plus and Action Magic. TUF-CLOTH is one I rely on for all of my gear. You should take a look. My guns are practically self-cleaning.

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from davidpetzal wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

To Tootall75: Oiling the barrel is probably overkill. I've never had a clean barrel rust on me, and with the stainless ones, it's really not necessary. However, I've always lived in damp climates, and with a good barrel going for $600 in the blank...

To Trap 12 and Mark Diman: Noted, and thank you.

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from Tim Platt wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

I believe I mentioned Hoppe's Blast & Shine in that post, I hope you are not referring to me. It is a spray can that claims to remove all oil, grease, and deposits from metal gun parts. It is the solution when too much oil is the problem, and I have found it invaluable in cold weather when guns gook up, to use the technical term.... in short, it works.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

A little bit of Rem Oil wiped clean goes a long way. No oil ever in a rifle chamber! IIRC, the main malfunction with the early M-16 was improper lubricant combining with high residue powder fouling from the direct impingement gas system.

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from jhjimbo wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

I clean the bore with J-B non embedding paste and rinse with Hoppes 9 which is 75% Kerosene, or straight Kerosene. I may wash bolts and triggers with K-1, I do not use oil as K-1 leaves a very thin oil film when it dries. There is a cotton roll I use to go in and clean the bolt lock lug area in the action/barrel. It looks like a long cigarette filter made out of cotton.
For heavy copper or lead fouling I have the original Outers Foul Out electronic bore cleaner that works great.
The only thing I oil at the range is the slide on my Browning Challenger .22lr when shooting bowling pins.
Lately I am trying a new friction reducer on the bolt lug high pressure bearing surfaces - it's called motorkote. It combines with the steel at the molecular level for high performance friction reduction. A demonstration video is at their web site and it is sold by WallMart. www.motorkote.com Let me know what you think of the demo.
The other thing I do is twice a year I clean the bore of every rifle and handgun, whether fired or not.
In the '50's I had a Remington 11-48 that would 'freeze' up and not fire every time it got cold. Washed it all out with K-1 and it worked fine.

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from buckstopper wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Beware of some cleaners like BreakFree that can remove the finish from some firearms that have a Duracoat or a camo dip on the receiver or stock.

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from davidpetzal wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

To Tootall75: For powder fouling, Shooters Choice. For copper fouling J-B Bore compound.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Dave wish my server got FS posts here same day as others. Otherwise as fordman 155 said dry grafite is wonderful.
I do love Rem. oil as you mentioned. In pistols I prefer the silicone.

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from O Garcia wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Dave,

Maybe (I'm guessing) the blogger in question was bringing an AR to the range. Manually operated rifles are better off dry. The AR, like an internal combustion engine needs oil, and the AR needs oil more than any other auto-loader.

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from kudukid wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

ejunk:
Break that 141 down and stand the action in gasoline overnight (outside). Take it out and let it dry then give it a light spray of EEZOX synthetic. Reassemble and you're good to go.

Do not drink either the gasoline or the EEZOX.

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from keithjoyner wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

I've been extremely impressed with Nano-oil #10. My wife's PPA .22 is finally shooting without jams! I have a door that wouldn't close without a cuss word and some force and it has been gliding shut for a couple of years now from one application. It is really amazing stuff. You use very little (a drop or two) and the results improve the more you use the gun (or other device). It's made by St. Claire. Not very expensive and a little goes a long way. Try it and see what you think. I was impressed and use very little other lubicants (if any) on my guns. I found it on-line.

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from Ken Cuff wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Hoary. embittered, old, cheer up tis the season to be jolly and remember, growing old is not for sissies. That said very good article. Anyone who has been in the military should remember this. Put too much on your Garand and you could be walking guard duty an extra time or two.

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from Ruger wrote 16 weeks 3 days ago

FrogLube Best stuff ever!

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from jhjimbo wrote 16 weeks 2 days ago

TWD,
I have read that Ramshot is NATO Spec powder and probably more stable with temp variance. Also, have read Varget, Benchmark and Rel 15 tend to be stable.
I don't have first hand experience with them. I keep re loads in cooler out of the sun in the summer if I am checking them at the range and keep shells warm in the cooler months before use.
Good Luck.
Jim

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from 5280Shooter wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

I am guilty of learning the hard way that a little oil goes a long way. With the emphasis on 'little'. True that it is sometimes hard to resist putting on more because it just feels good to oil our rifles. Amazing how many products are now available for such things but no real proof that something truly better has come along.

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from tootall75 wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

I am quite anal when it comes to rifle maintenance/cleaning/lubrication etc... and read almost everything I can about the subject. You have been at this a long time DEP so when you broach the topic I pay close attention (you have said there is no "wrong" way to clean a gun but I still fret about it) You mention in the article "I also run a lightly-oiled patch through the bore and follow it with a dry one to get nearly all the oil out." So to be clear, there should be a bit of oil left in the bore to stave off rust after cleaning or should it be void of any oil. I hope that isn't a silly question.

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from tootall75 wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Thank you for responding DEP, I am certain I read somewhere you should run a lightly oiled patch down the bore after cleaning to stave off rust, perhaps some recommend doing that but nice to know it's not necessary. On a separate note, I am due for some new cleaning materials, you have made several recommendations in the magazine in the past as to what you feel are the best products, any recommendations for a "universal" cleaning kit, thanks in advance.

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from tootall75 wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Thank you for responding DEP, I am certain I read somewhere you should run a lightly oiled patch down the bore after cleaning to stave off rust, perhaps some recommend doing that but nice to know it's not necessary. On a separate note, I am due for some new cleaning materials, you have made several recommendations in the magazine in the past as to what you feel are the best products, any recommendations for a "universal" cleaning kit, thanks in advance.

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from tootall75 wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Thank you for responding DEP, I am certain I read somewhere you should run a lightly oiled patch down the bore after cleaning to stave off rust, perhaps some recommend doing that but nice to know it's not necessary. On a separate note, I am due for some new cleaning materials, you have made several recommendations in the magazine in the past as to what you feel are the best products, any recommendations for a "universal" cleaning kit, thanks in advance.

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from tootall75 wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Sorry for the triple post...darn website can be fickle sometimes.

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from kudukid wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Been to intercourse, PA so I know whereof I speak...lots of people wearing strange hats and bib overalls.

Also know from experience what oil can do in cold weather inside a Springfield '03 bolt - it can cost you the biggest buck you've ever seen.

The best gun lube you can find will be EEZOX. It will clean, lubricate, prevent rust and not collect dust/debris. It is good between 450F to -95F. No, I don't own stock.

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from kudukid wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Another worthwhile tip. When you put rifles and shotguns into your safe or closet, stand them up on their muzzles. Excess oil will run down to the muzzles thus protecting them and keeping it out of your wood stocks.

This will also allow you to put almost twice as many in your safe if you're running out of room standing them on their butts.

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from SL wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

I'll tell you one gun that needs some lubricant, and a lubricant like grease, not just oil is the Mosin- Nagant. I know, it's an old. outdated war rifle, but when I bought one just for the hell of it I was having the sticky bolt syndrome, which those rifles are supposed to be famous for. All the talk about getting the cosmoline out, and the scores of other things that have been written up about the sticky bolt issue were all BS. I tried everything and was still having trouble with the bolt. Finally decided to try some grease, and not just oil on the bolt around the camming slide section in the back that closes down over the sear. Worked like a charm! Never had a problem again. The volumes of stuff written about the sticky bolt issue and NO one ever mentioned some good old fashioned grease as a solution. Just proves to me that many of the self proclaimed gun experts out there don't know JACK. LOL

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from kudukid wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

tootall75:
If you leave oil in the bore your first shot is unlikely to go where you want. It can easily be off more than enough to give you problems by wounding animals.

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from kudukid wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Re JB bore compound:
One more...for those using the excellent JB bore compound; you might give FLITZ a try. A lot cheaper than JB and seems to do a better job. The heavy liquid in plastic bottles and paste in tubes are both good - the liquid maybe a bit easier - especially with bore guides with the hole that lets you apply stuff inside the guide.

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from TLF Nevada wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

I like Rem Wipes. Disassemble, wipe down all parts, and reassemble. Cleans and lubes in one simple step. Even leaves a bit of Teflon.

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from idahoelkandflyguy wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Some years ago when I carried a Glock to defend the constitution and up hold the laws of the state of Idaho I was taught by the regional Glock rep how to properly clean and oil my weapon. From a disassembled state it took exactly 3 drops of oil. This lubed the entire weapon including wiping the outside of the barrel. No failures to feed, no failures to go bang. My hunting weapons don't get much more than that.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 16 weeks 4 days ago

Chain saw bar lube works pretty good, a light coat on the barrel on autos doesn't evaporate and sticks well and less wear from the slide. Remember, "A LITTLE DAB WILL DO' YA"!

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from RockySquirrel wrote 16 weeks 3 days ago

Rem oil, light coat and let it sit while you work on other parts, Then wipe it off after teflon has had a chance to settle. The teflon is the key. I believe that It will build to a nice second skin on the part that will prevent rust and prevent seizing. So lubing is less and less necessary.

I use CLP for auto pistol and a few drops on the bolts of the pumps then wipe off. All those M4’s cleaned with the thing in Iraq and Afghanistan in the worst possible desert and mountain conditions and they still fire when your life depends on it is a hell of a recommendation. Sorry DEP.

Flintlocks is a different animal. Clean it very well and grease the bore and outside. The only place I use light oil on is the frizen to keep it from rusting during the off seasons. I always rod it before loading and after every shot.

All guns get a through winter clean and lube if they have been used or not. Then put away until practice time or hunting in the fall.

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 16 weeks 2 days ago

Jim.

Thank you.

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes to all.

TWD

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from Shellcracker wrote 16 weeks 1 day ago

I took all of my actions out of the wood stocks, which for the most part were properly finished, for this very reason, and gave them all a light spray of spar marine urethane so they are impervious to oil and water. Same with the butt plates. I dont use oil on the bluing to prevent rust as some do, I use car wax which beads water off perfectly. For the barrels and actions, maybe 2 patches of breakfree then dry patches for my rifles every 20 rounds or so and never before hunting season after sighting in. Foaming bore cleaner maybe after 100 rounds or once per year for copper fouling. I did strip my scope screws of grease with alcohol and put a drop of breakfree when torquing as I read should be done, but I supposed that is wrong after reading this. For my 1911 it gets cleaned out with breakfree and then wiped dry and a drop of gun grease on each rail and one of break free on the internal recoil spring.

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from elmer f. wrote 16 weeks 5 hours ago

personally, it is my belief that if you want to trust something to work a certain way, you need to test it, repeatedly, in those desired conditions. if you want to see how oil flows in sub zero weather, put a half an ounce of it in the deep freeze, wait a couple of days, take it out and immediately pour it. most oils just sit there like a lump, taking their own sweet time to even move an inch. let alone pour. most oils will take a ridiculous amount of heat before breaking down. much more than anything but full auto for extended periods will create. dirt collection on the other hand, is amazing. oil attracts dirt so well, anything except for a 20+ pound neodymium magnet would be jealous.

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from Amflyer wrote 16 weeks 6 days ago

VicF:

"I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like,
It's got a basket, a bell that rings,
And things to make it look good.
I'd give it to you if I could...
But I borrowed it."

Nice Avatar. Took me back to college.

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from VicF wrote 16 weeks 5 days ago

Amflyer:

I know a mouse and he hasn't got a house
I don't know why I call him Gerald
He's getting rather old but he's a good mouse.

One of the greats. And one of their great albums. Glad somebody recognized it.

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