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Few years ago I read an article touting the use of gun grease instead of oil on autopistol slide rails, so I tried it. Details to follow.

Just read another piece by gunsmith Alex Hamilton who says he never uses or recommends grease on any gun internal working surfaces.

The pro-grease side made the case that grease will not run off over time, as oil can, especially if carried muzzle-down, as a carry gun usually is.

Three of the guns I tried grease on were my .22 converted Browning P35, the Walther .22 P.38, and the .22 Ciener-converted 1911. They ran slickern' two eels on a date in a bucket of snot.

No problem with the first two, which I shoot 2000 rounds per year and then retire for the season, strip, clean, and re-lube.

Also no problem with the 1911 for the first 2000 rounds and quite a few after that. But I shoot this gun 5,000 rounds per year. At some point I noticed it was getting VERY sluggish. Stripped it and found that the grease had picked up enough .22 filth to turn it into a thick paste. Not good. Wiped it out, oiled the rails, and gave it another drop of oil every 1000 rounds or so till the end of the year and its annual cleaning, no further problems.

So my thinking is, grease is good but NOT for heavy shooting. Gonna shoot it a lot without detail cleanings in between, better off with oil.

Anyone here have strong preferences for one lube or the other?
 

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I've always been told OIL, especially on parts that quickly reciprocate against each other.
I suppose grease is OK on other internal parts .... but I have always used oil as it's what I usually have on hand when I am lubing weapons.
 

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One of my good friends is a game warden. He spend a lot of time in the woods and on the rivers and shoots IDPA and 3 gun comps almost every weekend with his duty guns.

All he uses is gear oil he gets from the co-op. The caution He told me is most gear oils with additives for limited slips and most cars have additives that will attack chrome and brass or copper and will ruin a nickle finish quick.

The oil he used is for gearboxes on farm equipment and doesn't have any anti wear additives. He swears it's the best thing for his AR15.

Dad and all my relatives used motor oil so thats what I use but switched to mobile one synthetic a while back but don't see any difference.

The only gun I use grease on is my Sig P239. I was lucky enough to attend a class put on by Bruce Gray and He showed me wear that I thought was normal was not. The black finish was wearing down and you could see a gold/silver color on the frame rails. He said this was wearing of the anodizing. I've used grease ever since and the wear spot has not grown or changed.
 

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Amen, it's why I've been a Dri-Slide fan for 40 years. Once the carrier fluid evaporates, the lube isn't going anywhere, and retains minimal debris.
 

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Well it should be first said that there’s no such thing as a lube and forget lubricant. All lubes will need to be cleaned off and replaced from time to time. As a general rule, you’ll get less WEAR on your gun if you oil rotating surfaces and grease sliding surfaces. But a lubricant should be matched to the environment in which the weapon will be used, and how often the weapon will see maintenance. If maintenance will be rare, and the environment extremely cold, then oil is the way to go for everything. If maintenance will happen often and no extreme environmental issues, then grease can work very well. If you were to choose just one, then oil is the way to go.
And guns are not very demanding when it comes to lubrication; it doesn’t take ultra bitchen lubes to make a gun work. Plain old motor oil (which is actually a damned good lubricant ) will work very well for most firearms in most circumstances.
For extended periods of concealed carry with little opportunity to maintain your pistol, you might consider one of the non-leaching dry lubes. But it’s rare anyone cannot at least wipe down their gun put a drop or two of oil to keep it properly lubricated.
Just my .02
 

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I agree with Kevin. I'm old-School about 1911s, I use Plastilube on the rails. Why? I shoot Garands, I got a ton of it! And, I don't use just any oil, I use LSA. I clean every 250 rounds if I'm firing FMJs, 200 if I'm firing lead. So, that's pretty-much every time I shoot. You can't really treat a handgun, even a .22 like a .22rifle. I clean off the old grease and re-grease when I clean. Doesn't take alot.
BTW, Plastilube works great, has great adhesion, very slick, and really doesn't attract alot of gunk, even when I'm generating empty cases for reloading with WWB, and that's some dirty ammo.
 

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spwenger said:
Grant Cunningham...recommends oil on rotating surfaces and grease on sliding surfaces...
What is the functional difference between rotation and sliding, in terms of lubrication?
At first glance, both cases present a metal surface sliding against another metal surface.
The only difference, sliding vs. rotating, that I could think of would be the case of a pivot point within a conical bearing-surface. But there aren't many of those in guns, I think.
 

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Steve M1911A1 said:
spwenger said:
Grant Cunningham...recommends oil on rotating surfaces and grease on sliding surfaces...
What is the functional difference between rotation and sliding, in terms of lubrication?
Did you happen to click the link I provided to Grant's article? I ask because it's not clear whether you disagree with him or simply want an explanation.
 

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spwenger said:
...Did you happen to click the link I provided to Grant's article? I ask because it's not clear whether you disagree with him or simply want an explanation.
No, I must admit that I didn't click and look. I have read Cunningham's article previously.
I don't disagree. I just wanted to know the difference, which is not immediately completely obvious.

I've just looked at the essay again. Now, I guess, I mildly disagree.
Cunningham differentiates between lubricants which just sit there (grease), and lubricants which migrate (oil). He says that grease better resists pressure, and oil gets into all of the tight, inaccessible places.
But if the lubricant you use needs to be removed-and-replaced pretty frequently anyway, I still see no functional difference. I would use oil for everything, not only because it migrates usefully, but also because it's more easily removed. Every irremovable, microscopic remnant of grease will contain its microscopic remnant of contaminating grit, while contaminated oil might be more easily flushed away with solvent.
In a sealed environment, grease would be fine. But guns are not sealed environments.

Since I own a Garand, I've also thought about the Lubriplate that was issued with it. I wonder whether using something like Break Free might be better.
 

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Steve M1911A1 said:
No, I must admit that I didn't click and look. I have read Cunningham's article previously. I don't disagree. I just wanted to know the difference, which is not immediately completely obvious.
My take is that at a pivot point, oil is likely to remain in the space where it seeped while on sliding surfaces it is more likely than grease to work its way out to the ends of the surfaces. Additionally, on pistols carried vertically in holsters, oil is more likely drain out of the slide rails and, if the pistol is stored horizontally in a safe between range sessions, more likely to end up on your shooting glasses.
 

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I've never been comfortable with grease on handguns but agree that the old yellow plastilube is great for rotating bolts such as the M-1. LSA or the new TW-25B are probably just as good.

One of the things I brought home from the USAF was a secret formula for 1911 lube that was equal parts of Marvel Mystery Old and GI O-190. Today I use a lot of Break Free and my range bag has a bunch of sample bottles picked up at the shot show or anywhere it's free.

I used to have lube sellers tell me the best stories of their magic stuff but if it got too outrageous I'd let something about my chemistry training slip into the conversation...

I would always respond to the "your gun will run better" claims by asking how that could be if it is already 100%. Or show me a gun that simply won't run at all until your magic stuff is used... another good way to end conversation...

I think too much lube is just as bad as too little, but guns don't need nearly as much cleaning as the folks who sell patches want us to believe... :wink:
 

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Steve M1911A1 said:
spwenger said:
Grant Cunningham...recommends oil on rotating surfaces and grease on sliding surfaces...
What is the functional difference between rotation and sliding, in terms of lubrication?
At first glance, both cases present a metal surface sliding against another metal surface.
The only difference, sliding vs. rotating, that I could think of would be the case of a pivot point within a conical bearing-surface. But there aren't many of those in guns, I think.
rotating surfaces, like the hammer and its' pin or strut rotate, Grease won't penetrate those surfaces like an oil will. Conversely, oil won't stay on a sliding surface, like the rails, like grease will.

Oil on a sliding point such as the rails won't stay for several reasons;
1.) Force from the slides' action at high velocity will sling oil away from the point to be lubricated.
2.) Heat from a high-speed, high friction point like a slide-rail will heat oil and evaporate it.
3.) Oil is a liquid, as Stephan stated earlier, when the pistol is worn the oil WILL migrate down the rails and out via the dust cover.

Grease won't work on a rotating point like the Hammer-strut because being a semi-solid it won't flow into the joints of the hammer/strut like the more liquid oil will. You could use grease but, you'd have to detail-strip the pistol each time you cleaned to apply it. The oil will stay longer at that point because it isn't subjected to the forces it would be on the slide-rails.
 

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Yeah, I got that.
But my question has more to do with, "Why use grease at all?" (Except, of course, on Garand op-rods. But even there...)
 

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Steve M1911A1 said:
Yeah, I got that.
But my question has more to do with, "Why use grease at all?" (Except, of course, on Garand op-rods. But even there...)
Simple, high-speed, high friction point. Further, oil will sling off reducing it's usefullness, evaporate quicker, and it will become less effective faster due to contaminates like dirt/dust. Everybody thinks CLP is the end-all/Do-all of lubricants. It's not. First, it's too thin, in my mind, to really lube for any length of time. It evaporates much too quickly, Sliding parts lubed with it dry out in no time at all and any residual action left by it is quickly worn off of the surface of the parts. Even LSA, which is much more viscious, won't last any meaningful amount of time in such an application.
Question, would you trust Motor-Oil to safely lube your Wheel-Bearings? It'll work...if you tear down and relube the bearings every other day. On the other hand, bearing grease lasts many tens of thousands of miles. Why? For the reasons I've stated.
 

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Retmsgt. said:
...[O]il will...become less effective faster due to contaminates like dirt/dust...
That's exactly the sort of thing I want to know more about.

It seems counter-intuitive, in that grease would be more tenacious, and would therefore hang onto dirt and grit more tenaciously than would oil. Further, grease is harder to remove, which, it seems to me, might keep contaminants hanging around longer than had they been captured by oil.

Many of us do tear down and re-lubricate a firearm, right after using it, so I'm not sure that the wheel-bearing analogy holds. (Also, older wheel bearings sported oil- or grease-cups, for daily service just before use.)

Any further thoughts?
 

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Steve M1911A1 said:
Yeah, I got that.
But my question has more to do with, "Why use grease at all?" (Except, of course, on Garand op-rods. But even there...)
Certainly there's no NEED for grease. Grease is a great lube for those who want maximum wear protection for their firearms. In 99% of firearms you really don't need maximum protection, but as Charlie pointed out, M1 series weapons can really benefit from grease where the op rod meets the bolt.
 

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I think a point is being missed here:

only a thin film of oil is needed on sliding parts like 1911 slides or barrels so unless it gets really hot the oil is going to persist due to surface tension. for a conventional slide/frame fit there is really plenty of room for the lube but it's going to stay put unless it gets really hot or is wiped away.

I discussed a test of 1911s where they were fired literally thousands of rounds non-stop and most lubes burned off. The recommendation there was for Kellube OM12 which is a synthetic of some type that is a very thick fluid. I have tried it and it is indeed persistent but maybe overkill for normal shooting.
 

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Steve M1911A1 said:
[quote="Retmsgt.":3i231441]...[O]il will...become less effective faster due to contaminates like dirt/dust...
That's exactly the sort of thing I want to know more about.

It seems counter-intuitive, in that grease would be more tenacious, and would therefore hang onto dirt and grit more tenaciously than would oil. Further, grease is harder to remove, which, it seems to me, might keep contaminants hanging around longer than had they been captured by oil.

Many of us do tear down and re-lubricate a firearm, right after using it, so I'm not sure that the wheel-bearing analogy holds. (Also, older wheel bearings sported oil- or grease-cups, for daily service just before use.)

Any further thoughts?[/quote:3i231441]

Steve, the problem with contaminents is viscosity. Oil, being much thinner than grease, is affected much more quickly than grease by comtaminents. In grease the particles get suspended, on Oil they go down through it to the nearest surface.

There's also a big difference between a teardown into groups for cleaning and a complete detail strip, which would be necessary to get grease onto parts traditionally penetrated easily by oil. Modern Wheel-bearings, in use since the late 70s, are self-contained. From the late 50s on Wheel-bearings were packed and sealed inside the Drum or Disc.

It all boils down to really, what works best for you and your gun.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
I think a point is being missed here:

...I discussed a test of 1911s where they were fired literally thousands of rounds non-stop and most lubes burned off. The recommendation there was for Kellube OM12 which is a synthetic of some type that is a very thick fluid. I have tried it and it is indeed persistent but maybe overkill for normal shooting.
Worth noting is that "normal shooting" has different meanings for different people. For many it means a box or two of ammo at a leisurely range session or possibly up to a handful of rounds in an actual gunfight. For some instructors it means on the order of a thousand rounds fired in a one-day course.

I have always taken the latter with a grain of salt as I suspect that, with the exception of machine-gunners, few soldiers fire that much in one day of battle. However, those of us who prepare for those few seconds of life-saving gunfire typically want our guns to be in 100% state of reliability.
 
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