Your dependable firearm won’t be dependable for long if you don’t care for it. Regardless of what type of gun you have, or how much you paid for it, if you don’t clean and lubricate it on a regular basis you’ll be asking for trouble.
Oiling your gun ensures smooth, reliable action, enables better all-temperature performance, prevents rusting, reduces residual buildup and increases longevity. There are a lot of gun oils on the market today, and finding one that will serve your gun best isn’t always easy. To make your search a little easier we’ve brought together our picks for the 10 best gun oils of 2021.
1. Ballistol Multi-Purpose Oil
Ballistol Multi-Purpose Oil comes with a pretty impressive history behind it. It was originally created to provide the German Army with a single lubricant that would clean and protect their firearms while lubricating them at the same time. The formulation has changed little over the years, and why should it? As the saying goes “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Perhaps the most important virtue of Ballistol Multi-Purpose Gun Oil is that it virtually eliminates the need for brushing and scraping, making gun maintenance much simpler, faster and easier. If you’re looking for an all-purpose oil that will stand up to a wide range of temperatures, lubricate all the important components of your weapon and loosen frozen nuts and bolts as well, here it is.
2. Hoppe’s M-Pro 7 LPX Gun Oil
Hoppe’s probably has the greatest name recognition of any company in the gun oil space, and that recognition is well-earned. They produce an array of affordable, high-quality lubricants, cleaners and protectants of which their M-Pro 7 LPX Gun Oil is, in our opinion, their best. The “M” in M-Pro stands for Military and indicates that, like Ballistol Multi-Purpose Oil, this product was initially developed for the armed forces.
Also like Ballistol this is a general purpose oil that cleans, lubricates and protects while repelling dirt, reducing friction and preventing wear and tear. No gun oil is just oil and this one also contains special additives that guard against corrosion and prevent the oil from evaporating too quickly, thereby reducing how often you’ll need to use it. It’s also applicable to a wide range of environmental conditions and temperatures. Just an outstanding all-around product.
3. Extreme Force Gun Oil
Extreme Force Gun Oil does not have the name recognition of Hoppe’s but it’s right in the conversation with M-Pro 7 for best gun oil. This is a versatile oil that will stand up to a range of temperatures, won’t break down in the high-pressure semi-auto environment, make cleanup a snap and is very easy to apply.
Extreme Force Gun Oil is formulated with an array of cleansers that cut through gunk and keep things moving smoothly. Just a small amount of this oil will go a long way and last a long time. When it comes time to clean your gun Extreme Force Gun Oil won’t contribute to the mess. In fact, it will reduce the amount of debris you need to remove and cut cleanup time by as much as 50%. Those who hunt in extreme cold conditions may want to try another gun oil. But for everybody else, Extreme Force should fit the bill nicely.
4. Lucas Gun Oil
Lucas Gun Oil has been around a long time and has a lot of loyal users who swear by it. It’s easy to see why. This is a great all-purpose gun oil that cleans and protects as well as it lubricates. It’s a fine choice to apply to your weapon before putting it into long-term storage. And it’s also a fine choice for everyday use on rapid-fire weapons.
Lucas Gun Oil does not wilt from high temps or extreme pressure in the chamber. It contains cleansers that work overtime to prevent residue from coalescing and impeding performance and it’s totally odorless to boot. Whether your weapon of choice is a pistol or an assault rifle, Lucas Gun Oil will provide the protection, lubrication and no-nonsense cleanup you’re after.
5. Remington Rem Oil
Rem Oil from Remington is maybe best known for its proprietary blend that includes Teflon to keep all components of your firearm working in harmony. But it’s more than just a first-class lubricant. The formulation also includes anti-corrosives that save your gun when the humidity is high or when you want to park your gun in storage for an extended period of time.
In addition, Remington Rem Oil does a great job preventing residue from accumulating in a way that could be troublesome, and it facilitates fast effective cleanup. While it may be best for semi-automatic pistols and rifles, it will also do a good to excellent job keeping your revolver or shotgun working to perfection. The fact that it’s available in a variety of forms is just icing on the cake for this gun oil.
6. Lucas Extreme Gun Oil
Lucas Oil makes a second appearance on our list with their outstanding Extreme Gun Oil. This oil has one of the widest applicable temperature ranges you’ll find (-38 to +400 Fahrenheit), but that’s not the only reason to consider picking some up. It also provides robust protection against corrosion and doesn’t break down even in the brutal environment of the AR15.
Lucas Oil Extreme Gun Oil also contains effective detergents that enable fast clean up, spreads easily across all surfaces, stays in place regardless of how hard you work it, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. If there is a downside here it’s that this is not the easiest gun oil to apply. It might take you a few applications to get used to it, and during that time you’ll probably waste some.
7. G96 Triple-Action Gun Treatment
G96 Triple-Action Gun Treatment is another one of our favorite all-purpose gun oils. It does an outstanding job of lubricating and protecting the inner workings of your firearm, while also facilitating rapid cleanup. If you’re into cold weather hunting you’ll want to keep this gun oil in mind as it’s rated down to -50 Fahrenheit.
G96 leaves an unobtrusive but effective magnetized film on your gun’s moving parts that protects against corrosion and keeps debris from one shot out of the way of the subsequent shot. Guaranteed not to gum up on you in the cold, G96 Triple-Action Gun Treatment should be in every hunter’s gun maintenance kit.
8. Slip 2000 Extreme Weapons Lubricant
Slip 2000 Extreme Weapons Lubricant is formulated to retain its viscosity many times longer than standard gun oil. If you own an AR15, or rapid fire pistol this gun oil should be on your shopping list. The focus of this formula is on reducing friction which, in turn, acts to keep temperatures down.
But Slip 2000 is not a one-trick pony. It also does a good to excellent job keeping firing residue at bay and makes cleanup a painless process. This is an entirely synthetic product that will not burn away like petroleum products will. Just for the record: while the product is advertised as “non-toxic” we wouldn’t want to risk ingesting any.
9. Mossy Oak Gun Oil
Mossy Oak CLP is an affordable, effective all-purpose gun oil that cleans, lubricates and protects all at the same time. It’s easy to apply, stands up to a wide range of temperatures and does a good job preventing corrosion, which also makes it a good choice to apply to weapons you’re planning on putting in storage for a while.
At the same time, it’s a great every day lube. It prevents buildup of fouling residue, doesn’t gunk up in the cold, doesn’t break down under the pressure of semi-automatics and won’t ruin your leather holster or wooden handle. If there’s a downside it’s that the spray bottle can be a bit wasteful.
10. Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner
Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner is not a true lubricant, although it will do a serviceable job in that role. What it is is a first-class way to remove fouling residue and abrasive debris quickly and thoroughly. And that should be what you’re looking for when it comes time to clean your weapon. No. 9 will work on any firearm from your antique revolver to your shotgun, to your AR15.
We included this on our list of gun oils because it has such widespread applicability and will set your gun up perfectly for the application of your favorite gun oil. It’s an important part of the 1-2 punch that is cleaning and lubricating your firearm. It penetrates quickly and thoroughly, makes short work of the most stubborn debris, has a pleasant odor and an unblemished record of effectiveness.
What Is Gun Oil?
Gun oil provides an array of benefits that we’ll get into shortly. But its primary purpose is to provide lubrication between the moving parts of your gun. Those nice, smooth machined surfaces on your gun are not actually as nice and smooth as they appear to the naked eye. In reality, they contain a plethora of tiny imperfections that can cause excessive wear and tear, and perhaps lead to jamming and other problems, if left unattended.
Gun oil provides a barrier between parts that prevents those imperfections from coming in contact with one another and creating bigger problems. Most of the benefits of gun oil stem from this ability to minimize friction, and we’ll get into those benefits now.
What are the Benefits of Gun Oil?
Trouble-free performance – As we just mentioned the machined parts of your gun look silky smooth to the naked eye, and if their purpose was strictly decorative, they would be fine just the way they are. But the forces brought to bear on the moving parts inside a firearm are intense and magnify the negative potential of even the smallest imperfections. Even a tiny bit of friction will impede optimal performance and increase the heat generated by the moving parts. Not only that, but failure to lubricate the various parts will open the door to corrosion and even bigger trouble down the line.
Corrosion resistance – Speaking of corrosion, guns are not immune to environmental conditions and one of the most insidious is humidity. Like any object or mechanism made primarily from ferrous metal (1), guns are susceptible to corrosion. Even bringing a gun into a tent overnight, where moisture from sweaty humans accumulates inside, can cause flash rust on a poorly maintained gun. Keeping your gun properly oiled will help ensure humidity doesn’t shorten its life and impede its performance.
Increased longevity – When it comes to those things that determine how long your gun will last, how much you paid for it takes a back seat to how well you maintain it. A modestly priced handgun may last several years if poorly maintained, or it may last a century (or longer). If you leave your beautiful new rifle in the garage in between occasional trips to the range you can bet it’s going to rust out from under you in short order. If, however, you store it properly (2) and clean and lubricate it regularly (3), it will likely outlast you.
Provides greater understanding of your weapon – Knowing how your gun is put together is essential to gun safety and proper maintenance. Every time you take it apart to clean and lubricate it you will become more comfortable with it. Guns are often taken at face value as indivisible objects that fire bullets. But they’re actually minor miracles of engineering, and the more you know about your gun the more you’ll appreciate it. Just as mechanics are often the best car owners, those who truly understand their guns are usually the best gun owners.
Heat resistance – High powered assault rifles and shotguns generate enormous amounts of heat. Synthetic gun oils are formulated to deal with the intense heat these weapons produce and enable reliable performance in all conditions. In addition, gun oil is often a better choice of lubricant for extremely cold weather than grease, since grease tends to thicken up when the temperature dips into the single digits.
Fewer jams – Guns jam for a variety of reasons (4), including a failure to fire, failure to extract, failure to feed, failure to eject and a variety of mechanical failures (more on these shortly). Most of these have one thing in common: poor maintenance, including using the wrong type of lubrication or waiting too long between cleaning and lubricating the gun. With the right gun oil and a proper cleaning regimen you can help reduce or eliminate jams.
What are the Benefits of Proper Gun Maintenance?
Lubricating your gun is an essential aspect of proper gun maintenance, and above we looked into the various benefits of lubrication in particular. But what are the benefits of proper gun maintenance in general? Let’s take a look.
Proper maintenance prevents the buildup of fouling residue – Every time you fire your gun it produces residue in the form of trace amounts of gunpowder, lead and copper. If the gun is not cleaned on a regular basis that residue will build up and undermine your gun’s reliability and accuracy.
Proper maintenance prevents corrosion – Moisture is the enemy of the ferrous metals used to create your gun. Therefore, how you store your weapon will play a large role in determining whether it succumbs to corrosion, but so too will maintenance. If the gun is not properly cleaned and lubricated on a regular basis it will be just as susceptible to corrosion as if it were stored improperly.
Proper maintenance prevents “failure to fire” – Guns that are not properly maintained commonly experience what’s called a failure to fire (5), or a misfire. That’s just what it sounds like in that you pull the trigger and nothing happens. Misfires are often the result of carbon buildup on the firing pin, something that can be easily avoided through proper maintenance of your gun.
Proper maintenance helps prevent “failure to feed” issues – Failure to feed malfunctions happen when, as the name implies, the round fails to feed into the chamber and the gun jams. There are several possible causes for this, including pitting, or some type of damage to the chamber itself. But as often as not the cause is excessive carbon buildup in the chamber due to improper maintenance.
Proper maintenance can prevent “failure to eject” – With this issue the round is chambered properly and fires without incident but the casing becomes jammed in the barrel after firing. This is primarily an issue that afflicts pistols and semi-automatic rifles, simply because of the nature of their engineering, and it is often caused by poor maintenance.
Are There Other Things I Should Know About Gun Oil?
Gun oil is great stuff but it’s not the be-all, end-all of gun maintenance, nor can it solve all gun problems. In addition, people often make mistakes lubricating their guns and then blame the resulting errors on the lubrication itself. With all that in mind here are some things you should know about gun oil.
Gun oil failures are often user failures – If a gun owner experiences a problem related to gun oil it is rarely a problem with the oil itself. Instead, it can typically be traced to errors like applying too much or too little oil. Or applying gun grease when gun oil is called for (gun grease is sometimes preferred for parts with vertical motion because it tends to stay in place better). So before blaming the gun oil, consider how much you used and whether grease would have been a better choice.
Gun oil is not the answer to everything – You can’t take an old gun suffering from excessive wear and tear and fix it with a bit of gun oil. Also, you can’t just spray some gun oil on this part or that and expect everything to work like a charm. You still need to take the gun apart and clean it on a regular basis.
There are different kinds of gun oil – Some gun oils are specifically formulated for hot or cold conditions. As such, when buying gun oil you need to be careful to make sure you’re getting the kind you need. If what you really want is an all-purpose gun oil make sure that is what you’re buying. Otherwise you could experience performance problems should the temps rise too high or fall too low.
Gun oil isn’t just oil – The term “gun oil” is a blanket term used to define a class of lubricants. But gun oil typically contains a variety of additives so you should be careful to make sure you’re getting the formulation you want. Additives may include detergents to aid in cleaning, anti-corrosives to improve resistance against water and humidity, and other additives intended to improve performance.
Some gun oils contain boundary agents – Boundary agents (6) sound like people who work the border, but in this case they are ingredients added to gun oil to thicken it up a bit so that it stays in place better. If you’re looking for a gun oil to take the place of gun grease you should consider one formulated with a boundary agent or agents.
You don’t always get what you pay for – The old saying that “you get what you pay for” doesn’t always apply to gun oil. You might pay top dollar for a particular oil only to find it’s formulated for cold weather performance when you typically encounter hot weather. Or you might find your expensive gun oil is expensive simply because of the name attached, and doesn’t provide the type of protection or performance you hoped. So, don’t make your choice based solely on price.
The Bottom Line
Gun oil is an essential component of any good gun maintenance program. It helps prevent corrosion, reduces the number of jams, helps prevent the buildup of fouling residues, enhances overall performance and increases the lifespan of the weapon.
As sturdy and well-engineered as they are, firearms are not indestructible. They require regular attention and care with the right materials, including gun oil, as well as proper storage and handling if they are to provide reliable, long-term performance.
All of the gun oils on the above list are quality lubricants with proven track records of reliability. Use the information in the above Buyer’s Guide to make an informed decision regarding which gun oil is right for you.