I wanted to share what I use for cleaning and lubrication as well as the reasons why.
We have received a lot of emails, questions and comments on all fronts. Facebook, YouTube and even direct emails. What lube and why, how much, best cleaner, etc. and my answers have started to get pretty long-winded. So instead, I thought maybe I could outline some of the differences between all the products I use and why I feel they are beneficial to me and my firearms.
If you are looking for me to give you a do it all cleaner and lube that works amazingly on everything, I am sorry to tell you I haven’t found it yet. What I have found is several companies that make amazing products that work for me on specific types of guns. I cannot emphasize enough, this is what I have found works for ME and for very specific reasons. Experience with different cleaners and lubes combined with different firearms and materials will vary by your desire to clean and the amount of time available.
Let’s start with the cleaners.
Hoppe’s #9 is still my go to for all the built up crud, any surface rust or just funk in general that I don’t like on the gun. If the problem isn’t an easy clean for you, individual parts can be soaked in the stuff to help break it loose overnight. The smell instantly reminds just about everyone of the first time they learned how to clean, and for good reason. Stuff like this doesn’t stick around for over 100 years for no good reason. Heck, they even make an air freshener now that smells like this magic oil. I use it on guns that have either always had it, or guns that have fallen victim to neglect and lack of cleaning (read: poorly cleaned used guns and victims of the elements).
M-Pro 7 is the cleaner I use least but will never get rid of it. This stuff really is amazing and can bring back the metal AND polymer on just about every gun to a like new clean finish. To top it all off it does this without any fumes. This is great for mixed materials firearms, like polymer frames and steel slides, quad rails with polymer hand guards or even your optics housings, wood anything. It takes a little longer to soak in but the final product from your patience is rewarding. It works good on built up fouling and gunk but takes a little longer and more elbow grease for the abused stuff. Great for regular cleanings as well as cleaning multiple firearms in one sitting.
NON-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner. I have tried other aerosol type blasters and for the dollar value, auto-zone non-chlorinated brake cleaner at about $10 for 3 cans kicks the crap out of other options at $16-$30 per can. I only use this for one thing, I need whatever is on this weapon gone and done. Sometimes a cleaner or lube is not working out, or fouling and corrosion are a bit out of control. Sometimes you just need a part super clean before lubing. This stuff gets it done and gets it done cheap which preps you for a new cleaner or lube with a clean slate.
There are a couple “combination” items I use as well and these are both gaining popularity among the shooting community. These two are really great at being a do-it-all solution but are drastically different from each-other.
Frog Lube, yes I am a believer. Frog Lube has been fantastic on several of my firearms and I would have it on all of them if not for a few things I have found from experience to either be a time consuming pain or an unforeseen inconvenience due to the nature of the stuff. Frog Lube CLP does it all, it cleans, cleans VERY well. With a toothbrush and some Frog Lube you can clean everything, all while smelling minty and fresh. To do it well and thorough though requires some time and patience on the initial setup. The benefits are great though if you don’t want to clean your weapon constantly and have it run fantastically. One thing I have found personally is it doesn’t seem to play nice with Nickel Boron coatings.
FIREClean is a new one to me, I have fairly limited experience with it but sought it out after running into the nickel boron issue. I have since begun using it on my Nickel Boron AR as well as my M&P 9mm and I must say it works very quick to help clean crap out and begin conditioning metal components fast. It doesn’t seem to leave any obnoxious amounts of excess fluid behind if you do it right either. Excess fluid catches more fouling, sprays and sputters during cycling, just creates a mess. FIREClean tends to stay put. It’s like someone figured out how to combine solvent and lube properties and textures and make them work together.
Now, I promised you different lubes and why. I will try not to ramble but I use several lubes for several firearms and will explain why. Some may have truth to them, some may be justifications for me not to change my stubborn ways. You be the judge, if nothing more maybe you can get some better ideas about how and why you use the products you use.
Hoppe’s Lubricating Oil is the go to for me for several of my firearms to this day. It is however, my go to for firearms that have either had nothing but Hoppe’s or similar lubricants their entire life or they are not used that often and Hoppe’s helps for long-term storage. Generally my revolvers and bolt action rifles that don’t see as much action as the daily use guns. Hoppe’s provides good protection for all the metal surfaces that may sit in the safe for long periods of time. It’s fairly inexpensive and if I ever needed to rotate the particular firearm into daily rotation it is easy to remove and change out for some “higher test” lubrication. This has worked out great for me over the years and I see no reason to strip and change out the lubrication because I got something newer or “better.”
MiliTec was one of the first synthetic lube I used and for stuff that has really tight tolerances I find it works very well. Synthetic lubricants tend to have (literally) smaller molecules and get in cracks and crevices pretty well. I haven’t used Militec in awhile as that tended to be my heavy use lubricant until I found some of the newer products out there. It is easy to over do and it tends to be so slippery that you shed a lot of excess lube due to it’s properties. It is a good lube but I have newer stuff that suits me better. I just see no reason to get rid of it and you never know when you may get a firearm that fits it perfectly.
Frog Lube was a curiosity that led to true fan-boy-ism. Not only does it breakdown and clean out carbon, fouling and gunk really well but as a lube it works really well too. The way it works is you “condition” the metal to use Frog Lube and it works similar to a cast iron cooking pan. Get it hot, apply lube and it smoothes out and spreads out like melted butter. The hotter you get the parts and the more you apply and wipe, the better it gets. It really is amazing. There are a couple reasons I haven’t converted every gun I own exclusively to Frog Lube. One, there is a bit of a prep work involved when. Once you set the weapon up for Frog Lube which includes stripping it down, heating up all the individual parts, applying the paste and wiping it down, from there on out you use Frog Lube. You can throw a petrol based lube in there in a pinch, but Frog Lube is just going to eat it up and treat it like fouling or gunk. This stuff is like bacon grease and works really well unless you want to use something else. If you have the time to set up the weapon with Frog Lube and don’t want to constantly be cleaning, GREAT solution.
The other problem I ran into was with my Nickel Boron BCG and components. By default NiBor is pretty slick and not much sticks to it. I ran the setup with no lube and it functioned fairly well, but after adding Frog Lube and high round counts, the BCG began getting gummed up in the lugs, with failure to eject, jammed and stuck forward, light primer strikes… it just went on and on and drove me nuts. This was very disappointing since as I said, huge fanboy of Frog Lube. My other AR-15’s still run Frog Lube with my NiBor being the exception. Also, handguns that are Polymer/metal combos like Glock and M&P are kind of a pain with Frog Lube and I don’t like tip-toeing around melting my polymer for application.
FIREClean has been really impressive so far. I run it on the M&P 9mm since Superbowl had fantastic results with it and it has been nothing short of impressive. 500 rounds from a brand new un-lubed pistol and this thing still looks brand new inside. I have also found it took care of all the problems I was having with the NiBor setup not just in getting the frog lube off and out, but also in enhancing the “self-lubricating” properties of the nickel boron. That AR-15 is now a clean and slippery setup that I can’t wait to really put to the test once 5.56 becomes available again. Overall it wipes easy, applies easy and stays put. Pretty much magical mystery snake oil only it actually seems to work.
SO that’s it. That’s what I use and why, for some visual representation be sure to check the video as well. Who knows, maybe something works for you, maybe you have something new you want to recommend that works better for me. I am a creature of habit and unless something is a dramatic difference in performance or application I tend to just ignore it. I hope this helps all the newer guys figure out a path that will work best for them and their new firearms as well as maybe some of the veteran owners see some benefits of newer products. At the end of the day, what works best for your usage, storage and cleaning process is what is best for you. If you are looking for less cleaning time, different solution, or even a different perspective maybe some of these work for you. Stay safe, check your chambers.