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April 20, 2007

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A Few Kind Words About Grease

My wife often rearranges our cats. She picks them up and places them at points in the house that meet some incomprehensible scheme of things. The cats, being well mannered, go along with this and then go right back to where they were.

This is the way that gun oil behaves. You put it where you think it ought to go and then it goes where it pleases, which is usually into your stock, or your trigger, or your receiver. That is why we have grease. Grease stays where you put it.

Here is a brief review of some different kinds of grease I’ve found useful.

At the head of the list is RIG, which stands for Rust Inhibiting Grease. The stuff has been around since before World War II, and is the best thing I know of for preventing rust long-term. (It does not lubricate.) RIG is sold with a sheepskin pad, called a RIG Rag. You work a little into the wool and then wipe your guns. I’ve never had a RIGged gun rust on me.

Next is white lithium grease, which is sold in hardware stores. It’s for lubrication, not rust prevention, and is best used on shotguns, where it clings like grim death. Trapshooters love it, except when it comes time to get it off. Lubriplate is similar, and just as effective.

Birchwood Casey Choke Tube Lube, when applied to your choke tubes, will keep them from sticking. It seals the threads so all the nasty stuff can’t get at them. It also makes sensational stains on clothing.

Brownell’s Action Lube Plus is highly useful at any point where there is friction, such as bolt lugs, or the front rings of rotary-dovetail scope mounts, or pistol slides. Use sparingly.

Cosmoline is still around after who knows how many years, and will still do the job, although it is a nightmare to remove.

And a safety note: I don’t believe in greasing the bore of any firearm. If it’s clean and oiled it won’t rust, and hardened grease that you’ve forgotten about can cause dire jumps in pressure. I know of a truly frightful accident that was caused at least in part by old grease in an Enfield bore.


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Dave, mineral spirits or paint thinner will easily remove cosmolene. I've used this to clear out several surplus rifles, and it's a simple, clean, and cheap solution.

If anyone happens to buy a surplus gun, make sure you clean it out first- when a bullet traveling at 2500 fps+ contacts a big blob of grease, it can't be good. And the cleaning helps functionality, as well.

But having to clean out some grease beats lots of rust, right?


I read in a book by Clint McKee (a top-notch M14 manufacturer) that oil is for captive mechanisms, whereas grease is for parts that need a sticky lubricant that won't fly everywhere. I'm still afraid to put grease the bolt lugs of my AR-15's. I feel like it will just trap tons of crap in it and turn into sludge.


I had the displeasure not long ago of cleaning a old rifle that had been well lubed and put away for at least 30 years. The lube had solidfied into something akin to concrete. There was no rust but the solid chunks of gunk resisted every solvent in my shop.
Finaly it took careful and direct heat to finaly sweat out the last of stuff from the receiver.

Oh and for you guys getting those mil surplus rifles loaded with cosmolene the little steam machines you can buy at most stores are a wonder for removing it. Also it's pretty easy to make a "oven" out of a trash can and high intesity light bulb to sweat out the soaked in cosmolene in stocks.

Dick Gunlogson

Sentry Solutions is a company that, according to their information, provides a lot of their product to the military and law enforcement people. Their products are apropo to this subject. I have reviewed their product descriptions but have not used any of them. Anyone out there that has experience with their products?


I know grease is the topic of this thread, but I was curious to know if anyone has tried Royal Purple's new gun oil.

I have been using their line of synthetic automotive lubricants for a while and have been impressed to say the least.

They use a form of moly as a component in their products. I suppose that this is the same product that is used as coating on many match grade and high-end hunting bullets.


Grease is where it's at, man. I use a little white lithium grease in the rails on my 1911 and she's slick as a, ...well lubed 1911.


RIG really works!


I use bore butter in my Muzzleloader to help season the bore. The barrel will tell you when it has had enough and it works well. What do you folks think of bore butter for this application?

JA Demko

I opened this thinking that Petzal was, finally, going to start sharing his opinions on Broadway musicals with us. Instead, I find it is about lubricant and protectant grease. Oh well, Petzal was right about grease. We'll just have to wait to find out what he thinks about Grease.


Pahoo, my view on Bore Butter has always been that I'm shooting a rifle, not a cast iron skillet, and therefore shouldn't have to season anything. I just use Break Free for my lubrication and protection needs but have been meaning to give RIG a shot.


Brownell’s Action Lube Plus has always been my favorite and it works to keep actions floating easy.


I love bore butter!!

I own two smoke poles. One my father put together 30+ years ago and there is not a sign of corosion in it. That stuff makes cleaning a gun easy.

I also use it on my over shot cards in my 12 gauge side by side. I even put a dab of it on the herter wadd that I use for turkey. I would put my 12 gauge sxs up against any 3 1/2" "turkey gun". I have a lifetime supply of the herters wadds. These are the wadds that people used in the 70's to reach out and touch goose at 60 yards. You can't find them anymore.... The petals don't open up unless you split them prior to inserting them......

Ralph the Rifleman

Hey Dave-
I only use "grease" on my guns for long term storage, which very seldom happens. I use Break free,Rem oil,or an Otters oil product for exterior use on the metal and usually wipe the guns down in the cabinet once,or twice, a month. I have stayed on course with this type of maintenance over the years with no rust problems at all on my firearms. Before target shooting/hunting, I'll place a few drops of oil on the moving parts, and keep a field cleaning kit at the range to do a "hot cleaning" of the barrel before the powder residue can dry. I then do a more complete cleaning at home on the bench.
Just my 2 cents worth on gun cleaning.

Hank Miller

Best all around lube is Gunk motorcyle chain lube (without moly of course) goes where you want it, turns into a light water resistant grease and stays there.

Ed J

Hey Ralph
The last time I tried to use Otters oil he kept on trying to claw and bite me. I , like you don't do long term storage being I have a 400 yd target range out my back door.

I have to try that motorcycle chain lube. I used to race motor cycles when I was young and smart.


Hey Ralph,
Every time I find an oil that acts like your: Gunk motorcyle chain lube, they discontinue the product. Thanks for the tip and will be sure to try some out.

Ralph the Rifleman

Yea Ed J..all that bite-in, and claw-in is worth it! lol

Kristine Shreve

I've read this post several times, and the bit about your wife rearranging the cats always makes me laugh.

Guess in my mind I can see her holding a cat and tapping her chin thoughtfully as she decides where to put it. It's kind of like cat chess.

Where's the dog?

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Duck Creek Dick

On page 43 of my 1936 Stoeger's catalog is a listing for RIG (also Hoppe's #9). How many of the new wonder products will be around in the next 72 years?
I always use RIG for long-term bore protection, just like Ned Roberts wrote about in "The Muzzleloading Caplock Rifle". Go light on the lubricating oils and get in the habit of storing your firearms muzzle down. Your firearm's inletting will thank you for it.

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