Best Gun Oil & Grease [2021 Guide to Save your Gun] Home / Pistol 101 / Best Gun Oil [2021 Guide to Gun Maintenance]

Best Gun Oil & Grease [2021 Guide to Save your Gun]

Image of Bryan Hill, Founder of Pistol Wizard Bryan Hill / October 02 2021

Pistol field stripped and ready for cleaning

On this Page:

  1. How Often Should I Clean a Pistol?
  2. What Makes Good Gun Oil?
  3. What Makes Good Gun Grease?
  4. Gun Oil vs. Motor Oil
  5. How to Oil Your Pistol
  6. Best Gun Cleaning Kit

How Often Should I Clean a Pistol?

Most gun owners only have to clean their pistol a few times, ever. Why?
Except in a few cases, you don't need a detailed cleaning of your pistol.

What are those cases?

Cleaning a Dirty Pistol

With our recommended lube, you only need to clean your pistol after you:
  • Dropped it in mud, sand, dirt, etc. and now it's jamming.
  • Shot 3,000-5,000 rounds with our recommended ammo.
  • Shot 1,500-2,500 rounds with cheap, dirty ammo.
Otherwise, cleaning is a waste of time and money.
After a range trip or training class, if you don't meet the above criteria, you don't need to clean your pistol.

After cleaning a pistol, lube it. There are two types of gun lube: grease and oil.

Grease is thicker and stickier. It's for parts that scrape together with some pressure, like the sliderails and where the barrelscrapes against the slide.

Oil is lighter and slippier. It's for rotating parts.

Cleaning for Long-term storage

Liberty Safe Centurion 24
Storing a pistol in a safe can cause it to rust over months or years, depending on your environment. Why? The safe is sealed tight, but moisture can still get in. If you live in a desert, no problem. If you live in a swampy area, or on the coast, watch out.

Before storing a pistol (or other firearm) for years, clean it and use protective grease. It's made to stop rust at all costs. It's not for lubing a pistol to stop jams.

What Makes Good Gun Oil?

  • High flash point (400°F or more). This is how hot lube can get before it ignites and burns off. Guns get hotter the faster they're fired.
  • Low pour point (-60°F or less). This is how cold lube can get before it gets so thick it can't be poured. If you live in a place that never freezes, it's not as important.
  • Non-toxic. For long-term health. Please wear cleaning gloves and a dust mask while cleaning a pistol.
  • No odor. For hunters, this is critical. For everyone else, do you want to smell bad while carrying?
If you can't find the flash point and pour point for a product, don't trust it.

What Makes Good Gun Grease?

Rust protection is king. The longer it protects, the better. The more it holds up against the elements (wind, etc.), the better.

If it's non-toxic and doesn't stink, that's another plus.

What about temperature range? It depends.

If you're greasing a gun just for storage, it doesn't matter. Why? When you remove the gun from storage, you'll remove the protective grease and use gun lube before carrying it.

When greasing a gun for carry, then temperature range is very important. Grease tends to do worse in cold temperatures and better in warm temperatures, so check the pour point and make sure it's lower than the lowest it gets in your winters. If a product's flash point and pour point aren't listed, don't trust it!


Gun Oil vs. Motor Oil

Many people oil their pistols with motor oil. After all, a running car engine goes through more wear in a few minutes than a pistol does in its lifetime. So why use gun oil?

It's simple: Cancer

Motor oil is made to be contained in a car engine. It's toxic - that is, it increases your risk of cancer the more you breathe it, touch it with your skin, etc. Any oil on your pistol evaporates over time. If you carry a pistol every day, that means the oil gets into your clothes and on your skin.

Good gun oil is non-toxic. Not all gun oils are non-toxic, but some are, and we only recommend non-toxic products.


How to Oil Your Pistol

  1. Field strip your pistol according to its user manual.
  2. If the insides of your pistol are dirty, wipe them down with a dry cloth.
    Note: There's no need to clean the interior of the barrel if you've been shooting modern pistol ammo.
  3. If your pistol is really dirty, use a carbon solvent , then a dry cloth.
  4. Add a little grease to a cotton swab. Add a thin coat of grease to parts that scrape together with some pressure, like the sliderails and where the barrelscrapes against the slide. A light sheen is all you need.
    If you're unsure, look for scrape or wear marks on flat surfaces inside your pistol. If you've racked the slide at least 20 times ever on your pistol, it will show wear marks inside. Ensure that surface bears some weight. For example, on a 1911, the trigger bow is flat, but it doesn't carry the frame's weight as it scrapes against it. There's no need to grease that part.
  5. Look for any metal parts without a finish, or with a worn-off finish. Grease those for rust protection. Again, just enough grease to give it a shine.
  6. Add one drop of oil to a cotton swab. Add a thin coat of Oil to hinging and rotating parts.
    Again, a light sheen is all you need - just enough oil to make the surface reflect some light.
  7. Use a dry cotton swab to wipe off any oil that's dripping or running, and any grease that's caked up. A little less is better than too much, as excess lubrication attracts dirt and can cause jams after some live fire.
  8. Reassemble your pistol. Rack the slide a few times, operate the controls, and dry fire it a few times to spread out the lubricants.
  9. If you see any excess grease or oil leaking out of the pistol, wipe it off with a cotton swab and consider field stripping the pistol to check for any excess runoff inside the pistol.

Best Gun Cleaning Kit

The best pistol cleaning kit includes grease, oil, carbon solvent, and a cleaning mat (or just use a few layers of saran wrap). The following picks will last you for decades.
  1. Grease
  2. Oil

Best Gun Grease

Grease is for parts that scrape together with some pressure, like the sliderails and where the barrelscrapes against the slide.

Lubriplate SFL-0 is the best gun grease, period. It has an unmatched temperature range, is non-toxic, and has no odor. It was originally made for lubricating food processing machinery, but it turns out it's perfect for guns, too. If you saw the corrosion test video above, the "Guardian LP" that aced the test is really just Lubriplate SFL-0 rebranded and repackaged in smaller containers.

Updated hourly
Lubriplate SFL-0
Lubriplate SFL-0
$15.90
@ MidwayUSA
Compare Prices
Flash Point 400°F
Pour Point -60 °F
Non-toxic
Odor-free


Best Gun Oil

Oil is for rotating parts. If you try to use it like grease, it will evaporate and run off everywhere, leaving just enough to attract dirt, but not enough to protect and lubricate.

Slip2000 EWL30 is hands down the best gun oil. Its temperature range is untouched by all other gun oils, so you won't have to re-oil your gun nearly as often, and it won't freeze on you if you live up north. It's non-toxic, and has only a tiny odor, like vegetable oil. Nothing on the market comes close in its combination of performance and safety.

Updated hourly
Slip2000 EWL30
Slip2000 EWL30 (4 oz)
$19.90
$11.49
@ OpticsPlanet
Compare Prices
Flash Point 1250°F
Pour Point -100 °F
Non-toxic
Odor-free
Minor odor, like vegetable oil.
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you.

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References

  1. The Search for the Perfect Firearms Lubricants (2019)
  2. Best of the Best Gun Lube Corrosion Test - Part 2 (2017)
  3. Best Lube Corrosion Test Time Lapse Video (2017)
  4. Gun Care/Cleaning: Lubriplate SFL grease review (2015)
  5. ASTM B117 Salt Spray Corrosion Test on 20 Metal Cleaning, Lubrication, and Protection Products (2015)
  6. How often should a CZ75 be cleaned? (2014)
  7. Comprehensive Corrosion Test: 46 Products Compared (2014)
  8. How to Oil and Lubricate Your Gun (and how NOT to) (2013)
  9. Gun Lubricant Corrosion Test Part 3 of 3 (2013)
  10. Lubrication 101: Gun oil, snake oil, and how to tell the difference. (2006)
  11. Corrosion Protection Products (2005)


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