Great comments and suggestions from those who commented on my article “Pistol Maintenance: Key Lubrication Points.” Some requested I look at specific firearm maintenance products, some I were not familiar with. Several asked my opinions about all-purpose CLP (Cleaner-Lubricant-Protectant) gun care products, wood grips conditioner and preservative, and holster leather care and conditioner, as well as reasonably-priced reloaded ammo. It was interesting to learn from readers the very many products they use, what they want in a product (even the smell was very important to some), what they recommended, and the many ones they wanted to know about. I was surprised that some were very emotional (a few really downright hostile) and strongly insisted on their particular product and thought it crazy to even consider others. You would be amazed at the myriad products on the market now with most claiming “the best thing since sliced bread.” So, it was not possible with limited resources to evaluate each product by itself and of necessity I combined your requests into one task. I am glad to give you my brief analysis and product recommendations for just the products in this study. What follows are 8 new (mostly new to me) products in the above categories that I examined and evaluated and want to share my opinions with you.
Some inquired about specific products, so I contacted the manufacturers and paid myself for some. (This look and opinions are based solely on what the manufacturer or representative sent me.) I want you to know that I do not have a strong bias for one of these products or another in this study and was not paid by the manufacturers to evaluate them. Some of you gave me first-hand experience with products you used. Sadly, one shooter said his beautiful cocobolo carved wood grips were disintegrated by one product. Another said he got “deathly” sick from the smell, with the resulting involuntary emptying of intestinal content (know what I mean.) Most products state they are being used by various military and law enforcement agencies and that their products have been “tested.” Be cautious and check the “facts”, do your own analysis, and take the precaution of doing your own careful initial safe sampling with one-spot testing, etc.
Because of my expense and time constraints, I just used these products for a short time with my various firearms (firing about 100 rounds for each CLP product test and spot-testing the conditioners), so again do your own research over a longer period, firing more rounds, and with your own firearms. Given the unique differences among the types of products and categories in this study, the criteria are out of necessity broad and general in nature. Because it was a short-term test, it was not possible to evaluate the protection against oxidation/rust; probably need at least 6 months time. The criteria do not apply as much to the ammo product and I am just mentioning it for your awareness as one possible product. This is not intended to be a scientific experiment-study with objective longitudinal friction, corrosion, microns thickness, and wear tests, etc. and did not use a Falex friction testing instrument, but rather my opinions (with as much objectivity as possible given limited resources & data) to help you make your own decisions on different products I discovered. Below are my 5 process criteria I used, so I could have a guiding framework to subjectively but fairly try and evaluate the variety of different products by my terms. I recommend that you use your own criteria, do more in-depth research, and test the products yourself on your own firearms over a longer time period with firing several hundred rounds. A long-term test is necessary because some say that the emulsion-type products that seep into the metal after heat may gum up internals and cause misfires and light strikes OVER THE LONG RUN, if not used properly. I do not know about this hearsay. The handguns I tested the products on were: HK P30-9mm; Glock 19-9mm; and S&W M&P 9C- 9mm. The CLPs were matched to and used on the handguns like this: HKP30=Eezox; G19=Nanolube; and MP9C=Seal1. The wood conditioners were tested on the wood grips of my SW Pro Series 1911-.45; my Colt 1911 XSE-.45; and my Sig 1911 Target Match Elite-.45. I used various leather holsters to test the leather conditioners.
Each of the 5 criteria below were evaluated for each product according to my opinions as either VG-Very Good; G-Good; or B-Below Expectations, resulting in a composite rating of 1-Highly Recommend; 2-Recommend; or 3-No Recommend rating. NA is not applicable. U is Uncertain (need more data and/or longer trial- a clarification, NOT a reflection of the product).
CAVEATS: It is important that you understand I am evaluating only each of the products individually on their own merit in this small, short-term study, as fair as possible but only by my subjective terms and criteria, and I am not comparing one product category with another. In some cases, I did not have the objective and/or independent data or long time period I needed for a complete analysis. Thus my suggestion to do your own investigation. Understand that I did NOT scientifically test any of the 8 products, so I do NOT precisely know the Safety and Health implications. Also, I am not comparing other very quality products on the market that may be equal or better than these in this study.)
1. QUALITY (Per Purpose ):
Is it effective as a firearm friction reducer, solvent, protectant, and/or lubricant? Does it remove carbon build-up and fouling easily? What is the company’s claim for its primary firearm-related purpose? Is it effective in each of the CLP firearms functions or just one or a few? (Cleaner and lubricant were focused on.) Does the company specialize mainly in firearms products and applications? Is the product petroleum or vegetable based or what? What is the process? Does it really reduce friction and inhibit or stop corrosion, etc.? Does the slide rack easier and is extraction, ejection, and action smoother after use? Were there any malfunctions or stoppages during product use? Will it probably contribute to a longer wear life and is it reliable to help the firearm stand up to frequent use and wear and tear? Is it appropriate for your use without impairing firearm performance and mechanical functions or damaging it in some way? Does it work effectively and quickly? Can you use just a little because of its concentration? Does it penetrate adequately and last? Does it harden into a wax or substance over time that might inhibit performance? What have other independent and non-manufacturer/seller-sponsored reviews, evaluators, tests, and actual shooters said recently about the product and what is the reputation of the company? What type of warranty or guarantee was I provided or made aware of? Does it meet applicable Mil Spec standards as desired? Is it rated for high-temp and/or low-temp?
2. SAFETY & HEALTH: Safe for user and for firearm? Is it safe for the user when cleaning, maintaining, and using the product? Is it biodegradable and environment friendly? Petroleum or vegetable based? Non-flammable? Green engineered? Non-toxic? Can it be easily removed or are mineral spirits, etc. required? Will it damage or harm the wood, rubber, metal or polymer of the firearm itself? Is it hypoallergenic? In some cases, limited safety and health data are available, so I strongly recommend that you do your own research and gather safety data. For example, for reloaded ammo deviation from SAAMI standards, even in the slightest degree, may cause an incident resulting in a failure to fire, a telescoping round, a squib round, or possibly generate excessive internal pressures. Use CAUTION, personally check the standards, and decide for yourself about reloaded ammo, safety & health issues.
3. EASE OF APPLICATION, PROCESS, & REQUIRED TIME: Can you simply and easily put the product on and remove it. Are there two or three application steps involved or one simple application process? Must you pre-heat or pre-treat the firearm for the desired-purpose, protection or function? Must you repeat the maintenance application several times before your desired result is achieved? How much time on average is required to use the product for your usual handgun maintenance purpose? Is there a drying time in the process after application & how long? Is re-cleaning easier after first use? Is there a dull or shiny wet luster and/or coating after application? Will it sweat back out of the metal and be wet after the gun has been used/warmed up? Is it specifically designed for the shooting & weapons industry, military and law enforcement? Is it synthetic or mineral based or what?
4. ODOR, SMELL & RESIDUE:Is the smell (and/or fouling or residue deposits) offensive and tolerable during use? Does it require application outdoors due to the strong odor? Are there reports or indications that the product is toxic or dangerous? Does it permeate your clothing? Is there much residue? Is it citrus based? Remember, what smells great to one may just be the opposite for another. Ask my wife.
5. PRICE: What is its total current price (on website or as available) and how does price compare to other similar products available now in the market? Does not include shipping, handling, or tax as appropriate. Do you get included any special features, options, warranties, guarantees, repair service, application aids/brush/cloth, or additions of value? Can you return it without any questions and within what time period? Will they refund your money or replace it for free? Are various sizes (ounces, gallons, pints, etc.), containers (bottles, tubes, cans, spray, oilers, etc.), and application modes (liquid, paste, spray, gel, pre-saturated cloths, composite, etc.) currently available? Note prices are usually less for larger quantity purchases. Are shipping and handling included? Do you get what you pay for overall? Is it available at local stores and/or readily in stock for immediate delivery? For all products, the larger quantity you buy, the prices seem to be better, but check with the manufacturer or vendor. To some, PRICE is a MAKE or BREAK DECISION criterion and they believe it is a tie-breaker. Your call. Maybe you get what you pay for, but other products which are less expensive may do the job just as well for you. YOUR criteria, purposes, and decisions.
All 3 of the handguns were new and less than 2 years old and very similar in condition, caliber, and duration of use. I used the Lax 9mm re-loaded ammo for the tests and the ammo performed fine without any malfunctions, stoppages, failure to lock slide back, misfires, safety issues, etc. The NRA does not let instructors use reloads for classes, so I will probably use it for casual plinking. CAUTION: Aside from the safety concern for shooters, some say the possible damage that may arise from the use of reloaded ammunition MIGHT void your gun’s warranty. I do NOT know this nor have I heard of any related cases. Just know in your decision to use reloads that there MAY be structural integrity and safety issues with the casing because of its once-fired status. Again, I have no evidence of this but feel a duty to at least mention it for your consideration. You maybe should also consider the quality of the bullet, the type and amount of powder used, and the quality of the primer. If any are deficient in a small amount, failures MIGHT occur resulting in serious harm or potential loss of life. So consider the variables and decide for yourself about using reloads. There was some, for the 300 rounds fired, black carbon buildup on the outside of the guns’ barrels and internals.
For my basic tests, the 3 guns were thoroughly cleaned of all previous cleaners, lubes, and preservatives, removing possible contamination to better see the effects of the new CLPS. Then the guns were shot about 100 rounds each without any lube, oil, CLP, or protectant of any kind applied. Then they were each cleaned and that took a long time for each gun with much scrubbing and many dirty cotton patches. Here are a few of the cotton patches to give you an idea how dirty they were.
Next, the 3 CLPs were applied to their 3 matched handguns and then each was shot another approximate 100 rounds. Afterwards, on ALL guns there was much carbon buildup and fouling laying on top of the applied CLPs, like somewhat of a semi-wet crud mixture. But I found it very easy then to clean ALL the guns for the first cleaning where the various CLPs were applied. It took me about half the time that it previously took to clean without any lube, without much scrubbing this time and there was a lot of residue on the surface to wipe off easily. It took about 3 patches each to get the heavy layering off easily, then I ran only one more patch in the slide, barrel, and frame of each of the guns treated with their matching CLP. All of the patches for the second cleaning had very little residue, certainly not enough to even differentiate among the 3 CLPs. They all honestly performed about the same at a high level, so I evaluated the quality criterion very good for all 3 CLPs. Here is an example of a fairly clean patch without much residue and all 3 had a pretty clean patch like this, after the second cleaning. (I rubbed really hard to get this.) It was a breeze for all 3 guns with the 3 different CLPs, with less than a minute or so of time for the second pass through.
FINAL RECOMMENDATION: My personal, subjective opinion based on ALL my criteria and available and provided data, information, and factors with my limited testing and firing (not for wood-Leather conditioners) for the products follows.
PRODUCT EVALUATION & RECOMMENDATION:
Interestingly, ALL products investigated had a Final Overall Recommendation of at least “Recommend.” All of these products were very good for their purpose considering all criteria and available data for firearms maintenance.
|Criteria-Product||QUALITY||SAFETY-HEALTH||APPLICATION-PROCESS||ODOR- SMELL||PRICE– * May ’14 No Ship $||RECOMMENDATION- OVERALL (considering all 5 criteria)|
|Seal 1-CLP||VG||VG (U)||G||VG||G- $9.95-4 oz paste; 4 oz liquid-$12.95||1|
|Eezox- CLP||VG||VG (U)||G||VG||VG- $3.80-1.5 oz liquid||1|
|NanoLube- CLP||VG||VG (U)||G||G||B- $18.-85 weight-micro oiler- 8cc (.27oz); $26.-1/2 oz oil bottle; Multi-Purp. Lube-$32.||2 (U)|
|Natchez- 2||VG(U)||VG||VG||G||B- $20.-Two 4 oz bottles||2 (U)|
|Howard- 2||VG||G||VG||G||VG- $6.98- 16 oz||1|
|LAX Reloads 9mm||VG (Limited Trial of 300 Total Rounds)||U CAUTION May Be DANGEROUS||NA||G||G- $168.+ship-Reloaded .45-500 rnds||2 (U) CAUTION– Get Safety, Materials, & WARRANTY informationBEFORE Deciding|
* Some requests for Pricing did not return current pricing schedules in time for study & pricing varies by vendor, website, or dealer.
I know some prefer to have separate cleaner/solvent, lubricant/oil, and preservative/protectant products, rather than a CLP all-in-one, multi-use product. I suppose, again, it depends on your purpose and use, priorities, available time, how much you want to spend, habit, etc. There are plenty of all types of gun maintenance products out there. In addition to the products I looked out here, there are many more excellent CLPs for you to consider. Several have asked me about Frog Lube v. Seal 1, Ballistol, Break-Free, Rand, Gunzilla, Hornady’s One Shot, Hoppes, Rem Oil, and the list goes on and on. I think I might do a survey of products you prefer. Hope this one helps some with your research and decision and saves you a little time.