If you’re going to maintain your guns properly and you want your firearms to achieve their best performance, you’re going to need a good gun oil.
But, if you’ve been shopping for gun oil lately, you’ve probably noticed that there are way too many options and they all promise different benefits for your firearms.
We get it. So, we decided to write this Best Gun Oil Guide to help you understand what gun oil is for, the different types of gun oil, and which gun lube is best for your needs.
Why You Need Gun Oil
“Guns only have two enemies, politicians and rust.”
There seems to be a misconception about gun oil in that most novices believe that oil for your gun is just to lubricate and nothing else (similar to motor oil in an engine).
Although gun oil is great for lubricating gun parts, and just about necessary to achieve reliable performance out of some types of firearms, it is also helpful when cleaning firearms after shooting and for protection your guns from corrosion/rust.
So, if you want to protect your firearms and you want your guns to function well, you need a good gun oil. But, which kind of gun lube do you need?
Different Types of Gun Oil
There are three types of gun lube that you should know about:
Oils for function/lubrication: These oils are typically synthetic and they have the ability to withstand the high pressure and heat of shooting firearms while improving the function and reliability of your gun. If you’ve already got a good all-in-one oil (below) and are looking for the best performance, look here.
Oils that also clean/preserve: These all-in-one oils may not give the absolute best performance for lubrication, but they have the added benefit of being suitable for protecting your firearm against corrosion and they can also be used to help you clean your firearm. If you don’t own any gun oil yet, start here.
Greases: Although not “oil,” grease can be very handy with firearms – especially heavy use guns or those where you’re looking for the lubrication to stay where you put it. Grease stays where you put it (it doesn’t run like oil can) but it should be avoided in really cold weather.
Best Gun Oils (Ranked from Best to Worst)
Best Gun Oil
|Gun Oil||Details||Check Price||Mobile Bottom Line|
Best Premium Oil
Best Value Oil
Best Gun Grease
Gun Oil Accessories
There are three oil accessories I recommend to anyone who’s willing to listen:
- A small bottle that travels with your gun gear,
- A needle oil bottle for precise application, and
- A barber’s shave brush.
Travel Oil Bottle
The first gun oil accessory, a good travel bottle that allows you to keep your gun oil with you on trips to the range or out in the woods, may be what your oil comes in – if so, you’re set.
In fact, if you’re just starting out, purchasing your gun oil in a travel size may be the best solution here. For example, my favorite gun-specific oil comes in perfect travel containers (that can be refilled).
Once you’re getting enough gear that you’d like a few oil bottles and you’re buying your gun oil in bigger containers, it’s time to get your own travel size oil bottles to fill.
If you need one (or a few), here’s what I recommend: The Tipton flip-top (in 3-pack).
Needle Oil Bottle
Although these bottles can be fragile and likely not suitable as travel bottles (above) with rough handling, they are darn near priceless when it comes to maintaining your firearms.
These bottles allows you to get the drop of oil exactly where you want it – this saves oil, saves a sloppy/oily mess on your firearm/bench/clothes, and can keep oil out of places you don’t want it on the gun.
Seriously, once you start using these, you won’t want anything else.
If you chose the Lucas Extreme Duty oil below for your needs, you can get it from the factory in really nice needle oil bottles.
Barber’s Shave Brush
If you’re following along here, I’m sure you’re wondering why I’d recommend such an accessory for gun oil.
Well, one of the uses of gun oil is to preserve and protect your firearm. In order to keep rust away, a light coat of oil on metal surfaces is recommended. Here’s the problem: it’s difficult to get a light coat of oil instead of so much oil that the gun is “oily” or has oil running or dripping off the gun.
Here’s my favorite trick: I keep a barber’s shave brush on the top shelf of my gun safe next to a bottle of Break-Free CLP. When I go to put a gun away (or whenever it’s needed), I apply a few drops of oil to the top of the brush, then I use the brush to dab and wipe oil all over the gun. It works perfect!
Not only does it apply a light coat of oil like a paint brush, it can also be used to jab the bristles into tight corners to apply oil. And. the bristles are great at holding onto the oil – it’s always slightly oily and a great accessory for years of applying oil to your guns.
Reviews of the Best Gun Oils for Lubrication/Function
For some applications, you might be looking for an oil to help the functioning or improving the performance of your gun. For these situations, an oil that excels as a lubricant is what you need. Oils that also help clean and protect against rust are covered next as those features aren’t needed here.
Best Gun Oils for Lubrication/Function
Militec-1 Gun Oil
Militec-1 is my go-to premium gun oil – if there’s a gourmet gun oil, this is it.
Final Grade : A+
Militec-1 Gun Oil Review
In late 2001 in Afghanistan, one of the guns I carried was a Knight’s Armament SR-25.
I hated this gun for two reasons: it was inaccurate and wasn’t reliable.
Militec-1 solved one of these problems for me.
I was bunked with an armorer from an unnamed group in a mud-hut and I was explaining my issues.
He agreed and said that he was very used to the reliability problems of the SR-25 and that he had a fix: use only Okay Industries magazines (listed in our Best AR-15 Magazines) and Militec-1 gun oil.
Militec-1 Gun Oil Specs
|Freezing Point||-54.4 F|
|Flash Point||478 F|
|Travel Bottle Available?||Yes|
|Cost per Ounce||$2|
He was right, something darn close to magic happened with switching the mags and gun oil. I quickly started using Militec-1 on all of my firearms and have been a major fan of it ever since.
To me, there’s a noticeable difference on how great this oil works – I could take my AR-15 upper receiver and tilt it back and forth to watch the bolt carrier group slide back and forth like it was on ball bearings with only a couple drops of Militec-1.
Once you start using this, you might be like me and use it on your hair clippers, gate hinges, and everything else.
Militec sells the oil as a metal conditioner and they make claims to the metal being impregnated with protection that works when dry. It seems that it is originally intended as an additive to motor oil in engine applications. I can’t confirm the ability to work dry. I can, however, say that without a doubt it is my favorite gun-specific oil and I think it is the best gun oil available.
Militec-1 Pros and Cons
- Ultra Premium Option
- Noticibly Better Performance
- Reduces Wear and Tear on Heavy Use Guns
- Conditions Metal and Works Dry
Mobil 1 Synthetic Motor Oil
Mobil1 Synthetic motor oil is excellent for lubricating firearms for function – it almost made #1 on this list because it works so well and is so inexpensive.
Final Grade : A
Mobil 1 Synthetic Motor Oil Review
Mobile 1 Synthetic Motor Oil is so great for lubricating firearms, especially things like AR-15s, that it almost made #1 on this list as the best option for lubricating gun oil.
Militec-1 (above) beat it out barely because it is such amazing stuff.
In fact, if you want to get really crazy, you can add some Militec-1 to this Mobil 1 motor oil (as Militec was designed to do) and you’ll have my super-(not so)-secret gun lube concoction.
However, as a great gun oil that will help all of your guns run well and protect their components against wear, just get Mobil 1.
Mobil 1 Synthetic Motor Oil Specs
|Freezing Point||-45 F|
|Flash Point||446 F|
|Travel Bottle Available?||No|
|Cost||$0.21 per ounce|
It may not be the ultra premium metal conditioner that Militec-1 is, but it is hands-down better than any other gun oil I’ve ever used. As far as any other gun oil that makes big claims about how well it works, It’d be hard to convince me that a quart of Mobil 1 isn’t better and way cheaper.
Remember that this is to help your guns run, it isn’t good for cleaning nor preserving firearms – you’ll need to get one of the oils in the next section for that.
If simplicity and cost are just as important as performance, then just get a quart of Mobil 1 Synthetic, a few oil bottles, and use the extra money you saved on ammo.
Mobil 1 Pros and Cons
- Stupid Cheap
- Big Container
- Excellent Performance
- Bottle not ideal for travel
- Bottle not ideal for dispensing
- You’ll have to have a conversation about why you use motor oil with everyone that thinks they know better.
Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil
Lucas Oil is known for their high performance vehicle oils and additives – they brought their understanding of premium lubrication to their gun products.
Final Grade : A
Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil Review
Lucas Oil makes a really great product for gun oil. In fact, it was difficult ranking each of these options for gun oil because they’ll all be great for your gun.
Lucas Oil claims to offers superior burn-off resistance – I haven’t noticed this more than any other of these options. This oil is a premium oil with additives that give the metal in your gun a “polymeric film” that helps to protect your firearm from excessive wear and rust.
One of my favorite parts about Lucas Oil? They’re the only oil manufacturer that I’d recommend that sells their oil in the best container: a needle oiler bottle that is sturdy enough to withstand being tossed into a range bag.
Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil Specs
|Freezing Point||-38 F|
|Flash Point||400 F|
|Travel Bottle Available?||Yes|
|Cost||$2.50 per ounce|
Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil Pros and Cons
- Excellent gun oil
- Premium ingredients
- Great needle oiler bottle option
- A bit expensive
- Smallest temperature range of the recommended oils
Reviews of the Best Oils for Cleaning and Preserving Firearms
There are a class of oils that are good enough for lubrication (they’re not the best) but they also have properties that allow them to clean and protect your firearms. These three-in-one oils are often called “CLP” (clean, lubricate, protect/preserve).
Before you start going for performance oils above, make sure that you have at least one good CLP at home.
Best CLP Oils
Break-Free CLP might not be the absolute best at any one particular feature, but it is the best overall and the best all purpose gun oil. Don’t know where to start? Start here.
Final Grade : A+
Break-Free CLP Review
Break-Free CLP is the standard for gun oils. It helps you clean your firearm, it lubricates your gun, and it helps to protect it from rust. It is in use by militaries and police departments all over the world.
Now, even though it is the best do-all oil for your gun, it isn’t the highest performance oil for lubricating your gun. If you’re looking for the highest performance lubrication, look at the list above.
However, if you’re looking for your first gun oil, or the one gun oil that absolutely every gun owner should have, this is it.
I especially like to use this oil with needle oiler bottles and barber’s shave brush that I recommend above.
Break-Free CLP Specs
|Freezing Point||-65 F|
|Flash Point||270 F|
|Travel Bottle Available?||Yes|
|Cost||$1.75 per ounce|
Break-Free CLP Pros and Cons
- Best all-around gun oil
- Protects, performs, and cleans
- Not the Best at Any Particular Task
Gunzilla is the oil product that I didn’t want to like – but I do.
Final Grade : B+
Gunzilla CLP Review
Gunzilla is a non-toxic CLP (cleaner, lubricant, and preservative) oil that works surprisingly well to clean and protect your firearms without a harsh chemical smell.
If you’re looking for a solvent and oil that you can use on your kitchen table that won’t have a strong smell, this stuff is it.
This plant-based cleaner works well at light cleaning tasks and the thin/light film it leaves behind is a good rust preventative.
However, be warned that if left on for a long time, it can get a bit gummy. Also, I’ve seen it hurt some plastics for long term storage.
Gunzilla CLP Specs
|Freezing Point||-50 F|
|Travel Bottle Available?||Yes|
|Cost||$2.10 per ounce|
Gunzilla CLP Pros and Cons
- Low odor/Non Toxic
- Works well at cleaning
- Can get gummy
- Can damage some finishes
Reviews of the Best Gun Grease
In very heavy use applications, or in high heat environments, oils can run off or break-down too quickly. In these cases, grease is a great option. When I lived in Phoenix, AZ, I used a small amount of grease on my CCW pistol and I love a light coat of grease on my bolt action rifle lugs. Grease is also the best corrosion protection (but it’s messy).
However, do not use grease in very cold environments as it can easily get so hard that it can prevent your firearm from working.
Lucas Extreme Duty Grease
Lucas Oil’s gun grease is a great grease for heavy use and high heat applications when shooting.
Final Grade : B+
Lucas Extreme Duty Grease Review
There are many shooters who dislike grease – I get it. It can be a bit messy and oil seems like a better solution.
However, when it comes to heavy duty uses, a good grease is hard to beat.
If you’re looking for wear resistance, heat tolerance, and you need your lubrication to stay where you put it, grease is the way to go and this is our favorite.
Lucas Extreme Duty Grease Specs
|Freezing Point||-20 F|
|Flash Point||540 F|
|Travel Bottle Available?||Yes|
|Cost||$12.00 per ounce|
Lucas Extreme Duty Grease Pros and Cons
- Super slick stuff
- Stays where you put it
- Great for high heat and heavy use
- Not for very cold weather
Gun Oil Buyer’s Guide
Why Do You Need Gun Oil?
You need gun oil to keep your guns from rusting and to keep them running reliably. The right kind of oil for your gun can also be handy when cleaning your firearm.
So, there are really three purposes for gun oil:
- Protection from corrosion, and
Let’s break down each of the three purposes of gun oil before we explore with type of oil is best for each purpose (yes, there are some differences).
Gun Oil Purpose #1: Lubrication
Much like a car’s engine needs oil for lubrication to combat the heat from combustion and friction and pressure due to moving parts, the same is true for firearms.
Also true to this analogy is this: the lubrication of an engine (just like with a firearm) does two things, it helps the engine run better AND it helps prevent excessive wear thereby allowing the engine to also run longer.
No, not like this:
Although modern firearms may have polymer (see: fancy word for plastic) parts, the functional parts of firearms are still metal because they must be strong and endure wear.
It is not completely fair to say that all firearms need oil to operate properly and to protect from wear. For example, a bolt-action rifle that is used twice a year (once to sight-in the rifle before hunting season and once during hunting season) is not likely to malfunction due to a lack of proper lubrication nor is it likely to prematurely wear.
In this bolt-action rifle example, the rifle is not like an engine but rather more like a latch on your gate. Sure, it might be smoother with some oil but the occasional use is not going to cause so much friction that oil is absolutely needed in order to function properly and your manual operation of the action will overcome any friction.
Now, semi-auto, or if you’ve got your FFL, full-auto firearms are a completely different story and as a general rule will almost always need the right amount of gun oil (too much can be a problem) to operate properly. These firearms are like the engine in the first analogy.
These firearms not only have more (and faster and under more pressure) moving parts, they also rely upon their own mechanism to operate and any friction resistance can not necessarily be easily overcome (like a manually operated firearm can be).
So, faster parts during operation, along with the potential for faster and more shooting, results in more heat and friction which must be counteracted with a good gun oil for lubrication. A quality AR-15 might run for a bit dry, but it needs to be properly oiled to run reliably and properly. The same is true for a pistol. Yes, they can run dry, but they will run better (and last longer) when properly lubricated.
Think of it this way, if you’re trying to save money and refuse to use oil to lubricate your semi auto firearm, you’ll save even more money on ammo too because you won’t be able to shoot very much ammo when your gun keeps malfunctioning or breaking. 🙂
For lubrication, Break-Free CLP (our Editor’s Choice/all around gun oil) and Mobil 1 synthetic oil (our Best Value choice) both work great. But, if you want the premium option here, go with Militec-1 and don’t look back.
But here’s a dirty secret about gun oil: although we ranked our favorites, or what we think is the best, above, as long as you use oil suitable for guns (or engines), and you keep your gun lubricated…. you’re going to be fine! If my bolt on my AR-15 is wet with oil, ANY OIL, it is going to run better than when it is dry.
So, yes, we recommend what we think the “best” of each oil is, but don’t get sucked into a marketing trap. This is primarily why we included Mobil 1 oil – 1 quart is usually less than $10 and it will last you a lifetime.
Gun Oil Purpose #2: Protection from Corrosion
Steel parts, no matter how fancy the coating, are eventually prone to corrosion (rusting).
The best protection against rust is a light coat of oil.
The same oil you use for lubrication (above) can absolutely be used to protect from corrosion, but it may not be the best idea. For example, we obviously like just using a quart of Mobil 1 for lubrication. However, coating your firearm in motor oil leaves it… well… oily.
Instead, an oil meant for corrosion protection (like our all-around work-horse Break-Free CLP) does a much better job at protecting with a light film of oil.
Also, some of the premium oils for lubrication may not play nice with fancy firearm coatings, wood stocks or grips, or even certain plastics. Also some oils can get really gummy when left on a gun for months.
So, although any good enough oil is good enough for lubrication, you really should consider something intended to protect against corrosion for wiping down your guns for storage.
If you missed our extra special cool-guy trick with the barber’s shave brush above, we’ll share it again here: get yourself a cheap shaving brush, apply a few drops of BreakFree CLP to the bristles, and then use it to “paint” and dap the few drops of oil all over your gun. You’ll be amazed out how nicely this works to get a thin layer of oil everywhere (including all of the nooks and crannies). Then, just leave the brush in your safe and it’ll be there for next time you put a gun away.
Gun Oil Purpose #3: Cleaning
Some, I repeat some, gun oils can be used for cleaning your firearm.
Most gun oils are designed for one of the purposes above (that’s why we covered them first) and only oils that are specifically marketed for cleaning (often called a “CLP” for Cleaning, Lubricating, and preserving like Break-Free CLP) should be relied upon to clean.
And, even CLPs aren’t very good at it. But, in a pinch, it’s better than nothing.
If you’re going to clean a firearm and you need a solvent or oil to aid in cleaning, we really recommend that you get a proper firearm cleaning solvent at a minimum – you really should be looking to get the other necessary tools as well and get yourself started with a firearm cleaning kit (we rank and review or favorites here: Best Firearm Cleaning Kits).
Types of Gun Lubes and Cleaning Products
There are many ways one could categorize different gun lubes and firearm cleaning products.
We’ll take a stab at a few categories that might help show the different types available:
Natural vs Synthetic: Just like with motor oil, you can find natural or synthetic gun oils. Natural oil is generally cheaper but synthetic oil typically has better qualities to help it protect as a lubricant.
Single Purpose vs Three-In-One: Most gun-specific oils are focused on lubrication whereas three-in-one oils like Break-Free CLP are focused on lubricating as well as cleaning and protecting against corrosion.
Gun Oils vs Gun Solvents: Yes, some gun oils can be used to clean firearms (poorly) but typically oils are for lubrication and protection whereas solvents are designed to help break down carbon and fowling to help clean a firearm.
Toxic vs Non-Toxic: There are some gun oils that are clearly toxic and others that our marketed as “non toxic” like Gunzilla CLP, although we don’t think we’d try drinking any of them.
Expensive vs Affordable: Unless you really want a “premium” gun oil for a particular purpose (maybe you geek out about that stuff like i sometimes do), do yourself a favor when it comes to oil for lubrication: JUST GET A QUART OF MOBIL 1
Three-In-One vs. Gun Grease vs. Gun Oil
If you’re this far into this article and are unsure about what to get for your gun, I’ve failed you.
I have tried to give you options and pros and cons for different types of gun oils but I hope that I haven’t made your decision more difficult.
Remember this: if you’re looking for the best do-all gun oil, just get Break-Free CLP and enjoy shooting! If you’re looking for a premium synthetic for lubrication because you’re doing a lot of shooting, just get Mobil 1.
It’s that easy.
There’s really only three types of products to consider:
- Three-in-one gun oils (the best is BreakFree CLP),
- Gun Grease (my favorite is Lucas Gun Grease), and
- Gun Oil (just for lubrication – get Mobil 1 or Militec-1)
The three-in-one oil is the jack-of-all trades and master of none. If you only have one gun oil, it should be a three-in-one like BreakFree CLP.
If you’re getting more into shooting and want something a bit higher performance for lubrication, get a performance oil like Mobil 1 Synthetic or Militec-1.
And, if you’re wanting lubrication that stays where you put it or VERY heavy use/high pressure situations (belt-fed machine guns, a Barrett M107, or similar), then get some gun grease like Lucas Gun Grease.
There’s one more area where gun grease shines – remember the bolt-action rifle example from above? A thin coat of grease on the bolt body and bolt lugs makes running the bolt on a bolt action rifle MUCH smoother.
Things to Consider when Buying Gun Oil
Of course, the first thing to consider when making any purchase and deciding between multiple options is to ask yourself why you need something.
If you just need your first bottle of all-around oil, get Break-Free CLP. If you are shooting a lot and need some oil that is a bit better for performance/lubrication, get Mobil 1 or Militec-1.
But, you should also consider something else….
How are you going to transport and apply the oil?
Get a bottle for your workbench at home for maintaining your guns but make sure that you either also purchase a small bottle of the gun oil you like for your range bag OR purchase a travel bottle for your range bag that you can refill on your own.
Also, get some needle oiler bottles (the best method of applying gun oil in my opinion) and a barber’s shave brush and thank me later for both ideas. (if the shave brush doesn’t make sense, we explain it above).
Frequently Asked Questions About Gun Oil
Is gun oil toxic?
Yes, some gun oils are toxic. We recommend our favorite non-toxic gun oil above.
Who makes the best gun oil?
It’s too tough to pick who makes the best gun oil without knowing your needs. The best all-round gun oil is made by Break-Free CLP. The best premium gun oil for lubrication is made by Militec-1.
Should you oil your gun before shooting?
Yes, you should ensure that your gun is properly oiled before shooting.
Is it OK to use WD40 on a gun?
Yes, you can use WD-40 on a gun. In fact for firearms like 22 rimfires, it’s a great option for lube and cleanup.
What gun oil does the military use?
The military uses Break-Free CLP gun oil.
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