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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:09 pm 
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Alternate, field-expedient lubes and the AR15
-OR-
How I discovered a new wonder material that may replace alloy steel and titanium in industry


I am approached once in a while by makers or distributors of new or existing gun lubes; they want me to try their product and find it superior and tell everybody.

I don’t at all mind touting a particular product if I find it really is good…. I do that all the time in classes. On the flipside, I don’t care to run a particular product down because it’s crappy. Either way I’m always conscious that somebody may think that, where I say it’s good, I must be getting something for it. Where I say it’s bad, maybe I have an axe to grind. But when I’m doing a class, I can’t let any kind of political correctness get in the way of sharing the knowledge I’m being paid to share. Especially when the students are the police, I need to be telling them what works well and what stinks; it would be a disservice to them to do otherwise.

In the case of lubes, it’s pretty easy. I think some of them make some pretty silly claims, some of which carry a whiff of BS with them. I’m not equipped or inclined to try and debunk them, because I don’t care that much—whether or not the claims are molecularly, microscopically, organically, or bionically accurate, the lubes work. I haven’t tried them all, and admittedly some that I have tried have not been tested to the Nth degree, but I have yet to find the commercially-offered gun lube that truly does not work or does more harm than good.

The bottom line with the AR is, if you keep it wet with something oily, it will keep running, even when it is quite dirty. Let it get too dry and the problems will start. We assume here of course, that the thing is properly made and maintained (not as common as one might think).

I am always all ears around guys who have used this system in truly harsh environments, dust of course being the big problem in the last couple decades—where, four decades ago it was constant moisture and humidity. A few of them have said their dust solution was to run it dry, but the majority of them have said that the solution to dust is to keep it lubed, and clean it frequently. Yes, the dust sticks to the lube but at the least the lube keeps the dust suspended and maintains a layer of “slipperyness” between moving parts. In my own experience with hundreds (and hundreds) of rifles, this works, although I am short on dust experience. But carbon and fouling build up from shooting and not cleaning the AR will not bring it to a stop as long as it is kept wet and gooey.
As to what lube to pick up at the gun store, I just tell guys, get the one that comes in the bottle / applicator that is most convenient for you. In other words, a gallon paint can of lube that comes with a ladle would be pretty inconvenient. I like a small squeeze bottle with some kind of stem on it so I can control where the lube goes. Beyond that I just say that grease it thicker than you need and WD40 is thinner than you need, although both will work, at least until you can get something better. Me, I always go back to what I ran in the Ducati—50% synthetic 10 W 40. I use it on everything and it works fine in all conditions. Some of the newer lubes are of a watery consistency….. I have tried them and they worked but I admit to a certain prejudice to the tune of, “It doesn’t feel oily. How can it be a lube?” One or more of these has quite a following and I don’t say they are wrong.

Over the last two training seasons I have run a little experiment with lubes. Improvised or field expedient lubes, you might say. This was not to put down any of the available gun lubes; l just wanted to prove (or disprove) my idea that “just keeping something oily on it” would get you by. This was done during Chicago-area police patrol rifle classes, the ones where Patrick Sweeney and I are on the instructor staff. Students go through 950-1200 rounds in these classes; I am not there to shoot but I do have to shoot the qualification each time. Sometimes I’ll step in and fill a void on the line and sometimes I can wander off to another range for a little while and do some testing.

The first thing I tried was some SPF 40 sunblock. I doubt the SPF has anything to do with it 8). The brand escapes me but this was not an oily type of sunblock, it was a white cream, the kind that once it’s on and rubbed in you pretty much don’t know it’s there other than the hint of coconut scent. This was actually beneficial because while my physical being was shooting a scorching rifle on a searing, sweat-dripping day, my mind was on the beach somewhere and the only dripping sweat was coming off the Corona in my hand.

This stuff totally got the job done for 170 rounds on one application. I reapplied and went for about another 70 rounds, with no problems. Now this is not a whole lot of rounds, and with some real lube I would expect to go at least double that and more on one application. You might even get there or almost there bone-dry (but I really doubt it). But I think it shows us that you can’t say “no way will that work”.

Parkay was next. Now mind you I am not at all saying sunblock or Parkay should be used. ANY gunlube will surely be better. As Jeff Chudwin, our chief instructor always says, if you have a car around, you have lube. Take out the dipstick and start lubing.

But Parkay also worked well, and I took it further than I did with the sunblock. In July of 2012, I completely cleaned and dried the bolt carrier group of the carbine—with mineral spririts, so there was no hint of lube left. I sprayed on the Parkay and since then, until Septemer of 2013, I used nothing else. I didn’t clean it beyond having the bolt carrier group out two or three times to eyeball it, during which it got a very minimal wipe-off and re-application.

I went at least 150 rounds on the first application. After that I reapplied as I felt necessary, but nothing that could be called "frequently". I was pretty generous with the stuff. Now this is a carbine that doesn’t always get a lot of use outside of classes so it sat uncleaned between classes (really hard for me as I am a gun cleaning enthusiast). It sat uncleaned all last winter but got Parkay reapplied and a trip out back for a warm-up once in a while. In June of this summer classes started back up so between last summer and this summer, I ran about 400 rounds through it on Parkay. There was not a single issue of any kind in shooting it.

But, don’t bother trying this. Parkay works, I think I proved my point or at least did something most other people haven’t done, but Parkay sucks as a gun lube because when it sits for a couple-three weeks it gets gummy. So after each interim, bolt carrier movement would be anywhere from a tad gummy to pretty darned sluggish. But, a quick re-app of Parkay, even without disassembly, would immediately bring it back to free-moving, working order. I hosed it in through the ejection port, into the carrier exhaust ports, and was liberal enough with it that I knew it was running into the carrier’s cam slot.

Three days ago I got this carbine out of the safe, having decided it was time to end the experiment. It has been sitting since early September, the longest hiatus yet, and was sluggish to the point that any kind of function was out of the question. As a final chapter, I hosed it with more Parkay and once again, it came back to life after several strokes (but I did not shoot it). It seemed one of the best solvents for hardened Parkay is…. more Parkay. But as I was about to find out, it is not THAT good…..
This is where I tell you that “don’t try this at home” is a huge understatement. Something more akin to, “If you read the below and still try this at home, you are hopeless” would be more like it.

I Discover PSR

Once I wiped off the last application of Parkay, only minutes old, I got down to the year’s buildup of nasty, baked-on, carbon-fouled Parkay Super Residue. Imagine coating your bolt carrier group with 3M Contact Cement mixed with Testor’s model glue at about 50/50. And it was not the kind of thing where you could get under it with a scraper in one place and lift the rest of it off—it was ALL stuck on, everywhere. All the nooks and crannies that are hard to get into, physically. I tried more Parkay. I tried WD40. I tried Simple Green. I went back to mechanical removal. Then I tried softening it by putting the bolt and carrier on the wood stove. Then I tried some generic topical anesthetic burn ointment—I mean heck, I had it right there on my fingers after I tried picking up the carrier off the stove…….. nothing but nothing would just “float” this stuff off!

I cut the top off a Guinness can and filled it halfway with olive oil, and simmered everything for a couple hours on the wood stove. This may have helped a little…. but in the end I went back to scraping. Then dishwater and stiff brushes, rinse, dry, scrape the now-visible areas that need it… repeat twice. No, I never considered soaking it in Guinness an shame on you for thinking it.

There are still a few areas that have a little PSR in them but nothing big enough that, should it fall off, it might cause a malfunction.

I will post a few pics when I can but I have been internetically hamstrung for going on a month now, my provider's network is goofed up.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 8:55 am 
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Hmmm, some way to remove PSR?

How about acetone? White vinegar? Ultrasonic cleaning? Bacon grease?

And thanks for the tips on future abuse testing, and reporting on same.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:44 am 
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Ultrasonic bath of bacon grease.... yes!


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:49 am 
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Putting more on......
Image

....you might want to think twice about what you put on your popcorn!
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 8:42 am 
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Ned, in the future I would suggest grass fed butter. Parkay is made from hydrogenated vegetable oils. In other words they chemically add "stuff" to vegetable oil to make it a solid at room temperature. Not only does this present a problem for your lubrication but it does the same thing to your blood vessels. Natural, grass fed butter is much healthier for your heart, will remain somewhat soft at room temperature and not to mention it has the true butter taste we all love. It may be a fat, but it is a healthy one. Sometimes syhthetic isn't better :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:21 am 
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Ned,

Good lord man, that is some nasty looking build-up. I think I will stick to my 50-50 mix of automatic tranny fluid and synthetic oil (0W40 Mobile 1).

I hope my intestines don't look like your BCG...

Matt


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 3:34 pm 
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Well Josh, actually I was thinking the next expedient lube test would be Marmite vs/ Vegemite.

I mean, after all, you can't e the stuff unless your actually and truly from Australia or New Zealand. I and many friends have proved this.

Matt, any sandbox lube stories and practices would be appreciated.


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