How to Oil or Lubricate a Firearm Properly

This seems to be a common question when talking about gun maintenance. How much oil should you put on a gun?

Most people that I talk to or read about use way too much oil. Typically people want to liberally “coat” everything with oil. People think the oil has to cover the surface visually. Believe it or not, this is not ideal nor beneficial¬†for the firearm. Too much oil does 2 things that are not desirable.

  1. Increase friction – the moving parts have to push the oil in close tolerance spaces
  2. Attracts dirt, dust, debris and fouling

The proper way to apply an oil or lubricant to a firearm is to apply a liberal amount to the surface and then wipe the surface with a clean, dry cotton cloth or dry cleaning patch. You want to remove all excess oil from the surface. Don’t worry you will never remove all of the oil. The only way to remove all of the oil from any surface is with a cleaner or solvent. A cloth cannot entirely remove all oil from a metal surface not matter how hard nor how many times you wipe it. Metal has microscopic pores and imperfections that hold oil in place.

I have learned that cleaning and lubricating a firearm while it is warm has benefits.

  1. A “warm” firearm is easier to clean. The metal pores are open and allow the fouling to be removed more easily.
  2. A “warm” firearm, at least the metal parts, will absorb oil more completely than cold metal. Oil seems to penetrate better on warm or hot metal.

So how do you warm up the metal parts? You can sit them in the sun for a while or use a hair dryer or heat gun. I use a Heat Gun. It’s easy and fast. I usually heat metal parts to 90 – 100 F then apply cleaner or oil. Don’t get the parts too hot or you won’t be able to handle them.