Cartridge bullet lube with petroleum jelly added, ok to use?


April 20, 2012, 02:38 PM
I know the advice about not using certain types of petroleum products in BP guns, but I was wondering if any of you had actually tried a cartridge bullet lube that contained some petroleum jelly, and what your results were. Specifically, did it make a mess that was really hard to clean out of the bore and cylinder?

The reason I ask is that I want to make up some 45 Colt loads, and I have some cast bullets that a friend of mine makes from a 270 SAA mold. He lubes these with his own home brew bullet lube. I can't remember all of the ingredients, but the only one in any sort of volume I was questioning was the petroleum jelly. This lube is very soft and gooey, not at all hard like the typical commercial cast bullet lubes. It has worked very well in our smokeless guns, leaving a little lube ring on the crown of the barrel, and leaving no leading in the bores.

I'd like to try these bullets in the BP cartridges, but if the petroleum jelly is going to cause a mess, I'll need to lube with something else.

Any experience you can share would be appreciated.

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April 20, 2012, 04:05 PM
I wouldnt do it. I tried bullets with ALOX lube once and a petroleum based lube another time. The worst experience i ever had. So much fouling and leading. i spent hours cleaning the barrel. Ended up using Chore Boy and forced it through the bore several times to get everything out. Since then i use beeswax and olive oil. Go to local craft supply store buy a small brick of Beeswax. Then melt it slowly in a pot then had think 1/2 olive oil. Then i poured into a tupperware type container. Took a paperclip and bent it long with a round loop then drop the bullets in the mixture and pull them out then set on some wax paper let them harden up. After that load them up. once the bees wax cools off in the tupperware container i put the lid on and done. When i go to use it again either microwave it or put a pot on the stove with water let it boil then lower the tupperware in the hot water until it is melted all the way.

Using this i dont have any leading at all and the fouling is a lot easier to clean up

check black powder essentials for recipe on black powder lube.

April 20, 2012, 04:13 PM
I have used both Alox and petroleum jelly at times and had none of the problems that scrat says he encountered. The petroleum jelly is really too soft and does make a mess (only because it runs so fast when it gets hot), but the Alox lube worked OK with no leading or clean up problems. I don't know how much or what kind of powder scrat was using, but I was using a Lee 225 LRN lubed with Alox/beeswax NRA formula lube and a full case of 3Fg Goex powder.

April 20, 2012, 04:46 PM
used Cast. think same thing 225 lee. i used the Lee Liquid Alox after i sized them up. i had a good coat of it on too. Other time i used Red Rooster lube which is a petroleum based hard lube. Same thing. So now i just use the Beeswax Olive oil mix and i have never had any other problem. Oh this is with Goex 3FFF.

Now shooting Smokeless Lee Liquid Alox is some good stuff same with Red Rooster.

Sometimes i shoot 45colt with Lee Liquid Alox and Trail Boss. However i have learned before doing this swab the barrel clean, pull the arbor shaft clean and lube then im good to go. Just dont mix and shoot different lubes. Otherwise your going to be in some serious doo doo

April 20, 2012, 05:16 PM
Can you just take Wonder Lube or Bore Butter and squirt it in the lube groove of the bullet? Or will it run down and foul the powder once the bullet is in the case? I can't see how that could happen, if the bullet is pressed into the case....

April 20, 2012, 05:58 PM
You can use bore butter butttttttttttt

you cant just put it on and load it up. The lube will mess up the powder. In that case you would use a thin coat of bore butter just to fill the lube rings. However you would have to let them sit for a while to dry up a bit. Then i still would never do this unless i used a fiber wad over the powder to prevent contamination of the powder.

Best advice get the proper lube and do it correctly. SPG lube or an equivalent black powder lube or beeswax and talo or olive oil mix. Then lube up the bullets and you will be good to go and will not have to worry about leading the barrel or getting a good amount of fouling.

April 20, 2012, 06:20 PM

I don't know what you are saying NOPE to? I lube mine with a Lyman 450 Lubersizer and Javelina brand Alox/Bees wax NRA formula. My bullets are hard cast from wheel weight alloy, btw.

April 20, 2012, 06:27 PM
Junkman you are using Alox and Beeswax thats not the same as straight alox or petroleum based lubes. The NRA formula is pretty good stuff but is Beeswax based Some of the petroleum straight based lubes are pretty nasty stuff on Black Powder. Javelina is pretty good stuff. There used to be a gun shop locally i could get it from however the owner of the shop was pretty old and closed shop one day now i cant find it anywhere unless i order it

April 20, 2012, 06:30 PM

I guess that the Alox works OK in the Javelina formula, since I do not have the problems that you cite.

April 20, 2012, 07:19 PM
There are different types of Alox. Liquid Alox that used for tumble lubing is NOT BP compatible. Or so I've been told, never tried it myself.

April 20, 2012, 08:02 PM
i use 2/3,s melted beeswax with 1/3 unsalted crisco and a little olive oil,i dip the bullets in the mixture with a pair of large tweesers and hold untill the lube has hardened also works well with .58 mini balls. eastbank.

April 20, 2012, 08:09 PM
There are different types of Alox. Liquid Alox that used for tumble lubing is NOT BP compatible. Or so I've been told, never tried it myself.
Yep, there's a lot of MYTHS out there!

April 21, 2012, 03:54 AM
Just buy some SPG or Lyman Black Powder Gold lubricant and be done with it. These lubricants are made specifically for black powder cartridge use.
Or you can make up your own black powder lube. There are TONS of recipes on the net.
My favorite is the one named after me, after I began posting it about 1999 on various message boards. It's basically the same recipe as the 19th century factory recipe for outside lubricated bullets.
That old recipe called for "10 pounds of paraffin, 10 pounds tallow and 5 pounds of beeswax."
Myself, because I'd earlier had such good luck with mutton tallow, refined the recipe a bit:

Gatofeo No. 1 Lubricant
1 part mutton tallow
1 part canning paraffin (for its purity)
1/2 part real beeswax
All measurements are by weight, not volume

Been using it for 14 years now, in all black powder applications: felt wads, shotgun wads, patches in my round ball rifle, Minie balls in my .58-caliber rifled musket, lead bullets in black powder cartridges, etc.
Many have tried it and praised it.
But you MUST use mutton tallow, canning paraffin and real beeswax or the effectiveness suffers.

Still others swear by mixing Crisco, olive oil or vegetable oil (pick one) with beeswax, by melting them together.

There are probably hundreds of recipes for black powder lubricants. Some good, some atrocious, a few of them even laughable.

I tried Alox-based lubricants years ago, the same lubricant used with smokeless powder loads. They lack the moistness necessary to keep black powder fouling soft.
And ... here's the bugaboo ... petroleum greases and oils tend to create a hard, tarry fouling when used with black powder. This affects accuracy and makes cleaning even harder. Use natural greases and oils for black powder and you'll keep the fouling softer, plus it's easier to clean from the gun's surfaces and bore.

My great-great-great-great-great Grandpa Gato swore by:
1 part Dodo Bird grease
1 part Passenger Pigeon tallow
2 parts Unicorn saliva
1/2 part Kraaken ink

I dunno ... never tried it ... the ingredients are kinda scarce anymore ... :D

April 21, 2012, 06:21 AM
After reading this, go back and read post #12. ;)

April 21, 2012, 10:06 AM
Ok, you guys have convinced me. We'll cast some more bullets and lube with SPG or a beeswax/crisco/olive oil mix. I think my buddy already has the beeswax and paraffin that he uses in the other lube, we can just make up another batch without the petroleum jelly.

Driftwood Johnson
April 21, 2012, 01:29 PM

First off, the prohibition of 'petroleum based' products with Black Powder is kind of misleading. The ingredients of Ballistol are petroleum based, and it is terrific with Black Powder. There are some petroleum based products that will work OK with Black Powder, there are some that will not.

I dunno about petroleum jelly, I never tried it.

There is no mystery to this. You mentioned the lube was soft and gooey. That is what you want for a BP compatible bullet lube. Being soft and gooey means the fouling will remain soft, not forming a hard caked deposit that ruins accuracy and is difficult to remove. Basically, when fouling is kept soft, each succeeding bullet scrapes away most of what has been left behind by the last bullet.

A soft gooey fouling will also have less tendency to bind your cylinder.

BP bullet lubes can be very simple. I used a mix of 50/50 Beeswax and Crisco for years. Nothing scientific, I melted a chunk of beeswax in a double boiler, adding a glob of Crisco about the same size. It is a flammable mixture, so I always made it up in a double boiler. I would not put it in a microwave oven. You can read about pan lubing here:

These days I cast my own Big Lube bullets and lube them with SPG, but I was pan lubing regular hard cast bullets with 50/50 Beeswax/Crisco for years.

dagger dog
April 21, 2012, 09:59 PM
40% beeswax, 30% petroleum jelly, 10% canola oil by weight, works well for BP and low velocity cowboy smokless loads.

I shoot it in 38 S&W BP pocket pistol, and 45 Colt 260 gr wheel weight bullets with Trail Boss loaded to 750 fps in 4 5/8th" Blackhawk and 24" 92 Rossi.

John Linebaugh recommends a lube soft enough to"be sticky" and shoots that in his high pressure 45 Colt loads well into the 30,000 psi range with air cooled straight wheel weight bullets, and reports no leading.

April 22, 2012, 10:02 AM
Well fellers, I gave this a try last evening. I melted down a 50/50 mix of beeswax and Crisco, placed my de-lubed commercial cast bullets in a 8" plate, and poured in the lube up to just before the crimp groove. Let it cool for a bit, until the edges of the lube cake receded from the edges of the plate, and tried pushing some of the bullets out. I broke the cake pretty quickly, and the majority of the bullets came out with no lube in the grooves.

Ok, that was wildly unsuccessful, lets try again, but this time I'd put the cake in the fridge for a short period and see if that helped. Well, that was worse.

Hmm, maybe I need to space the bullets further apart from each other, and further in from the edges, to help prevent breaking the cake. I let it cool 20 minutes or so, no fridge this time, and very carefully pushed out the bullets. This time I made it all the way through without breaking the cake, but I still had about half the bullets not keep lube in the grooves as they were pushed out.

I think this was mostly due to the shallow, small lube groove in these bullets (255 lswc from Magnus Bullet Co.). We tried a 270 SAA style bullet which has a much wider, deeper lube groove, and those worked better.

For my fourth attempt, I decided to let the cake cool for a shorter time before trying to remove the bullets. And, while it was cooling, I thought about trying to just pull them out of the cake while still in the pan, using forceps or pliers. So I waited until the whole cake looked like it had just set up all the way through, then very carefully grasped the nose of the bullet with some pliers and pulled.

This worked fairly well, however the technique which paid off the most was giving the bullet a twist before removing it from the cake. This seemed to prevent pulling a chunk of lube out of the lube groove as the bullet was being pulled up out of the cake. Most of the bullets removed in this fashion looked like they had been run through a lubrisizer. Very neat.

So, in short, this is definitely one of those trial and error processes, and I'm still refining the technique and the lube mixture. The 50/50 beeswax is very slick, but it almost seems like it needs something to make it more sticky, like peanut butter (no, I'm not going to add peanut butter), to stick in the lube groove better. I dunno, maybe that will make things worse because it will stick to all the other surfaces of the bullet better too, and won't release from the mold clean.

I can see now why someone invented the lubrisizer....

April 22, 2012, 11:19 AM
I would just use Gatofeo's #1 lube and be done with it,avoid petroleum jelly altogether. Its really the best BP lube for the money.

April 22, 2012, 12:17 PM
You need to 'cut' them out, not push them out. Look at this PDF to get the idea...

April 22, 2012, 01:13 PM
Yes, I'd like to make up a cutter for next time around. That's a good article, thanks!

I'd like to try the Gatofeo blend, but I'm wondering where to get mutton tallow around here...

What's funny is there was a perfectly good, new lubrisizer right next to me on the bench while I was doing all of this. I was over at my buddy's house last night and he has a lubrisizer, but he's been running his other lube mix through it (the one that has vaseline and STP trans fluid in it) and we didn't want to get any of that mixed in with the beeswax/crisco blend. Hence the pan lubing.

April 22, 2012, 04:33 PM
DGW has mutton tallow.

April 23, 2012, 06:36 AM
i was going to try rendered bear fat last year,but i was beaten out of 30lbs at the local butcher shop. maybe this year. eastbank.

April 24, 2012, 05:13 PM
40% beeswax, 30% petroleum jelly, 10% canola oil by weight, works well for BP and low velocity cowboy smokless loads.

Just curious, what are the remaining 20%:evil:

dagger dog
April 26, 2012, 07:52 PM
DUH !!! Crisco

April 27, 2012, 12:05 PM
One thing I kinda stumbled upon after experimenting with the pan lubing process yesterday evening:

If the bullets are in the pan with the lube, and come up to temperature WITH the lube (i.e. they are hot), the lube tends to cling to the lube groove better when you punch the bullets out of the lube cookie.

I found this out when I tried putting the bullets in the pan of melted lube one at a time by hand, and leaving them in the melted lube on the boiler for a while. Previously I was pouring the melted lube over the cool bullets in a separate pan.

This is the same effect you get when you plug a fresh batch of bullets in the holes of the first lube cookie, and stick the whole pan back in the oven to melt the cookie back down. The bullets heat up with the lube and are at the same temp when they start the cooling process.

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