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A tale of gun lubes..........................................

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Rachen, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. Rachen

    Rachen member

    Today, there are many high quality and specially built rust preventatives on the market. Products such as Break Free CLP, Birchwood Casey, Eezox, and many others took the spotlight in modern shooting sports communities.

    Some of them, such as CLP, EEZOX, and Birchwood Casey are truly hardworking performers, trusted by military marksmen, SWAT teams, and civilian shooters, people who have the utmost need for performance and reliability. However, the engineering behind these products are so intense that "sweat and muscle" is too mild a word to describe the efforts put into producing these oils and lubes by the technicians at these companies. When anyone first enters the great world of the shooting sports, he or she would be completely infatuated by the latest products. Marvels in firearms engineering such as polymer frames, Timney triggers, hold audiences in awe, and most of all, the lubes, oils, preservatives, and solvents on the current market that all claim to "do the jobs", as well as fight and compete for their place within the consumer spotlight, became almost a sort of legend in the firearms community. Caliber wars rage as well as debates on which oils and solvents are the best.

    However, when one has been involved in this great sport for some time, they begin to think in terms of traditional curiousity. It is almost, well, sort of like the passing of puberty and the arrival of adulthood and maturity for the gun owner, when he or she begins to extensively study the history of firearms, and the history of the sport itself.

    One of the most interesting aspects of the history of firearms, is the maintenance of these machines themselves. Before there was Breakfree, or Birchwood Casey, or EEZOX, there was only one type of product available to the masses: the original magic formula in a blue and yellow can: WD-40.

    For more than 40 years, WD-40 was the only product available to the hunters, shooters, and competitors of the early space age. First formulated in 1953 as a water displacing formula, WD-40 stands for "Water Displacement-40th Attempt". Thus, it took the technicians 40 attempts to perfect this formula. However, before WD-40, there was the two Great wars. What did the troops use to keep their rifles in working order. Surely, the products of the recent days would not have been available.

    Finally, this ponder about gun lubes wanders into the Blackpowder Era, the Golden Age of the Rifle, where ammunition is quite corrosive and maintaining the guns themselves is just as important as getting them to shoot accurately. In a time when missing a shot meant either starving to death or ending up as the dinner of a more massive creature, keeping guns in working order is more important than anything else. However, in these times, there were only products of the land that were available. Natural greases, tallow, fat. Petroleum products had only began to find their place on the market, but the longhunters of the old days did absolutely fine with the primitive materials they had on hand.

    Just another pondering of a another summer day.
  2. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

  3. Oldnamvet

    Oldnamvet Well-Known Member

    +1 on ballistol -- been around a lot longer than WD-40 and it doesn't turn to varnish with age.
  4. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Well-Known Member

    Sweet Oil (olive oil) if you need something original. Whale oil if you can find it and not get busted works too.

  5. Voodoochile

    Voodoochile Well-Known Member

    I agree, Ballistol is hard to beat in it's longevity of use "since the early 1900's" multitude of useful applications, & after the new stuff has been around & used it still nearly as good as it's new bretheren.

    To me you can't go wrong with Olive Oil, & Ballistol for keeping any muzzleloader ready for the range or hunting trip.
  6. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Flintlock days? Why, they rendered bear fat into oil and used that. Read Ned Roberts' The Caplock Muzzle Loading Rifle. It's a thick book (I got mine from Palladium Press) but once I started reading it, it was very hard to put down. Ned Roberts crammed so much information in there and it was a joy to read. He talks about bear oil and how it was one of the best lubes and rust prevention thing around.
  7. arcticap

    arcticap Well-Known Member

    Whale oil is supposed to be a great patch lube and a superior all around lubricant.
    IIRC it was used in manufacturing and had commercial uses throughout the 1950's at least.

    I found an interesting article about whale oil.

    The best and most expensive whale oil not only came from the sperm whale, but from large cavities inside of it's head that were filled with a special high grade oil. It's large head composed about 1/3 of its body.
    This premium oil was often mixed with the lesser grade blubber oil, and even mixed it was still the best oil of the day that didn't smell when burned like the oil of other whales.


    About 6-8 barrels of head oil and a total of 25-40 barrels of oil could be extracted from an average size sperm whale, but some sperm whales yielded even more oil than that.

    The oil was stored in barrels which averaged about 35 gallons each and which were built by coopers on the whaling ships. Prices of whale oil escalated over the years just like petroleum oil has in modern days.

    The above was from this article:

    Whaling reportedly dates back to 6000 B.C., and whale oil was the 1st commercially viable oil. It did greatly help to advance civilization by providing illumination fuel for the masses. Many men went to great lengths risking their lives to supply it.

    A short article:

    Last edited: Jul 8, 2008
  8. DuncanSA

    DuncanSA Well-Known Member

    Ballistol is all I use (apart from lube pills). On the label it is also claimed to cure wounds, typhoid fever, cholera, burns and saddle-gall but I have not investigated these more exotic applications!
  9. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

    I've heard it will eventually cure global warming.
  10. DuncanSA

    DuncanSA Well-Known Member

    No doubt you are right, although a lot would be needed. The makers will probably add this to their label soon. Anyway, B/S aside, its really good stuff (as I am sure you know).

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