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Is Motor Oil Good for Guns? (And Should You Try It?)

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Motor oil can be good for guns as a quick and easy lubrication method. It will keep the sear, side rails, and bolt carriers moving freely, and your firearm will last longer. However, motor oil lacks the rust resistance properties of dedicated gun oils. 

This article will explore whether motor oil is good for guns and if you should try it. I will go over the pros and cons of using motor oil before giving you my verdict.

Which Motor Oil Is Best for Your Gun?

Man choices engine oil in the store

Synthetic motor oil is best for guns because it does not break down quickly and also lasts longer. However, natural motor oil can also be a good choice due to the presence of additives that make it effective at lubricating.

The Benefits of Using Motor Oil on Your Gun

There are at least three benefits to using motor oil on your gun:

  • It is an effective lubricant.
  • Motor oil is relatively cheap. 
  • Motor oil is easy to find. 

If you think about it, motor oil is designed to lubricate moving parts under high stress and heat. This can make it a decent option for lubricating guns, which often operate in harsh environments.

My brother, who lives in South Louisiana, occasionally uses motor oil to lubricate his guns with excellent results. He says it can keep them running smoothly, even in the humid and salty conditions they’re often exposed to.

However, he doesn’t use motor oil to wipe down his rifles. Instead, he uses gun oil for this purpose because it does a better job at preventing rust.

The Disadvantages of Using Motor Oil on Your Gun

There are three disadvantages to using motor oil on your gun.

  • Motor oil lacks the rust resistance properties of dedicated gun oils. 
  • Motor oil has a shorter shelf life than dedicated gun oils. 
  • Motor oil is more likely to attract dirt and dust. 

The rust issue is the biggest drawback of using motor oil on your gun. If you live in a humid climate or are worried about rust, consider using a dedicated gun oil instead.

Alternatively, you can use a combination of motor oil and gun oil like my brother in South Louisiana. This will give you the benefits of both products minus the drawbacks.

Should You Try Motor Oil on Your Gun?

A young man cleaning a firearm

You can try motor oil on your gun. It is cost-effective, easy to find, and works well to keep parts moving freely. However, it is not as rust-resistant as dedicated gun oils, and should therefore not be used to wipe down rifles and similar guns.

If you live in a humid climate, you should avoid using motor oil for your gun. The last thing you want is a rusty weapon because you used the wrong oil on it.

The good news is that you can usually save a rusty gun with some elbow grease and a good rust prevention product. You can use CLP, an all-purpose brush, and steel wool to remove rust from your gun.

However, be careful not to ruin the finish when trying to remove the rust. Use non-abrasive products and materials, so you don’t scratch the surface. Also, make sure you apply gun oil after you’ve removed the rust to prevent the same from coming back.

I recommend this gun scrubber, available on Amazon. With it, you can minimize the likelihood that your gun will jam, and also improve your ability to hit your targets at the same time. It works best for automatics, though you can also use it for rifles and shotguns.

Here is a really good video showing how motor oil can be used to lubricate a rifle and handgun:

Can You Over-Lube a Gun?

You can over-lube a gun. Although excess lubrication will not affect your gun’s operation per se, it can attract dirt and debris. Excess lubrication can also make it difficult to clean your gun properly. A good rule of thumb is to apply enough lubricant to cover the moving parts of your gun.

Also, avoid getting oil on areas that don’t need it, like the grips or sights. 

Too much oil won’t necessarily ruin your gun, but the oil will splash all over the place and make a mess. It’s best to use just enough lubricant to do the job without going overboard.

How Often Should You Lube Your Gun?

In general, you should lube your gun after every use. How often you lubricate a gun depends on how much you use it and what conditions it is exposed to. If you live in a humid climate or use your weapon in dusty conditions, you will need to lube it more often.

On the other hand, if you live in a dry climate and don’t shoot your gun often, you can get away with lubing it less frequently. Once a month or so should be sufficient. Just be sure to use the right product.

Is Dry Lube Good for Guns?

Dry lube can be good for guns, as it is an excellent alternative to traditional oil-based lubricants. It does not attract dust and dirt like oils, making it ideal for dry and dusty conditions. Dry lube can also last longer than oils, so it does not need to be reapplied as often.

The main downside of dry lube is that it’s not as effective at preventing rust as oil-based lubricants. If you live in a humid climate or are worried about rust, you might want to stick with oils.

Who Makes the Best Gun Lube?

Ballistol is arguably the best gun lube. It is an all-purpose lubricant used on guns, knives, and fishing tackles. It is non-toxic, biodegradable, and increases the rust resistance of guns and anything else it is applied to.

That said, there are a lot of different gun lubricants available. Other top-rated gun lubricants on Amazon include:

  • BREAK FREE CLP Gun Cleaner: If you use hunting guns regularly, I recommend this one. It works well for removing powder residue, rust, and corrosion. 
  • Breakthrough Clean Gun Lube: This lubricant claims to withstand temperatures between 65° and 507°F (18° and 264°C). You can also use it for machines, tools, and other equipment.
  • Slip2000 Gun Lube: Unlike petroleum-based lubes, this one won’t burn off as easily under high temperatures. It’s also non-toxic, making it safe to use.

Can You Make Gun Lube at Home?

You can make gun oil at home using free recipes online. However, it is not recommended unless you are experienced in making lubricants. Most homemade gun lubes use olive oil and WD-40, which have their respective pros and cons.

Olive oil is a good lubricant, but it will go bad over time and can attract dust and dirt. WD-40 is also a good lubricant, but it’s abrasive and not suitable for long-term use.

If you want to make gun lube, I recommend using a quality synthetic oil designed for long-term use. But keep in mind that your DIY lube will most likely be of lower quality than commercially-made gun oil.

Motor Oil 101 

Motor oil is a lubricant made from petroleum. It is designed to keep car engines running smoothly. It is also a popular choice for lubricating guns because it is relatively cheap and easy to find. Motor oil can either be synthetic or natural. 

The main difference between the two types of motor oils is that synthetic motor oil is made from artificial chemicals, while natural motor oil is made from refined crude.

Conclusion

If you’re in a pinch, you can use motor oil as a temporary substitute for a dedicated gun oil. However, if you want to keep your gun lubricated and rust-free over the long term, I suggest using a decent brand like Ballistol.

For more, check out How Often Should You Clean a Gun in Storage? | Best Practices.

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