Guns Competitive Shooting

Ballistol: A German Lubricant for Total Gun Care

John B. Snow Avatar

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In the early 1900s, the German military put out a call for a lubricant that a soldier could use to clean and maintain his rifle, including the metal, the wood stock, and leather accessories like the sling. The request mandated that it even be useful to treat minor wounds, sores, and scratches.


I’ve been putting Ballistol to the test everywhere I can think of with universally good results. It is slightly thicker than cooking oil and applies easily to metal surfaces, leaving a thin coat behind for protection against corrosion. As a bore cleaner, it does an adequate job. It removes carbon fouling well enough to keep a gun running, but it has no effect on copper fouling.

It works well as a penetrating oil in part because it can be cut with water to make it more runny.

Beyond firearms, I used it to condition a leather baseball glove, rustproof some knives, polish a wood table, and silence a squeaky hinge in my bathroom that has been driving me nuts for years–but I haven’t tried it on wounds.