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Published Aug 30, 2022 2:22 PM

Gun oils should prevent corrosion and pitting on your firearms, but the best ones do more than keep appearances up. Sure, no one wants rust patches on their gun barrel, but what about the parts you don’t see? Those slides, bolts, and levers rely on lubrication to make them run smoothly. And even if you discover light rust on your gun because you forgot to wipe it down after your last rainy hunt, a solid oil can help you clean it up and protect it from developing more in the future. Some can even double as bore cleaners and remove fouling, so you can make sure you’re getting the most accuracy out of all your shots. 

If you’re just concerned about the outer surfaces of your guns, especially if you depend on them for self-defense or hunting, you should consider all the moving parts and, more importantly, what goes in them. To help you do that, I’ve compiled a list of the best gun oils that I used while working at a gun shop or have personally tested, so you can find one that keeps your firearms running whether you’re hunting or slinging lead at the range.

Best Overall: Hoppe’s Elite Gun Oil

Hoppe’s

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Why It Made the Cut

Like Hoppe’s other gun cleaning products, their Elite Gun Oil not only excels as a gun oil for outer surfaces, but it also works well for removing copper and lead fouling from your gun’s bore.

Key Features

  • Variety of sizes
  • Squeeze bottle applicator
  • Ammonia free

Pros

  • Doesn’t leave a sticky residue
  • Versatile
  • Works fast
  • Little goes a long way

Cons

  • Still need to wear gloves while using
  • Squeeze applicator can leak in storage

Product Description

If you’re a fan of Hoppe’s No. 9, one of the best gun cleaning solvents, then you’ll be equally impressed with their Elite Gun Oil. I’ve used this on my own hunting rifles, particularly my lever actions, to make sure the moving parts keep doing just that. It has the right amount of viscosity to penetrate those hard-to-get places, especially if you’re not confident with tearing your gun completely down. The squeeze applicator allows you to apply the oil in small batches, which eliminates waste. However, it’s not the easiest to keep clean, and I’ve noticed that it leaks slightly in storage.

For exterior surfaces, this gun oil doesn’t leave a sticky or excess residue like others. It prevents corrosion, especially on your gun’s surfaces that receive the most contact from your hands. For protecting and lubricating, this is my go-to. Whether you’re doing a quick wipe down or full-blown cleaning session, Hoppe’s Elite Gun Oil can get it done.

Best Budget: Remington Rem Oil

Remington

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Why It Made the Cut

This widely available gun oil works great when you need something in a pinch.

Key Features

  • Various sizes
  • Includes straw for precise application
  • Inhibits rust

Pros

  • Great for lubricating
  • Cleans outer surfaces fast
  • Can find discounted multipacks

Cons

Product Description

If you’re in a pinch or traveling to hunt, Rem Oil works great for cleaning your gun’s outer surfaces after a day in the field. And it’s sold at most sporting goods or department stores, so no matter where you’re hunting, you’ll likely find some. I’ve used it for years in a similar manner, and it works just fine for quick wipe down after I’ve exposed my guns to the elements.

Gun oils typically run in the same price range, but Rem Oil’s per ounce price usually runs less than others. I’ve also found discounted multipacks of Rem Oil on multiple occasions that were similarly priced to individual bottles from other competitors. Unlike others though, Rem Oil is a one-trick pony, and it won’t clear copper or lead fouling.

Best Cleaner and Lube: Break Free CLP

Break Free

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Why It Made the Cut

Break Free’s CLP lives up to its name and keeps your gun in working order even when you neglect it.

Key Features

  • Multiple sizes and applicator options
  • Wide temperature range (-65 to 475 degrees)
  • Resists Hardening

Pros

  • Multi-purpose
  • Conditions against rust
  • Less viscous than most competitors

Cons

  • Smell isn’t the most pleasant

Product Description

Break Free’s CLP (cleaner, lubricator, and protectant) is a versatile option that revives even the most neglected guns. When I worked at a gun shop, customers would bring in a firearm with a gummed-up action. We’d spray this on the slide, lever, bolt carrier, etc. then let it sit while the customer shopped for ammo, and within minutes the action would (drumroll) break free.

This multipurpose cleaner helps clean, protect against future build-up, and keep your firearms in working order. I’m a huge fan of using this as a conditioner for your gun’s outer surfaces because it hits the sweet spot when it comes to viscosity. It penetrates for lasting protection, but it doesn’t run or linger on the surface like other products. For a multipurpose cleaner and lube, Break Free CLP works admirably.

Best Wipes: Hoppe’s Lubricating Gun Oil Field Wipes

Hoppe’s

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Why It Made the Cut

For in-the-field maintenance and protection against the elements, the wipes are easy to pack and use the same reliable oil as Hoppe’s other products.

Key Features

  • Sizes: 3 x 5-inch towelettes or 6 x 7-inch wipes
  • Uses Hoppe’s No. 9 oil
  • Pre-moistened

Pros

  • Packs great
  • Great in the field or at the range
  • Quick application

Cons

  • Have to pack out wipes

Product Description

Whether you’re doing a quick wipe-down at the range or cleaning in the field, these wipes from Hoppe’s make it easy to take care of your gun’s outer surfaces. And they come pre-moistened with Hoppe’s No. 9. These are especially handy if you’re hunting in wet or rainy conditions and want to clean the moisture from one of your best hunting rifles. However, you’ll need to keep a Ziploc in your pack so you can dispose of them later. While they excel in the field, the canister option with the larger (6 x 7-inch) wipes is convenient for having on your workbench, when you just need a touch-up.   

Most Versatile: Ballistol

Ballistol

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Why It Made the Cut

Ballistol’s versatile spray CLP makes it easy to apply this cleaner to your gun, and it’s non-toxic.

Key Features

  • Non-irritant
  • Conditions and protects wood stocks
  • Useful for other items too

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Eco-friendly
  • Easy application

Cons

  • Jack of all trades, master of none

Product Description

If you’re looking for a versatile gun oil that’s also a non-irritant, Ballistol is the way to go. Like a lot of multipurpose gun oils, Ballistol will clean, lubricate, and prevent future corrosion, but doesn’t necessarily excel at any of them. However, its convenient spray applicator and the fact that it’s widely available makes it a great option, especially if you don’t have many guns or shoot them often. Because it’s a great all-around spray for furniture and even leather goods, it conditions your wooden gun stocks and prevents them from water or moisture damage.

Best Synthetic Lubricant: AMSOIL Synthetic Firearm Lubricant and Protectant

AMSOIL

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Why It Made the Cut

This synthetic lubricant from AMSOIL works great on bolts, slides, and levers. And it will keep your outer surfaces rust free.

Key Features

  • Spray applicator
  • Straw for precise spray
  • Lubricant and Protectant

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Excellent lube
  • No obnoxious smell

Cons

  • Skin and eye irritant
  • Leaves thick residue on outer surfaces

Product Description

I tested this gun oil from AMSOIL alongside Rem Oil and Hoppe’s Elite, and it performed equally as well as a lubricant. It also didn’t have any problem removing a small patch of rust from an old hunting rifle, but it did leave a thick layer of residue on the barrel, more so than others. Even after cleaning the gun multiple times and waiting several days, there was still an excess of oil. This is okay for rifles in storage, but it’s something to know if you plan to wipe your rifle down and hunt with it soon after.

Still, it performed great as a lubricant on my shotgun’s slide. I even used it to clean a Remington 870 and remove a choke tube that hadn’t been cleaned in years. For those reasons, AMSOIL merits consideration.  

Best Non-Toxic: FrogLube Extreme

FrogLube

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Why It Made the Cut

FrogLube is an excellent non-corrosive solvent that cuts through copper and lead fouling, but it also excels as a lubricant for guns that see heavy use (and cleaning).

Key Features

  • Biodegradable
  • Non-corrosive
  • Food-grade product

Pros

  • Little goes a long way
  • Great for cleaning too
  • Pleasant smell
  • Non-toxic

Cons

  • Requires precise application
  • High maintenance

Product Description

If non-toxic or non-corrosive is your biggest priority for your firearm lubrication, you should consider FrogLube. But understand that it comes with a few caveats. While this product keeps your gun parts lubed, it requires precise application. If you leave any excess, FrogLube will gum-up your action. I also wouldn’t recommend using this as a protectant for those closet queens you keep in your gun safe and only break out on special occasions. FrogLube works best for guns that see heavy use and require routine maintenance. So, if you have an AR or pistol that gets serious range time every month, I wouldn’t hesitate to use this on them.

Things to Consider Before Buying Gun Oil

A Savage 99 lever action.
Keeping your gun’s moving parts lubricated can help them run butter-smooth. Adam Moore

There are plenty of options when it comes to gun oils. And truthfully, most of them work well enough, especially if you regularly maintain your guns. Still, it’s helpful to consider what you expect from a gun oil before using it to clean and maintain your firearm.

Use

Are you looking to restore guns that have been hibernating in your gun safe or closet for a while? If so, they’ll likely need an oil like Break Free CLP that can lubricate your guns’ moving parts and protect their metal outer surfaces from corrosion. If you just need something to wipe your gun with after you’ve been in the field all day, most any gun oil will work.

Irritants

Most gun oils are classified as some type of irritant. If this is a deal breaker for you, your choices are much more limited. However, there are non-toxic options like Breakthrough’s Military Grade Solvent or any FrogLube products, which work similarly to a lot of gun oils.    

Cleaning

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t just use gun oil for the majority of your cleaning. While a lot of gun oils will clean and remove copper, lead, and carbon fouling from your bore, they work best when you use them as protectants or lubricants. If you’re just using gun oil, you should add a gun solvent and one of the best gun cleaning kits to your workbench.

Temperature

If you expose your guns to extreme temperature swings, you’ll want a gun oil that’s suited for harsh conditions. If you hunt especially cold regions, either use a light application of gun oil or avoid thick, viscous products, which can gum up in frigid temps. For warmer or humid climates, thicker oils aren’t likely to harden thanks to the heat. However, thin oils can evaporate or burn more quickly in warmer temps, especially if you’re expending tons of rounds at the range. 

Environment

Dusty or sandy conditions can cause firearms to seize up. With enough dirt and dust, thin oils might not cut it. In this case, more viscous or traditional lube products are more likely to keep your firearm operating. 

FAQs

Q: How much do gun oils cost?

Depending on the size of the product, gun oils run anywhere from a few dollars to around $20. You can buy gun oil and cleaner kits in this same price range or for a few dollars more.

Q: Is gun grease better than oil?

It’s not that gun grease is better than oil, but that they both are better suited in different conditions. Gun oils are less viscous than gun grease and are more than capable for lubricating and preventing rust on hunting rifles. Gun grease is often applied for long term storage (think surplus military rifles that are coated religiously) or to guns that see harsh conditions and extreme use. Most gun oils can handle the needs of the average hunter or shooter.

Q: What is the best oil to use in a gun?

If you’re looking for a gun oil that excels at cleaning, lubricating, and preventing rust, Hoppe’s Elite Gun Oil is the best, especially if you are cleaning a gun that receives regular maintenance. However, if you’re trying to clean a gun that’s been neglected, has a gummed-up action, or a choke tube that hasn’t been removed in years, Break Free’s CLP is the way to go.

Final Thoughts

Whether your rifle takes a beating during hunting season or you’re a regular at your local range, the best gun oils can keep your firearms running like new. And unlike other gear or products, there isn’t a huge difference in price when it comes to brands, so there’s no excuse not to have some on your gun bench.

Methodology

For this review, I relied on years of experience working at a gun shop to determine this list. I also tested products that I hadn’t previously used to see how they compared. I considered each product’s viscosity, how much was required to adequately coat a gun’s exterior surface, and if a product left excess or an undesirable residue.