Handguns: How Much Lubrication Do I Need?

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Handgun not running right? Your lubrication regimen may be to blame.

How to keep your gun a well-oiled machine:

  • Often times, lubrication, or lack thereof, is at the root of a gun that refuses to run.
  • Even on guns with minimal slide-to-rail contact, such as polymer-framed pistols, proper oiling is imperative.
  • They may continue to function, however, the lack of lubrication accelerates ware.
  • A safe rule of thumb is to lube at the first sign of metal-to-metal contact.
  • Additionally, heavy lubrication in hot weather is advisable.

Lubrication can be defined in many ways: It can be oil to minimize friction. It can be making a process run smoothly. And, it can be making people convivial with a bit of alcohol.

Handgun-Lubrication-First
There are many varieties of gun lube on the market; pick one you like. The most important thing is to use it appropriately.

Actually, these all mean the same thing — it’s the act of making things work as they’re supposed to. Handguns, even plastic ones, have metal parts, and those must be lubricated.

Bill Wilson of Wilson Combat might know more about handguns than any man walking. He says, “Just like your automobile, metal-frame guns require lubrication. When I see a student’s pistol that had previously been functioning reliably begin to have failures to function, the first thing I check is to see if it’s running dry.

“At this point, I use my pet phrase for the class ‘Guns will run dirty, but they won’t run dry.’ Granted, some polymer-frame pistols with their minimal frame rail-to-slide contact will often continue to function dry, but continued shooting without lube on these surfaces accelerates wear.

“My basic rule of thumb is: If you see signs of metal-to-metal contact, lube it; if you don’t see any sign of contact, don’t lube it, as all this will do is attract firing residue. On top of this, run light lube when it’s cold and heavier lube when it’s hot.”

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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