In the early 20th Century, the Imperial German Army began a search for a general-purpose oil to service its inventory of smallarms, including its new service rifle--the elegant, beautiful, and revolutionary G98 Mauser smokeless repeating rifle. The German Army's requirements were very demanding and almost unrealistic. The new oil had to serve as a cleaner that would clean smokeless residue, blackpowder residue, salty residue from corrosive priming, salty acids from fingerprints, copper residue, and lead residue; a lubricant for all firearms; and a protectant for steel, wood, and leather that would work in all weather conditions. Surprisingly, the soldier was also supposed to use the same oil for the treatment of minor wounds, sores, scratches, and dry skin. The new oil had to do it all.
Helmut Klever, a professor of chemistry at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, set out to develop the universal oil the German Army required. In 1904, Klever produced a special oil which he named Ballistol, from the words ballistic and oil. It soon became obvious that the new wonder oil had truly amazing capabilities and did everything required by the German Army. The German Army tested Ballistol and adopted it in 1905. Thus, the original CLP (Cleaner, Lubricant, Protectant) was born. More than a century later, Ballistol remains the best CLP for all firearms and has countless uses outside the firearms world. In fact, Ballistol is so useful for so many different things that Ballistol is a household word in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Ballistol is an effective cleaner. Most gun oils are not good cleaners. They may lubricate just fine but they don't clean effectively. With conventional gun cleaners, the shooter has to use a cleaner first and then a lubricant to protect against corrosion. This is especially true for cleaning the bore. Ballistol cleans, lubricates, and protects simultaneously. Ballistol has the capability to dissolve powder fouling, traces of copper, and lead. Everyone has his own method for cleaning bores. If you clean bores with a Bore Snake, then just put some drops of Ballistol on the Bore Snake and use it as you would normally. If you clean bores with patches only, then patch with Ballistol. If you clean bores with a bronze brush, then brush with Ballistol. If you're a soaker, just soak the bore with Ballistol and then patch it out. Some people use a combination of the above methods. Whatever method you use, just use Ballistol instead of whatever cleaners, lubricants, and protectants you used previously.
Ballistol cleans corrosive blackpowder fouling. Most gun cleaners do not. That is why a common cleaner used for blackpowder firearms is water and Windex. When dissolved with water (Ballistol is an oil but it emulsifies with water), Ballistol cleans all blackpowder firearms effectively without degreasing everything like water and Windex. With Ballistol and water, all of the corrosive fouling is removed and a thin film of Ballistol remains after the water evaporates to leave a layer of protection against corrosion. After cleaning, wipe down the weapon with undiluted Ballistol for even greater corrosion protection. Ballistol is not petrochemically based and will not affect the "seasoning" of blackpowder weapons. In fact, undiluted Ballistol is a very popular patch lubricant with blackpowder shooters. Nearly all of these classic blackpowder weapons also feature wood stocks and leather slings. Ballistol is perfectly safe for these materials and actually good for them. Ask experienced cowboy action and blackpowder shooters how they maintain their weapons and they will probably tell you they use Ballistol.
Ballistol cleans corrosive priming residue. Most modern gun cleaners do not because they do not contain water to dissolve the corrosive salts. Many Kalashnikov shooters still shoot corrosive ammunition to save on ammunition costs. The ammunition for these weapons features smokeless propellants (which are non-corrosive), but the priming mixtures used are salty, hygroscopic, and corrosive. Most shooters shy away from shooting corrosive ammunition and thus the market cost of this ammunition is usually very low. Savvy shooters know that such ammunition is perfectly safe to shoot so long as the weapon is cleaned afterward, so they reap the rewards of shooting such low-cost ammunition. Photo by Jack Quinlan.
Most gun cleaners are petroleum-based and will not clean corrosive priming residue. A common way to clean weapons that have fired corrosive priming is with hot water. The hot water dissolves the corrosive salts that petroleum-based cleaners do not. Cleaning weapons in this manner isn't too difficult, but it is far easier to clean the weapon with Ballistol and water. Furthermore, the wood furniture common on these Kalashknikovs will not be subjected to boiling hot water and swell. Photo by Jack Quinlan.
Just use an old spray bottle and fill it with Ballistol and water. Spray down the weapon and clean it the way you would any other weapon. The Ballistol and water will dissolve the corrosive fouling on the weapon. Dry the weapon with compressed air or a towel. Don't worry about getting out every last bit of water, as water in the presence of Ballistol does not cause corrosion and will merely evaporate away and leave Ballistol everywhere to protect the steel against corrosion. Rub down the weapon with undiluted Ballistol for an extra layer of protection against corrosion. This cleaning method is really no more difficult than cleaning other smokeless weapons, so there is no reason not to take advantage of the lower cost of corrosive ammunition.
There are popular ratios for dissolving blackpowder and corrosive priming residue, but we have found an exact ratio is not really necessary.
Ballistol is an oil. It lubricates. Much is made in the gun world about this or that wonder oil, but we have found that all oils work very well at lubricating.
Apply Ballistol as you would any other oil. We use and recommend needle oilers to apply Ballistol. Ballistol works as well or better as a lubricant as anything else we have tried. However, there are a few things about Ballistol that make it different from other lubricants.
Ballistol is non-toxic and biodegradable. Most general lubricants, cleaners, and corrosion inhibitors contain aggressive chemicals or substances such as Teflon, silicone, trichloroethane, or tetrachloroethylene (all known carcinogens), or they contain petroleum, kerosene, benzene, ammonia, or chlorinated paraffins (all toxic or skin and eye irritants). Others emit toxic vapors (copper solvents are especially bad). Very few are biodegradable. Ballistol does not contain any known carcinogen. Ballistol is non-toxic. If you are around guns a good deal, this makes a real difference. Get other gun cleaners or lubricants on your hands and you can feel the effects. Things like conventional bore cleaners and copper solvents are especially bad. Ballistol is as friendly to the user as it is to the guns. Don't drink it or put it on your cereal, but it's safe to be around.
Ballistol lubricates in the presence of water. Unlike other oils, Ballistol mixes with water. When a weapon lubricated with Ballistol gets wet, the Ballistol and water combine. Ballistol does not get washed away. The Ballistol-water mixture is still slick to the touch and the weapon is still lubricated. You can prove this to yourself easily. Simply spray down a weapon with Ballistol and water and work the action. The action will still feel lubricated. Alternatively, spray some Ballistol and water on your finger and rub your fingers against each other. You will feel an oiliness between your fingers.
Ballistol displaces water. Most general lubricants and gun oils claim to be water-displacing. And they are in many ways. WD40 is a good example. Spray WD40 on something wet and water is usually displaced. This principle of water displacement works fine, but only under certain circumstances. The surface must be flat or convex and there must be an area to which the water can be displaced. In a confined space such as a bolt hole or other recess, this principle of water displacement does not work. To prove it to yourself, fill a shot glass halfway with WD40 or the gun oil of your choice and then top off with water. The water will displace the WD40 or other gun oil, which will end up floating on top of the water. The area you wanted to protect (the bottom of the shot glass) will no longer be protected and the oil on top of the water will prevent the water from evaporating or dissipating. Now do the same thing with Ballistol. When you pour water into the Ballistol you will see the Ballistol actively emulsify with the water. Test the lubricity of this mix. Stick your index finger into it and rub it against your thumb. You will feel that Ballistol still lubricates. The entire shot glass will now be protected by a mix of Ballistol and water. Just as this Ballistol-water mix will still lubricate, it will also still inhibit corrosion because water in the presence of Ballistol does not cause corrosion. Leave the shot glass out and the water will evaporate away leaving only Ballistol in the shot glass. No other gun oil or CLP can do this.
Look closely at the wet barrel on this Arctic Warfare. You can see water droplets on the barrel, but you can also see what looks like grease spots on the black barrel. What you see there is areas where some Ballistol-water mix was and the water evaporated away.
Ballistol does not dry or congeal. Many gun lubricants do. Most gun owners are all too familiar with the practice of pulling a weapon from cold storage and lubricating the moving parts and running a fresh patch down the bore before going shooting. Ballistol does not gum up or harden, even after long periods of time. In 1952 a bottle with Ballistol with the cap only loosely attached was found in the attic of a deceased German hunter. Because the purchase receipt was found, it was established that the Ballistol had been sitting there for over 30 years yet it still had the consistency of freshly produced Ballistol. People who actually use Ballistol and have experience with it know this story is true.
In addition to being an excellent cleaner and lubricant, Ballistol is also an excellent protectant for common gun and household materials like steel, aluminum, plastics, wood, rubber, and leather.
Testing the corrosion-inhibiting properties of Ballistol is very easy. Take two shot glasses and fill them with water.
Degrease two pieces of steel wool and immerse them in the water.
Put ONE DROP of Ballistol in one of the shot glasses.
The Ballistol will emulsify with the water. If you were to use a lot of Ballistol, the mixture would turn white and look like milk. With only ONE DROP of Ballistol in the shot glass, the mixture looks translucent.
Wait about a day and you will see the steel wool corrode in the water shot glass and not corrode in the Ballistol-water shot glass. It will not matter how long you let these shot glasses sit like this--the steel wool in the water shot glass will continue to corrode more and more until the steel wool disintegrates while the steel wool in the Ballistol-water shot glass will not corrode at all. Remember, this is ONE DROP of Ballistol from a needle oiler with a 20-gauge needle (that's a small drop). If you get tired of waiting for the steel wool in the Ballistol-water shot glass to corrode, put the contents of this shot glass into a jar and put it on the shelf and wait a year or two. The steel wool will never corrode, because water in the presence of Ballistol--even a single drop--doesn't cause corrosion. If you are a doubter, simply prove it to yourself. It's very easy. If you don't have any steel wool, use some something like nails.
And Ballistol protects more than just metals against corrosion. It also protects wood, leather, rubber, and plastics against fungus, drying out, and other deterioration. Examine almost any gun and you will see far more than steel that needs protecting. The Heckler & Koch SL6 and HK91 shown above demonstrate the versatility of Ballistol. The SL6 has a phosphated ("parkerized") action, blued barrel and magazines, wood stock, and plastic trigger guard. The HK91 has plastic furniture. Its finish is a combination of phosphate and baked enamel paint over phosphate. Both weapons have nickel-plated bolt heads and phosphated internals. Both weapons are cleaned, lubricated, and protected from muzzle to butt exclusively with Ballistol. Ballistol protects not only the steel, but the plastic, paint, and wood elements of these weapons. And Ballistol doesn't harm any of these materials or finishes.
John often fits his HK91 with target furniture and telescope. The PSG1 pistol grip is made of walnut. The telescope is constructed of aluminum and brass covered with the traditional matte-black paint common on older German telescopes. The bikini lens covers are made of rubber straps and rubbery plastic endcaps. Ballistol is perfectly compatible with these materials and actually good for them. No other CLP, dedicated cleaner, dedicated lubricant, or dedicated protectant can be used on such a wide variety of different materials and finishes.
There is more than one type of corrosion. Common corrosion is oxidation, a chemical reaction between ferrous metals and the oxygen contained in air and water. Rust is the best example for this type of corrosion. But there are also other types of corrosion, such as acidic corrosion, galvanic corrosion, and stress corrosion. Salt water corrosion is a combination of oxidation, acidic corrosion, and galvanic corrosion. It is virtually impossible to stop corrosion completely. Corrosion happens, albeit very slowly. It is, therefore, more honest to speak about inhibiting corrosion rather than stopping or preventing it. Ballistol is mildly alkaline (pH between 8.5 and 9.5). Therefore, it is capable of neutralizing mild acids and acidic residues such as hand sweat (rusty fingerprints on guns and magazines are very common) or residues from black powder (which are acidic). Ballistol not only protects against normal corrosion (oxidation) but also against acidic and galvanic corrosion (against which non-alkaline corrosion inhibitors are completely useless). Due to its low surface tension Ballistol creeps and penetrates. It will actively propel itself and creep into inaccessible areas like assembled parts, even against gravity. Ballistol also soaks into materials like wood, rubber, leather, and plastics and protects them.
Many protectants work extremely well at preventing corrosion. For example, cosmoline has been used for decades to prevent rust on steel and its effectiveness cannot be doubted. However, are you going to put cosmoline on the wood stock that is attached to your barreled action? Are you going to put cosmoline on your stocks or holster that are in contact with your pistol? And you cannot fire a weapon that is coated in cosmoline. It's not safe. You have to clean away the cosmoline before you fire it. So while cosmoline works extremely well at preventing corrosion, its real utility as a gun protectant for most people and most uses is rather limited.
In fact, old cosmoline that has hardened can be a royal pain to remove. This Heckler & Koch P2A1 was covered in dried and congealed cosmoline that had been dormant for decades. The pistol's action was molasses-stiff and the weapon was unsafe to fire because the bore was also clogged with congealed cosmoline. John detail-stripped this pistol and cleaned it with Ballistol and 0000 steel wool. After everything was clean and moist, John reassembled the pistol and services it routinely with Ballistol. Ballistol is very easy to use as a protectant. Just rub it on with a cloth and you will get that Ballistol sheen that is as beautiful as it is protective.
There's no need to remove Ballistol before use. Just draw the weapon and fire. A weapon that is protected with Ballistol is the same thing as a weapon that is lubricated with Ballistol. Photo by Jack Quinlan.
There's no greasy film with Ballistol because Ballistol does not dry or congeal. The Colt Agent above was rubbed down with a microfiber cloth moistened with Ballistol. There is no "rainbow" coloring on blued steel. Polished blue weapons rubbed with conventional oils typically show "rainbowing" of different colors or smear marks. Ballistol shows no such rainbows or smears. Only a satin-like sheen appears on the surface. Ballistol is also safe for wood stocks. Most common gun oils, solvents, cleaners, and corrosion inhibitors are not good for wood. Some attack varnish, some will bleach the wood, some will wash the oil out of your oil-finished stocks. Ballistol is good for wood and wooden stocks. Helmut Klever formulated Ballistol to protect even untreated gun stocks against humidity, insects and fungus and to be compatible with all sorts of paints, varnishes, and oil finishes.
John's Heckler & Koch P9S Sport is serviced exclusively with Ballistol.
The P9S trigger guard is made of some mystery plastic that is extremely fragile. In fact, you can see in the photo above that the trigger guard is already cracked from drying out or because of contamination caused by another gun oil used by the previous owner. The P9S Sport was made before today's wonder-polymers and the plastic is junk. Ballistol is perfectly safe even on this junk plastic. Ballistol keeps this junk plastic moist and pliable and helps to prevent further cracking.
The walnut target stock on the P9S is also kept moist and protected exclusively with Ballistol. No other gun oil would work in this situation because the P9S really has no frame. The plastic trigger guard and the walnut stock are the frame on this pistol, and both are exposed to whatever lubricant used to keep the P9S running. Because Ballistol is compatible with both plastic and wood, it is really the only suitable lubricant for use on the P9S Sport.
What about your pistol's holster? There is virtually no other gun oil or protectant that you would also want to apply to leather. Leather contains acids from the tanning process. Handguns will develop corrosion in the areas where they have direct contact with leather. Ballistol is mildly alkaline. By treating the holster with Ballistol, the acidic residues from tannic acid will be neutralized and this source of corrosion will be eliminated. The mildly alkaline Ballistol will also form a permanent chemical compound with the acidic residues within the leather which will make the leather virtually impermeable to water. Photo by Jack Quinlan.
The items shown above demonstrate how versatile and convenient Ballistol can be. The Anschutz 1422 sporter is made of blued steel, walnut with lacquer finish, plastic buttplate, and leather sling. The Schmidt & Bender spotting scope is made of aluminum and brass that are covered with rubber and paint. The cases for both of these items are made of leather. John uses Ballistol on all of these items. When John first received the 1422, the barreled action was covered in congealed grease and oil and the walnut stock was bone dry. John detail-stripped the rifle and used Ballistol and 0000 steel wool to clean the steel pieces. He used Ballistol and a bronze brush to scrub clean the chamber and bore. He also moisturized the walnut stock with Ballistol. John now uses Ballistol for routine maintenance on the 1422. He uses a Bore Snake with Ballistol on the 1422's chamber and bore. He uses Ballistol and a toothbrush to clean and lubricate the action. Before putting it away, he rubs down the entire weapon, including the steel scope and scope mount, steel barreled action, walnut stock, plastic buttplate, and leather sling with a microfiber cloth dampened with Ballistol. He uses the same moist cloth to rub down the leather rifle slip and spotter case. The Ballistol keeps the wood and leather moist, prevents them from cracking, and protects them against fungus or other rotting. No other single product could be used on such a wide variety of different items so effectively and safely.
The Schmidt & Bender spotting scope has a rubber coating on the objective bell to protect it against hard knocks. Rubbing down the rubber with Ballistol keeps it nice and moist and protects it from cracking or other deterioration.
The telescoping portions of this spotter are painted in the traditional semigloss black. Ballistol is perfectly safe for painted surfaces. In fact, we have yet to ruin anything that we have cleaned, lubricated, or protected with Ballistol. The Range Rover you see in the background is John's Range Rover.
Yes, John also uses Ballistol on his Range Rover. Ballistol works so well that you end up using it on nearly everything. Remember that guy whose fix for everything was Windex? Well, John is that guy but with Ballistol. John actually washes his Range Rover with Ballistol and water. He just squirts some Ballistol into a five-gallon bucket and then fills it up with water and washes the vehicle with that mix. Another method he likes is to mist the dirty vehicle with Ballistol and water and let it sit before he washes. The Ballistol soaks into the crud on the vehicle and makes it come off more easily during the wash. After the vehicle is dried, John treats the exposed plastic and vinyl pieces with undiluted Ballistol. It sounds crazy, but it works really well. John is happier with Ballistol than he was with dedicated car cleaners and vinyl protectants.
The Range Rover's D-pillars are covered with vinyl. John rubs down these pillars with a microfiber cloth dampened with Ballistol to keep them moist.
John drops some Ballistol into all of the locks and then puts an air gun to the lock to spray the Ballistol everywhere. The difference this makes is very noticeable. The lock's internals are cleaned, lubricated, and protected, but there is almost no residual Ballistol on the lock and the key inserted into the lock comes out clean and not oily.
John mixes Ballistol and water in an old sprayer to clean and moisturize and protect a great deal of the aging Range Rover. For the Range Rover, John likes to mix the Ballistol with distilled water rather than tap water because he often mists things with Ballistol and water and often will not wipe clean because of laziness. The distilled water dries without leaving mineral deposits.
To make things easy, John uses the Ballistol trigger spray to squirt Ballistol into the old sprayer and just tops up with distilled water.
John opens the hood and mists everything in the engine compartment with Ballistol and water. If he is in a cleaning mood, he will break out the rags and various brushes and uses the Ballistol and water as a cleaner. Most times, he just mists everything and lets the Ballistol and water mix remain. The water evaporates and there remains Ballistol on the various surfaces to protect them against corrosion or drying out. Things like the eight thousand different hoses in the Range Rover's engine bay are kept moisturized and protected against deterioration. (If you ever rub undiluted Ballistol on a rubber hose, you will see it actually soak into the rubber.) This is where the distilled water comes into play, because the distilled water evaporates without leaving mineral deposits. The hoses and wires dry clean and with a pleasant sheen. Using tap water will not hurt anything, but there will be countless little mineral deposits on the black rubber pieces once the tap water evaporates.
Non-rubber pieces are moisturized and protected as well. Things like these brake cylinder fittings, shock fasteners, and hose clamps are kept moist against corrosion. The Ballistol and water creeps into threads and prevents them from becoming seized with corrosion. Things like your hood latch open more easily after you spray down your engine area with Ballistol and water. Your belts run more quietly. Maintenance is easier because the fasteners are lubricated. The Ballistol and water get into all of the nooks and crannies. Again, the water just evaporates away and leaves Ballistol. This is a very easy way to get Ballistol everywhere to condition and protect things without spending a great deal of time or using a lot of product.
To illustrate, look at the Ballistol and distilled water on the expansion tank above.
The distilled water evaporates away and leaves only Ballistol. There are no mineral deposits. Everything is kept nice and moist and resistant to corrosion and deterioration with just a spray or two.
Here's Ballistol and water on the black paint of the engine compartment.
Here is the same area after the most of the water has evaporated. Note how the remaining Ballistol droplets span a wider area than the Ballistol-water droplets. Ballistol soaks into some surfaces but not others. Ballistol creeps on some surfaces but not others. Note the lack of mineral deposits on the black paint. This is because John misted with Ballistol and distilled water. If you want a more complete cleaning, then rub down everything after the initial misting to clean off the grime. Then rub down everything with a microfiber towel moistened with undiluted Ballistol. The surface will be very clean and moist with a beautiful sheen (not a glossy shine that looks fake like cheesy lip gloss). It all depends on just how clean you want things to be and how much work you're willing to do.
This plastic fan cowling shows almost no creep because the Ballistol soaked into the plastic. If you want full coverage for this plastic cowl, just mist it again with Ballistol and water.
This is Ballistol and water misted onto the front grill.
This is a close-up of the front grill after most of the water has evaporated. When the water evaporates completely, the dark spots will have disappeared and only the "moist" spots will remain.
Here is the painted front bumper misted with Ballistol and water.
Here is the same bumper after a good portion of the water has evaporated. The drops that still look wet are water. The drops with the satin-like sheen are Ballistol where the water has evaporated completely. These are just illustrations. We like to spray the engine compartment and entire undercarriage with Ballistol and water to keep them moist and protected against corrosion. For exposed pieces that are relatively easy to clean like the front grill, bumpers, vinyl trim, etc., we like to rub them down with a microfiber cloth moistened with Ballistol. You can use Ballistol and water as a cleaner or you can mist it on and just leave it as a moisturizer or protectant. Ballistol is very versatile and you can use it many different ways depending on your time and motivation at the time of use.
John uses Ballistol on his interior as well. Ballistol has a distinct odor when first applied but becomes completely odorless after a few minutes. There is no Ballistol smell at all in the vehicle. And because Ballistol is non-toxic, John has no reservations about using it everywhere inside his Range Rover's interior. John's Range Rover has genuine wood interior trim. When John first got this Range Rover, the wood was bone dry and in danger of cracking. The wood literally soaked up Ballistol like a sponge. Now the wood is nice and moist and John just wipes it down with a microfiber cloth dampened with Ballistol whenever he gets around to it.
The transfer box's shift knob is a replacement. The original knob deteriorated with age and crumbled away. Its replacement is now kept moist with Ballistol to prevent it from deteriorating away like the first knob.
John uses Ballistol and water as a poor man's Armor All to clean and moisturize the Range Rover's interior. He just mists Ballistol and water everywhere and then wipes clean with a microfiber cloth. He does the same to clean and maintain the leather pieces of the interior like the steering wheel and seats. Ballistol and water make an excellent cleaner and remove the grime from things that get a lot of hand contact like the steering wheel, blinker stalks, and window switches. All of the surfaces are moisturized and protected and have a beautiful sheen to them. They are not greasy, slimy, slippery, or glossy as when real Armor All is used. There is also no silicone smell, as Ballistol becomes completely odorless after about an hour.
John also uses Ballistol on his bicycle. Yes, he is that guy with Ballistol. To service his machine, John hangs his bike on ropes. Then he lubricates before cleaning. He lubes the chain, brakes, derailleurs, etc. with undiluted Ballistol. Then he sprays down the entire machine with Ballistol and water. Then he wipes clean everything. This system sounds odd, but it works very well and the entire machine is clean in just a few minutes. It's so convenient that there is no reason not to keep the machine running tip top.
We service our shop tools with Ballistol. After use and before putting them away, we rub them down with an old microfiber towel moistened with Ballistol. This cleans the grime off the tools and leaves a protective layer on the tools to prevent corrosion. We also use Ballistol to clean and moisten the butcher-block wood tops of the tool boxes. We dribble Ballistol on the slider bearings to keep them rolling smoothly. For cleaning the painted surfaces of the shop boxes, we mist the boxes with Ballistol and water and then wipe clean. We use Ballistol on everything.
Our handloading tools are also cleaned, lubricated, and protected with Ballistol. Handloading tools are typically machined, ground to final dimension, and left in the white. There is no protective coating on them to maintain critical tolerances. Thus, these tools are especially susceptible to corrosion from fingerprints and exposure to the air. Ballistol lubricates the presses and dies during use and protects them against corrosion during storage. We also use Ballistol on the oak tool chest that holds our handloading tools. We "ballistol" everything. To us it's a verb as well as a proper noun.
There is almost no end to the potential uses of Ballistol. Give it a try and we are confident that you will love it as much as we do.