At a Glance: Best AR-15 Lube
- OUR TOP PICK: Clenzoil Field & Range Essentials Combo Kit | Cleaner, Lubricant & Grease Kit
- OUR TOP PICK: Umbrella Corporation Unicorn Lube Gun Oil
- OUR TOP PICK: Slip 2000 Gun Lube Bottle
Comparison of Best AR-15 Lube
Our Top Pick
|Clenzoil Field & Range Essentials Combo Kit | Cleaner, Lubricant & Grease Kit||
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Our Top Pick
|Umbrella Corporation Unicorn Lube Gun Oil||
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Our Top Pick
|Slip 2000 Gun Lube Bottle||
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You may be wondering what are the Best AR-15 Lube? A great place to start is with our guide here on the Best AR-15 Lubes.
The Best AR-15 Lube on the Market
The near-dominant position of the AR-15 in the market is a relatively new phenomenon in the gun community. In most cases, our fathers and especially our grandfathers, unless they served in the army, didn’t have much experience with an AR-15 style rifle. Consequently, some of the advice we got from them, on how to properly maintain and lube a firearm, that all you need is a quart of motor oil or ATF, and a can of WD-40, definitely need to be revised and modernized.
Clenzoil Field & Range Essentials Combo Kit | Cleaner, Lubricant & Grease Kit
Clenzoil as a company was established by a World War II veteran in 1948, and they have a well-deserved reputation of making solid products for cleaning your firearms. Based on his experience in combat, the founder was determined to make a solution that will act fast, be effective, and keep your rifles protected for a long long time. And based on the number of people who have bought and used their CLP over the years, we can safely say that even after several decades, it is still one of the better ones on the market today.
- Includes 0.5 oz. Dropper
- 2 oz. Pump Sprayer
- Synthetic Gun Grease
- Microfiber Towel, & Swabs
As a cleaner, it does a really good job, and it can be easily used to clean a wide variety of materials like metal, polymers, synthetic, and even leather. Fairly quickly after you apply it, or in this case spray it on the area you want to clean, it will react and penetrate into the fouling and gunk. No scrapers will be necessary in cleaning. A regular nylon brush will help you scrape away any carbon. The only thing I was concerned about was the thickness of the Clenzoil, it is relatively thin and does tend to run in all directions, so apply it on some old rag or a paper towel and wipe it around when you’re done with cleaning in order to lube the gun. Use the gun grease on slide rails, bolt rails, choke tube threads, & any other high friction surfaces
Honestly, I didn’t have any expectations whatsoever about Clenzoil, but I must say I was not surprised, but more dumbfounded at how effective it was. Not just when it comes to carbon removal but also the long protection it offers after. Unlike some other products out there, it doesn’t have an unpleasant or strong odor, and it’s perfectly safe to be used inside your home for cleaning.
- Extremely effective cleaner
- Medium effectiveness as a lubricant
- Excellent rust protection
- Solid price
- Will perform in all weather conditions
- Wish there was more of it, the package is fairly small
Umbrella Corporation Unicorn Lube Gun Oil
Umbrella Corporation is a company that is mainly focused on the research, development, engineering, and design of small arms. Incorporated in 2007, they have been producing not just complete AR-15 rifles, but also uppers, lowers, parts for the rifle, grips, and what I originally assumed were chopsticks, but are actually tools for disassembly and cleaning called ShopStix. And yes, it also oils and greases for the AR-15.
Umbrella Corporation Unicorn Lube is a purely synthetic oil that advertises as an excellent moisture barrier and rust protectant, and I have to admit it does bond well with the metal and stays there for a long time, even if you plan on using it in automatic weapons it will not burn off that easily. Now, just like any other oil on the market, it does perform well in conditions of high heat and humidity, but it also protects your rifle in case you are using corrosive ammo, so a huge plus for that. Comes in a small 2 oz bottle, but included in the package is a 0.5 oz jar of grease as an added bonus, which you can use not just for your other small firearms, but also ball bearings, shafts, gears and for whatever else is making those annoying squeaky sounds. The bottle includes a precision needle tip in case you need to lube hard to reach places.
This is one of the Best AR-15 lubricating oils, that will most definitely stick to your guns and protect them from corrosion and wear and tear equally well.
- Precision needle makes it easy to apply
- Comes with a 0.5 oz jar of grease
- Corrosion prevention
- Fully synthetic
- Great ratio of value for money
- Couldn’t find any
Slip 2000 Gun Lube Bottle
In case some of you haven’t heard of the Slip 2000 brand or the company making it, don’t worry about it. The best advertisement this company can have is its partnership with Sig Sauer Academy. Its instructors are using their lubricants and cleaners on all of their firearms. Not only that, all factory-made Sig’s do come lubed with their products, so if a reputable company like that can trust them, that’s good enough for me.
Slip 2000 Gun Lube is a non-toxic and non-hazardous oil, made to work in all weather conditions, designed to provide a long-lasting lubrication and prevent corrosion. It is well suited to work even in automatic firearms, shotguns, black powder guns, and other varieties of small arms. The components of the lube are microscopic enough to seep into even the smallest of pores and stay there, driving out moisture and preventing rust from forming. This also prevents brass, lead, and carbon from sticking to the surface and gunking up your AR, which can drastically lower your cleaning time afterward.
It does have a great and long-lasting coating, I can attest to that, whatever technology they used it sure does a good job in keeping my AR well oiled and smooth functioning even during rapid-fire and in relatively hot weather. If the guys at the Sig Sauer academy are using it, maybe you too should also check it out. Non-Toxic and Non-hazardous. Developed with your health, safety and the environment in mind.
- Extremely long-lasting
- Non-toxic and biodegradable
- Does not leave a sticky residue after drying
- Keeps moisture out
- Only comes in a 4 oz bottle
Hornady 99913 One Shot Spray Case Lube
Now Hornady is a well-known company when it comes to quality ammunition, but they also produce a wide range of accessories for reloading your own ammo, like presses, dies, bullets and cartridge cases. One of the accessories they produce is the dry film lube which we will cover in this review.
Even though it can be used on a wide variety of tools and small arms, Hornady developed this lube for reloaders in mind, precisely for their tools and die sets. Still, due to its characteristics, it can be effectively used for lubricating your AR, it uses a Dyna-Glide technology to penetrate deep into the surface of the metal, repel moisture and provide protection from rust. You just need to apply it, wait for a few moments for the metal to “soak” it all up and that’s it. The lube comes in a 10 oz aerosol spray so it’s fairly easy to hit most of the spots you want to be covered in just one shot. It doesn’t include petroleum, silicone, or PTFE so it’s fairly safe to use, and it won’t burn out quickly and leave that unpleasant smell.
Of all the lubes that I have used, Hornady One Shot probably lasts the longest and requires by far the least cleaning, because dirt and carbon have a really difficult time in sticking to the areas where it has been applied. The only complaint I have is the fact that it comes in a spray, and yes I know, it is a dry lube, but I always have the feeling I am spraying and wasting way too much by covering surfaces that really don’t need to be covered.
- High-quality dry lube
- Penetrates deep and stays long
- Non-toxic and non-petroleum based
- Minimal odor
- Not the cheapest offer on the market
- Aerosol spray
Thompson Center Arms Anti Seize Super Lube
Another company that has been in the business for quite some time, Thompson Center Arms have been making bolt action rifles, semi-automatic rimfire rifles, and muzzleloaders for the hunting and shooting community. Several decades of experience has taught them how to make good quality firearms, and more importantly how to preserve them in the years to come.
Anti Seize Super Lube is a grease that comes in two small tubes with a total weight of nearly 3 oz, and considering this is grease it will surely last for more than a year. It is a synthetic PTFE based anti-seize lube with good all weather-resistance and wear and tear protective capabilities. Now Thompson Center Arms is a company that is known mostly for their muzzleloaders, and this lube is specifically developed for their breech plugs. Anti-seize is really good on threaded surfaces, it will prevent galling and seizing of the metal, and keep dirt and debris out of the threads.
And for the same reasons, you can also apply it on the rails of the bolt carrier group, trigger mechanism, put some on the top of the hammer and you will see a noticeable difference in the smoothness of the action.
- Made by a reputable company
- Anti seizing properties
- Repels dirt and debris
- Solid amount of lube for the price you pay
- Mild corrosion resistance
Advanced Weapons Technology Extreme Force Clean Lube Protection
Don Fraley, founder of the Kentucky based company Advanced Weapons Technology is a master gunsmith, NRA certified trainer, and a former lead sniper of the Kentucky State Police. Products that made his company famous were his own line of iconic 1911 handguns and precision rifles. Naturally, he also decided to offer the market a CLP that will be just as good as his handguns and rifles are.
Extreme Force CLP, although I’m mostly against all-in-one products that claim to work wonders in all areas, does a really solid job in cleaning, lubing, and protecting my rifle. The CLP is a petroleum-based oil, and to me, it smells kind of like a lighter fluid, but it isn’t an overpowering smell, so it can be safely used indoors. It has good penetrating abilities and it will get into every pore and quickly get rid of any rust, water particles, or carbon that has been left there by the previous cleaning agents. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the fact it can get rid of so much gunk with so little effort. After you wipe off the excess lube, the remaining coat will last through sessions and sessions of rapid-fire and the consequent cleaning time will be greatly reduced.
It comes in an 8 oz bottle with a spray muzzle for a fairly competitive price, but the spray itself isn’t exactly of the best quality, so make sure when you store it, to place it upright, because it can potentially leak. Other than that it is a solid product, as advertised.
- Solid CLP
- Excellent cleaning abilities
- Easy to apply
- Good quality to price ratio
- Easily removes rust
- Spray can be leaky
Why AR-15 Lube is so Important
An AR-15 still has a reputation among some people of being an unreliable gun, a myth which originates from the stories we’ve all heard, when it’s military counterpart, the M16 first entered the Vietnam jungle and malfunctioned in the hands of the troops it was issued to. Fast forward several decades later and people can’t seem to find enough words of praise for the modern AR. Just a simple search of the internet will give you thousands and thousands of results, a large majority of them confirming its reliability even in the most extreme of weather conditions.
Whether it’s zero or a hundred degrees, in heavy rain or snow, during sand storms, this rifle will keep firing no matter what. But how does it accomplish all of this? To put it simply, the AR is a really tight and sealed system. Except for the case ejection port, and the opening near the trigger, dirt, and filth can’t get that easily into the rifle. The only thing designed to enter the rifle, other than cartridges obviously, is the gas from the gas tube which pushes the bolt carrier group rearward. Unless your AR uses a piston gas system, the expanding gases will push the bolt carrier group rearward and leave residue inside the receiver.
If not properly lubed, the bolt carrier group will fairly quickly damage the inside of your AR, at best messing up the reliability and accuracy, and at worst drastically decreasing the lifespan of the rifle. Bear this in mind, this rifle is made to work “wet”, if you think you overdid it with the lube or oil, trust me, your AR will thank you for it.
Types of AR-15 Lube: What is The Best Gun Lubricant?
The other question people will ask, after ‘how much and how often should I clean and lube my rifle,’ is ‘what exactly should I use.’ Most often you will have a choice between a CLP (short for cleans, lubes and protects), an oil, or a grease. Let’s first go over what the main differences between them are.
Three-in-One VS Oil VS Grease
- Three-in-one, or a CLP, as the name says, tries to combine all three actions, cleaning, lubricating, and protecting into one product.
- Oil, just like your regular motor oil, protects the moving parts of your rifle by minimizing the friction and consequently reducing wear and tear.
- Grease does the same job, except it is a bit thicker.
Which one will you use?
As always it depends on how often you shoot, your geographical location, and various other factors. CLP is used by a lot of people and also, for example, by the military, because it offers a quick and easy does-it-all solution for soldiers who are always on the go, especially in combat situations. Some people still prefer to take their time when they clean the rifle, get out all the gunk from every nook and cranny and then apply oil to lubricate it well, because they want their AR to last for a long long time. The downside of using oil, for example in high heat and high rate of fire scenarios, is that it tends to evaporate fast, doesn’t stick well and you need to reapply the lubricant more often. That’s why in such cases a better option would be to use grease. It’s thickness and adhesiveness will prevent it from sliding from the bolt and other parts. Yet, even grease has its disadvantages, all the fouling and small particles of sand and dirt that somehow end up inside your AR, will also stick to the grease, and that can be detrimental to the operation of your rifle.
Best Spray Gun Cleaner
The challenge of choosing between a spray and a liquid isn’t that difficult, it all boils down to how fast you want that lube to penetrate to even the most remote and hidden areas of your upper receiver and the bolt carrier group. Considering that the liquid could be much thicker than its spray counterpart, if you’re in a hurry or rush, using a spray is a great option. It can cover more, penetrate deeper and go boldly where no lube has gone before.
Best All-In-One (CLP)?
All-in-one products have been around for what seems like almost forever, the famous Ballistol has been used by the German army since 1905, so that’s more than a 100 years of service. As mentioned previously, US Army soldiers are issued with a type of CLP to be used in the field for fast cleaning, lubrication, and short term protection of army-issued carbines and rifles. The main intention when it was originally designed was to speed up and simplify the process of cleaning and lubing the gun, and many people who serve in our armed forces and law enforcement agencies claim that a good CLP is all they will ever need.
That being said, it is worth mentioning that even the most popular and well-respected all-in-one products will not perform all three of those functions equally well. A standard CLP is sort of a quick fix compromise, and it will get the job done, when you are in a rush or somewhere outdoors and don’t have the time to properly disassemble, clean and lube your AR. But, in order to be absolutely sure that you did a proper maintenance and lubing job, invest in a good cleaning solvent and a lube that has good to excellent protective and anti-friction characteristics. It will give you peace of mind, and ensure your AR will shoot smooth and last long.
Is Mineral Oil Bad for Guns?
If you go to any gun forum, store, show, or range you will undoubtedly hear stories from not just oldtimers but novice shooters about how they use just plain old ATF (not the agency, but Automatic Transmission Fluid) to lube their guns. And you will also hear stories from people who use nothing but the best (and usually the most expensive) products on the market for the same purpose.
And both of them are right, they will perform the same job equally well, lubricating and protecting your gun, the only difference being, albeit a relatively major difference, how long they will stick and remain on the surface.
Personally, I’ve tried both options, and everything in between, the only thing I didn’t do was to experiment in my kitchen mixing different solutions, like an amateur chemist trying to discover which one would work best for my AR.
It didn’t take a lot of time before I realized that, although they work great, mineral oils are not that thick and will not hold for a long time on the surface. The bottom line is, they all perform well, the only difference being that mineral oils are usually just that, thin oils. They do act as a good lubricant, in fact, an excellent one, but their downside is often they will not contain a lot of other ingredients that will act as a cleaning agent or more importantly, a corrosion protectant.
Why not use WD-40
WD-40 is an excellent product, and there are more than a hundred ways you can use it around your home, for your car or at your work.
But not for your AR. The WD in WD-40 is short for water displacement, and while yes, it is effective in removing and keeping water at bay, penetrating deep beneath rusted and stuck bolts, or close metal parts and driving the moisture out, as a lubricant it is at best catastrophic.
If you are somewhere outdoors where your weapon has been exposed to elements like rain, or you’ve accidentally dropped your rifle into a mud puddle, spray it down with WD-40 to get the water out. Which is the only thing you should use it for, when it comes to your rifle. Even though a lot of people use it and swear by it, the ingredients in the solution don’t offer any good long term lubrication, leaving a thin and sticky layer where it has been applied, and that will attract dirt and dust if not cleaned properly. WD-40 is made for just one purpose, and it does that job well, but it is definitely not for the maintenance of your AR15. As always, invest in good products that clean, protect, and properly lube your weapon.
How often should you lube your AR-15?
Regardless of whether you are using the AR-15 for home protection, 3-gun competitions, or your job requires you to carry it daily, the iconic rifle, just like any mechanical system, needs to be maintained properly in order to consistently work and perform reliably.
If you happen to belong to the first group of people, who use it for home defense scenarios, well the answer is simple, clean and lube it as much as you can. When you come back from the range or from a competition before you store the rifle somewhere safely, it is important to get rid of all of that carbon fouling, brass and lead specs, dirt from your AR and properly lube it in preparation for the next match. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
And in the opposite corner are people who usually clean and lube their ARs only when the fouling starts to significantly affect their accuracy and general reliability of the rifle. No matter how dirty it gets, the only maintenance they will do is to occasionally wipe off extra moisture to prevent rust from forming.
The truth of the matter is, there is a reliable source that you can consult when it comes to this enigma, the manual that came with your AR, or just simply contact the manufacturer for precise instructions and details.
What other cleaning tools do you need?
Other than a good solvent and lube, you will also need some additional equipment for cleaning your AR15. On today’s market, there are many great cleaning kits you can choose from, and some of them come with solvents and oils included, albeit in small packages that will be used up after two or three cleanings. Wondering what the Best AR-15 Cleaning Kits are? Read our review to find out.
You can also buy each individual tool separately, if you want to keep things simple, here is what you essentially need:
- A rag, which can be your old T-shirt, anything made of cotton, or alternatively some paper towels,
- A whole bunch of cotton swabs,
- A barrel rod and brushes for cleaning the barrel, both nylon and brass,
- A bore snake is a good alternative for barrel cleaning, can do the job even better in some cases,
- And a regular brush with nylon bristles for cleaning the inner components of your rifle
Some kits include a bolt carrier group scraper, which you can also buy separately. The scraper looks like a small knife or piece of metal that has several surfaces and cuts that match the ones on your bolt, which can allow you to scrape off the carbon fouling from it easier and faster. In case you want to clean all those small holes and tight spaces, add a good dental pick to your list, nothing too hard, because you don’t want to damage the metal. Those are the essentials most people use, but as I mentioned previously, you can choose to buy a solid kit that will include all or most of the stuff listed.
Conclusion – What is the Best AR-15 Lube?
In a market that has been saturated with a myriad of equally high-performing products like the lube market is today, it is really difficult to make a decision on which one is the best but at the same time won’t break the bank. And yes, we all know the stories that our fathers and grandfathers keep repeating over and over again, don’t invest in a high priced 2 oz bottle of some fancy boutique oil when you can just use good old ATF or some WD-40.
Well times have changed, new technologies have entered the realm of not just modern firearms, but are also being used to improve the quality of the lubricants that we use on our best AR-15 parts.