I remember when I first heard about Ballistol, I took it as just another marketing ploy. It’s supposed to be a great cleaner, lubricant, and protectant (hence the “CLP”) for guns, knives, wood, plastic, tools, marine equipment, and even…plants? On top of that, it’s bio-degradable, non-greasy, non-conductive, and non-toxic. In fact, not only is it noncarcinogenic, but I’ve actually heard it’s good as an antiseptic for wounds! Call me a skeptic, but I just couldn’t believe that such a substance could exist without a church being constructed in its honor. I wouldn’t be fooled, I wouldn’t buy into the scam.
I bought some anyway.
Several months later and I’ve got a 5 year supply stocked up, and here’s why.
What is Ballistol?! Well, chemically it is mainly a medicinally-pure alkaline white oil with corrosion inhibitors, anti-oxidants, and some other additives. If you want detailed information on the safety of Ballistol, check out the Ballistol Material Safety Data Sheet. Otherwise, all you need to know is that it’s a do-all syrup for just about everything. In an effort to narrow the focus a little from ‘everything,’ I’m going to focus on the uses for Ballistol that interest me, which generally relate to rust prevention, cleaning guns and knives, and general lubrication for daily-use items like locks and doors. Here is what Ballistol is advertised to be good at:
- Cleaning – In my research, I found that Ballistol is used mainly as a carbon-killer and cleaner for firearms. Ballistol seems to perform 100% in this regard, so expect it to perform as good or better as your traditional CLP. The only caveat found is that you need to let Ballistol sit for awhile in really dirty areas because of it’s submissive properties. But if you let it sit for a few minutes, it will break down residues and deposits like a champ. In addition, while other popular cleaner brands have mixed reviews, the cult following behind Ballistol is unwavering in their praise for the stuff.
- Lubricating – Ballistol molecularly bonds with metals and provides a thin invisible layer of lubrication. How long the bond holds, and how long the thin application lasts is unknown, but a lot of people swear by it enough to use only Ballistol when they clean and lubricate their firearms. That’s right, no additional lubricants, just Ballistol. Additionally, there are no reported problems from the people who recommend Ballistol to that degree, which is impressive. Personally, I feel uneasy about lubricating something with the same thing I use to clean it, but we’ll see how it performs.
- Protectant – This is probably the most important feature for me, as rust protection is a very high priority for me. There have been several amateur tests done to compare Ballistol with some other popular rust preventatives, all of which show similar results: Items coated in Ballistol will remain rust-free if coated and maintained properly.
Pretty impressive stuff. Apparently it was manufactured by the Germans in WWII to be a multi-use field liquid, which explains its reputation for quality. That’s probably also why it has been used as an antiseptic, although I would only use it in desperate situations as it doesn’t seem to be an advertised use.
While looking up Ballistol keep in mind that there are two different labels, “Sportsman’s Oil” and “Lube.” They are the same exact thing, just marketed differently.
This is a lot for one product to claim to accomplish. If Ballistol can do all this as well as its reputation reports it to, it truly is a CLP unlike any other.
Ballistol is hard to come by at a brick-and-mortar shop, but luckily you are an internet savvy individual so you can find it at a few select online retailers. Prices won’t vary much because of the low supply and low demand but expect to pay around $9 for a 6 oz. aerosol can and $11 for a 16 oz. liquid can.
Personally, I recommend getting the sample pack available from FireHawk Technology. It’s $39, but it comes with two 6 oz. aerosol cans, 1 16 oz. liquid can, a spray head for the liquid can, and a micro-tip bottle. I’ve found the micro-tip bottle to be worth the extra cost by itself.
I’m now a believer, singing the praise of Ballistol. I buy it for my buddies. I preach about it while camping. I’d shower in it if I could find an economical way to. Simply put, Ballistol is an undisputed champion in the CLP industry.
For months now, I have used it to clean all my knives and guns. In fact, I don’t use anything else to clean my gear anymore. Carbon build-up in your gun, using corrosive ammo? Forget about it. Knife covered in sap? Gone. Workbench covered in mysterious black and brown residues? Wipe it off. Lady friend driving you nuts? Ballistol stinks so bad it will drive away anything without a Y chromosome. The only trick is to be patient. So long as you let it sit for a few minutes, your items will come out squeaky clean.
As a lubricant, I can’t say that I have any complaints. One fine example is an old key-slot Masterlock that I use daily for attaching a parking permit to my motorcycle. This poor Masterlock sat out in the rain, sun and sand storms for years, and eventually, it got very difficult to actuate. In fact, it would take about 20 seconds of shaking the lock, while simultaneously turning the key, to get the thing to unlock itself. It was a challenge to use. After a few drops of Ballistol, the lock was performing like new within minutes. I was mad at myself for not documenting the revival on video, so I set out to deteriorate the lock expeditiously in order to revive it once more on camera. No amount of Dawn soap, dirt, water, or sunlight would deteriorate the performance of the lock. A month after torturing the lock, it still performs as new.
On firearms, however, I still apply additional lubricant, as there is a lot happening when a gun fires a bullet, and the forces acting on certain surfaces are extreme. After my experience with Ballistol, I’m sure firearms would perform fine using it as a primary lube (as many others have reported), but I still like to apply 30 weight military-grade firearm lubricant to be safe. Another reason I like to apply 30 weight firearm lubricant is because of its viscosity. Ballistol is a liquid and will run if given the opportunity.
Rust protection was the main reason I wanted to try Ballistol, and I’m glad I trusted it. I applied it to some of my knives, including the carbon steel Hoodlum, and they have remained rust-free through heavy usage. I even stored my Buck Hoodlum in its sheath (a blade no-no) with a coating a Ballistol applied, and no rust developed.
The only complaint I have with the miracle juice is its scent. It gives off a strong musk, similar to that of banana liquor. It takes you by surprise at first, but you get used to it. After using it as much as I have, I’ve actually come to like it. No, no, wait. ‘Like’ is the wrong word. I’ve come to…I’ve come to…respect it. Like a classic muscle car with terrible emissions problems.
What really surprised me is how non-greasy Ballistol is. It’s a bit slick, but after it soaks in it’s hardly noticeable. I would have expected this to be a lot more oily, especially since it is marketed as a lubricant.
I’ve mentioned a few uses for Ballistol here, but it goes so far beyond what I’ve covered. I have used it on everything from noisy door hinges to stubborn motorcycle seat latches. Nothing seems to be too complicated or simple for Ballistol to C, L, and P. It’s fantastic, and it rightfully earns the first-ever perfect score from RigCast.