CLPs, Cleaners, Lubricants – Tested

Hoppes #9 solvent is up to 40% based from kerosene, the same stuff they burn in jets, and rockets. Up to another 40% is based in ethanol. Exact percentages aren’t listed due to trade secrets. It’s no wonder the stuff smells like a gas pump. It’s extremely flammable, causes severe skin burns, and is toxic to aquatic life. Prolonged exposure may cause irreversible brain damage (sometimes called Painter’s Syndrome).

I set out to put a few less hazardous, low odor cleaners/lubricants to the test. Believe it or not, many of the products I’m testing claim to be 3 in 1 CLPs. SLIP 2000 Gun Lube, for example, claims it “…cuts under and dissolves built up carbon…” M-Pro 7 LPX claims it “Replaces all other gun oils, CLPs, and dry lubes.” It does state M-Pro 7 cleaner should be used periodically for garrison level cleaning, but the US Military defines a CLP as a complete solution. Additionally, many firearm manuals are no longer suggesting the use of bore solvents. The Sig Sauer P320 operators manual for example, lists the following materials are required for pistol cleaning:

  • Cleaning patches
  • Rag, wiping
  • Bore brush of the proper caliber
  • Cleaning rod
  • CLP or LSA (Lubricant)
  • LAW (Lubricant, Low Temperature) when applicable
  • Brush, cleaning

Notice it doesn’t mention bore solvents.

Disclaimer

**I will not be pre-treating the steel in the cleaning test. I leave some parts of a firearm dry to prevent primer contamination, such as the breechface area – also one of the dirtiest parts of a gun after it’s been fired. I want to see how these products can perform on dry steel.** I realize this dramatically reduces the effectiveness of these products, but I want to see if a CLP is actually capable of cleaning, not simply creating a barrier that carbon is unable to stick to.

Applying these products is not an exact science. I can only do my best to eyeball even distribution of product to each sample area, but this test is very much prone to human error. Your results may vary.

So here we go:

Odor Ranking

Ballistol: 2/10. Very foul odor, in it’s own way, and almost upsets your stomach. Like a cross between body odor, and mold. Also quite strong.

Break-Free CLP: 7/10. Very low odor, but noticeable within about 10 inches. Metallic smell.

G96 Synthetic Bio-CLP: 7/10. Low odor, about on par with Break-Free. Glue smell.

M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaner: 8/10. Moderately strong, but not offensive in any way. Smells like a mild detergent, or like a freshly ran dishwasher.

Slip-2000 725 Gun Cleaner: 7.5/10. About as strong as M-Pro 7 Cleaner, which is to say it smells slightly stronger than others, but has more of a Windex/ammonia smell to it.

M-Pro 7 LPX: 8/10. Very low odor. Slight perfume smell.

Slip 2000 Gun Lube: 10/10. Odorless. May have a slight fruity scent, but it’s so faint it’s indescribable, and you risk getting the product up your nose to pick up on any odor.

Mobil 1 0W-40 Full Synthetic: 4/10 Moderately strong odor of petroleum.

Ace High Armory Gun Elixir: 9.5/10 Best smelling product. Almost odorless, but has a very faint minty fresh smell when the bottle is squeezed near the nose.

Ace High Armory Silicone Shield: 8/10 Vegetable oil/cooking spray.

Toxicity Information

Ballistol: 7/10. Relatively harmless. Contains White mineral oil, propane, and isohexane. Bonus point for ingredient transparency. Direct inhalation of fumes may be fatal.

Break-Free CLP: 3.5/10. Less toxic than poisonous bore solvents, but the safety data sheet recommends using gloves, and eye protection when handling. SDS also lists a few toxic ingredients. Skin irritant. Fatal if aspirated.

G96 Synthetic Bio-CLP: 7/10. Exact ingredients unknown, but similar to LPX. Gloves recommended.

M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaner: 9/10. Very safe. Bonus point for ingredient transparency. Mostly water. May be harmful if swallowed.

Slip-2000 725 Gun Cleaner: 8/10 Very safe. Almost identical to M-Pro 7 with a few variations. Silica added. Uses ethylene glycol ether instead of diethylene. Unable to locate SDS.

M-Pro 7 LPX: 8/10. Exact ingredients unknown. May cause skin/eye irritation.

Slip 2000 Gun Lube: 8/10. Likely extremely similar to M-Pro 7.

Mobil 1 0W-40 Full Synthetic: 8.5/10. 0W-40 is the only known Group IV oil from Mobil 1 meaning it’s truly synthetic. Exxon lists all SDS to the public. No/only short term health hazards (unless injected under the skin). Constant exposure may irritate the airway or skin. Otherwise, it’s harmless. No protection recommended when handling.

Ace High Armory Gun Elixir: 9/10. Ingredients unknown, but SDS claims product is totally non-toxic and cannot be harmful.

Ace High Armory Silicone Shield: 9/10. Same as Gun Elixir.

Price Per Ounce:

Ballistol: $1.49

Break-Free CLP: $1.37

G96 Synthetic Bio-CLP: $4.81

M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaner: $2.21

Slip-2000 725 Gun Cleaner: $1.18

M-Pro 7 LPX: $2.50

Slip 2000 Gun Lube: $3.42

Mobil 1 0W-40 Full Synthetic: $0.25

Ace High Armory Gun Elixir: $3.74

Ace High Armory Silicone Shield: Unknown. Product is a cloth that may be reused, but life of product is unclear. Cloth is $12.97.

Cleaning Test:

I used sanded, plain steel, that I cleaned and degreased with brake clean before starting the test. I also used equal amounts of IMR reloading powder on each section of the steel, and as mentioned before, I did not pre-treat the metal. I let each product soak on the fouling for 5 minutes before gently wiping each section with a clean patch using equal amounts of light pressure. I did not test the cleaning ability of Mobil 1, or Silicone Shield for obvious reasons, since they do not claim to have cleaning properties. I also made sure to prevent overspray of aerosol products, and migration of oils to other sample areas during the 5 minute soak. I included Hoppes #9 in this test, since I had a very small amount left, and I thought it’d be a good “control”.

Before:

After:

CLP is unable to truly clean fouling. As predicted, it simply creates a barrier between your firearm, and grime, allowing cleanup to be quick. This is not designed to discredit the claims of these products. When used as intended, most fouling will float free and be easy to wipe off. The dedicated cleaners all performed exceptionally well. They penetrated all the way down to the metal beneath the burnt powder, and a single, gentle patch wipe took everything away in one piece.

Corrosion Resistance Test:

I used a different plate of steel for this test, since I was unable to remove the mill scale from the previous plate to ensure accurate corrosion results. I sanded, polished, and degreased the plate before beginning the test.

I applied thin layers of each product to the steel, similar to the amount you’d leave on the slide of a pistol, and let them interact with the metal for 5 minutes. I then evenly sprayed a mixture of 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 8 ounces of tap water above the plate, so the droplets would evenly, gently rest on the surface.

Final Results 17 Hours Later:

Approximate Time Before Failure:

Note the G96 Bio-CLP and Ace High Elixir held up for the entire test duration, and the saltwater completely evaporated, leaving behind only crystallized salt. I did not reapply saltwater to continue the test any longer.

CLP Wrap Up

Ballistol: Held up relatively well for what it is. Above average. I cannot stand the smell of it, and wouldn’t use it indoors.

Break-Free CLP: Performed identical to Ballistol. Above average. I like that it’s low odor, but don’t forget to reference the toxicity section. Still, pretty good value, and an honorable mention.

*Bronze award M-Pro LPX: Trying not to be biased here since I love M-Pro/Pantheon Chemicals. Basically just average performance. Definitely has an edge over Slip 2000 at an equal price point. Decent product with safe ingredients. Can’t go wrong.

Slip 2000 Gun Lube: Slightly below average performance. This one let me down since it’s odorless, and I’m a fan of their wide product lineup. It’s almost the same price as M-Pro LPX, so I can’t recommend it for metal preservation.

*Gold award Ace High Armory Gun Elixir: Excellent. Tied for best corrosion protection. The safe ingredients, and mild minty smell sets it apart, and wins the CLP test in my opinion. One of the more expensive products, but less than others I didn’t test here.

Ace High Shield: Not sure if user error, or what. Didn’t seem to provide corrosion resistance. The metal darkened after applying the cloth. You can tell by comparing the color of the sample plate to the control in the photo just before the rusty pic.

Mobil 1 0W-40: No shortcuts here! 25 cents per ounce will get you good lubrication, but you won’t have rust prevention additives. Performed below average. The smell would be a detractor, too.

*Silver award G96 Bio-CLP: Ties Ace High Gun Elixir in performance as one of the best, but again, you will pay for it. The ingredients are also questionable at best, and it has a less than pleasant smell. It’s also hard to find at the moment, with lengthy delivery times, and arrived in a box that was filled with loose, powdered dirt.

Conclusion

We didn’t learn much in terms of CLP performance. Leave a coat of oil on something, and it’ll be easier to clean later. Anyone who’s scrambled eggs can tell you that. I will continue to supplement my cleaning sessions with dedicated cleaners, though, and apply a fresh coat of CLP on areas that need lubrication or protection. Fun little experiment, and I encourage you to do the same with your favorite products. Sort of a do it yourself contract competition. Thanks for reading.

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