I first heard about Ballistol while watching a back-issue of GCA’s GunTech DVD magazine (issue #108). Gene Kelly (president of the American Gunsmithing Institute) interviewed a Ballistol representative at SHOT SHOW. I was really impressed what was said about it. Something claiming to be as versatile as Ballistol and also non-toxic is a combination that gets my attention. When I finished watching the interview I immediately visited the company’s website and read absolutely everything posted about the product.
What really sold me is that Ballistol is non-toxic, skin friendly, displaces water and never gets gummy. Sounds like a perfect product for gunsmithing I thought.
For about three years prior to discovering Ballistol I exclusively used a non-toxic plant based CLP (Cleans, Lubricates, Protects) called GunZilla. Unfortunately the product became rancid and gummy eight to ten months after application. Not to belittle GunZilla but apparently it is not made for long term applications.
Think of it this way … after hunting season you take the time to properly care for your hunting gun. You disassemble it, clean it and apply GunZilla to lightly oil all metal parts and reassemble it. Ten months later you grab the gun, inspect it for function and find the oil has gummed everywhere it was applied. The gun may work for the hunt but in sub-zero temperatures you have potential for function problems within the gun. The same situation applies to customers you may have provided this service for and used an oil that gums before the gun sees use.
I’ve applied Ballistol to every single part that needs a light oil on several of my firearms and after almost two years the Ballistol is as fresh as the day it was applied. Nothing has become gummy or rusted whatsoever and the guns have functioned in cold weather.
Ballistol is a CLPPP (Cleans, Lubricates, Preserves, Protects, Penetrates) so I guess it’s safe to say it is two “P’s” more than a CLP. Ballistol is a product I’ve really grown to like–I’ve been using the product exclusively for almost two years now. Since then I’ve read, seen and heard about some Master gunsmiths in AGI giving Ballistol a try and highly rating it. Some have ranked it as their new favorite, or at least as a first place tie with their long term favorite(s).
I live in Canada so I began searching for product availability here. I found Canada Ammo (www.canadaammo.com) listed as one of only a few Ballistol suppliers. They listed a one gallon container on sale for $70 CA ($100 retail) which was by far the best value for the dollar, so I purchased it. For those in Canada that are interested you can view their Ballistol selection at www.canadaammo.com then type Ballistol in the search engine. For those in the USA that are interested visit www.ballistol.com.
When the Ballistol arrived I read the label for applications and mixing ratios. I was a bit uncertain if it should be used undiluted (100% – full strength) for the applications I wanted it for (as a CLP for gunsmithing) so I emailed the company with some questions. A reply was sent within a day stating:
“Hi Dana, For all of the purposes you listed, and most other purposes, use Ballistol 100%. The aerosol and non-aerosol cans contain the same formula. The only times it is necessary to emulsify Ballistol with water are the uses listed on the chart that show mixing. Best regards, … ”
My initial intended use of Ballistol was for gunsmithing but I quickly began using it for some of it’s other specified applications to items I would have otherwise used a previous product. I have provided a photo of the back label on the Ballistol container for you to see the list of applications and the mixing ratios.
Some items that I’ve applied Ballistol to are:
- Wood: dry or unfinished (unsealed) gun stocks, tools (AGI screwdriver handles – the wood darkened beautifully), electric and accoustic guitars (fretboards, including the entire guitar body) faded doors, outdoor wood items (my home address sign) and any dry, exposed wood that needs protection from the elements
- Leather: shoes, belts, holsters, magazine pouches, slings
- Rubber: boots, shoes, gaskets/o-rings/seals (ammo can seals, hard gun case seals), dry/cracking rubber
- Metal: rust removal, everything metal (including every single firearms part that benefits from a light oiling), squeeky door hinges, etc.
- The list goes on and on.
I have included some photos of some leather items that received Ballistol treatment. I’ve soaked these items liberally since they all were so dry. Leather darkens instantly and the Ballistol never leaves an oily residue. One of the photos shows two pouches side by side (I think they are grenade pouches). The darker one was treated with Ballistol and the other was not. In the beginning they were both the same color as the untreated pouch.
One day I decided to rub down my entire SKS stock with Ballistol to help wash off superficial cosmoline residues, to help permeate the pores of the wood (to protect from moisture) and to hopefully give the dull looking stock a bit of life. Initially after rubbing the stock liberally with Ballistol there was no obvious darkening of the wood. A few days later there was a noticeable darkening. In three or four weeks the stock had substantially darkened.
I was amazed and pleasantly surprised at the color transformation of the stock because personally I thought the original stock looked bland and I was considering performing a refinishing job. I have included a photo showing two SKS’s that had their stocks treated with Ballistol. The SKS Type 56 stock was originally about the same lightness in color (or lighter) as the SKS-D’s stock. The SKS-D’s stock also darkened with Ballistol treatment.
I had a shotgun in for cleaning. The bore looked shiny and clean. I used a Ballistol soaked swab and ran it through the bore to give it a light layer of oil. A few days later I inspected the bore and it looked like a swampy mess. I couldn’t believe the crud that had surfaced from a bore that initially looked clean.
As I mentioned earlier (and as you can see on the container’s label) Ballistol is skin-friendly (non-toxic to the skin) but the label does warn to avoid inhalation of vapors. This is one reason I prefer liquids over aerosols. Aerosols certainly have their place but they tend to deliver a fair amount of airborne residuals that when sprayed some ends up wasted, inhaled and eventually settles onto surfaces I would prefer not to have it on (bench top covering, floor, de-greased parts ready for cold bluing, etc).
When ventilation is limited I am deliberate when applying the product in order to limit vapor exposure. I apply the product using an oiling pen or a small pump bottle sporting a nozzle or use a bottle with a dropper tip. A high comcentration of it’s vapor (ie: when refilling small bottles from the main container) is mildly irritating to the lungs (GunZilla never irritated my lungs) which sometimes causes me to initially cough once or twice. It never gives me headaches.
I’ve had undiluted Ballistol on my hands for hours at a time many, many times with no issues whatsoever other than slick, moisturized skin. I’ve heard of one gentleman who’s used Ballistol to treat mosquito bites but I have not tried that … yet.
One last point I’d like to mention is when 10% Ballistol is mixed with 90% water the solution looks like milk.
Ballistol is great stuff to try on things. To be economical one could get a few people together to pitch in for a gallon of the stuff then divy out the container. For those that have used Ballistol please feel free to post any comments here that you have regarding it. I highly recommend the product and know you will love it once you’ve tried it.
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