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Old 01-06-2014, 05:23 PM   #1
woodsghost
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Default Testing use of grease and Ballistol in winter temps

I'm posting this here because I tested this on a '74, and I expect similar results would be found with other models, but I have no clue.

I took advantage of the recent cold in the midwest these past few days. I'm currently in Northern Iowa. Last night it was -22 to -25 F, and wind gusts kicked things down to -50 or -60 F, though the average with wind was about -30 to -40.

I used walmart car grease. No idea what kind. I cannot find the can right now. I remember it has a melting point of 300 F and comes in a can at walmart. Nothing more I can add on that right now.

I recently switched my rifle over to grease for lubrication, rather than Ballistol, which I had been using. So I decided to do some testing. Shooting 60 rounds of spamcan MilSurp in -10 F showed no problems with feeding. This was done in 5 round strings with a cool down period to check the targets 250 yrds away. So, the rifle got good and cold between strings.

Also note: I put a buffer in my AK, so that might make my bolt spring stiffer or add some bounce to the bolt carrier for the rebound. Who knows.

Then over the evening I set it out on the porch to get exposed to those -40 F temps. I checked it from time to time. The hammer remained stout and ready for action, no matter what the temp. The grease got stiff. I have read others describe it as "gelling." However, the bolt continued to move. I did not fire it at night, as neighbors would not have approved. Working the action showed the rifle was sluggish, but did actually function. I could pull the bolt back, and it would ride forward with some force. I expect the loose tolerances in the AK help.

This morning I pulled the rifle in and disassembled it. I had to wear gloves, the parts were so cold it burned to touch them. The grease on the bolt was extremely stiff, but the bolt would move in the rifle and the bolt worked ok, just stiff.

I noticed though that the Ballistol I had on the muzzle break threads remained fluid at all times and the Ballistol I had slopped in the gas port also remained liquid and fluid. I put the Ballistol in my gas port to stop corrosion till I have time to fully clean my rifle. So, I did not set out to test Ballistol, but I noticed it performed great! If anybody has a different experience with Ballistol, I'd be interested in hearing it.

I'm now inclined to switch over back to Ballistol for lubrication. I wanted to use grease because it is supposed to remain on the different surfaces longer than oils. However, I recently read there are arctic level greases for automobiles. I'd like to try some of those one day. If anybody has experience with artic level grease in an AK, I'd like to hear their experience.

The grease held up fine in the cold weather shooting I did, but looking at how stiff it got leaves me wanting something more sure. I'll run grease when temps are over freezing and Ballistol when they consistently dip below. When I get the chance to test some winter level auto grease, I'll get back to y'all. It'll probably be a year or two.

Last edited by woodsghost; 01-07-2014 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 01-06-2014, 08:52 PM   #2
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cool post, I was thinking this very thing this past weekend when i took my 74 to the range. although not nearly as cold as what you had it was a balmy 10-12 here in PA. im usually a grease guy, mobil EP023 i get from work. its a very flowing grease i think its a 000 weight. i was going to try it in the cold but figured i try the mpro 7 lpx i had. to the lpx's credit it stayed on the rails the whole session (210 rds) and didnt all run off the top rails. mostly semi slow firing at the 200 yd, then some bump firing bursts through the last mag to see if it would wipe away. it didnt. i think ill be using more of the LPX at least through the winter.
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Old 01-06-2014, 09:01 PM   #3
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Agree cool post. I know the Germans had trouble with the weather and their weapons against the Russians during ww2, actually clothing and weapons. The Russians owned them in that regard.

I watched a show on this very problem with weapons and I can't remember what the Russians did different but again they won! Cool post.
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:11 PM   #4
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My AK's I use wheel bearing grease. I've shot them in 15 below zero days and they've function. Sluggish but work.

My AR's however I use lightweight gun-grease. They're more picky
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:17 PM   #5
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Wind chill only affects exposed skin. AKs, cars and other non-living items are not affected by wind chill.
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:49 PM   #6
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I get to use grease all the time at work. I have a love hate relation with it. I know i need the stuff and lot of it to keep things working. But it spreads like an STD and gets on everything if you dont immediately wash it off with some thing like lava soap. Grease is best used in sealed areas since it is so thick it traps dust and any other particulate matter that touches it. You will have to remove all the grease to get the area clean again. If you start getting carbon in it. it will turn to a thick paste really quickly. I think it would be great for storage since it will act like cosmoline. It will work great as a lube but i think some areas will get fouled up from trapping carbon and gunpowder once you start shooting.
Marine grease is also good for extra water and rust protection.
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Old 01-06-2014, 11:11 PM   #7
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Ballistol is some good stuff .
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:44 AM   #8
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Got in another 10 rounds today at -9. 5 shot strings again. I decided to test it again to see if maybe the sun shining had any effect. It does not. No sun today, just clouds, and the rifle worked just fine. I'll probably run some more rounds through it later.

So, I have about 70 through it w/o cleaning, just the grease. It worked even better today as some of the grease was wiped out. I think a thinner layer might be helping keep out the sluggishness (and higher temps). Like Untranslate said, grease is like an STD, and was getting on my bolt face and probably in my chamber. I put a stop to that. I must have put too much on earlier.

So, here are some other observations:

USGI trigger finger mittens, the wool liners, work great with an AK trigger guard. I do not even need the trigger finger portion, my finger just slides on in there while wearing the mitten.

I'm starting to thing wood is better for winter use than synthetic. I think the wood forend robbed my hand of heat less than the plastic pistol grip. Since I was wearing the same mittens on each hand, and they were touching those parts at the same moment, I feel they are directly comparable. YMMV, but test it out with your gear.

Do not use metal furniture if it is below freezing. I see metal stocks and metal forends. If you want to use your rifle in the winter, I'd get some different furniture or make sure it is wrapped in something. The metal (mags, receiver) really sucked the heat out of my mittens.

Many winter gloves these days are synthetic. A hot rifle will trash them. Consider wool or leather for winter use and hot rifles. I sometimes wrap a bandanna round the forend if it is getting really hot.

I sure like having something on the muzzle. I got my -74 break filled with snow as I was getting in the prone position. I was able to blow most of it out. Keeping snow and ice out of your barrel seems important. I'm going to switch to a flash hider but now "ability to keep snow out" will impact my choice.

Ballistol is still amazing!



Quote:
Originally Posted by LRRP5,45 View Post
Wind chill only affects exposed skin. AKs, cars and other non-living items are not affected by wind chill.
Thanks for the information! That very fact was slowly starting to dawn on me. I'll leave out mention of wind chills in the future.
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Old 01-07-2014, 02:37 PM   #9
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Ballistol or EEZOX are my favorites. Actually prefer the EEZOX a little better.
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Old 01-07-2014, 02:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by History View Post
Agree cool post. I know the Germans had trouble with the weather and their weapons against the Russians during ww2, actually clothing and weapons. The Russians owned them in that regard.

I watched a show on this very problem with weapons and I can't remember what the Russians did different but again they won! Cool post.
cool post.

saw an episode "the last days of ww2" on history channel. episode was on stalingrade.

German's were using normal gun oil, which ended up turning solid at the colder temps and gumming up the actions. i believe the soviets were adding gasoline to their gun oil, which helped it stay fluid. I remember thinking "that sounds like a terrible idea" when i saw the episode, but it may have been a different additive and not gas.
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Old 01-07-2014, 05:46 PM   #11
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According to Ballistol's advertising literature, it was supposed to have been the German go-to for gun oil/gun cleaner since WWI. From what I have read, many motor oils will start to gum up at sub 0 F temps.

So, my thinking on the Germans is this:

1) Maybe they were using something other than Ballistol that was gumming up their weapons.

2) Maybe Ballistol changed their formula after WWII. I'm pretty sure Ballistol is, chemically speaking, alcohol and mineral oil (a little more complex, I know, but I believe those are the main ingredients, sorry if I'm wrong). Maybe they added more alcohol after WWII?

3) Maybe the Germans were fighting in temps that freeze even Ballistol. That would royally suck.

Hey ak-74hero and MontanaGrant! I forgot to say earlier, thanks for specifying what types of grease and weights you have been using. That helps me and gives me a starting point for my next round of tests next year.

Edit: This is the stuff I was using: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Super-Tech...-1-lb/16795246

Their Super Tech Multi-Duty red grease. I can't find the details, but when/if I do, I'll post them. Something more fluid than the stuff I used would be better.

Last edited by woodsghost; 01-07-2014 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xyloft View Post
cool post.

saw an episode "the last days of ww2" on history channel. episode was on stalingrade.

German's were using normal gun oil, which ended up turning solid at the colder temps and gumming up the actions. i believe the soviets were adding gasoline to their gun oil, which helped it stay fluid. I remember thinking "that sounds like a terrible idea" when i saw the episode, but it may have been a different additive and not gas.
You a are correct that they added something and like you I think it was gas or maybe kerosene? I bet we watched the same show it's just been awhile since I saw it.



The winter for the Germans in Russia was the coldest on record or one of the coldest at that time.
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LRRP5,45 View Post
Wind chill only affects exposed skin. AKs, cars and other non-living items are not affected by wind chill.

Wot???

Wind chill is a non-technical term for convection, which is heat transfer via moving fluid. And of course this applies to non-living items, what are you talking about. Holy sh!% this is the sort of crap that stupefies our society. What is your source for this? Does a heat gun also only heat living items?? And just to clarify, heat transfer works both ways, so a moving fluid ie. air can either be hotter or colder than an object it passes over, thereby either transferring heat to it (convective oven) or transferring heat away from it (wind chill).
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Old 01-08-2014, 12:16 PM   #14
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There are a couple greases that the US MIL specified for cold temperatures with M14s maybe Google for those? Also use a light amount of grease, if it is 'getting everywhere' you might be using too much.
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Old 01-08-2014, 08:14 PM   #15
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Thanks HPP, for both tips!.

Herby, I'll check with a friend who is a physicist. I believe "wind chill" was a term designed to tell us what a temperature "feels like." I sure the convection effect of the wind helps quickly cool down my rifle when it is warm, but I suspect once my rifle has reached "room temperature," wind chill does not make it colder. It just helps my rifle reach room temperature more quickly, through convection, as you pointed out. I'll post if my physicist friend tells me anything different.
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Old 01-09-2014, 12:12 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by History View Post
Agree cool post. I know the Germans had trouble with the weather and their weapons against the Russians during ww2, actually clothing and weapons. The Russians owned them in that regard.

I watched a show on this very problem with weapons and I can't remember what the Russians did different but again they won! Cool post.
The Russians added Gasoline to their oil to thin it. This was mainly a problem in Tanks, trucks and Aircraft. The main problem with machine guns was snow/water freezing up the action after being exposed to sub freezing temps all night long. corrective action- keep the weapons covered and away from moisture as best they can.

HDH.
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Old 01-09-2014, 05:46 PM   #17
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hansellhd, thanks for the clarification. After you said that, I realized it is important to share my experience with warm guns in the snow. If you get it warm and then roll it around in the snow, you will get some melting and then it freezes and turns to ice. I found that out and had to bring it inside and wait till the ice melted. I did not let any ice form on the action, but the barrel and muzzle break were covered in it. The barrel was just warm, not smoking hot or anything.
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Old 01-10-2014, 07:49 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herby View Post
Wot???

Wind chill is a non-technical term for convection, which is heat transfer via moving fluid. And of course this applies to non-living items, what are you talking about. Holy sh!% this is the sort of crap that stupefies our society. What is your source for this? Does a heat gun also only heat living items?? And just to clarify, heat transfer works both ways, so a moving fluid ie. air can either be hotter or colder than an object it passes over, thereby either transferring heat to it (convective oven) or transferring heat away from it (wind chill).
Look here you may think you know what you're talking about but you don't. Any meteorologist will tell you that wind chill only affects exposed flesh period. A firearm doesn't feel the wind chill and it doesn't affect it.
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Old 01-10-2014, 09:46 AM   #19
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cool thread, thanks for starting it. i'll chime in. my cousin, who is kind of an idiot, completely slathered his 870 in frog lube for a duck hunt. it was in the single digits that morning and his action froze solid. he blamed the frog lube. i have my doubts. how does white lithium grease do in the cold temps?
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Old 01-10-2014, 04:05 PM   #20
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I haven't tested it in extreme temperatures, but I use white lithium grease on my AK after hearing Jim Fuller of Rifle Dynamics recommend it.
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Old 01-10-2014, 04:24 PM   #21
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Generally speaking in cold weather it is far better to use a good (synthetic) gun oil than Grease.

Grease is thick and Oil is thin, cold temps will always thicken any lube so stay thin.


This is what I use.
http://www.brownells.com/gun-cleanin...prod31895.aspx

HDH.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:58 PM   #22
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M-14 used Plastilube which I think was invented by the Germans. I have used it shooting in temperatures of about 30 degress with no problems. Also used Lubriplate, which US Army used in Europe in WWII and Korea, but found it started to get gummy below 32 degress. That is why they went with Plastilube for the M14.

Last edited by Tommo; 01-13-2014 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:09 PM   #23
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I've got some Froglube my wife got me that I wanted for xmas..considered using it on the ak, haven't really cleaned the ak...has hardly any rounds through her anyways but wondering if you guys think it's overkill on the AK...got it because I've got a 3 year old and it's not supposed to have any harsh chemicals, it smells good(VERY important...hahaha.). Also plouffedaddy reviewed it, liked it and commented that it made his glock super smooth(which i also have) so figured I'd request the Froglube tube kit from wife for xmas. In actuality i'll probably continue to use the rem oil, gun scrubber etc..on some things till it's all out and eventually go to the froglube.
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Old 01-13-2014, 07:07 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankstang View Post
I haven't tested it in extreme temperatures, but I use white lithium grease on my AK after hearing Jim Fuller of Rifle Dynamics recommend it.
I use red bearing grease in my M1A, a dab on a little paintbrush applicator is all that's needed really. Did the same with my AKs and had no problems with cycling or grease ending up in the action etc. With grease a small amount goes a long way.
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Old 01-14-2014, 01:56 AM   #25
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Thanks for sharing about Plastilube and Froglube! Please let us know if you are able to test those out in the cold. Please remember to let us know the temperatures you experience!

I made a choice tonight to clean my steel -74 mags, and lubricate them. I cleaned with Ballistol, and put a very thin film of Walmart red grease on the followers. I dabbed the grease on and used a patch to almost wipe it off. It is a very thin film.

The Ballistol is pretty thin as well and applied to the inside walls of the magazine. I can tell there is still a dusting of grit inside my mags, but they are functioning fine for now, so I'm happy. I'm ensuring there is little lubricant on the inside so I can prevent most of it from getting on the bullets.

If you think this is a poor decision and have experience you wish to share, please speak up!!! I'm very open to correction, and I believe those who are reading this thread are interested in honest experience that will help us keep things running in the cold.

I'll be taking a 600 round class in early February (2014). If I experience any failures with my Tantal mags which are set up as described above, I'll let y'all know. I'll also be using some Tapco mags (unlubricated) and some circle 10 mags (lightly lubricated with Ballistol). If anything of note happens, I'll share it.
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