Yet More On Breakfree And The 390

Dear Technoid,

Could you quantify “slop,” and are you putting it only inside the gas piston?

Also, do you lube your 390’s? I have been shooting my 390 dry other than a small drop of Beretta oil on the “feet” of the bolt. (My gunsmith’s recommendation.) The gun is not showing any obvious signs of wear and I have had very few malfunctions. I shoot 100-150 factory loads (usually Remington STS Light Handicaps) about once a week.

Thanks for your time and help,


Dear Pete,

Maintaining a gas gun is a lot like the story of the fellow who jumped off the Empire State building. As he fell past each floor, the people at the windows could hear him say “So far, so good.”

If what you are doing to your gas gun keeps it running to your satisfaction, then don’t change nuthin. When it ceases to work as you would wish, then remember my advice and try some BreakFree CLP inside and outside of the piston, on the piston rod and a few drops into the bolt via the charging handle slot.The few drops inside the bolt seem to splatter around and take care of the trigger group, bolt and bolt carrier.

Don’t wipe the BreakFree CLP off, leave it wet. I use about six drops on the outside of the piston, six on the inside, three on the piston rod and four into the bolt. Well, I don’t really count them, but if I had to come up with numbers, those would work. I just hate cooking recipes that say “cook until done” or “add a pinch”.

The amount and type of lubrication that you use really depends on your cleaning regimen, the shells you use and the way in which you use your gun. If you are a sporting clays shooter and likely to find yourself shooting a bunch of quick pairs while a mile or so from the car, you are in a far different situation than a trap shooter shooting singles on a field near his parked car (and tool kit).

When you shoot your gun wet with BreakFree CLP , you will find that it cycles faster and smoother than when dry. If you are really bad about your cleaning (as I often am), you can always “add oil instead of changing it”. A few squirts of BreakFree CLP on the gas works of a 390 or 1100 is generally enough to get the filthiest gun up and working again for a while.

Relubing a dirty gun also has the advantage of loosening up all th burnt on carbon, thus making the cleaning job much easier. I have often taken a shamefully neglected gas gun and slopped it up with BreakFree CLP just before my final 25 shots. When I cleaned it afterwards, everything is nicely loosened up and most of the cleaning of the gas parts can be done with a Kleenex.

Sometimes when I travel, I end up using range or rental guns. These are usually gas guns and if so, are never as clean as they should be. A few squirts of BreakFree CLP on the rental gun gives me a much better chance of having one work.

I really don’t mean to keep pushing BreakFree CLP as I have no special connection with them. It is just that their unique combination of lubricants and solvents does the job better than anything else I have tried to date. When something better comes along, I’ll push that.

By the way, it is not at all unusual for the 390s to show virtually no wear after quite a number of rounds. It is a remarkably well designed gun and the Italians make intelligent use of different metals and metal coatings. I have a Beretta 303 with 50,000 rounds through it and it shows virtually no wear on moving parts. At 50K, many name brand O/Us are heading for their first rebuild.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid at <>
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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3 Responses to Yet More On Breakfree And The 390

  1. Gerald Packard says:

    When I bought my 391 a number of years ago I followed Bruce’s advice and used Breakfree CLP with great success. I did run, as an experiment 2,500 target loads thru it without cleaning, just adding a drop or so of CLP in the right places.

    A couple of years ago I purchased one of the Beretta 400 Excel parallel target gas guns. A great improvement as far as cleaning goes over the 391. Super easy to take apart for cleaning , which prompts me to clean it a bit more often. Continued to use CLP, but about one year ago I tried Qmaxx Black. The results were the same and if anything the cleaning became somewhat easier. A paper towel does the job on everything but the barrel. There is a minor build up of carbon on a small section of the gas ring hanging from the barrel. A little touch with a dremel brush does the trick. Same carbon buildup at the same spot with Breakfree CLP. Works fine when it come time to clean the barrel, just let it sit for a bit.

    Qmaxx Black has a very distinct odor which some may find offensive and it does a good job of keeping the crud in suspension.
    The odor is not as offensive as the horrible blue receiver, but a treatment with cerakote corrected that. Someone needs to talk with the “styling group” at Beretta.
    Cole’s gun smith can correct that problem in a heartbeat. See their new black version, a beauty.


  2. Henry says:

    My 391 Optima Gold has not been cleaned since 2003. it was taken apart when received and fully soaked with Break Free CLP. If bad weather was coming for a goose hunt or a hunt near salt water, I would spray some CLP on the barrel. The barrel feels like glass as the Break Free CLP has filled the pores of the metal. The shotgun can shoot Winchester 2 1/2 dram training loads and 3 inch max steel loads and pitch all at the same distance. The 391 reacts better than my old 390. I did a test report for The Clay Pigeon with my 390. It shot some 25,400 shells with only 24 FTF of which most were 3 inch steel shells.


  3. Carlo Virgilio says:

    Remember, keep life simple and less is more. There’s Break Free and STOS..then all the rest.


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