Oil Vs Grease

Dear Technoid:

I hear different answers from my friends, the pundits when I ask which is better for the hinge pins and joining the barrels to the action, a high quality oil, or high quality grease? What do you think is best for shotguns – oil or grease?

Also, if you are willing to answer: What recommended oil or grease would you recommend? Currently I use Tri-Flow oil or some other quality oil on my Perazzi Sporter.


Dear Neil,

I prefer grease to oil on the action hinges and shoulders of my break open guns Even though I store my guns muzzle down in the safe, oil will sooner or later migrate into the wood if you keep putting just a little bit on each time I use the gun. I really don’t pay much attention to what kind of grease I use though. As an aside, I treat my semi-autos very differently than the break open guns when it comes to lubrication.

For the O/Us and SxS guns, what you use isn’t nearly as important as how you use it. The key to hinge pin maintenance is to keep dirt out, not grease in. When I am finished shooting and am cleaning my gun, I take special care to careful clean the hinge pin, hook and all receiver bearing surfaces. A rag and Q-tips dipped in Hoppe’s works fine. Then I wipe it all down with a CLEAN cloth, making sure that there is no dirt or grit any where on the bearing surfaces. Then I dab on some grease, reassemble the gun and stick it in the safe muzzle down.

I transport my guns to and from the range in long gun slips, but if you use a take down case this preparation would be done immediately before assembling the gun at the range.

As to kinds of grease, I have used Pennzoil bearing grease, teflon grease and Lubriplate over the years. I haven’t really noticed any difference, but I do tend to favor thicker greases over thinner ones. The Pennzoil bearing grease is nice because I can fill up those little camera film cannisters with it and always have one in my kit.

The supposed advantage of oiling hinge pins, rather than greasing them, is that oil is considered to be less likely to “pick up” grit. I don’t worry about that because if the lubricant is on a bearing point, pressure will keep it tight enough to avoid picking up grit while it is together. When it is apart, I clean it.

Obviously, trigger mechanisms are oil situations. I very much like the Shooters Choice FP-10 oil for the fine stuff, though I am sure that Tri-flow is as good as any. I really think that any decent quality oil is fine. Again, it isn’t really what you use. It is how you use it.

As an aside, there is a great deal of controversy about WD-40 as a lubricant and rust protector. It is great at drying out wet actions (and it is an even better spot remover for carpets!), but with so many very good lubricants and rust protectors (Birchwood Casey’s “Sheath” is excellent) to pick from, why take a chance?

If I was restricted to one cleaner, lubricant and protectant, I would do what the US military has done after exhaustive testing and select BreakFree CLP. It is an excellent product and I use it all the time on my gas guns. However, I am not concerned with the weight of my field pack, so I can afford to optimize each product without compromise. For that reason I clean with Gun Scrubber and Shooters Choice or Hoppes, lubricate with bearing grease and FP-10 or maybe Browning spray oil, and rust protect with Sheath.

There it is. Go forth and be cleaned and lubed.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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