By Andy Wolf
While I don’t shoot anywhere as much as I would like, it cannot be argued that I shoot a lot. With range entries logged anywhere from once a week to the weekend-long training trips I would log every other month last winter, I have put a lot of lead downrange in the never-ending quest to master the use of my firearms, equipment and training.
With that being said, the immense number of rounds fired last year (approximately 9,000 collective rounds of 5.56 and 9mm), the quantity of ammunition often forces me to use cheaper, dirtier and more corrosive ammunition (such as steel-cased ammo) for training, while saving my higher-quality ammunition for specialized courses, events and self defense.
If you’ve ever shot steel-cased ammunition, you’ll know what I mean when I say it is filthy ammunition. The amount of carbon buildup in your weapons sits somewhere below blank ammunition and far above higher quality ammunition. While I have yet to have a malfunction in my favorite weapons systems due to fouling (a great credit to the IWI Tavor and the CZ P07, which are the platforms that were used in this review), a dirty weapon is never something that should be left unattended at the end of the day.
After shooting at an impromptu training course using 210 rounds of notoriously dirty Tula 5.56mm and 200 rounds of Silver Bear 9mm, I brought my firearms home for a thorough cleaning. Reaching into my ammo can full of cleaning supplies, I pulled all the essentials: paper towels, cotton swabs, a dental pick, a pull-through bore cleaner, various brushes and of course, a big, fat can of Ballistol.
Initially learning about Ballistol from watching my gunsmith work on a variety of firearms, the guys at the shop would swear by it- particularly when it came to suppressed weapons, which tend to get a little dirtier due to the gas buildup. Using it for everything from getting seized things unstuck and cleaning the delicate inner workings of trigger mechanisms with a cotton swab and precise touch. Every now and then, they would even give me sample wipes for my kit or a small can to try out. After a few uses, Ballistol became my “heavy hitter” when it came to cleaning a well-fired rifle or handgun.
While I own several types of gun cleaners and lubricants, I depend on Ballistol as the “shock and awe” method to remove excessive carbon buildup, weathering and other irritants that could potentially hamper the effectiveness of my systems. Giving everything from the barrel to the inner guts a good soaking, I generally let it sit for a minute while I set up my tools.
With the parts soaked in Ballistol, the lengthy task of cleaning becomes much less time-consuming. Carbon seemingly wipes off any surface you touch, leaving the metal looking like the first day you bought it. Running a pull-through cleaner through the barrel, the chrome lining shines and the chamber glistens after just a few swipes with the dental pick and a cotton swab.
While Ballistol is a potent cleaner, it is also exceptional when it comes to lubrication and protecting surfaces from the elements. While I tend to favor firearms that don’t require excessive maintenance to run properly (in all weather and environmental conditions), Ballistol certainly offers me the upper hand when it comes to knowing that my weapons will function when I need them.
After giving my firearms a thorough cleaning, they are once again prepared for use and stored/holstered accordingly, ready to take on another challenge for another day. Ballistol is excellent for long-term storage. While many solvents and lubricants break down over time, Ballistol has a history of being able to stand up to long-term storage effects that plague many firearms.
According to the makers of Ballistol, the company conducted a long-term test around the end of World War II. Several rifles and shotguns were treated with Ballistol, wrapped in wax-impregnated paper, and stored in a trunk. After 25 years, the trunk was opened and the firearms inspected. All weapons had remained completely rust-free on both the inside and outside, and no resinification (a process where solvents harden over time, reducing efficiency or even creating problems) of Ballistol had occurred. After pulling a dry cotton patch through the barrels, several rounds were fired from the weapons without malfunction.
At the end of the day, I can believe claims such as this. While the Great Awakening of Modern Sporting Rifles has given rise to a variety of “snake oils” which vary in effectiveness (and are often dubious in chemical makeup), Ballistol has been a time-proven weapons cleaner since the German army adopted it in 1905. While I don’t own any firearms with wooden stocks, I use Ballistol to keep the wooden grips of my Sig Sauer P938 looking smooth and clean, all the while protecting the finish from weather, sweat and insects.
While there are plenty of good solvents out there, Ballistol is one of the few that I can honestly say I trust with my life, high praise when it comes to defensive firearms use and carry. With one of the longest running names in the business, Ballistol is still around for good reason- and it is here to stay.