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Slick Stuff

by Scott E. Mayer   |  February 9th, 2011 0

Centerfire’s new Weapon CLP claims to be “a gun cleaner that is like no other.” Is that a good or bad thing?

There was a time in the late 1990s when it seemed everyone who made some type of gun cleaner or lubricant got a hold of my contact information and literally soaked me in queries to test their product because it was the “best.” The number of calls got to the point where I swore I’d never write about that type of product again unless I had to.

A decade has passed, the calls eventually stopped, and time has softened my attitude on the subject. So when Centerfire contacted me recently about a new cleaner/lubricant/metal-protecting product they had, instead of bristling I decided it was time to see what a decade of R&D in the private sector had come up with.


The products similar to Weapon CLP I used were all major brand products. Since they we unknowing participants in this comparison, they will remain anonymous.

Since my last testing of a cleaning product several advancements have been made toward making them biodegradable, non-toxic and easier on the sinuses. While those are good things, I have come across “green” cleaners that simply fail.

Testing such a product can easily become a subjective project with anecdotal results that may sound wonderful–especially to marketing types–but are virtually meaningless to someone like me who reads through the hype and simply want facts. I’ll take my own decisions based on those facts. I want my readers to know the facts, too, so if a manufacturer is willing to put their product to an objective test and let the chips fall where they may–so be it. This is the test methodology I devised for Centerfire Weapons CLP, and is one you can use to objectively test products on your own.


Temperature was measured in degrees Celsius with an industrial digital thermometer with a laser that indicates precisely where the measurement is being taken. Measurements were taken where the nylon rod contacted the steel.

When developing test methodology, my first step is to identify what features are being tested. In the case of Centerfire Weapon CLP, they claim it to be a cleaner/lubricant/and metal protecting product, so those are the features.

Next is to devise a way of testing those features that is not only fair, but also uses constants that are repeatable and with as little human error as possible. You’ll need a baseline, which in this case is bare barrel steel, and unless you’re an expert on what you’re testing, you’re going to need to test similar products to put your results into perspective. This is a comparative analysis.

The products similar to Weapon CLP I used were all major brand products. Since they we unknowing participants in this comparison, they will remain anonymous.

Product A is a popular “field cleaner” that makes the exact claims of biodegradability, non-toxicity, cleaner, lubricant and protectant as Weapons CLP.

Product B is a synthetic-based “metal conditioner” that claims to bond with the micropores of the metal surface to provide protection against friction, corrosion and rust. It also claims that guns treated with it will not experience a build-up of residue.

Product C is also a synthetic that claims to prevent corrosion and to have a low viscosity with a -75oF to +500oF operating range.

Product D is grease specifically formulated to protect against rust and corrosion as well as to reduce friction for maximum performance.

From my discussions with Centerfire, their cleaning claims were that Weapons CLP is a general parts cleaner. Since it comes in a small dropper bottle, it’s clearly not intended for flushing out actions. It also makes no claims as a copper or lead cleaner. Basically, you put some on a clean, dry cloth and wipe the surface to be cleaned. The type of fouling, then, that CLP cleans is your garden-variety powder fouling and belly button lint that accumulates on gun parts. Since I’ve found that type of fouling is just as easily removed with warm water, I didn’t bother testing any cleaning claims for Weapons CLP–we’ll simply take it as a given.

Lubricity, on the other hand, is a more slippery subject. Lubes reduce friction, and when they break down, that friction generates heat. To compare lubricity, my methodology was to mount a ¼-inch nylon rod in a drill press, lower it onto a piece of barrel steel under a constant pressure and let the drill press run while taking accurate temperature measurements in one-minute intervals over five minutes. Temperature was measured in degrees Celsius with an industrial digital thermometer with a laser that indicates precisely where the measurement is being taken. Measurements were taken where the nylon rod contacted the steel.


I established a temperature increase baseline on bare barrel steel, then the temperature increase with one drop of Weapons CLP between the tip of the rod and the metal.

I established a temperature increase baseline on bare barrel steel, then the temperature increase with one drop of Weapons CLP between the tip of the rod and the metal. That procedure was repeated with the four other products, and the barrel steel cleaned, degreased, and allowed to re-stabilize at room temperature between products. After the first round was completed, the entire process was repeated with similar results.


Temperature Increase in Degrees Celsius
Product. Start Temp. 1 Minute 2 Minutes 3 Minutes 4 Minutes 5 Minutes Total Temp. Change
Bare Metal 22.9 23
.6
24.5 24.8 25.6 27.1 +4.2
Weapons CLP 23.9 24.2 24.5 24.6 24.7 24.9 +1.0
Product A 23.9 24.1 24.2 24.5 24.6 25.2 +1.3
Product B 23.7 24.3 24.9 24.9 25.2 25.3 +1.6
Product C 23.6 24.2 24.8 25.0 25.3 25.4 +1.8
Product D 24.0 24.6 25.0 25.3 25.1 25.3 +1.3

Full results for the lubricity comparison are shown in the accompanying table. I honestly expected Product D, the grease, to have the best showing here, as grease is what you use for heavy duty lubricating needs. While it did well, it was not the best.

Product B is what a former supervisor of mine used exclusively on his machine guns as his Class 3 dealer recommended it as the very best lubricant. It turned out to be almost the worst lubricant I tried, but Product C earned that ranking.

Overall, Centerfire’s Weapon CLP not only lived up to its claims of being a lubricant, but also came out as clearly the best lubricant of the ones included in this comparison.

Next up was to compare Weapon CLP’s claims that it protects metal from rust and corrosion. For this comparison, I took a section of steel barrel under rib and marked it into equal sections, one section for each product. The rib was polished then cleaned and degreased and each product applied liberally to their respective sections using a clean cotton swab for each product.

The treated rib was allowed to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, and then submerged in a solution of 35 grams of salt to one kilogram of water to approximate the salinity of seawater. As the rib sat in the saltwater, observations were made at 15-minute intervals over a period of four hours to see at what point rust formed for the respective products.


Salt water test after 1 hour.

Products A, B and C all started failing 1 ½ hours into the comparison as slight discoloration of the rib was clearly visible. Those three products had collectively failed after three hours with their respective sections of the barrel rib covered in rust.


Salt water test after 2 hours.

Again, I thought the grease, being thick and applied liberally would provide the best protection if for no other reason than the saltwater simply couldn’t get through it to rust the steel. But after 1 hour and 45 minutes, it’s section started to stain, and after three hours of submersion was showing obvious streaks of rust.


Salt water after 3 hours.

After four hours of submersion in saltwater I removed the rib. All products except for Weapons CLP had failed to prevent rust. Once air-dried, the rib showed severe rust on all treated sections except for the one treated with Weapons CLP. As I write this, one month after the comparison, the failed sections have continued to rust, and the section treated with Weapon CLP remains bright and clean.

Clearly, a lot has changed in the past decade when it comes to lubricants, cleaners, and preservatives. That Weapons CLP claims it is “a gun cleaner like no other” proved to be true in my comparison as it greatly exceeded the performance of similar products as a lubricant and preservative. Manufacturers and consumers wanting to see how their products compare, please, feel free to use my methodology. As for having me do it, call me in 2021.



UPDATE

More than a year after this article was published, I came across that piece of barrel rib that I treated with the different lubricants. Through a humid Mid-Atlantic summer and no special storage, the metal continued to rust with the exception of the section treated with Weapons CLP.


After more than a year, the section of barrel rib treated with Weapons CLP
stilled showed no signs of rust.

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