The Problem with “CLP” Type Gun Lubricants

You remember what your mother or father once told you: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is… 

Which today, ladies and gentlemen, leads us to opine on the value of so-called, “CLP” gun treatments. The letters C-L-P stand for, “Clean,” “Lubricate” and “Protect.” Meaning that one whiz-bang application of some “CLP stuff” will satisfy all your gun cleaning needs in one easy step. Splash some “CLP lube” onto your firearms parts, and, bang, you’re done. Nice if life were that easy.

Here’s the problem — and you don’t need a degree in tribology (the study of friction) to figure this out for yourself. ”CLP” gun lubes are simply trying to do too much. Actually, they are trying to do the impossible in terms of gun cleaning (and practical chemistry).

In “CLP” formulations, there are chemical components that are engineered to do the “C” part — the gun Cleaning part – while the “L” and “P” parts of the formula are trying to Lubricate and Protect. But the “C” part of the formula doesn’t know when to STOP cleaning. Oh, it does clean some, maybe even much, of the debris and fouling you want to remove from your dirty firearm — but then the “C” molecules keep right on cleaning. They actually attack their own brothers-in-arms, the “L” and “P” foot soldiers that are formulated and packaged together with the “C” soldiers.   

It’s our considered opinion that the exclusive use of “CLP” products on firearms is akin to a dog chasing its own tail.

While “CLP” lubes may prove to be adequate in clearing guns that have jammed – it’s also true guns will tend to jam more often and fire fewer rounds if they are treated solely with “CLP” liquids in all maintenance events. That’s because “CLP” gun oil cleans/flushes a lot better than it lubricates or protects, so you are always starting with a less than optimal lubrication treatment of a gun right from the start. (A dumbing down of all three desired gun cleaning actions for the sake of selling an “all-in-one” formula).

Now add to that the well-known behavior of oil on gun parts as a debris magnet, attracting sand, dirt, dust and debris, and it becomes pretty obvious that “CLP” type products used at the very outset help create future incidences of stoppages and firearms failure. Locksmiths learned this a long time ago – lubricate a lock mechanism with an oily lube and the lube itself immediately becomes a debris magnet, causing lock mechanisms to gum up, clog and stop working … a direct parallel to “CLP” type formulas’ effect on gun parts.

There is a reason that one of the world’s most valued, precision-engineered, volume-made pistols – SIG SAUER – are made with synthetic grease during the assembly of tightly-fitted, heavy wear gun parts. Experience has proven that firearms that have a preliminary treatment with synthetic grease (TW25B® to be exact) perform more reliably, with less frequent maintenance than firearms treated with inferior lubricants.

What we’re saying is simple. If you’re serious about getting optimal performance from your firearms, separate the “C” work from the “L-P” work. Clean the gun well with one of the more newly formulated enzymatic gun cleaners … focus first on preparing metal surfaces properly for the follow-on work — the lubricating and protecting part. Gun cleaners like MIL-COMM’s MC25 and more agressive MC50 out-clean any “CLP” type formulation.

Then get the “Lubricate” and “Protect” part right by polishing a synthethic, light grease into the metal wear parts (slides, rails, etc) and the bore. Synthetic light grease like TW25B hangs around metal parts a lot longer than gun oil, and MIL-COMM grease will actually repel sand, dirt, dust and firing debris.    

Is it worth touching your guns twice? Separating the “C” from the “L-P” work? Cleaning first, then lubricating? Well the resulting benefits to you include likely fewer stoppages and more “fire-ready” reliability; the extended life of gun parts; six to ten times more rounds fired between cleaning; increased muzzle velocity and a more accurate round (because synthetic light grease applied to the bore smooths out the mircoscopic imperfections of the bore-metal, creating a more perfect trajectory).       

Cleaning and lubricating your gun in separate steps will actually prove to be a time-saver for you, because doing the maintenance in that sequence will absolutely, positively give you a lot more shooting with a lot less cleaning.  

What else did Dad always say?  No such thing as a free lunch!




For too many years, and for too many firearm owners, cleaning was about using toxic chemicals with noxious fumes, applied by aggressively scrubbing metal surfaces with damaging bronze brushes, and alike. The end result was the need to repeat the process over and over, because as the shooting event created and attracted more fouling, which accumulated, you would have to clean again to free the surface of debris. That made sense back then since there weren’t many alternatives.
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