One of the oldest penetrating oils is WD 40, perfect for metal squeaks, loosening seized equipment, and even driving out moisture. However, Cleaning Your Guns With WD 40 is it even possible? It would seem as though a penetrating oil with a history of over 65 years would be the best gun cleaning oil out there.
Given the history and the secret formulation, no one really knows for sure what’s inside the WD 40 can beside the company itself. However, with a product designed for lubricating metal in the aircraft industry. One would assume that it has to work for firearms as well, but we’ll explain why this may be a misconception.
Penetrating Oil History –
When WD 40 was invented in the early 1950’s in San Diego, California its intention was for it to be a water displacement formula, “WD” for short. The intent was for it to be used by Convair to protect the Atlas missile from rust and corrosion. It wasn’t until the late 50’s that the WD 40 company made it available to consumers. Because of the numerous household applications for it. What made this product so useful to households and early firearm owners was that it came in an aerosol can. Nothing on the market was offered with such a feature making it quite easy to aim the penetrating oil and specific spots and locations.
Due to that ability, the airline companies started using the product as well in the mid 60’s to help prevent rust build up and clean airplane parts on numerous aircrafts. What made it so easy for the aircraft mechanics was the ability to spray the formula to tough to reach spots.
Penetrating Oil Function –
To give WD 40 the ability to be used in an aerosol can, the oil has to be diluted with hydrocarbon. Which gives it the low viscosity needed when using an aerosol can. Therefore, once sprayed the hydrocarbon evaporates, leaving only the oil behind. However, because of the low viscosity, WD 40 is not always the best lubricant. Therefore, this is why gun owners and gunsmiths started to use motor oils because it left a higher viscosity oil behind. Hence, allowing a gun to not have to be oiled quite as often. This also led to more solvents, oils, penetrating oils being specifically manufactured for the firearms industry.
Cleaning Your Guns With WD 40 –
Of course, nowadays everyone seems to have a can of WD 40 laying around and has used it to remove a rusted bolt or maybe to fix a squeaky door hinge. However, the formula wasn’t designed to clean a firearm properly. WD 40’s penetrating oil doesn’t have the correct amount of penetrating power and oil built into the formula. Using a gun solvent that is designed specifically for firearms can be found here. If you haven’t read our article on [over cleaning your gun], you’ll understand if you don’t clean your firearm with high-quality solvents, you can easily damage the rifling of any handgun or rifle.
Now don’t get me wrong if I was in a bind, or way out in the woods with nothing but a can of WD 40 and a gun about to seize up. You bet I’ll be using WD 40 it will definitely do the trick for when you’re in a bind. I would advise though using it routinely, especially in colder temperatures is going to cause some issues. It says it can operate in temperatures as low as -60°, but it just doesn’t have the high viscosity oil needed to keep a firearm lubricated at those temperatures.