September 2012

Three-Way Gun-Protectant Test

Although our test is not definitive, we concluded that while Fluid Film offered excellent protection for a while, we’d prefer to use S&W’s Premium Lubricant & Protectant on our guns.

We have several times tested oils in a simple comparison to see which offers better protection against rust than the others. We’ve run this test with several ancient and modern fluids by the simple expedient of grinding off a piece of steel, marking off areas on it, anointing each area with different oils or greases, and letting the steel bar sit outdoors for days or weeks to rust. After a week or two we generally apply some salt to make the test somewhat tougher.

Tiger, the “grandson” of Elmer Keith, looks suspicious of the Fluid Film next to Ray Ordorica’s Colt CCO. Will this new oil keep rust away?

A manufacturer’s representative read our most recent report (July 2010) and offered to put his product, “Fluid Film,” to our test. The product is made by Eureka Chemical Co. We received a sample in an aerosol spray can holding 11.75 oz. The product is labeled as a penetrant and lubricant, and is supposed to give long-lasting rust and corrosion protection. The product is wool-wax based, which is lanolin. In addition to its penetrating and lubricating qualities, it is claimed to not harm paints, plastic, or synthetic rubbers.

We have no good or simple way of evaluating the lubricating qualities of the products we test. But we can see if they prevent rust. We sprayed some of this on a controlled area of our steel bar, and then sprayed a proven past performer next to it. This was Smith & Wesson’s “Premium Lubricant and Protectant” in the cartridge-shaped can. We put a third product we’d never tested before against them both. This third product has cleaned and protected guns for longer than most of us have been alive, and we wanted to see how well it actually worked in a nasty environment. This third product was Hoppe’s No. 9 solvent. We left a fourth segment bare as a control.

After a week or two of light rain, the first two areas were essentially pristine. Area 1 is protected with Fluid Film. Area 2 is another aerosol, S&W’s Premium Lubricant and Protectant. Area 3 was swabbed with Hoppe’s No. 9, and Area 4 is the unprotected control.

After putting each product on the steel bar we placed the bar outdoors in the weather for about two weeks, during which time we had very little rain. Mostly, we had some condensation from temperature changes from night to day, which in the Idaho mountains can be extreme.

As expected, the bare spot rusted almost immediately. Then the Hoppe’s No. 9 area showed some spotting, but neither of the spray-on areas with S&W Lube and Fluid Film showed the slightest traces of rust. The S&W-protected area showed just the slightest bit of uniform discoloration, which never got any different no matter how long the bar was outside.

Left: Area 1, sprayed with Fluid Film, showed some serious rusting after a light application of salt. Area 2, protected by S&W’s Premium Lubricant and Protectant, was unharmed. Hoppe’s No. 9 permitted only light rust in Area 3, and the control, Area 4, was badly corroded. We’d pick S&W’s spray lube and also would thank our lucky stars if we had Hoppe’s No. 9 in the bore of a gun we’d left out overnight.

We then lightly sprinkled the entire area with salt. After another week with some good rain, we found the Hoppe’s No. 9 area uniformly but lightly rusted. The Fluid Film area had some serious-looking rusty spots, and the S&W area was just like it had been before, unchanged with no rust.

Our Team Said: Although our crude test is by no means definitive, we concluded that while Fluid Film offered excellent protection for a while, we’d prefer to use S&W’s Premium Lubricant & Protectant on a gun that might be left outdoors in the rain. We thought it was instructive that the Hoppe’s No. 9 area rusted only lightly, which means the surface underneath could be rather easily repaired. We would guess a blued gun would most likely have its bluing damaged, but at the least, a gun with Hoppe’s No. 9 in its bore would not immediately go to rust, as would an unprotected one.

Gun Tests Report Card