Keeping Your Weapon Clean: Military Gun Oil

Silhouetted soldiers carrying weapons moving away from helicopter while on deployment in a dessert environment.

Raphye Alexiu / Getty Images

Keeping your weapon clean in the combat zone is crucial. Your life could depend on it. It’s an even more arduous challenge in the desert with blowing dust and sand.

During your deployment, you’ll clean your weapon at least once a day if you leave the wire. If you never leave the base, you’ll still pack it everywhere you go and need to clean it at least once a week for inspections.

If you’re anything like many soldiers, the only thing worse than cleaning their weapon is shinning their boots. However, here is a very easy and efficient weapon cleaning technique that has been used with great success during tours in Iraq.

Stateside Equipment Needed

While still home, go to Wal-Mart or your local Sporting Goods Store and get a .22 caliber bore snake. This is simply a rope with one end being the exact size of the M16’s barrel. At the other end is a lead weight that you insert through the receiver and down through the barrel.

Just put a little oil on the thick end of the rope and pull it through. Always remember to only pull the way the bullet travels, even though it wouldn’t hurt the barrel with a soft bore snake, it’s just a good habit to get into.

Post Exchange Equipment to Buy

Then when you get to Kuwait—on your way up to Iraq or Afghanistan—or as you head toward any dessert deployment, hit the PX and buy four products. Some of these items you can also buy from online retailers such as Amazon.

The first is a product called Simple Green Decreasing Wipes. They come in a plastic container that looks like baby wipes. These are used when the weapon is really dirty. It’ll clean up that nasty mud in a quick fashion. Two of these tubs of wipes should last until you go on leave. Unless of course, you’re Infantry or particular about your weapon, in that case, I’d recommend getting three tubs.

The rest of the products I’m going to recommend should be bought individually because they can be resupplied at the post exchanges (PXs) in Iraq and you’re going to have more than enough to carry as it is.

The second product is canned air—the brand doesn’t matter—like you use to clean your computer keyboard. This is wonderful for getting that desert sand and dust out of the tight spots of your weapon, as well as your laptop, iPod, or any other electronics you bring with you. You’re going to go through a lot of this stuff but don’t worry, nearly all the PXs carry it.

Next, look for something called Tuf-Glide by Sentry. It is a small bottle of special oil with a needle dispenser. The needle allows you to get just the right amount of oil just where you need it.

Caution, do not use Rem-Oil, WD-40 or even that military-issued CLP as it does nothing but attract sand. This is a great product to carry with you and administer just a drop in those receiver holes throughout the mission if you’re seeing a lot of action. This really makes a big difference in the reliability of your M16.

The final product is Tuf-Cloth by Sentry. These are lightweight rags in Ziploc bags. This is the final step in desert weapon cleaning. Use it to wipe down the individual parts before reassembling your rifle. It applies a beautiful coat of that good oil that won’t attract dust to your weapon, knife, or any other metal products.


When the Tuf-Cloth rags start to dry out, just apply a little of that Tuf-Glide oil directly to them in the bag and they’ll come right back to life. One of these should last six months if you keep it sealed. When you buy a new one, take the old rag and store it in the magazine well of your M16 while on base to keep out the sand and dust.

By following basic weapon maintenance and using these four products as instructed, your weapon will always fire when needed and always pass the First Sergeant’s inspection, regardless of how nasty he may be. Best of all, this technique is quick and easy.