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Gunlube For The Masses: Red Oil

Gunlube For The Masses: Red Oil

Decades ago, I spent some time at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit Small Arms shop outside an Air Guard base in Nashville, Tenn., learning to make old Government Model pistols shoot tiny little groups. These guns were tightly fitted and required lots of lubrication to function reliably.

The resident gunsmiths at NGMTU tended to be Old School types who made their own tools and custom parts. Scattered around on the workbenches among the vises, files, hammers and general gunsmith paraphernalia were small plastic bottles of red lubricant we used as a general purpose gun oil while we fitted parts and lubed complete guns.

John Browning's finest creation seemed to thrive on this Red Oil as did the High Standard .22s, S&W 52s and other target pistols hanging around. A quart of gun oil will last most people 20 years or more. This recipe makes enough for you and four or five of your friends, so don't be stingy with it. Share the wealth.

The ingredients are as close as your nearest auto parts store. I keep a quart under my work bench and two or three small bottles are positioned at strategic locations around the shop. Take a bottle to hunting camp to wipe down those old deer-slayers when they come in out of the rain. Amaze your friend when you show him that his Remington 742 Woodsblaster actually functions better lubricated than bone dry. This sticky red stuff is the SKS of gun lubes. Cheap and effective. An oil for the masses. Enjoy.

Red Oil recipe:

3 quarts automatic transmission fluid (red F type)

1 quart 10W or 30W non-detergent motor oil

1 pint STP oil treatment

4 ounces Hoppe's #9

Red Oil

The basic ingredients of Red Oil. Considering the size of this Hoppe's bottle, you might think Norcross uses a lot of it. You would be correct.

Red Oil

A plastic squeeze bottle of Red Oil is one of the most-used items on Norcross' bench. It's something that can be made in quantity at a low price.


Norcross says 1911s seem to thrive on this red stuff. Don't forget the rails. If you clean a lot of guns, this is a great way to cut your lubricant bill.

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