Severe Problems With Vickers Tactical FireClean Video

Over the weekend, I posted an article which showed the results of some infrared spectroscopy tests comparing FireClean and two types of Crisco cooking oils. I was not expecting the firestorm of controversy that has erupted.

However, none of that controversy matters.

It doesn’t matter if FireClean is pure canola oil or a mixture of astroglide and peanut butter.

I made a discovery which calls into question any claim or statement made by FireClean as a company and Ed and Dave Sugg as individuals. As for Larry Vickers… did he have knowledge of this? Which is worse, him knowing, or him not knowing?

Some people – a lot of people – are probably rolling their eyes right now. Well, check this out.

On December 26, 2014, Vickers Tactical uploaded a video to YouTube called “FireClean Lube Test.” I watched this video in its entirety for the first time today. In the video, the Sugg brothers are interviewed by Larry Vickers about their product. Larry then proceeds to shoot a Beretta M9 and a BCM carbine with three different configurations:

– Dry (no lube)
– CLP
– FireClean

The weapons were reportedly cleaned between each firing.

The video purports to show minimal amounts of smoke coming from the firearms when dry and lubricated with CLP, but excessive amounts of smoke when lubricated with FireClean. The smoke, we are told, is carbon being pushed away from the weapon by the super effective FireClean formulation, which is composed of (redacted).

Now, Vickers Tactical has some awesome cameras and production equipment of which I am quite jealous. Don’t get me wrong, I have nice stuff. But I don’t have something that shoots high speed frame rates in 1080p, like Vickers Tactical. That’s the sort of equipment I enjoy seeing in use, especially when firearms are the subject, and I am likely to rewind and watch several times in order to see things I missed.

Things like this.

Beretta M9, dry, PPU headstamp
Beretta M9, dry, brass colored primer, PPU headstamp

This is a screenshot of the Beretta M9 being fired, dry, at approximately 5 minutes and 30 seconds into the video. It shows minimal smoke and a 9mm case with a PPU headstamp and a brass colored primer being ejected from the firearm.

PPU 9MM LUGER
PPU 9MM LUGER

After some discussion, the Beretta is fired again with CLP applied. This can be found at about 7 minutes into the video.

Beretta M9, CLP, PPU headstamp, brass colored primer, shiny projectile likely FMJ
Beretta M9, CLP, PPU headstamp, brass colored primer, what appears to be a shiny projectile, likely FMJ

Again we see a PPU case with a brass primer ejecting. There is a little more smoke and we are told it is because of the CLP. We can see the projectile of the subsequent round and it appears to be shiny, as we would expect a factory FMJ projectile to be.

Finally, at approximately 8 minutes and 30 seconds, Larry fires the M9 again, this time having been cleaned and lubricated with FireClean. Immediately upon ejection, the spent case emits quite a lot of smoke – much more than the previous two rounds. And then the case spins around and the headstamp comes into view…

Beretta M9, FireClean, Cor-Bon case, nickel colored primer
Beretta M9, FireClean, Cor-Bon case, nickel colored primer

That is a different colored primer. More than that, it’s a Cor-Bon 9mm Luger +P headstamp.

COR-BON 9MM LUGER +P
COR-BON 9MM LUGER +P

And when the projectile of the subsequent round comes into view, we can see that it has a more matte finish, as we would expect, say, a copper plated bullet to have (if you’re not a handloader, the projectile differences may not be as apparent to you). Alternately it could be a DPX bullet which is used by Cor-Bon in its +P line.

Cor-Bon case. Nickel primer, with a little more space between the primer and the case than the PPU. Super smoky powder. Possibly a plated bullet.

I’ll bet you four bottles of FireClean that was a factory +P Cor-Bon load; +P loads being hotter and having more powder than standard, bargain ammunition like Prvi Partizan. Barring that, it was a handload, with a smoky powder selected for maximum effect.

I have major concerns with the rifle ammunition used in the BCM carbine as well, but due to the design of the AR, the depth of field of the camera, and the length of the 5.56 case, my suppositions would be much harder to prove. Still, the pistol evidence is so overwhelming as to make the rifle almost irrelevant.

Whether it was a handload or a factory Cor-Bon round, it is indisputable that the cartridge fired for the FireClean demonstration was significantly different than the cartridges fired for the dry gun and CLP demonstrations.

Indisputable differences.
Indisputable differences.


No factory Prvi Partizan (made in Serbia) ammunition would ship with a random Cor-Bon (not made in Serbia) case and a different primer.

No honest person with a basic understanding of the scientific method would use handloaded or +P ammunition in a comparison with standard pressure bargain priced ammunition if the comparison was meant to show differences between lubricants and their effect on how much smoke comes out of the chamber during firing.

Smoke after firing is put forth as evidence of a cleaner gun. The cleaner gun concept is central to the ethos of FireClean; it’s even their URL. Different ammunition was selected for the FireClean portion of the demonstration to give the appearance of more smoke and thus a cleaner gun.

As I said at the beginning, the “FireClean Is or Is Not a Common Vegetable Oil Used for Cooking” controversy matters not. All the information required to judge the integrity of statements made by FireClean is contained in that Vickers Tactical video.

 

84 thoughts on “Severe Problems With Vickers Tactical FireClean Video”

  1. Awesome, man. I remember laughing out loud when a hacker named Starbug used a camera to clone a politicians fingerprints.

    But this is much more entertaining to me. Good use of HD video^^

    Thanks for your dilligence!

  2. How is that supposed to work? Smoke means carbon is leaving the gun? Um….. huh? Because my first thought is smoke = bad because it means something is burning. So is there a super scientific and hard to understand explanation for why smoke would be a good thing and why it means carbon is being pushed away from the gun? I just always thought more smoke meant more carbon because more things are burning and carbon is burnt remnants of things….

    1. The idea is this: If you shoot the same rounds out of a gun, they both produce the same amount of carbon fouling. If the lube you use makes more fouling leave (in the form of smoke) that means less carbon is left that can build up inside. The video shows the FireClean-ed gun with more smoke leaving. The problem is they used different ammo for the FireClean gun, making the test completely irrelevant and the makers of the video liars.

      1. The problem with claiming more smoke = less carbon deposits is that the smoke is likely from the lubricant burning off. It’s possible to have more smoke *and* more carbon deposits, even if the test was scientific.

    2. When I went through the police academy (admittedly in the late 70s), we fired .38 caliber reloads that were VERY SMOKY. If the theory that gunsmoke = a cleaner gun were true, we wouldn’t have spend hours cleaning our pistols. I’ve always understood smoke to indicate a slower, burning powder which will leave more carbon and gunk to clean. Most modern ammo has fast burning (cleaner) powder. My knee jerk reaction it that the Cor Bon case was reloaded.

      1. I have some old Cor-Bon “Pow’r Ball” 9mm +P that is super dirty, and anything shorter than a G19 shoots burning chunks of propellant from the muzzle. Doesn’t necessarily mean this is a factory load in the video, but I would believe it.

  3. So… Either LV cannot tell the difference between +P and Std. P, or he is not familiar with the scientific method (or truth in advertising).

  4. At face value, the criticism regarding the “science” used in the referenced video, seems to be quite valid. You cannot call something science, and claim a cause & effect relationship between two identified variables, when you have failed to isolate even the most basic of relevant variables. I certainly welcome more scientific information from either side.

  5. FireClean has responded, but they refute nothing from this post or the other. They basically just say:

    “blah blah blah, support our troops, freedom, America.” and if you didn’t believe them when they said “freedom. America” they followed it up with proof.. Veiled threats of lawsuits. The American way!

    1. The above comments had portions deleted due to HTML problems.

      The intention was a sarcastic swipe at the “LAV”, not the author or respondents.

      Sorry for any confusion this may have caused.

  6. I don’t have a dog in this fight but I posted that it was ok to use crisco, just be honest about it, on their FB page. they deleted the comment. apparently, the only thing allowed on their page is 100% support for their product and you should give them all your money now.
    I wouldn’t use that stuff if you paid me to.

  7. The rifle “test” is very easy to explain. They applied the oil to the bolt and carrier, and then fired a single round. Disassembly introduced oxygen, and the application of FireClean introduced oil.

    The bolt and carrier are a piston and cylinder, respectively, and when hot gasses are introduced (through the gas port-tube-key), into a closed environment containing oxygen and oil, the process and products of combustion can be seen.

    The additional products of combustion seen venting from the carrier’s exhaust ports are exactly what you think they are: FireClean burning off following exposure to a high temperature and pressure environment. Given that canola oil smokes at around 400*F, the video makes perfect sense.

    Subsequent shots, where the carrier is already filled with mostly inert gasses and much of the lubricant has had a chance to cook off, should show a lower volume of products of combustion.

    Though all that is largely irrelevant. Lubricant used in any machine needs to resist the operating temperatures involved. If the lubricant is burning off, then it won’t be there to do its job.

  8. LAV’s response will be that he had nothing to do with administering the firearms used in the video, and that he didn’t notice the +P round when firing the pistol, because of all the production related distractions.

    Even though this statement tarnishes his image as a firearms expert/operator/trainer he has to say it to avoid being labeled a fraud.

    Then, to try and sure up his firearms expert/operator/trainer status, he’ll tell his doubters (as he always does) to “check his resume”. Unfortunately for him, his involvement in this video is part of that resume.

  9. Who really cares how much damn smoke comes out of the firearm after a round is fired. Biggest thing about cleaning a weapon is how easy is it to clean after it’s fired. Does Fireclean make it easier to clean than CLP? Does Fireclean offer better lubrication during firing than CLP? Those are the things that we should be worried about rather than debating on how much smoke comes out of anything after firing. We’re not talking black powder here. The whole less smoke thing is a marketing gimmick and nothing more.

    1. I agree, but I think you missed the point; they are claiming that Fireclean is a superior product because it produces more smoke AND that the smoke is not the oil burning but rather the carbon being magically flung away from the gun.

    2. Yeah, as unbelievable as it may seem, they are actually trying to say that more smoke is better. LOL

      However, Andrew’s point wasn’t about the quantity of smoke, it was that the test appears to be rigged.

  10. More smoke with Fireclean doesn’t mean that less carbon is being deposited on the gun. It just means that their low temperature lubricant is burning off.

  11. I think the gun community needs more investigative journalism. For to long, forum hearsay has become the de facto standard on product quality when it’s often only based in inferred and biased reasoning (because they spent their money on it and must defend it). It’s really sad what this has all come to. People paying a mark up on vegetable oil and gumming up their guns with it.

    1. I agree, but this situation is symptomatic of the screwy AR-15 culture that dictates if you don’t have the newest trendy thing or the most expensive thing you suck. How did a gun culture, full of ex-military and gun enthusiasts of both genders get to be more similar to women’s fashion or high school drama than any other sport?? Sad…

    2. I agree 100%, Guy.

      I think the most untested yet often repeated conventional wisdom of the firearms industry is that cold hammer forged barrels are superior to button rifled barrels. Everyone says this is true, yet I’ve never seen anyone site quantifiable proof.

      To me, anything that can’t be measured has no value. It’s just marketing hype at that point.

      1. WRT cold hammer forged barrels:

        Hammer forging for rifling barrels really “took off” in wartime europe, because it could make use of existing heavy industry (especially the kind that fed the early-war German war machine) to produce good enough barrels very fast. And it does that very well, it lets you make “good enough” barrels, cheaply and extremely consistently. This is a great thing for MG barrels (where good enough is good enough, and in wartime production you probably want a lot of barrels), or for modern pistol barrels (where the stresses in the barrels are largely irrelevant, due to short length and that pistols are seldom shot very far anyway).

        Unfortunately, “cold hammer forged” barrels will never shoot as well as a cut rifled or button rifled barrel. The process produces stresses in the barrel through work hardening, and does so much moreso than any other manufacturing process. Barrels may be extremely straight and concentric when cold, but upon heating they will deflect more than barrels rifled through other methods will. The claim that the stresses “are uniform” is pure BS. My own personal hypothesis regarding at least part of the G36’s claimed accuracy problems (POI shift when hot, wandering zero when hot) is that this is the case, especially on such a thin barrel.

        Most of the reason these barrels are talked up for rifles is because as a result of the wartime production and the resulting massive shift in weapon manufacturing culture in post-war Europe, other rifling methods fell into disuse as being “small time” so to speak. In the face of superior heavy industry, obviously the shop-level process that is cut rifling has to be less effective, right? And so hammer forged barrels are marketed as superior, with no regard for the fact that the barrels are /inferior/ to cut or button rifled barrels produced by equally quality firms. This is borne out by the scarcity of CHF barrels in the benchrest and varmint worlds.

      2. Not all CHF barrels are made equal. I have no proof, but I’d gather that an Austrian CHF barrel far exceeds the quality of the CHF barrels made here in the US. Some things are still considered trade secrets.

        1. They don’t really. That’s marketing. There are processes that produce better barrels, but those are processes that aren’t CHF.

          Echoing WedelJ, it’s a metallurgy thing. There’s some things you simply can’t change (this is one of them), and there’s very little untrod territory in the realm of processes used for the forming of metals, and if they really were better, you’d see benchresters and gunsmiths for benchrest and varmint guns shooting them and building them. There’s big money in it, and unfortunately big marketing and big snake oil too.

    3. “Investigative journalism”? Like the “journalism” provided by all of the dead-tree media about how awesomely reliable the Remington R51 was?

      1. The Remington R51 was an old gun re-released as “new” and it couldn’t hang with the modern designs of today. That’s it. I have no idea what issues they actually had with them other than the YT’rs who claimed it was never reliable. I think it was more a “design” issue than the fault of the QC and that was simply a mistake in cost-benefit analysis on behalf of Remington. They tried to bring something old and brand it as “new” to the market, got an immediate negative backlash because it wasn’t good and then pulled it. Nothing there was “investigative”, it was just a bunch of whining forum goers circle-jerking how awful the gun was when 99% of them never shot one.

        1. Hmmm, that sounds an awful lot like what goes on every day in AR forums about every possible add-on, but most annoyingly with optics. EOtech sucks, you need a Triji…blah, blah, blah

        2. The original 51 was a fine pistol. A friend of mine (and I mean in real life, not on a forum) actually owns an original and shoots it. Never had any problems like the R51 had. The R51 fired out of battery (look up MAC on YouTube for video). Maybe if one guy had that happen it would be a fluke or lemon, but everyone who shot one had the same experience. I don’t believe in coincidences that large.

  12. What company doesn’t rig their tests? They want the business and your money. I really do find the whole more smoke thing funny. The only time more smoke should be advertised as a good thing would be for smoking meats in my opinion.

  13. If I recall the basics of fire science, smoke is the result of incomplete combustion, the more smoke the lesser amount of fuel is being consumed efficiently. The more complete combustion of fuel will result in lesser amounts of smoke. Advertising gimmicks don’t alter the basic scientific principles do they?

  14. If you really want your spectroscopic experiment to prove anything, you need to repeat it with many other brands as controls to show that other brands, CLP, FP-10, Hoppes, Froglube, etc…are any different than the Fireclean. All oils are just that and share many of the same components and properties. All a spectroscopy shows is the chemical makeup of a substance. So all you’ve done is show that, like vegetable oil, Fireclean is an oil. Woohoo! Now prove that other gun oils are different. Then you will have done some real science.

    1. As TFB’s article’s link showed (see below), the spectroscopy data for FireClean and Vegetable oils are a lot closer to eachother than to other common lubricants and fluids, in my opinion sufficiently different from then, and sufficiently similar to eachother, to indicate that there’s likely little to no adulterants in FireClean separating it from vegetable oil.

      http://www.jascoinc.com/docs/application-notes/IR_03_03.pdf

      P.S. – I may post a youtube video in the near future of myself frying pancakes and frybread in FireClean, if I can scrape enough wasteable cash to buy overpriced vegetable oil.

  15. You’ll probably want to hire a good lawyer who is an expert in defending clients against charges of libel. Good luck and let us know how it all turns out.

  16. Whether a +P round or not, I know for a fact that Fireclean does produce more smoke during shooting. At least with a suppressor. Though I do not personally believe it is the fouling that is going out the barrel, but most likely the oil smoking, or something like that. I have used Fireclean on an AAC Ti-rant. I pulled the entire thing apart, and lubed it up. On the first shot, it smoked like crazy. Had I done a test with one round like was done in the video spoken of above, it would show that it may indeed spit out a bunch of the carbon and other junk that fouls up a gun during shooting. However, we shot a whole magazine through it. The first shot had the most smoke, then it dwindled quite a bit after that. After maybe 5 shots, the smoke level was on par with a regular shooting.
    I have noticed that with putting oil in a suppressor, the first few shots are more smokey than all the others. Fireclean is more smokey right off the bat than other gun oils that I have used. But after a few shots, it’s just like the others. So their claim that it’s more smokey because it gets rid of all of the junk in the gun, to me at least, is a bit off. Your mileage may vary.

  17. Just get some military lube (widely available) for a lot cheaper and burn some rounds down-range. I like machine gun lube for my SIG M11-A1 and it’s just fine.

  18. This is far from the first time I have seen something of this nature. It becomes easy to catch when you are in the industry. One that comes to mind is this video from Ted Nugent.

    https://youtu.be/GmfLZ4TnW7E

    At 1:49 he has a pretty clear FTF and they just edit away and make believe it never happened. So much for a perfect 10 (I have found 10mm to run without issue in 1911’s I made…but those were single stack :-/ )

    https://youtu.be/ATpeX3XBuuw

    This is a heavily edited video showing some hard to even see Russian hardware. To this day I have been unable to find slow motion video of the the action of a two round burst of an AN-94 (if anyone can find some I would love to see it). I am pretty sure the Russian government asked to not show that footage. The FTX/double feed also was heavily cut out as it would show just how overly complicated that firearm is.

    1. LAV had a video in the last few months detailing the AN-94 action. I’m sure it’s up on his YouTube channel – it was fascinating, and super unreliable.

    1. The first two rounds were consistent with PPU factory ammunition in terms of appearance and primer pocket/primer fit.

      The last round looked quite like it had had the primer pocket swaged pretty thoroughly.

      I’m not buying it.

      1. Yeah, it’s bullshit.

        Their press release was a study in logical fallacies.

        They’re on damage control. They’re going to turtle up, and threaten people with legal action. Libel my ass.

        They don’t have shit. They’re on a sinking ship doing Chinese fire drills.

        Fuck ’em.

        And Mr. Tuohy: good catch, and good work!

      2. Reloading mixed brass? Sure. Even though as you said the first two rounds LOOK like factory PPU. Nobody reloads with mixed primers. That doesn’t even make sense.

  19. I am glad you published this. I have spent way too much money on gun oil. I do not need the newest, greatest thing, but I do have some pricey historic firearms which I want to take proper care of. I tried one brand last year, only to discover that it turns to some kind of goo in freezing weather. I do not buy the smoke argument. I think the lube is burning off. That is not a big deal with a pistol, but could be a disaster with a class 3 firearm.

  20. Could you please test Brian Enos’s slide glide next? I suspect it is actually Lucas Oil’s Red-N-Tacky grease or Permatex’s Engine Assembly lube just re-packaged.

    1. Brownells’ MSDS for Slide Glide makes it pretty clear that it’s repackaged A.T.B. Bicycle Chain Lube, which can be bought in bicycle shops for 2-3 bucks an oz. Enos apparently slaps a different label on it and hawks it for twice the price (and apparently has been doing so for a decade or more). At any rate, the components aren’t anything special. Something something nothing new under the sun…

      http://www.brownells.com/userdocs/MSDS/100-004-080_SLIDE%20GLIDE%20STANDARD%20LUBRICANT%20-%2003G_default.pdf

      1. Interesting. I’ve been using it for almost a decade and like it a lot. Twice the price isn’t a huge markup though considering that there are more people looking for bicycle chain grease than specialty gun grease – and especially considering the 100x markup that appears to relate FireClean to vegetable oils used for cooking. I will look into it though.

        1. IIRC, you live in AZ — you could probably find some A.T.B. locally, as the company is based out of Mesa.

          At least it has an anti-wear additive (zinc), but so do most lithium/calcium greases (not sure which to classify it as, considering it seems to contain both–under “thickener” it states lithium, however).

          BTW, not sure of the extent of the results from the IR spectroscopy of FireClean, but presence of phosphorus or zinc means it has anti-wear additives, absence of them means it’s (likely) just a mix of oils. I don’t know what other additives they could have used that aren’t toxic.

          If that wasn’t part of the spectroscopy (I’m not very familiar with them), you could ship some of it off to a place like Blackstone Labs and find out for 25 bucks. Probably not worth the money… I think I know the answer.

          At any rate, keep up the good work!

  21. Great stuff man. Seriously. And good for you for not backing down…and for calling BS where you see it.

    Frankly, I just don’t get anyone who buys something due to a celebrity endorsement. Folks, you do know these folks are almost always compensated in some way…right?

    1. Compensated!!! Haha…they are bought and paid for. Do you know how many thousands, if not millions these fucktards have made off of honest working Joes like me and you??

  22. A classic Vuurwapen blog test would be to take two idential AR’s and lube one with Fire Clean and the other with Crisco. Perform a battery to tests with a control ammunition and see how each does. If there is any real difference, it should show. If they’re identical, then if you ever run out of CLP you can run down to the chow hall and get yourself some at least emergency lube. Granted I don’t know how lard would do compared to Crisco.

  23. LAV is now claiming on his Facebook page (the post about the training certificate) that the ammo was Freedom Munitions reman. I’ve shot about 10,000 rounds of that stuff and I’ve never seen a nickel colored primer. LOL He keeps digging himself a bigger hole. Fireclean hasn’t said anything. They’ve probably been advised by someone smart to keep quiet. LAV on the other hand… not so much.

    1. I’m leaning towards him being an innocent victim. The Suggs would be obsequious around him and since they were apparently the ones cleaning the guns between shots (according to the LAV in the video), they were probably the ones loading his mags.

      1. If he is an innocent victim then why doesn’t he just say that instead of creating a dubious cover story like we used Freedom Munitions reman? Someone could easily contact Freedom Munitions and ask them the odds of getting a nickel colored primer in their 9mm reman. I certainly haven’t seen it before.

    2. LAV also claimed in the same post that this whole thing was started by a competitor who is also a neo-nazi. WTF is that all about? (I mean, besides Vickers trying to avoid the real issue..) Andrew, yer not a jackbooted romper-stomper on the weekends are ya? 😉

      1. No, George fennell has SS lightning bolt tattoos on his right arm. That’s why I called his product weaponSShield. Although I think now that they might be a reference to a biker bar in California that burned down in the 90s. I was watching the first season of x files the other day and saw a guy with an SS lighting bolt t shirt. I was like “what the hell” and Googled the name of the bar. The shirts are now sold as “zz biker bar shirts” for like 100 bucks since as I said the bar burned down about 20 years ago. The logo was supposedly because they were all about freedom of expression and sticking it to the man, man! Fennell looks like an old wannabe badass biker dude. That’s the only alternative explanation I can come up with. It’s either that or he is selling weaponSShield to fund the return of the fourth reich.

  24. Man, I would love to be able to reference your info in a video to shut up some of the people still supporting this product.

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