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.

 

Infrared Spectroscopy of FireClean and Crisco Oils

If you have been on the internet and have visited a sampling of firearm related blogs or social media sites in the last few weeks, you have most likely come across reports or claims that FireClean is nothing more than Crisco vegetable oil. I had heard it from two people in the industry whom I respect around the same time it started being mentioned all over the place (I had previously been aware that it was a food grade oil, but did not know anything more than that).

The first real attention-grabber was this video, which has since been removed. It showed FireClean and Crisco vegetable oil smoking and burning off at the same time on a stovetop (my friend Brett replicated this test and saw the same results). Still, this wasn’t the sort of conclusive proof that would sway me one way or the other. It’s possible that two oils could have the same smoke point and not share other properties.

I did not – and still do not – believe that FireClean is Crisco, but not for the reason you might think. Although such statements make for shocking arguments, it wouldn’t really make sense to buy a name brand product at a high price if the goal was to resell and make money.

Still, the claim that FireClean is nothing more than Crisco is not one to be taken lightly by anyone – not by consumers and certainly not by the company. I spoke at length with one of the makers of FireClean, Ed Sugg, and he assured me that not a single drop of Crisco has ever been part of their formulation, even during initial testing with various mixtures. Interestingly enough, he specifically mentioned that soybean oil had not been part of their testing.

Despite these assurances, which I was inclined to believe, I sought to undertake my own testing to determine whether or not these claims are true about FireClean. Trust, but verify.

I also contacted the man who seems to have originated the “FireClean is Crisco” claim. George Fennell of WeaponShield posted on his personal Facebook page that FireClean was Crisco several weeks back (I am told that this has been removed, but I cannot view his Facebook page any more).

It was claimed by various people, including the guy who first posted that now-removed stovetop video, that he had scientific proof of this claim. I asked Mr. Fennell if he would provide a copy of the analysis, which he refused to do. He told me all I needed to do was look at FireClean’s patent application to see that it was Crisco and/or other vegetable oils. When I asked again, rather politely in my opinion, he sent a very long and agitated message again refusing to supply the test before blocking me on Facebook.

Mr. Fennell was the developer of FP-10, a gun oil which, I should mention, I have recommended in the past and said I would purchase over FireClean for reasons of cost. He has since left the company which produces FP-10 and started at WeaponShield. Since then, he has criticized FP-10 as well as FireClean and other oils. I will reiterate that FP-10 provides excellent lubrication characteristics at a competitive price, if you’re looking to buy a gun oil.

But the question of the day is about FireClean and Crisco. There was clearly only one way to settle this, and that was to engage in some science.

I contacted a professor at the University of Arizona – a very nice man with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry – and he agreed to help with an infrared spectroscopy test of FireClean and two types of Crisco.

Two types, you ask? Not generally using anything other than olive oil in my cooking, I was somewhat surprised to find a wall of various types of cooking oils at my local grocery store. There were two types of Crisco oils prominently featured in the display – Pure Vegetable, and Pure Canola. I stood there in the aisle for quite some time, trying to figure out which one to buy. Sensing my puzzlement, a helpful lady asked me if I needed assistance deciding which oil was right for whatever it was I wanted to cook. Suddenly, I understood what it must be like for girls who visit gun stores.

Remembering the earlier comment about soybean oil, I determined with the help of the label that Crisco Pure Vegetable oil is made from soybean oil. Crisco Pure Canola is made from, you guessed it, canola. There were also probably half a dozen other brands of canola oil on the shelf. I decided to take both types of Crisco for testing.

The test took a week, and here are the results.

vegetable oils IR data

 

What did the tests show?

FireClean is probably a modern unsaturated vegetable oil virtually the same as many oils used for cooking.

The professor had something to say about the formulation and its relevance as a gun oil. “I don’t see any sign of other additives such as antioxidants or corrosion inhibitors.  Since the unsaturation in these oils, especially linoleate residues, can lead to their oligomerization with exposure to oxygen and light, use on weapons could lead to formation of solid residues (gum) with time.   The more UV and oxygen, the more the oil will degrade.”

In my 2013 article about gun oils, I mentioned that FireClean wasn’t advertised as protecting against corrosion. Given the results of this test, I suppose that makes sense.

When I fired this AR which had been sitting for years with FireClean on the internals, it hadn’t been exposed to UV, although it certainly saw some oxygen. Since that test, several friends told me privately that their 1911s did not function properly after sitting for six months with FireClean on the internals. It would seem that these results are highly dependent on the weapon.

Given that people in the military are often exposed to both UV and oxygen (such as when they go outdoors) and also need corrosion protection for their firearms, I would not recommend FireClean be used by members of the military.

I offered FireClean a chance to respond to the findings of this test, and, among other things, they asked to review the draft of this article for a few days before it was published. That is not how this blog works. I assume they will be publishing a response through other channels.

Does FireClean Cause Malfunctions After Prolonged Storage?

In the last week I have noticed allegations made by the maker of a gun oil that FireClean is a) nothing more than Crisco vegetable oil, and b) will cause the action of a weapon to “gum up” if left on the weapon for more than six to twelve months.

While I am investigating both claims, I happened to have a Spike’s Tactical AR15 in 5.45×39 which had last been fired and lubricated with FireClean in September of 2013 and, to be clear, not been cleaned, fired, or lubricated in any manner since. I took this rifle to the range this morning and fired a magazine of surplus 5.45 in order to determine if the action had been “gummed up.” This weapon has only seen surplus ammunition in its life, has been shot a lot, and has rarely if ever been cleaned. I can hardly think of a better candidate for such an experiment and I am, I guess, fortunate that my dad didn’t shoot it much (rather, at all) after I loaned it to him.

The video can be found here.

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, Which is The Most Racist Flag of All?

After reading the Newsweek article originally known as “It’s Time to Haul Down Another Flag of Racist Hate,” I was moved to write about what I feel is the most racist flag around. After all, we’ve managed to rid Amazon of the Confederate flag and Dukes of Hazzard reruns from late night TV.  With this remarkable victory against the forces of evil under our belt, what’s a socially conscious and (inherently guilty) white man to warn America about from the rooftops of the internet?

A brave, intrepid journalist named Rick Perlstein has informed us that the POW/MIA flag that we all thought was a reminder of those who didn’t come home was actually a symbol of how much racism was still alive and well in America. As he said, the silhouette on the flag represents a white man, even though he’s black on the flag. It’s definitely not that the POW/MIA flag represents all those missing in action regardless of race. It’s another symbol of white America’s efforts to keep all the other races under our thumb.

With that in mind, I move that we should move another flag into the museums and history books. The true symbol only used by “right-wing politicians who wish to exploit hatred by calling it heritage” as my new favorite scribe Perlstein put it? Definitely the American flag.

flagsunset

What does it represent, really? Each star represents the fifty states of the Union. A white star, of course, representing the white people who stole each state from the Native Americans. They reside on a blue field, which represents the sky under which these atrocities took place. The sky cries because of the atrocities it has witnessed under the American flag.

The red stripes represent, of course, the blood of all the innocent people we’ve spilled over the two-hundred-odd years of our unfortunate existence. These red stripes are on top of the white stripes, much like the blood of the innocents is all over the skin of white America.

The best way forward for our country is to rid itself of all symbols of racism wherever they exist. Alexander Hamilton, who was probably racist because he existed in the 1700s, should be replaced on the ten dollar bill by Harriet Tubman driving an underground railroad-themed monster truck over a line of General Lees. Seinfeld reruns should come off the air, because Kramer went on a racist rant during a stand up bit. Finally, the American flag should be replaced by a simple white banner with the words WE’RE SORRY, in all the languages of the people we’ve killed, written in non-racist fonts – something like Comic Sans.

I know what you’re thinking – what’s this guy’s address, so I can kill him? But on the long drive from Mississippi to Arizona (go fast, turn left!), please reflect on all the racism you’re perpetrating by continuing to love America. Racism racism racism. I don’t have much of an argument, but I said racism a lot. That’s the key to journalistic success, if Rick Perlstein is to be my guide.

We Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Nuking Imperial Japan

Earlier this year as the 70th anniversary of VE day approached, major news outlets discussed the upcoming festivities and showed interviews with veterans and speeches from politicians about the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation. We were reminded of the evils of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. All of this is, of course, true.

As the 70th anniversary of VJ day approaches – especially today as this marks 70 years since the bombing of Hiroshima – nearly every media outlet seems focused on hand-wringing over the use of atomic weapons against Japan. While I noted one interesting article from the LA Times about the Japanese nuclear program, everything else has almost completely omitted any mention of the evils Imperial Japan perpetrated on its side of the world during the war. It’s as if the Japanese have gotten a pass on a lot of the stuff they did because we condensed the killing of many of their civilians into two bombs.

Hiroshima after the nuclear explosion.
Hiroshima after the nuclear explosion. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

We killed a ton of German civilians from the air too – depending on who you ask, between 350 and 650 thousand, between the RAF and the Army Air Corps. There is essentially no handwringing over this in the modern media. It isn’t even mentioned. Mention Dresden to the average person, they won’t know what you’re talking about. Hiroshima? Most likely. But no one cares about bombing German civilians because the Nazis were really bad, right?

In terms of evil, I think the Germans and the Japanese were about neck and neck. We just don’t hear about what the Japanese did to the Chinese (or the Koreans, or the Vietnamese, or…) nearly as often as we hear about what the Germans did to the populations of Europe. And so we have the term “Nazi” to neatly package all that evil and, in modern times, describe a bad person or someone who is mean to you. But we don’t have a companion term for Imperial Japan. Call someone an “Imperial” and they’ll just look at you funny or tell you they are disturbed by your lack of faith.

The morality and/or necessity of using nuclear weapons against Japan had been discussed in full twenty years before I was born, and so I will not delve into that – but I will say this. Between an almost overwhelming and constant reminder of the evils of Nazi Germany  during World War II and a near-total lack of knowledge of what Imperial Japan did during the war, it’s not totally surprising that most people are more concerned about apologizing for American actions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki than efficiently ending a reign of terror that lasted for almost fifteen years, spanned a continent, and cost millions of lives.

Reflections on Father’s Day

My dad died earlier this year.

His death was unexpected, sudden, and peaceful. Well, it was peaceful for him. For us, less so. His death affected us immediately and has continued to do so over the last three months, even in ways we didn’t initially recognize.

dadontario
My dad (left) as a bush pilot in Ontario in the 1970s. On the right is his friend Don Anjicanab (sp), an Ojibwe guide.

My dad was a very interesting man – I have written about him previously. I’ve learned even more about him after his death from, say, flight logbook entries from Liberia in 1971 with notations such as “natives, spears, g-strings” and “unreal.” But what I knew about him before hasn’t changed – that he cared about me (and my mother) very deeply.

I had a very good relationship with my dad. I probably spent more time with him than almost any guy in his late twenties who hasn’t lived at home since sixteen. My original plan for the week before his death was to go to West Africa, but instead I stayed home and did little things – primarily with my dad.

We didn’t do anything major, just working on cars and planes and flying and doing all the things we normally did together. The night before he died, I grilled him a steak exactly the way he liked it, which we ended up splitting. I had no idea when I said goodbye to him afterward that I’d be saying goodbye again four hours later.

Maybe that’s for the best. In fact, I know it is. And really, in hindsight, I don’t know that I would have done a whole lot differently in that last week. Over time I had decided to turn a few sayings into action – to live every day as if it were my last, to honor my father and mother, and a few other things.  I had realized that all those things I butted heads with him about, the things I resented when I was younger- they were a result of him wanting the best for me. Right or wrong, he was looking out for me in the ways only a father can. Years ago I let go of the resentment and embraced him for the man he was, and I became a better person as a result. 

My father made my life, and that of my mother, simply wonderful.

Vuurwapen Blog Radio

The other day, I thought to myself that it might be fun to talk about guns with friends, record the conversation, and release it to anyone who might want to listen.

If this is successful, we will do it again, with more guests/co-hosts.

In this first episode of “Vuurwapen Blog Radio,” we discuss the proposed changes to ITAR, different BCG coatings and platings, flash performance while using a silencer on an AR15, and Battle Rifle Company. These topics come from questions that have been emailed to me by blog readers over the last…well questions that have been emailed over a certain period of time to which I never properly responded.

Muzzle Device Testing & Aircraft Accident Rate Analysis

I have continued to work on the muzzle device test, and am looking to include some highly scientific analysis of a certain factor relating to muzzle flash which will make this second round of testing significantly better than the first. This necessitates a delay in publication, but I think it will be worth the wait.

Also, several months ago, I wrote an article analyzing fatal accident rates of the Cessna 170 over the past several decades. It was recently published in the The 170 News, the quarterly newsletter of The International Cessna 170 Association.

Muzzle Device Test 2 In Final Stages

I’ve been working on a second round of muzzle device testing, and light is beginning to appear at the end of the tunnel. Like the first test, this would not be possible without help from multiple industry sources. In addition to the muzzle devices from the first test, I have been provided with the following devices:

– Knight’s Armament Co. Triple Tap

– Smith Vortex/Good Iron

– White Sound Defense FOSSA-556

– Surefire MB556K

– AAC BrakeOut 2.0

– Fortis RED

– Noveske KX3

If you have a device which you would like included in the test, please contact me immediately at a@vuurwapenconcepts.com.

specwars (2014_07_14 19_59_16 UTC)

guns and stuff