Further Ruminations On Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Last year, in early August to be specific, I wrote an article about why Americans shouldn’t be shamed into feeling bad about our country’s use of nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War II.

This article was in specific response to the inundation of media articles I saw at the time discussing how, I perceived, the US was so horrible for using nuclear weapons – but their use was written about in a vacuum, without proper, or in most cases, any context regarding why we decided to use nuclear weapons against Japan. I also wished to call attention to the fact that other mass deaths of civilians at the hand of the Allies were not given such special recognition, or in fact any recognition at all, even if their death tolls exceeded that of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hiroshima as seen in September 1945. Stanley Troutman/AP
Hiroshima as seen in September 1945. Stanley Troutman/AP

There were many comments on the article, including some overtly racist ones which I quickly sent to the trash bin, but also some very thoughtful comments criticizing and/or disagreeing with my conclusions.

Many, many articles and books and papers have been written about whether or not the bombings constituted the right thing to do, with many saying that Japan was on the verge of surrender and a blockade of a few months would have pushed them over the edge, while the other side says an invasion would have been necessary and would have ended up costing more lives. I do not really wish to rehash all of these arguments, but as today is the 71st anniversary of the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, I felt it necessary to say a few things.

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, by Joe Rosenthal / The Associated Press
Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, by Joe Rosenthal / The Associated Press

I have in the interim read (truth be told, listened to) the book The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945. I think it is a fantastic work, and would encourage anyone with the time to pick up a copy. The author, John Toland, told the story from as much of a Japanese perspective as possible, including many interviews with primary sources – essentially making the reader a fly on the wall of many important meetings on both sides throughout the war. I felt that I was fairly well educated on the topic of the Pacific war prior to reading this book, but learned numerous important facts over the last few weeks.

Still, it should not surprise anyone that the writer of an article called “We Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Nuking Imperial Japan” went into the reading of such a book with a few preconceived notions and came out of it with those notions strengthened and reinforced.

Japan was not united on the concept of continuing the war to its bitter end, but those with the real power – the military – were almost to a man absolutely committed to fighting no longer to win, but to preserve what we can loosely translate as the “national essence” of Japan. To this end a number of last-ditch efforts were underway in the expectation of an invasion including arming civilians with spears and bows.

Many of the primary Japanese actors were not viewing the situation in a manner I as an American would consider rational. Despite the fact that the Japanese military and political leadership knew since 1943 that they were losing the war and by no means had the industry to win, they continued fighting “for the Emperor.” Their decisions led to mind-boggling losses on both sides.

In mid-August, when the Emperor decided to use his influence to force his government into (more or less) accepting the terms of surrender set forth by the Allies, a coup was attempted by very “loyal” Japanese troops who believed that the Emperor had been misled and that his surrender declaration must not reach outside ears.

In other words, “for the Emperor” to them no longer meant fighting for the actual Emperor but for the idea of an Empire. From 1931 to 1945, in fact, the military of Japan essentially did whatever it wanted and said it was “for the Emperor.” This thought process was derived from the, again, loosely translated concept of “insubordination.”

As stated previously, today is the 71st anniversary of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. I find today to be an especially poignant time to argue that the use of atomic weapons against Japan was more than justified, both at the time and in hindsight. Although American troops captured the highest point on the island on the fifth day of the battle, fighting continued for another month as virtually every Japanese fighting man on the island fought to the death or hid out in the complex network of caves and tunnels that had been prepared for the defense of the island.

This for a tiny bit of rock that held little strategic significance other than that it was one step closer to the Home Islands. I find it hard to believe that the Japanese would fight so tenaciously for little gain in February and March of 1945 and yet be on the verge of surrendering their homeland in August of that same year – without the psychological shock of the use of atomic weapons.

Vuurwapen Blog T Shirts



Over the years since I started this blog, many people have asked if I am going to make t shirts – at least four or five people in the last six or seven years. Well, their long-forgotten wishes are now true, and they even have a choice of colors, Union Blue or Rebel Gray!


Do you lament Sherman’s March to the Sea? If so, you’ll want a Rebel Gray shirt, even though there’s a terrible irony in the motto on the back of the shirt, “Burning Bridges Since 2009.” Actually, this color is more of a charcoal than simple gray, which makes sense since we are talking about burning bridges, after all. Or cotton fields. If you’re not a Southerner but are scared of colors, like my friend Brett, you’ll want this charcoal shirt.

Are you a proud Yankee/American, even though all those icky Northern states seem to not like guns any more? Well, Union Blue is definitely more your style. Even if you’re from the South and want a non-tactically colored shirt to tell your friends you like an obscure gun blog, you’ll probably want to break from tradition and go with blue.

The shirts themselves are quite nice, if I may say so. The design and cheeky motto with absolutely no intended reference to anything specific are printed on Next Level Apparel poly/cotton (65/35) shirts. These shirts feel very soft and stretchy. Sizing seems to run on the smaller side – kind of like a Wylde chamber, they might make you more accurate, but I am not responsible for popped primers or bulging waistlines.

And while women comprise approximately six percent of my Facebook/YouTube audience, over twenty percent of the shirts available are in women’s sizes! Inexplicably, the women’s shirts cost almost a dollar more to make each, despite their being the same material. However, I will not pass these increased costs on to you! Don’t say I’ve never fought the patriarchy!

Pricing is $17 per (~3.5-4.5oz) shirt, approximately ten dollars less than a two pack (2x2oz) of FireClean from Brownells, making it a better deal by weight. The first 20 shirt buyers will receive a free sample of FireClean! That has to at least double the value of the shirt. Add $1 if you would like your shirt blessed with FireClean.

Sizes available are mens medium, large, extra large, and extra extra lavrge. Also available are a limited number of womens small, medium, and large. As the sizes/colors sell out, I will update this post.



Shipping options are Priority Mail small flat rate box for $6.80 or USPS First Class in a Tyvek envelope for $4.30. I would prefer payment by PayPal to 545ar15@gmail.com. If this is not possible, I suppose that I could also accept check/money orders or body parts.

Anderson Mfg AR Lower Receiver/PSA PTAC Kit Initial Observations

A few weeks back I bought a few Anderson lowers from AIM Surplus for $40. The anodizing and machining look very nice. However the grip screw hole wasn’t threaded nearly far enough, even for the shortest grip screw I had. Fastest solution was to tap that hole with a 1/4-28 tap. Okay, so I don’t have the most expensive tap and die set in the world, but for my low volume needs, it works fine.


I also noticed that the bolt catch detent hole wasn’t deep enough prior to anodize, but they had apparently caught that and drilled it deeper, through the anodizing.

I assembled the lower with PSA PTAC lower parts (purchased from PSA as part of rifle kits) and don’t have anything bad to say about them so far. The trigger pull is actually quite crisp and none of the other components seemed to vary from other LPKs I’ve used in the past in terms of quality or appearance.

Having to tap the grip screw hole was annoying, but a diversion of only a few minutes and I’d still say these $40 lowers are well worth the price.

I’ve taken a few of the uppers apart and noticed disappointing things like barrel nuts torqued to over 100 ft-lbs (they should be over 30 but I prefer less than 80) without the use of anti-seize, front sight bases that are slightly canted, taper pin holes drilled haphazardly, etc. But nothing that has affected function yet – zero malfunctions so far with all seven uppers -not a very high round count, but a good mix of brass and steel cased stuff.

This is definitely the time to buy if you’re looking to build an AR.

Froglube, Tracklube, and Seal1 Laboratory Analysis

Froglube, the minty green gun lube/toothpaste some people love and others love to hate, has been rumored to be the same as Tracklube Plus, a blue roller coaster track lubricant paste.

Seal1, an orange gun paste, has also been rumored to be the same as Froglube. If all the rumors are true, that means Froglube, Tracklube+ and Seal1 are all the same product.

But when are all the rumors true? Rumors are never true. All the rumors? Come on.

Well, they are in this case.

Initial Laboratory Analysis, October 2015

Froglube, Tracklube+, and Seal1
Froglube, Tracklube+, and Seal1

The results of infrared specroscopy testing done at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts show astonishing similarities between the three products. For more information from Everett Baker, who conducted this testing, please read this very informative post on his blog, and the subsequent ones as well.

When I sent the results to different people for their input, here is what they had to say:

“For the IR, you are looking at how functional groups of atoms in a molcule absorb light.  The X-axis gives us the stretch of the molecular bond and the Y axis gives us the number of photons that were absorbed.  These IR spectra are clearly hydrocarbon spectra.  Samples 11, 12 and 13 are functionally identical.  There are minor differences in sample 16 from 6 and 8 that reflect the presence of carbon oxygen bonds which may suggest the absence of an additional functional groups, perhaps oxygens, so perhaps that is a different kind of vegetable oil like peanut oil, but these are all effectively light vegetable or vegetable like oils. In fact, I am a bit shocked at how similar samples 11, 12 and 13 are…”

(note: samples 6, 8, and 16 will be discussed in a separate post)

“All three samples in that spectrum look nearly identical, with the caveat that IR is not a very conclusive way to determine the overall structure of a molecule. IR allows us to determine the presence of various functional groups (esters, alkenes, alkanes, alcohols, etc), but doesn’t really provide a way to link them together (NMR is a much better technique for this). The only thing I can really get from those is the presence of a carbonyl compound at 1750 cm-1, and various C-H stretches near 2800-2900 cm-1. So for example, a wax might look very similar to a vegetable oil in IR, but there’s obviously a huge difference in the physical properties as a gun lube. In this case though, they are so similar, it’s likely that all three are composed primarily of the same compounds. “

A Separate Laboratory Analysis And Opinion, January 2016

Infrared spectroscopy is one important part of this analysis, but a more complete picture can be found with additional testing. To that end, NMR and GCMS tests were done at a separate laboratory (NMR stands for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and GCMS stands for Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy). What follows was written by the person conducting these tests, who has a PhD in chemistry.

TrackLube vs. Seal1 vs. FrogLube

TrackLube, Seal1, and FrogLube all appear to be very similar, color differences notwithstanding. The 1H (Figures 1 and 2) and 13C (Figure 3) NMR data shows nearly identical spectra for all three products. They are a blend of a few different compounds: primarily methyl salicylate (wintergreen oil) and mostly-saturated triglycerides, with some preservatives and other molecules rounding out the mixture. The degree of saturation (as compared to the more highly unsaturated triolein, for example) makes these triglycerides semisolid at room temperature, which would explain the paste-like consistency of these products. A very rough estimate of the methylsalicylate:triglyceride ratio (as the 1H NMR peak areas) suggests these consist of a few percent wintergreen oil by mass.

Figure 1. 300 MHz 1H NMR of TrackLube, Seal1, and FrogLube showing monounsaturated fatty acid spectrum.
Figure 1. 300 MHz 1H NMR of TrackLube, Seal1, and FrogLube showing monounsaturated fatty acid spectrum.
Figure 2. Downfield portion of 1H NMR spectra showing methyl salicylate peaks (10.8, 7.8-6.8, 4.0 ppm), plus vinyl and glycerol protons of unsaturated triglycerides (5.4 ppm and 4.3-4.1 ppm, respectively).
Figure 2. Downfield portion of 1H NMR spectra showing methyl salicylate peaks (10.8, 7.8-6.8, 4.0 ppm), plus vinyl and glycerol protons of unsaturated triglycerides (5.4 ppm and 4.3-4.1 ppm, respectively).
Figure 3. 13C NMR spectra showing similar composition between lubes. All peaks are accounted for by methyl salicylate and triglycerides.
Figure 3. 13C NMR spectra showing similar composition between lubes. All peaks are accounted for by methyl salicylate and triglycerides.

Upon opening the tubs of product, one notices that Track Lube and Frog Lube smell very similar, with a strong wintergreen scent. Seal 1 also has this minty scent, but one might also notice hints of bubblegum, and this likely means there are small volatile compounds not present in the other two paste lubes. The best way to quickly determine the identity of all of these compounds is GCMS (Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy). As we see below (Figure 4), all three lubes are very similar, in that they share nearly all the same representative peaks. It’s not too illuminating to measure the height of each peak, nor is it particularly helpful to measure the relative peak areas (much more thorough and expensive work is needed to do with any decent accuracy). As predicted by smell, we see that Seal 1 (red) has two small peaks that correspond to isoamyl acetate (4.0 min) and limonene (5.7 min), which smell of banana and lemon, respectively. Otherwise we see a number of compounds present in all 3 samples: BHT, terephthalates, and the fragments of mostly-saturated triglycerides. The size of these fragments suggests that triglycerides with carbon chain lengths of ~10-18 were most common, but it is difficult to tell based on the nature of GCMS. These numbers do roughly match up to NMR integrations, so it’s likely a good estimate of the range. As in the NMR spectra, it is difficult to tell exact proportions here. It may be that the ratio of methyl salicylate to triglyceride varies somewhat, and that the average chain length changes slightly between products, but in general we can say that they are very similar mixtures.

Figure 4. GCMS chromatogram of FrogLube (blue), Seal 1 (red), and TrackLube (green) with compounds labeled via NIST library matches.
Figure 4. GCMS chromatogram of FrogLube (blue), Seal 1 (red), and TrackLube (green) with compounds labeled via NIST library matches.

Since the mixtures’ exact ratios were difficult to discern, rheology was performed on the samples to get a feel for their mechanical properties at various temperatures and shear rates. First, samples of each were subjected to moderate, constant shear and the temperature was swept from 25-60°C (77-140°F) to simulate a firearm warming up under use. The viscosity of the mixture decreases drastically from 25-45°C (77-113°F) as the pastes melted, and then held steady. The plots do show some differences in viscosity during melting, and there may be several possible causes: (i) potentially varying ratios of wintergreen oil to triglyceride slightly affect the melting temperature, (ii) air bubbles/voids in the paste escape during melting, causing faulty readings by the instrument, or (iii) variation in the triglyceride chain length/degree of saturation alters the melting characteristics. Either way, at slightly warm temperatures, they have nearly identical viscosities, which serves as a rough proxy for other mechanical properties one might find useful in a firearms lubricant.

Figure 5. Temperature vs. viscosity plots for the paste lubes shows similar responses as the lube melts. The small differences during melting (25-40°C) may arise from a number of factors.
Figure 5. Temperature vs. viscosity plots for the paste lubes shows similar responses as the lube melts. The small differences during melting (25-40°C) may arise from a number of factors.

The second rheological test was a sweep of shear rate while held at 25°C. This test showed that there is significant shear thinning at higher rates, typical of these types of mixtures. Again, there are differences between the three products, but the same general response was noted for each with respect to decrease in viscosity at higher shear rates. At high shear rates (such as found on rapidly moving firearms parts), these differences are very small, and the various products have very similar properties.

Figure 6. Viscosity versus shear rate for three paste lube products showing shear-thinning properties.
Figure 6. Viscosity versus shear rate for three paste lube products showing shear-thinning properties.

From the above data, we can see that Froglube, Seal 1, and Track Lube are very similar in composition and mechanical properties. Perhaps a thorough and robust firearms live fire test is necessary to determine any practical differences, but all expectations are that they would perform similarly. At the time of writing, the costs of Seal 1 ($18.95/8 oz, Amazon.com), Frog Lube ($18.40/8 oz, Amazon.com), and Track Lube ($16.99/8 oz, tracklubeplus.com) are also nearly identical, so it ultimately comes down to these two questions: Do you prefer your firearms to smell like just mint or minty bubblegum? Is your favorite color green, blue, or yellow-orange?

Company Responses & My Opinion

I contacted each company and asked if their product was identical to the others.

Froglube has no contact info other than a customer contact form on their site, and their response was to thank me for my inquiry and direct me to the instructions on how to use their product. No, I’m not kidding. I called them after the second round of testing. When asked if FrogLube was the same as TrackLube, they replied, “no, it is not.” When asked if it was similar, the response was “It’s an all-natural lubricant.” When asked if FrogLube was the same as Seal1, the response was “no, it’s not like Seal1 at all.”

Tracklube+ told me that they have been selling their product since 2003 to amusement parks around the country and just started selling direct to the public. They said that their company does not sell Tracklube+ under other names. In the interests of fairness, here is their entire response.



I contacted Seal1 by email and their response was:

“Our product is not similar to Froglube or Tracklube. We develop and manufacture all of our own products. Please give me a call if you have any further questions.”

On the phone, Seal1 told me that their product was unique, entirely unlike Froglube and Tracklube, and when I described the results of the test, they said it must be “false readings.” They also said it has been in development since the early 1990s. Okay.

Let’s operate under the assumption that Froglube, Tracklube+ and Seal1 are all the same thing with, say, different food coloring added to give the appearance of uniqueness.

I’m not even mad. They’re all priced roughly the same. It’s not like Froglube is just Tracklube+ with a huge markup and a snazzy marketing campaign.

If you like Froglube and see no other reason to stop using it, I wouldn’t be mad about this and wouldn’t stop using it. However, I think there are much better products on the market.

When I last wrote about a variety of gun oils and gave my thoughts on them, I said that I had never used Froglube. That has since changed. During the 2014 test of a Battle Rifle Company AR, all 10,000 rounds were fired with Froglube as the lubricant. This was done because BRC prefers Froglube, and I probably fired about 6,000 of the 10,000 rounds. The performance of the weapon during the test was somewhere between Gigli and Taurus, but I don’t think Froglube had anything to do with it. The gas port was way too big which caused major problems – all of the problems, as far as I’m concerned.

I have never used Seal1 or Tracklube+ on a rifle – but then again, if Seal1 and Tracklube+ and Froglube are identical, and I’ve used Froglube, then I guess I’ve used the other two as well.

I do have some specific concerns about a claim made by Froglube which I think cannot possibly be true. Those will be addressed in a future blog post.

If you order Tracklube+ it comes in a brown paper wrapped box from a company called “Amusement Lubrications Specialties” and your longtime mail lady will never look at you the same way again.

Also, in my opinion, Seal1 smells better than Froglube. It smells the way Banana Runts taste.

This post brought to you by Banana Runts.

Back to the 600 Yard Line

Several years ago – okay, seven or eight – my friend Greg Fallon invited me to the informal 600 yard matches he sets up at a local range. They’re monthly, early in the morning, and the range is an hour away from me, so I’ve been an infrequent competitor -especially the last few years, with regular trips up to Utah for the Sniper Country range, which offers shooting to a mile and beyond.

Most of the time, I just went to mess around and have fun – I’d take my 5.45 AK, or an Ishapore Enfield, or some other random non-precision rifle just to see how I could do all the way out at 600 yards.

But when I saw this month’s reminder email, I decided that if I was going to make the trip, I would make it worthwhile.

I had just put together an AR with a V7 stainless barrel – provided by AIM Surplus, I should note – and wanted to see how accurate it could be. Unfortunately the rifle has a stock trigger, but with about fifteen thousand rounds on the odometer, it’s pretty smooth.

Heading to the local gun store, I perused match .223 at a dollar a round before deciding I could make my own for free – or at least, for a sunk cost.

So I put together some shiny bullets, made sure the ACOG was zeroed, and woke up at the crack of dawn to head to the range.

I wasn’t sure how my ammo would do – I hadn’t loaded rifle ammunition in probably two years. Surprisingly, though, I found that everything worked very well. Over two strings of fire, twenty rounds each, my scores were 190-4X and 186-3X out of a possible 200-20X.


For those who are unfamiliar with the scoring system, the X is worth 10 points and also counts as, you guessed it, an X. The X ring at 600 is 6 inches, the 10 ring about a foot, and so on. I dropped a few outside the center because I wasn’t paying enough attention to the wind, but overall the loads were consistent and the barrel did as good a job as I could have ever expected.

One other note – I removed and replaced the ACOG, swapping it with a Vortex Viper HS scope, many times throughout the match. All recorded scores were with the ACOG, and both optics were in GDI mounts. The ACOG was provided by Trijicon through Deliberate Dynamics and the optic mounts were provided by GDI. I did not notice any shift in point of impact over the course of the match.

Overall, it was a fun match and a good chance to see if I still knew how to shoot long range.

For those who are interested, here are the rifle and ammunition details:


  • V7 16″ stainless midlength gas barrel
  • Silencerco Trifecta muzzle device
  • Spike’s Tactical hard chrome BCG
  • Spike’s Tactical upper receiver
  • Seekins 12.0 MCSR handguard
  • Rainier Arms Raptor charging handle
  • Bushmaster lower receiver with stock LPK
  • Magpul fixed length stock
  • Trijicon TA02 ACOG
  • GDI R-COM E-Model mount


  • Prvi Partizan once fired brass
  • Berger 73gr HPBT seated to AR mag length
  • Varget, 24.1 grains
  • Federal GM205M primers


A Closer Look at FireClean and Canola Oil

If you read the first article on this blog regarding whether or not FireClean is the same as Crisco, you are aware that people became really, really upset over the results.

Lines were drawn, accusations were made, the science was championed by some and attacked by others.

A second round of testing, conducted at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, sheds more light on the controversy. I submitted eighteen samples for various tests, including gun oils, gun pastes, cooking oils, and gear oils. If you would like to read about the methodology, you may do so here – straight from the horse’s mouth. These tests included IR spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance testing. Click that link to learn more about both.

In addition, separate testing of FireClean and a different brand of canola oil was conducted by a different individual (who has a PhD in chemistry) at a different lab. This testing included HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) and two variants of NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance). I did not supply the samples for this test, but the results were remarkably similar.

Some of the people involved wished to remain anonymous after they saw the vitriol directed at various parties after the first test, but others did not. Everett, who conducted the bulk of this testing, wanted me to thank the following people:

-Professor Drew Brodeur of Worcester Polytechnic institute for advising the project
-Daryl Johnson, Andy Butler, and Professor John MacDonald of WPI for help with the methods and testing
-Curtis of The VSO Gun Channel for help with the methods

Several of these tests of the eighteen various lubricants will be of interest to those in the firearm sphere, but perhaps none will be as interesting as this one. Summarized in one sentence, here’s why:

According to every PhD who looked at the NMR results, FireClean and Canola oil appear to be “effectively” or “nearly” identical.

This was also the opinion of the chemistry student conducting the testing (Everett) and two other people with similar undergraduate degrees.

Here is the data:

NMR Sample #6 (2015 production Crisco brand canola oil)

NMR Sample #8 (2015 production FireClean)

Here is the NMR data superimposed upon one another:


NMR Sample #6#8 merge
Here is some additional IR data which also includes sample #16, generic corn oil:

6 v 8 v 16

Here is what people with chemistry experience and/or degrees had to say:

“For NMR, you have environment, shift, area and splitting.  Presuming these samples were processed identically, I find the NMR spectra to be effectively identical.  Each peak in a carbon NMR spectrum identifies a carbon atom at a distinct place along a molecule.  Each place reflects its local environment.  You can look up the peaks in the spectrum to referenced guides to then identify where along the spectrum the peaks correspond with molecular species in the molecule.  For instance, is it next to another carbon atom, or an oxygen or hydrogen, etc…  The important part is that the peaks overlap precisely.  I made an image attached below that shows sample 8 superimposed in the green channel of sample 6 (see above).  The height of the peaks is slightly different reflecting effectively nothing as it is the area under the peak that matters which here is negligible.  Sample 6 and 8 are effectively identical.” – PhD (Neurophysiology, BS Chemistry/Biology)

“Height from one spectrum to another is irrelevant and can vary with a slight difference in amount of sample put in the NMR tube. As one of my professors put it “NMR is the gold standard for structural chemistry.” Structural chemists that know the molecular formula of their compound can combine NMR with IR data to figure out what the structure of their molecule is. The chances of two different molecules having the same NMR spectra is almost zero.” – Everett (conducted testing)

“In terms of your data, the two 13C NMR spectra look nearly identical and are expected for a vegetable oil blend. Some differences are apparent in the ‘alkene’ region (~129 ppm), and this is likely due to varying ratios of different unsaturated triglycerides being present in different products. Wikipedia has ratios of the various fatty acid compositions for different oils (here). The minor differences between oleic, linoleic, paltimic, stearic, etc acids will result in slightly different peak patterns in that region of the spectrum.” – Anonymous, PhD (Chemistry)

Here is the second NMR test – two types of NMR, actually, proton (1H) and carbon (13C) done at a different lab, by a different individual, using different samples of FireClean and Costco brand Canola oil:

Canola v FIREClean 13C NMR jpgFIREClean v Canola 1H NMR jpg

Here is what he had to say about the results:

“The structure I pasted over the spectrum is not the exact identity of the canola or fireclean, it’s just a representative. These products contain a mix of various compounds, so the carbon chain length, number and placement of double bonds, etc will all vary between various chemical species and vegetable oil blends. The paper sums that up, for your more demanding readers. I haven’t kept up with the press on fireclean all that much, but if they are claiming any addition of anticorrosives or stabilizers, they would likely show up in either the IR or NMR spectra unless in very small quantities. I would feel confident claiming that FIREclean is just a vegetable oil or vegetable oil blend of some sort.

Some differences in the NMR spectra are apparent, but they are relatively inconsequential and easily explained by the complexity of lipids derived from natural sources. In the 13C NMR, we see some variation in alkene peaks around 128 ppm (peak b) that are likely due to di- and tri-unsaturated fatty acids, and similarly in the 1H we see changes in the relative amounts of allyl protons due to additional unsaturation (2.7 ppm, peak c) between fireclean and Costco canola oil. There’s still nothing about the NMR that would indicate that fireclean is anything but vegetable oil. 

This means that some of their claims are true. Vegetable oil is certainly nontoxic/biodegradable, and somewhat odor free. However, it would be difficult to argue that vegetable oil possesses “extreme heat resistance” when it is known to degrade in the presence of heat and oxygen. As far as conditioning the metal substrate to resist further carbon buildup, a good comparison might be that of seasoning a cast iron skillet, where oil or fat is heated to the point of degradation, leaving behind a complex layer of polymerized triglycerides. If you are comfortable with this on your firearms’ internal components, then this would be a good product to use, otherwise a more thermally stable product might be in order. The attached paper (Review of Food Lipids 2014) details the degradation of food lipids under conditions relevant to firearms use, so readers may make their own determination.” – Anonymous, PhD (Chemistry)

As I have continued to state since forming an opinion on the product, FireClean works very well as a lubricant for the AR-15. I chose it for the LuckyGunner 40,000 round ammo test because I had used it with good results – I was provided with samples early in 2012 – and wanted to give a fledgling company a chance in a crowded field. I don’t regret that decision – the lubricant worked well for the test. The FireClean folks must have felt the same way, because my work on that test is in almost every sales pitch they’ve made about their product.

That said, even the best lube can’t make a bad rifle or a bad magazine or bad ammunition function 100%. All of those items working together – a good rifle built by Bushmaster, Magpul PMags, Federal brass cased .223, and a good lubricant (FireClean) came together for 10,000 rounds with no malfunctions in that particular carbine. The steel cased carbines didn’t perform at quite the same level, but still performed remarkably well, all things considered.

FireClean is, as stated previously on this blog, a common vegetable oil, with no evidence of additives for corrosion resistance or other features. The science is solid in this regard. Questions or concerns about the limited value of IR testing should be, I would think, put to rest with two discrete tests – tests regarded as “the gold standard in analytical chemistry” – and analysis by multiple sources.

Viewed in this light, FireClean’s recent claims that using cooking oils such as canola oil on your firearm could lead to serious injury or death are simply laughable. They also claimed that it should not be used for cooking due to health concerns – but they also claim that it’s non-toxic. Well, which is it?

I have absolutely no issue with the concept of making money (I applaud those who make money hand over fist), or taking a product from one sphere and introducing it to another. I think a certain amount of “finder’s fee” is absolutely reasonable. If they discovered that the product would work as a gun oil, introduced it to the gun world, etc., then they did people a favor by telling them about something they never would have discovered on their own. There are also marketing costs, packaging, etc. We couldn’t expect them to sell a 2oz bottle of Fireclean for the same per ounce price as a gallon of Walmart brand Canola oil.

That said, I don’t think I could look someone in the eye and tell them that a bottle of vegetable oil was the most advanced gun lube on the planet, but those who can? Well, they’re good salesmen, I guess.

What I do take issue with are attempts to mislead consumers and distort the facts. There is a line between being an aggressive and effective salesman and not being entirely truthful about your product, the way it works, or what it contains. It is my belief that FireClean crossed that line long ago – and that many of their recent statements are simply egregious.

FP-10 and WeaponShield Infrared Spectroscopy Comparison

If you have read past articles on this blog, you know that I like Shooters Choice FP-10 as a lubricant for the AR-15. I have been using it for years and am consistently impressed with its performance. I generally just call it FP-10 because I was unaware that it was available from multiple companies.

FP-10 was developed by George Fennell, who later developed a product called WeaponShield. I had never heard of WeaponShield until about six weeks ago. In researching WeaponShield, I discovered Mr. Fennell’s connection to FP-10 and saw several posts by him on various forums which I took to be him disparaging the quality of FP-10 in favor of WeaponShield.

In conversations with him since, he told me that he was not criticizing Shooters Choice FP-10, made by people he sold the formula to, but rather MPC FP-10, which is his old company that has apparently allowed quality control to slip. In any case, he says that WeaponShield is better than either FP-10 formulation.

Confused yet?

Given recent…revelations…about other products in the gun lube industry, I wondered if Mr. Fennell had simply repackaged FP-10, or added something simple such as an eye of newt, and called it WeaponShield. No one else seemed to be wondering this, but I was.

So among other samples of oils I sent off for testing recently, I included two examples of Shooters Choice FP-10 – one new and one purchased approximately seven years ago – as well as a sample of WeaponShield.

Here are the results, and also what Everett (who conducted the testing, click the link to read more about the science) had to say.

2 v 7 v 9

“Based purely on IR it looks like #2 and #9 are extremely similar, #7 is not at all.”

Samples 2 and 9 were the new and old FP-10, and Sample 7 was Weaponshield. It is easy even for the layman (such as myself) to see how different WeaponShield is from FP-10. For those who wondered if all oils looked alike on IR (such as those who didn’t want to believe that FireClean was similar to canola oil), this should give you a good frame of reference for such things.

Does WeaponShield work better than FP-10? It would take me years to answer that question. I have been thoroughly satisfied with Shooters Choice FP-10, going so far as to fire over 2700 rounds through a 5.45 AR lubricated with a minimal amount of FP-10 – and no further lubrication – before encountering a malfunction. One drop of FP-10 was added to the most critical lubrication point on an AR, and the weapon continued to function for another 150 rounds without malfunctioning, at which time I ran out of ammunition.

In comparison, I have about 100 rounds downrange with WeaponShield since receiving some free samples from Mr. Fennell a few weeks back.

I can’t say if WeaponShield is better, but I can say definitively that FP-10 and WeaponShield are not the same, or even similar – answering a question no one seemed to be asking.

Everett (who conducted the testing and is linked above) wished me to thank:

Professor Drew Brodeur of Worcester Polytechnic institute for advising the project
Daryl Johnson, Andy Butler, and Professor John MacDonald of WPI for help with the methods and testing
Curtis of The VSO Gun Channel for help with the methods

CLP Changes Over Time

Several weeks ago I submitted eighteen samples of various gun lubricants and cooking oils for infrared spectroscopy and other testing. If you would like to read more about how the testing was conducted and learn some science, read this article written by the man who was instrumental in this second round of gun lube chemical analysis.

All eighteen will be the subject of future articles, many of which will be published this week – but we’ll start with the mundane. Four of those samples were CLP, and they are the subject of this post
(It’s important to note that from manufacturer to manufacturer, the term “CLP” may not mean the same exact thing, even though they might be intended for the same purpose).

The oldest was a bottle I’d been issued while in the military. It was manufactured by Royal Lubricants Co in March of 2000. This was sample number 15.

The second oldest was a bottle of Otis CLP I’d also picked up in the military, but it was made in (roughly) 2005.  This was sample number 10.

Next was an aerosol can of Break-Free CLP purchased in 2010. This was sample number 14.

Finally, I bought a new bottle of non-aerosol Break-Free CLP in September of 2015. This was sample number 5.

5 v 10 v 14 v 15

The IR spectroscopy showed that they were all similar, but…well, here’s what Everett had to say, before he knew what they were.

“Samples #5, #10, #14, and #15 are all similar, but the varying height of the 2000 to 500 cm-1 peaks indicates that there are some differences. I almost wonder if they are the same starting material but some samples broke down more than others.”

Seems he’s a pretty smart guy, or at least, he knows chemistry. Yes, it would appear that CLP breaks down over time. Is the older stuff less effective as a result? I’ve no idea. The Y2K tube was one I’d used without issue over the last ten years, but that is not conclusive proof that old oil is as good as new oil. We can see that there are some chemical differences, so we should expect some difference in performance at some point. Hook me up with a million rounds of 5.56 and a dozen people whose fingers never get tired, and I’ll find that point.

Everett (who conducted the testing and is linked above) wished me to thank:

Professor Drew Brodeur of Worcester Polytechnic institute for advising the project
Daryl Johnson, Andy Butler, and Professor John MacDonald of WPI for help with the methods and testing
Curtis of The VSO Gun Channel for help with the methods

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