Do Nickel Boron Plated Firearms Need Lube?

After several years with various Nickel Boron-plated AR-15 components, I am of the opinion that they should still be lubricated just like any other bolt carrier group. It is important to note that I held this opinion even when I had relatively little experience with nickel boron.

Nickel boron is a coating used by FailZero on bolt carrier groups and is purported to reduce lubrication requirements – eliminate them, actually, but I’ll stop lubricating my weapons when the owners of FailZero plate the internal components of their cars’ engines with nickel boron and stop using oil in them (I do realize that there are other considerations with engine oil- just go with me on this). Now, don’t get me wrong – it definitely does have a “slick” feel, and the FCG is devoid of any grittiness whatsoever. I would just continue to lubricate any critical part that was plated with nickel boron, such as a bolt or bolt carrier.

The comparison shown herein is not meant to be scientific in nature, but does accurately depict my experiences with Nickel Boron BCGs.

9 thoughts on “Do Nickel Boron Plated Firearms Need Lube?”

  1. If indeed as you say the bolt needs to be oiled than what is the need for the boron finish? It seems to me after hearing your explanation and logical assumption for the need to oil using the car engine analogy the whole idea of the nickle boron coating is useless and adds expense to the weapon. It sounds space age and like a great idea but the reality seems to be different. I have read similar things about the finish in other articles over the years. I also remember reading not all nickle boron finishes are the same and there are different types and compositions. I would like to see a more in-depth article from you. I am going to do some reading on the subject out of curiosity. I wonder if the DI type AR has more issues with this type of coating because of the amount of contamination into the receiver a DI gun has.

  2. Big Daddy brings up some good questions.

    Also, I wonder if the outside dimensions are slightly larger on a nickel boron BCG, versus a standard BCG? If so, that could easily lead to the nickel boron BCG possibly requiring more lubrication.

  3. It is mettle on mettle, I wasn’t about to not lube it anyways. N3 type coatings are just a rust preventative as far as I can tell. Unless they added silca and made the finish less rough then maybe less lube would be appropriate. But meh, what do I know, I just play with guns.

  4. Im very glad you posted this. I had a niB BCG once that did the exact same thing after 300rnds and abou 1 hour worth of sitting up.

    I posted on different websites and eeryone said i was the only one with the problem, im glad im not. I now only run phosphated BCG’s

  5. Just took my first carbine class and we shot about 500 rounds. I have had a FailZero BCG for about a year. I normally don’t shoot over 100 rounds before I clean my rifle so lube free was working for me. When I took the class the BCG got very gritty after about 200 rounds and started to short stroke. I added some SLIP 2000 EWL on the bolt and cam pin and it got smooth and I didn’t have any more problems. Clearly FailZero is not worth the money, use the $250 to buy more ammo and train.

  6. I experienced the same problem after having shot 60 rds. in a new gun. Next day, not cleaned, and the bolt/bolt carrier assembly was frozen. Took two hands to open the bolt. No magazine in the gun. Freed it up, used no additional lube (it was not shot dry – I don’t believe in that). The next day, after having been only hand cycled, it was frozen up again. I used Federal “American Eagle” .223 in the gun. Any thoughts on why that might have happened?

  7. I agree with you with respect to nickel boron coating on the BCG and experienced the same thing. After only about 80 rounds through a rifle, I set the gun down, packed it away and the next day found it difficult as all heck to pull the bolt carrier back. I shot mine lubed with FP10. I finally replaced the cam pin with a standard old fashioned steel cam pin, used my few drops of FP10 and have not had a problem since. But – shoot dry? No way, not ever, not if there is any alternative. If things got that bad, I’d rather have a nice clean properly lubricated BCG in a plastic baggie waiting around for that” just in case” moment. I wounder, however, if anyone has any comments on nickel boron plated upper/lower receivers?

  8. my favorite part about nickel boron is how easy it is to clean. i’ve seen some pretty convincing things from FailZero’s website, too. if they’re telling the truth it’s really a step up in reliability. but, no, i wouldn’t take an AR into a fight without a bottle of oil…

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