US Army Develops Integral Dry Lubricant To Replace CLP

The US Army’s Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC) has developed an integral surface treatment for infantry small arms that could augment or supplant the existing applicated Cleaning, Lubricating, Preserving (CLP) lubricant on small arms components. The new lubricant is applied during the manufacturing of small arms and promises a permanent solution for weapons lubrication and environmental resistance. From

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Although weapon maintenance may seem tedious to the unencumbered civilian, Picatinny Arsenal engineers know a clean weapon could save the warfighter’s life.

That’s why they are developing an advanced surface treatment for armament components that not only mitigates weapon maintenance but also provides increased reliability and durability.

Currently, when cleaning a weapon, warfighters use a conventional wet lubricant known as CLP (cleaner, lubricant, and preservative) that is continuously reapplied.

As early as 2003, the Army was experiencing problems with weapon stoppages in sand and dust environments if proper lubrication procedures and cleaning methods were not followed.

Army engineers recognized the importance of weapon maintenance in these extreme environments.

Thus, they set out to identify a materiel solution, which resulted in a Durable Solid Lubricant.

“The new technology eliminates CLP and uses a dry surface treatment known as durable solid lubricant, or DSL, that is applied during armament component manufacturing,” said Adam Foltz, an experimental engineer at the U.S. Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC.

“So far the DSL has been applied to small and medium caliber weapons, such as rifles, like the M4A1 Carbine, and machine guns like the M240 to demonstrate the technology capability,” Foltz continued.

As a result of using the durable solid lubricant, weapons function properly, require less maintenance, and the war-fighter has more peace of mind regarding possible weapon malfunctions.

The DSL solution achieves three ideal outputs: a lower friction coefficient, better wear resistance, and improved corrosion protection. “Friction coefficient” describes how a weapon slides; a low coefficient means the weapon slides easily, a high coefficient suggests sliding resistance.

“With typical wet lubricants, Soldiers need to reapply in order for the weapon system to function properly. Soldiers also have to regularly clean off carbon residue that builds up from firing and it can be tough to clean,” explained Foltz.

“Our DSL has a high wear resistance and a low friction coefficient, so it’s easy to clean off anything that builds up. You can use a steel brush to knock off any residue, and you don’t even have to worry about reapplying anything.”

Additionally, the current industry standards for preventing corrosion on armament components involves treating steel parts with phosphate and oil while aluminum parts are anodized (coated with an oxide layer.)

DSL uses a benign material that eliminates the need for a phosphate/oil coating process, making it an environmentally friendly solution.

In the ambient environment, the project team shot 15,000 rounds per weapon. The baseline weapons with the CLP showed wear and complete loss of the phosphate on approximately 75 percent of the bolt carrier sliding surfaces and 90 percent of the bolt.

Meanwhile, the DSL material showed less than 5 percent wear on both the bolt carrier and bolt.

In every instance, the DSL material showed either an improved or an equivalent performance to the CLP baseline. Results demonstrated increased wear resistance, increased reliability, and improved maintainability.

While a lubricating surface treatment would be a major advance for small arms technology, cutting down on time-consuming routine maintenance, history shows that a cautious approach is best. DSL, if it proves successful, should be applied to firearms that then still receive routine CLP applications, further improving a rifle’s functionality and ensuring no reduction in function. During Vietnam, the new M16 rifle with its aluminum receiver and direct impingement gas system was advertised as “self-cleaning by Colt, and the US Army failed to issue the weapons with requisite cleaning kits. As a result, the weapons – to a degree “self-cleaning”, but by no means impervious to the humidity of Southeast Asia – failed in combat, which resulted in the deaths of many riflemen. Colt’s claims about the M16 were not false, but the treatment of the M16’s advancements in corrosion resistance and environmental resilience were taken as a panacea to all maintenance worries, with fatal results.

With that warning out of the way, DSL appears to be a very promising innovation that could not only save time, but lives… But I wouldn’t sound the deathknell of CLP just yet.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Joshua

    Sound like it could be something akin to Nickel Teflon, something that will be amazing on the BCG.

    • DH2

      They’ll spend millions for the fancy coating and still drill shots and platoon sergeants will say that the weapons aren’t clean until they’re shiny. And privates being privates, they’ll bust out their dremel tools, steel brushes, etc and make those DFL coated parts nice and shiny. So much for that coating.

      • Joshua

        The coating is about reducing friction, which increases reliability and durability of parts.

        • Phil Hsueh

          But won’t necessarily prevent old school NCOs disregard that and expect their men to clean their weapons until they shine, coating or no coating. It’s like a story a friend told me once, he actually had to strip a no wax floor just so that they could go ahead and wax it because Marine Corps specify that all floors must be waxed.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Why am I completely unsurprised by this?

          • Joshua

            Better reliability in the field, and increased bolt are worth it, even if cleaning won’t change.

          • flyingburgers

            Simple human factors engineering. You make the coating colored, like red. Specify that all red parts must only touch other red parts. If a red part is in contact with anything else, the weapon is NMC.

            That’s why the strip on razor blades is colored.

      • Rock or Something

        Yep, leave it to the military to waste the potential in the end. Like back when the military still had BDUs, and garrison troops were expected to starch and iron them for any potential daily inspections. But BDU’s were not originally meant to be starched because it supposedly weakened the fibers and infrared protection. But hey, gotta look good otherwise Top is going to put us in the front leaning rest position.

      • Jwedel1231

        That’s a training problem, not a material problem. Those guys will be taught the correct way to do something, whether they do it or not will be on them and them alone.

  • iksnilol

    I wonder how well oil with teflon in it works as lubricant.

    Kinda wondering if car lock oil can be used as firearms lubricant?

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Almost anything can.

      • iksnilol

        I was thinking that too, + it comes in those small handy bottles.

        • TheNotoriousIUD

          I got one of those Magpul grips with the little bottle inside.

          • iksnilol

            I dunno, sounds like a gripful πŸ˜›

    • DrewN

      Those graphite-in-solution lubes attract debris like crazy. The guy who had my day job before me loved that stuff and I spent many a day disassembling locksets. My redneck family has always used ATF though.

      • iksnilol

        They used the ATF? I don’t even.

        Though don’t most lubes attract debris?

      • Norm Glitz

        ATF is mineral oil with red dye. No magic.

    • RISKY

      I believe Remington brand RemOil is advertised to contain Teflon as a additive. It works well but not better than other conventional lubes.

    • OBlamo Binlyen

      Personally I like Mobil 1, it comes in handy quarts, works in high pressure/high temperature environments and is cheap. What’s not to love.

  • Dave

    as a soldier, speaking from experience, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • Bodie

      My thoughts exactly. This is the type of product you take marketing with a grain of salt and wait for peer performance reviews.

  • I’d rather use Canola Oil in my gun.

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      You mean FireClean?

      This message was (probably not) approved by Larry Vickers

      • Ah – Fireclean. Yes. Larry Vickers’s favorite Fry Oil.

        • Jwedel1231

          Historical note: Canola oil was developed as a mechanical lube for WWII, and worked very well. When WWII ended they had all this production capacity and no market, so they changed their advertising to the cooking market. It’s not that they are re purposing cooking oil, cooking is re purposing machine lube.

  • Bub

    Sounds great, but like you pointed out we have been down this road before. I think a light cleaning would still be advised.

    • Rabies

      At least the gas system was self cleaning.

  • Westwood

    its called “dry film lubricant” I’ve used cerakote “micro slick” for years, works great. KG industries (gun-kote) also makes a dry film lubricant, but I’ve never used it.

    • Limonata

      Gun-Kota is available from Brownells It is not a lubricant, it is a spray-on back-on finish that is supposed to have lubricant qualities.

  • Kyle

    So this stuff will last about a month on a typical Marine’s weapon? Armor draw at 0500, you will scrub your rifle for the next 14 hours and turn your weapon back into the armory at 1900 if you are lucky and SSgt hasn’t told the armory Marines to be dicks. Repeat every couple of weeks.

  • Southpaw89

    Seems like a simple silicon dry lube would do the job just as well, it would just have to be applied after every cleaning as per the norm, haven’t tried it on guns though. The issue in my neck of the woods isn’t dust, its rust, so everything gets a nice coat of oil.

  • Major Tom

    What about graphene?

  • Lance

    Something to supplement CLP, I agree this is more of a improvement to simplify maintenance but not to undo oiling your weapon, fiction still happens when mental move onto of metal. Very interesting.

    • AD

      Are you saying that listening to metal helps your mind to come up with fiction? Makes sense to me.

  • Carl

    Hopefully, this will actually work because every weapon i’ve ever seen get turned in is drier than the surface of mercury on a sunny day.

  • It sounds similar to Robar’s NP3 coating, which is a nickel-teflon metal treatment. Curious how this new coating compares.

  • Joe

    Cleaning is NOT weapons maintenance.
    Function check.
    Replace worn components.
    Function check again.
    THIS constitutes Weapons maintenance.
    If in the process of following the above checklist requires you to also clean a part or two so be it.
    No mechanic, OR driver would consider a car wash, wax, polish, or even a detail under the hood as true vehicle maintenance. Sure it needs to be done occasionally, but the Military sure has trained a bunch of idiots that scrubbing and polishing some how equates to a more functional, reliable Weapon. End Rant.

    • I am not entirely sure I agree with that. Your analogy regarding a washing being automotive maintenance and likening it to a gun cleaning is… strange. Cleaning and lubricating your firearm is tantamount to changing your vehicle’s oil to ensure reliable function, airing your tires, and perhaps topping off with DEF.

      • Joe

        Let me give you an example.
        Before my unit was deployed to Afghanistan I was tasked with ensuring all my teams weapons were functionally sound and ready to deploy. Every other day for 2 weeks straight the Platoon was sent to the armory to draw weapons, count EDL, and perform “Weapons Maintenance” these rifles, carbines, LMG’s, and grenade launchers were pristine white glove inspection ready. But when it was pointed out none of the M-16’s, or M-4’s had upgraded Crane O rings, extractors, proper length buffer springs, correct attachments for M-203’s, broken barrel nuts, missing gas rings, and chipped electors we were practically laughed at by the Armorers, and told to pound sand. Upon further demands and some rough words it was discovered that the armory had stockpiles of spare parts, extra weapons, optics, spare barrels etc
        And they didn’t want to issue them because it would change morning counts. This actually happened. Infantry Marines were sent into combat with cleaned, lubed BROKEN weapons. We did more “Weapons Maintenance” than I care to remember. Our entire company had 2 actually functioning SAW’s in country out of a total of 18. No one was told to get black follower Vietnam/Gulf War 91′ mags replaced with the new Tan follower mags. The armory certainly didn’t want us to know they had cases of new mags. And leadership didn’t care. So yeah I stand by my earlier anology. How clean a weapon is has very little to do with how it functions, when the damn parts are wore out, missing, or broken.

        • Evan

          Were you 7th Marines, or is the entire Corps just that fvcked up?

          • Joe

            5th Marines, and yes.

          • Evan

            Huh, I got relieved by 3/5. Their point men all had M4s, they all had the newer RCOs, and everyone who needed it had gotten Lasik surgery before the deployment. We all just figured that since we were at Twentynine Palms, we were the bastard children and the rest of the Corps was far more locked on. I guess not.

          • Joe

            I was 1/5, 0311.

        • Sam Kim

          In your case your weapons were not to the standard already as your armorers messed you all over.
          What’s you’re saying is essentially no matter how many times you change the oil on your vehicle an engine with bad piston rings, worn down cam shafts, and stretched timing chains will not function properly.

          On the flip side a brand new engine will not function properly if you drive it 100k miles without changing the oil.

  • Robert Rodriguez

    So, by using this lube, would you technically be “going in dry?”

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      Yes, so bite the pillow sweetheart!

  • n0truscotsman

    Great and then theyll get to re-learn what us in the civilian side have known for some time: that ‘integral dry lubricants’ cannot replace seperate lubrication. Unless something lightyears ahead of nickel boron has been created.

    Coatings can compliment existing lubrication regimes quite well, although there’s no evidence they’re any more reliable than good ol phosphate with lube.

    • The Brigadier

      Again material science knowledge is doubling every four months. It may be that some seemingly miraculous lubricant coating has been developed. Lets wait and see if its true and by all means accept nothing until its proven to be so.

  • Camilo Emiliano Rosas Echeverr

    “Take these, grunts: they never need to be lubricated”
    It never backfired in history, did it?

  • Bob

    Let some politicians son or daughter go into the sandbox and check it out FIRST!!
    I don’t believe anything anymore.

    The gov’t will tell you that you can hold a turd by the clean end while you polish the other end!!!

  • Wolfgar

    I would have to see this to believe it. The Nitride process if done correctly is the only process that I’m aware of that works very well yet I would still use slip 2000 generously. No dry, wet or fantasy lube will prevent sand from jamming up a weapon platform. Cerakote micro slick works very well but it still needs lube. This is a bold statement that I have doubts about. If my life was on the line I would do frequent parts checks, cleaning and maintenance no matter what I was ordered to do or not do.

    • Jwedel1231

      Considering that they seem to be talking about testing some secret squirrel stuff, I don’t think very many people are aware of exactly what they are talking about. I’ll still wait to pass judgement until I see it, but I’m expecting something very new and otherwise unheard of.

      • The Brigadier

        I agree with you. It is a fact now that the material sciences are doubling their knowledge every four months. There are literally millions of new finding waiting for investors and the number of miracle products or processes keep mounting up. I will keep an open mind until this one is either validated or proven false.

  • jonspencer

    I have been using this stuff (Finish Line Ceramic WET Bicycle Chain Lube) for awhile now and it seems to work very well if you follow they directions.

  • Mattblum

    Sounds nice. As a big chicken, I think I’d still make cleaning a priority.

  • Mc Cain

    Needs no lubrication!

    Hmmm….anyone remember the last time this grand claim was made for an issued small arm??

    It did not end well.

  • Wil Ferch

    The only ting I’ve done that even remotely sounds like it performs like this…is either hard industrial chrome plating….or Nickel-Boron coating. Both offer supreme wear and corrosion resistance and are very slick needing either “no” or very little additional lubrication. Been around for many years.


    When first issued M16’s back in the 1960’s we were told they didn’t need cleaning. Having been on a firing demonstration team, we found out, in a hurry, that it wasn’t the case. We managed to score some cleaning rods from the armourer and cleaned every day, just like on the M-14’s we turned in.

  • George Dean

    ” You can use a steel brush to knock off any residue, and you don’t even have to worry about reapplying anything.”

    Now that statement just sends shivers up my spine. I’ll buy into a brass brush, but doubt if I’ll ever apply a steel brush to any of my firearms.

  • James Rustleford

    I love that it took the armys’ top scientists (oxymoron) a full decade longer than the commerical market to figure out Ferritic Nitrocarburizing.

  • The Brigadier

    Very smart researching Yvette. Good job!

  • The Brigadier

    Yes the name was changed when the crazy feminists on college campuses started to come up with fantasy large numbers of rapes on college campuses. These claims have not survived close scrutiny, but they are trotted out every decade. It was politically incorrect to have an oil that brought up the subject every time someone bought or used rapeseed oil.

  • Sam Kim

    The lack of understanding in many comment sections is appalling.
    To make it easier to understand and to clarify a few things
    solid lubricant isn’t meant to not clean your rifle. just make cleaning
    intervals less frequent, less time consuming, and easier.
    far as I am understanding durable solid lubricant is applied then cured
    with high temperature heat (in excess of 600F). If this were to be used
    then every single weapon needs to be turned in on a rotation to be
    treated at a facility.
    After treatment the durable solid
    lubricant basically makes all the surfaces microscopically smooth at a
    nano level making it difficult for anything to stick. Like CLP, durable
    solid lubricant will put a barrier that carbon and unburnt powder cant
    stick to and will be expelled out the barrel and ejection port.
    your rifle will be cleaner and will be no hardened carbon deposits to
    scrub. A simple wipe down would be sufficient and would be as easy as
    washing brake dust off powder coated wheels.
    Additional CLP would just make it even better as long as it is not a dusty environment.
    The more I read into durable solid lubricant it’s basically a Chrome Nickel Silver coating.
    you know anything about chrome lined barrels this should give you an
    insight on how effective durable solid lubricant should be. In the past
    we didn’t chrome line our barrels and now every rifle is chrome lined.
    It lengthens the service life and ease of cleaning. I don’t think anyone
    let service members know they were being issued chrome lined barrels
    when it started but every service member sure benefits from it.

    • Harold

      “The lack of understanding in many comment sections is appalling” New to the internet Sam?

  • RA

    New on TFB but I highly recommend checking out Archoil dry film lubricants. I actually found it when looking for a lube for my Crossbows. I started using it AR-2400 on the bow’s trigger group as well. Very distinct change to a smooth clean trigger pull for a CB. They also have a variety of wet and dry film lubes for firearms.

  • Mason

    Probably Aluminum Magnesium Boride
    Developed by Ames Laboratory, would be the logical successor to Nickel Boron.