Army Touts Improved Lube for Rifles, Machine Guns

A Soldier from the 42nd Military Police Brigade fires his issued M16 rifle during a qualification event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, on Jan. 21, 2016. (Photo by Jasmine Higgins, U.S. Army)A Soldier from the 42nd Military Police Brigade fires his issued M16 rifle during a qualification event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, on Jan. 21, 2016. (Photo by Jasmine Higgins, U.S. Army)

The U.S. Army is touting a new and improved lubricant for small arms ranging from the standard M4 carbine to the M240 machine gun, officials said.

Unlike the conventional “wet lubricant” known as CLP (for cleaner, lubricant and preservative), the new product uses a dry surface treatment known as durable solid lubricant, or DSL, according to a press release on Tuesday from officials at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.

The push to develop the new technology dates to 2003, when engineers realized soldiers were experiencing problems with weapon stoppages in sand and dust environments, including in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, if cleaning procedures weren’t followed, the release states.

The new durable solid lubricant developed by engineers at the U.S. Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or Ardec, uses a dry surface treatment that’s applied during the manufacturing process and has the potential to improve performance on any number of small arms while decreasing maintenance, according to the release.

Adam Foltz, an experimental engineer at the center, explained the differences in the technology.

“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,” he said in the release. “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.”

Doug Witkowski, a project officer at the Weapon Software and Engineering Center, said soldiers will appreciate the improvement.

“I know that it [weapon maintenance] is not a glamorous topic and when you’re briefing, there are higher profile technologies being briefed,” he said. “But this is a high-tech innovation and they [the warfighters] will love it, when they get it.”

After 15,000 rounds of live fire testing, Picatinny engineers studied bolt and bolt carriers to understand the wear difference between using a standard liquid lubricant (right) and a durable solid lubricant. The standard lubricant showed a complete loss of phosphate on approximately 75 percent of the bolt carrier and 90 percent of the bolt. However, the durable solid lubricant showed less than 5 percent wear on the bolt and bolt carrier. (U.S. Army photo)

After 15,000 rounds of live fire testing, Picatinny engineers studied bolt and bolt carriers to understand the wear difference between using a standard liquid lubricant (right) and a durable solid lubricant. The standard lubricant showed a complete loss of phosphate on approximately 75 percent of the bolt carrier and 90 percent of the bolt. However, the durable solid lubricant showed less than 5 percent wear on the bolt and bolt carrier. (U.S. Army photo)

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Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.