Ballistol Gun Oil: Miracle or Myth?

PUBLISHED: 11:02 07 January 2016 | UPDATED: 11:02 07 January 2016

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Can you use gun oil on a cut hand? The Editor finds out

When I first heard the claims made by Ballistol, I have to confess that I thought it was a joke. Gun oil that works on metal, wood, leather … and if you have a skin cut you can use it to aid healing. Surely, they were pulling my leg?

The story of how this remarkable product came about interested me. At the turn of the 20th century, the German Imperial Army began looking for a multi-purpose oil that could be used to clean and maintain the metallic parts of a rifle, whilst also protecting its wooden stock and a soldier’s leather gear. To develop this oil, the Army contracted with Friedrich Klever and his son, Dr. Helmut Klever, a professor of chemistry at the Technical University of Karlsruhe.

In 1904, Dr. Helmut Klever succeeded in producing the special compound, which he named ‘Ballistol’ (from the words ‘ballistic’ and ‘oleum’, the Latin word for oil). It soon became obvious that this new ballistic oil had some impressive capabilities, and in 1905, the Imperial Army tested and adopted Ballistol, which stayed in use until 1945. By then, however, word had spread and within a decade, hunters, boaters, hikers, and outdoorsmen in Germany, Austria and Switzerland had converted to using this new ‘miracle’ oil.

It’s made from pharmaceutical grade ingredients that are completely harmless to the environment and us, both in use and in the disposal. They even make dedicated skin-care products from the same ingredients, but I didn’t see rough, tough outdoors people wanting to know about them.

I asked the UK office for some samples, which I’ll be testing over the winter to see for myself just how good it is. They claim the oil will work on nearly anything - your gun to window latches - so I’ll be sure to test that out. They make some other products, too, which I think will be useful to airgunners, such as insect repellent, and fabric waterproofer.

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