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AR-15 Cold weather operation

Discussion in 'AR15' started by MosinRuger, Jan 12, 2018 at 10:24 PM.

  1. MosinRuger

    MosinRuger G&G Evangelist

    I wanted to start a discussion on using the AR platform in extreme or just plain cold weather.

    I recently took my ar into the mountains when it was snowing and about 20 degrees. the rifle gave me some feeding issues, not feeding rounds after firing.

    After reading some online there are some cold weather specific lubes but even with those the trick seems to be to use it very sparingly, the opposite of most conditions to the ar, they like to run wet in most cases.

    so tonight I pulled out my rifle and wiped everything down with a dry clean cloth so that ther is a thin layer of lube on all the parts. not dry but almost. it actually cycles smoothly manually. my goal is to head up into the mnts on sunday, its supposed to snow on and off this weekend so we'll see what the weathers like. but I want to try it again in the cold with very little lube on the rifle and see how it goes.

    Last time it it was impossible to prevent snow from getting in the rifles action, if the dust cover was open a second some flakes go on it. worst was when the bolt locked back on the last round. this allowed even just a few flakes to get into the chamber and bolt. water + oil + cold = bad for ar rifle. the water and oil mix and freeze which binds up and slows down the action.

    please share experiences and remedies.
  2. TACAV

    TACAV G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    I use white lithium wheel bearing grease on my AR when Im out in the cold/snow (and even when I'm not lol) and never had a problem. ;) last time I shot one of my AR's a bunch in the snow for several hours it was in the mid 20's in about 8" of snow.

    i buy a tub of it and then stick it into a big plastic syringe applicator for use on my guns.

    The white lithium grease has better performance in low temperatures than normal liquid type oil lubricants that start to gum up and have it's properties change in low temps I think, but either way so far like I said, no problems with the grease.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018 at 10:56 PM

  3. Wicked109

    Wicked109 G&G Evangelist

    Took my AR-15 out in near zero degree weather - no problems. Was sighting in my new scope. I will keep an eye out for any problems if they crop up.
    TXplt likes this.
  4. MosinRuger

    MosinRuger G&G Evangelist

    I think I had issues because I usually keep the gun pretty wet, I think there was too much oil on the action which caused problems when it got too cold. Hopefully removing that will fix it.

    I plan to shoot a few times with the 3x burris ar-332 then take that off and shoot irons at various distances.
    TACAV, Wicked109, TXplt and 1 other person like this.
  5. Mindy up North

    Mindy up North G&G Evangelist

    I was always taught to degrease the heck out of it, then either use graphite (I personally hate graphite) or CLP. I use CLP (sparingly). Shot in informal match in subzero temps a few years back and the AR did just fine between 0 and -20'ish...I just needed something to keep "me" from jamming up. I also use CLP on my other firearms I take in the cold. I know some people who bring AR's with them everywhere on their snow machines, and they tell me they keep them totally dry and they are fine. Not sure if I would do that to my rifle knowing the CLP works for me.
    Wicked109 likes this.
  6. runfiverun

    runfiverun G&G Evangelist

    I use a very thin oil all the time.
    it comes in an applicator pen with a drip tip.
    G-96 makes it, but I have also used 3-1 machine oil.
    I put it on my finger tip and wipe it on where the bolt goes back and forth.
    I do the same for my semi-auto pistols.
    I use them all year around and expect them to work covered in rain or snow or in minus zero temps.
    thick oils and greases do not allow that.
    thin oil works just fine in the heat too.
    think about 5w-20 motor oil and the 200-f temps it normally operates at and then the minus-0 temps it has to flow in when starting your car in the winter.
  7. ChaZam

    ChaZam G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    I use Militec 1... Hot, cold, dry, wet, dusty, and everything in between.
  8. jerry

    jerry Since 2002 Forum Contributor

    Lube battles are tricky.
    I trust FP-10. Self tested and proven on weapons in live fire in negative temps and parts in the deep freeze. It’s also commonly available.

    Going from cold to warm temps is a killer. Condensation will build in places you won’t see. Be mindful bringing guns back and forth out doors to inside.

    During muzzle loade season the gun stays out in the cold.
    455rocket, austinjoe13, TACAV and 2 others like this.
  9. blaster

    blaster G&G Evangelist

    I don't have that problem.:p I just have to keep the sweat from dripping into the action.
    Mindy up North likes this.
  10. Huey Rider

    Huey Rider G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    I'm a big user of white lithium grease.
    TACAV likes this.
  11. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor


    The key is to have tested whatever you are using under the conditions you are going to experience.

    EVERYONE has a favorite recipe and they can all work or fail.

    I've found Slip 2000 EWL to function well over a wide range of temps and be great stuff.

    So I use it on a lot of stuff including my non-suppressed ARs


    It doesn't have the best solvent qualities in the world and doesn't play well with other lubes. They also make other cleaners for this purpose. I've found EWLs low temp characteristics to be excellent.

    For my suppressed ARs (or guns that get really dirty including the MP-15/22s) I use a mix of 1/3 Kroil, Synthetic ATF, and Mobil 1 (all having very good low temp characteristics and flowing well at low temps without a significant increase in viscosity). You probably could get by with Kroil and M1 or Kroil and Dextron alone, etc. I wipe things down and out, dunk and stir the BCG for awhile (sometimes disassemble it; sometimes not), shake it off and back she goes. The Kroil is great stuff and used more as a creeper and solvent (it also is a light oil but a bit too light for the heavy duty sliding parts IMHO) and the other as a longer term clingy lube. This also lets me simply wipe things down and out between real cleanings. If it's getting REALLY cold I don't run it very wet; just kind of a very light lube of this and I think that's key more than anything else. The reason I use the mix is these guns do tend to get very dirty in the receiver area and it's too much of a chore and too expensive to constantly be cleaning and using the more expensive EWL products.

    I filter the mix from time to time through a coffee filter or mask to get the sediment and carbon out and it lasts a long time. Probably change it annually to bi-annually.

    The lower usually gets flushed out with Kroil from time to time which gets the junk out. The nice thing about Kroil is it also acts as a solvent to help clean in between cleanings and won't foul.
    jerry and TACAV like this.
  12. TACAV

    TACAV G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    I think that right there is key.

    And also what jerry said about "lube battles".
    And also what jerry said about "lube battles".

    I know I mentioned the white lithium grease for cold temps (which I still maintain works really well in low temps) but if you look in my gun maint. supplies box you will find probably half a dozen different types of lube, oils, grease, etc from all sorts of different companies.

    The slip 2000 ELW stuff, the orange Hoppes brand lube, CLP, Remoil, the white lithium grease, Heck I even have this tube somewhere of "natural" gun grease that's made entirely of vegetable product and food ingredients (and it actually works pretty darn well). They all work well enough within certain operating conditions.

    If you know what your operating conditions and expectations are then choose appropriately like what TXPlt said.

    If you plan on shooting the ever loving crap out of your carbine like in a training class or something and not being able to clean it for several hundred rounds, then yes I think some do slightly better than others, or if you plan on being out for extended periods in really cold or wet conditions or maybe really hot/dry and not being able re-lube it for a bit then others might work better.

    Example, Hoppes lube vs the Slip 2000 EWL stuff in an AR15 on a 3 day class.

    One day just for craps and giggles I did a test, day one I used Hoppes lube... and then shot all the first half of the day (a lot) and then checked the status of my gun during lunch break and re-lubed as necessary for the afternoon half. At the end of day one I did a really good cleaning for the next day but used the Slip2000 EWL for day two and again checked at lunch...

    I think if I had to keep on going for the rest of the day without any minor lunch break maint, the EWL would have won out in the end they both worked just fine for shooting a crap ton of ammo in a short amount of time in a pretty dirty dusty environment. Far more ammo than any one person could expect to carry in a single setting let alone still be alive after a gunfight lol.

    I still use the Hoppes brand lube on most of my handguns with no issues.

    Ive even found that for whatever reason brand X lube doesn't work as well on one type of gun but it works fine on an entirely different type of gun.

    For example I am personally not a big fan of using CLP in my AR15's -especially if I am going to be shooting it a lot (your mileage may vary) but I don't have any problem in how it preforms in my MP5 which uses a completely different mechanical operating system.

    So again... I think it's less a "brand X is better than brand Y" sort of thing vs just pick the best lube for what suits your firearms needs and your expected operating conditions.
    MosinRuger, TXplt and jerry like this.
  13. jerry

    jerry Since 2002 Forum Contributor

    6F6E6F53-46C8-4D7D-B54F-5557341CE97E.jpeg I’m pretty guilty of multiple lubeitis.

    I try to stick to a process for winter but find warm weather to be pretty forgiving.

    I’ll also tend to use oils and grease on the same gun depending on the job the part is doing.
  14. writerinmo

    writerinmo G&G Evangelist

    I use Mobil1 synthetic on everything. Haven't shot at any extreme low temps, mid 20's is about it.
    jerry and MosinRuger like this.
  15. MosinRuger

    MosinRuger G&G Evangelist

    well forecasts say sunny skies tomorrow but I'll only know what the weathers like when i get there. I just hope there's less than 1 foot of snow on the ground, otherwise ill have to walk in instead of drive.
    jerry likes this.
  16. MosinRuger

    MosinRuger G&G Evangelist

    well i made it out today, weather was actually quite nice, about freezing and sunny.

    had a blast shooting, not an issue to speak of with the ar-15.

    I did have one malfunction in my sr9c due to a noticeably light round, it was a 9mm 124 grain NATO Winchester.

    felt and sounded weak, didnt cycle, meaning it didnt move the slide back far enough to extract, eject or feed a new round.

    racked the slide, ensured the barrel was clear, and all was well.

    Had a blast trekking through the snow and shooting my steel target.

    Found out it holds up to .22lr and 9mm. but not .223 lol
    (short story: i found this piece of steel at work, no one claimed it when i asked and my manager said it was mine.)

    its maybe 10"X 24", I have no idea what kind of steel it is, but it works!

    i'll get the pics from today up loaded tomorrow.
    TXplt and jerry like this.
  17. MosinRuger

    MosinRuger G&G Evangelist

    I did get very lucky, I had on a big bulky coat with lots of pockets, and I stuffed an ampty sr9c 10 rounder in an open pocket, well i guess it bounced right out of that pocket because when i got back to the truck I couldnt find it! figured it may have fallen out and sure enough as i traced my steps i found it. apparently it had fallen out and then it looked like i stepped on it with my big snowy muddy boot. Im lucky it wasnt a foot or so left or right, where it would have just sunk into the 8" or soo deep snow.
    Man for a minute there I thought i had sacrificed a magazine to the snow shooting gods.

    anyhow, I knocked it off on my knee a few times and loaded it up, it worked fine.

    I love putting my equipment to the test.
    TXplt, jerry and austinjoe13 like this.
  18. Minimal lube has always worked best for me. I switch from red lithium grease in the summer to thin oils in the winter. I haven't shot my AR in the cold yet, but my AK, glock, and 1911 have worked well this way.
    TXplt and jerry like this.
  19. Palladin8

    Palladin8 G&G Evangelist

    LAW or Lubricant Arctic Weather is what we used in the Army. CLP and LP can thicken up a bit and then slow the cycling of auto and semi auto weapons. LAW will not slow things down. It's rated for -70f. I remember a couple times in Bosnia in the winter time where weapons had frozen up due to condensation on them freezing the actions shut once they were mounted in the turret. Could've failed us had we needed them. Once back at base we tore down all weapons and every friction part was coated with LAW. Worked great and never again had the problem.
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  20. jerry

    jerry Since 2002 Forum Contributor

    I have a lot of LSA but no LAW :(
    writerinmo and Palladin8 like this.