Nanotechnology has been a buzzword over the last decade or so and it’s no surprise that it has ended up a component in firearms lubrication and protection. This year at SHOT, XG Industries rolled out another nanoparticle infused lubricant called “H.A.W.G.” (Heavy Applications Weapons Grease).
The company states that this product was created specifically “to stand up to the extreme stresses and loads generated by heavy machine guns”. The rationale is that if it can hold up to the stresses of machine guns it will work on other firearms, lubricating and protecting them. This includes whether you’re shooting them or simply storing them in your safe. It’s non-toxic, and it’s nanotech properties, says XG, will protect your guns from rust, corrosion, oxidation, and dirt while reducing wear and tear.
One of the selling points, says, Tim Morrisey, the spokesman for the company is that H.A.W.G. has a flashpoint of 619 Fahrenheit. (Flashpoint means the temperature at and above which a liquid gives off enough flammable vapor to form a mixture with air that can be ignited by contact with a hot surface, spark, or flame). Morrisey says this translates into improved corrosion protection and better performance because a high flash point means the lubricant won’t evaporate when you’re shooting.
XG also sells RAND CLP (cleaner, lubricant, protectant) and “Rand Bore & Bolt”, a non-toxic solvent designed for deeper penetration of carbon, powder, rust, and other fouling agents.
Background on Nanotech
Naotech is a development near and dear to my heart.
Essentially, it’s the study and application of extremely small things. We’re talking at the atomic level—atoms. To get an idea of how tiny the scale we’re discussing, one nanometer is a billionth of a meter, or 10-9 of a meter. Thuis if a marble were a nanometer, then one meter would be the size of the Earth
What’s of interest to gun owners is that it also can be used to better lubricate and protect firearms.
XG says that they use a proprietary blend of nanoparticle compounds to bind to the metal surface of your firearm, thus creating a smoother and more durable surface that protects against oxidation and carbon buildup. The nanoparticles formulation sticks to the surface metal of your firearm creating a durable bond.
Using the Products
I had a chance to use the products on both handguns, AR 15s and AKs. I was particularly interested in using H.A.W.G. on my AKs, which are firearms that the Russian military has traditionally lubricated with grease.
The company suggests that after cleaning the firearm you should apply H.A.W.G. to your bolt, slide, recoil spring, and anywhere else you have metal on metal contact and moving parts.
Living in Hawaii, which has more than it’s share of humidity, I was interested in using the product as a corrosion inhibitor. Like many folks, I have a number items in my safe and protection from the environment, particularly for long-term storage, is an important huge consideration.
According to the XG website, H.A.W.G. has been subjected to rigorous corrosion testing, passing the 100- hour salt spray test used by the U.S. Military. H.A.W.G. also has been rated for use in all temperatures from -30°F to 619°F. In practical terms, it’s been tested with corrosive ammo, high round counts and inside suppressors.
Safety when using cleaning products is extremely important and XG touts it “nontoxicity” as a selling point. Indeed it is for me. I try not to use cleaning compounds derived from petrochemicals because of cancer-causing fears. When cleaning I still use a pair of latex gloves and with the XG line of products I am relieved not to have to worry about carcinogens. A close friend of mine, recently had a bout with kidney cancer that he’s convinced was borne during his military service of which included (surprise, surprise) a great deal of time cleaning guns without any kind protection.
As someone famously once said, “Where’s the Beef”? Is there an evidence based data analysis of the claims by XD Industries? The company did back up its claims with several tests based on industry standard tests performed for motor oil, presumably the closest analog to firearms lube. XG makes a bunch of products for the auto industry so it’s no surprise an auto lab is where their products would be tested.
Determining the Coefficient of Friction
Coefficient of Friction is measured by an industry standard test called the “Four Ball Wear Test”. In it three steel balls are positioned so that they are all touching, and then they are clamped together. A fourth ball is positioned on top of those balls resting in the cavity formed in the center, and secured so that there is constant contact between all four balls. The top ball is then rotated at 1200 rpm for 60 minutes. During this time, heat and friction are measured; once a baseline has been established, product is added to evaluate its effectiveness in reducing this heat and friction.
The goal for this test is to have the lowest coefficient of friction possible. A coefficient of zero indicates a friction free environment, and frictionless planes do not exist in the real world. In the Winter of 2012, XG Industries had its products tested at Petro-lube facilities in Lafayette, New Jersey. The test used a popular motor oil as a control, and the coefficient of friction with the motor oil was .082, which is below that of most other motor oils, Then, the same test was run again with XG 100, their nanoparticle infused engine oil treatment added to the motor oil. Within the 60-minute test cycle, the Coefficient of Friction dropped to .017, which is the lowest measure that XG says “it could find in scientific literature”.
Wear Scar Test
The Four Ball Wear Test can also measure the grooves and scratches caused by metal on metal contact, which allows the company to measure wear and tear on metal surfaces. The longer the groove (think of a scar) produced in the steel test balls during the wear test, the greater the wear on the metal. The length of the groove (wear scar) produced during the testing of the control motor oil was .49 millimeters. Once XG’s nanoparticle infused product was added and the test was repeated, the wear scar dropped to .39 millimeters (a 25% decrease in scarring).
The company wanted visual proof what their products were doing on the surface of the metals they were applied to, so they disassembled the engines of two identical vehicles with the same mileage and sent slices of engine metal from pistons to IMR Test Labs in Lansing, New York.
The two photographs above show the edges of the pistons magnified 600 times. The photo on the left is from an untreated engine. You can clearly see the divots and cavities in the metal. These are the microscopic imperfections that grind and cause friction. The photo on the right is from the engine that was treated with XG 100. The metal surface of the piston in this vehicle looks much different.
XG states that on the right hand photo “What you are seeing is the effect of the nanoparticles on metal. The nanoparticles are so small that they fill in those cavities and imperfections, and they act as roller bearings on the surface.”
As the metal pistons move against each other, the outer layers of nanoparticles peel off like an onion skin, which is what causes our drastic friction reduction.
I had a chance to use both the standard RAND CLP and the Bore & Bolt products for a few weeks prior to SHOT and really liked what I saw and experienced at the range. If the nanotechnology does half of what it’s purported to do in the way of firearms protection and lubricity, this is a major breakthrough. It would be interesting to see if the company can work with competitive shooters to see if it helps their guns last longer and perform better.
I’m convinced nanotechnology is for real but I’d like to see more evidence based data when it comes to firearms.