I had heard the great Hickok45 wax poetic on YouTube about Ballistol on many occasions. This is a man whose opinion I respect greatly so his enthusiastic praise of the stuff, which doesn’t sponsor him in any way, made me at least curious about it.
As it turns out, Ballistol is kind of a universal cleaner.
You can use it on guns, knives, bikes, cars, and even leather and wood. They also claim that Ballistol leaves a thin film that acts as a rust-proof coating.
Although they’ve yet to respond to my inquiry on the subject, there’s no warning about nickel plating and, from what I’ve been able to tell in my research, it’s safe to use on nickel.
According to Ballistol “when used correctly, Ballistol is safe to use on nickel-plated firearms and gold leaf.”
I’ll be honest, reading through their marketing materials leaves you with an almost “too good to be true” vibe.
If it does even a fraction of what they claim, however, then it’s some incredible stuff. Sadly, their site also showed that there isn’t a dealer anywhere near Jacksonville so I was restricted to only being able to buy it online. Being a sucker for convenience and expediency, I stuck with Hoppe’s because I can drive 2 miles and buy some.
I was out of Hoppe’s and so I figured what the heck. I bought a couple of cans of Ballistol off Amazon for less than $10 each and awaited its arrival.
By some strange, cosmic coincidence, it arrived on a day that I needed to clean my guns so I put it right to work. No better trial than a trial by fire, I always say.
My first observation: the smell.
I’ve seen a lot of people talking about the smell of Ballistol. Some don’t like it, some do. Some say it smells like licorice combined with feet and burning.
In my opinion, this stuff smells like potpourri compared to Hoppe’s No. 9. It actually does have a bit of a flowery smell.
Not very manly but still.
My opinion might be a bit tainted as I am a huge fan of the unique odor of WD-40. In fact, I’ve written countless letters to Yankee Candle Company suggesting they make a WD-40 scented candle. They’ve responded with a restraining order. I’m sure that was a mistake on their part and they meant to send a letter saying “we’re totally on it”.
Anyway, you don’t buy gun cleaning solution for the smell. The big question is “how well does it work?”
I’m happy to report that it works phenomenally!
Starting with my .22LR pistol, I soaked down the barrel and the various components and let it sit for a moment or five (as per Hickok45’s suggestions). The red straw attachment makes it easy to coat the inside of the barrel with it. I used a Q-Tip cotton swab to apply it to the smaller components and let those soak for a bit as well.
Then I brought out the scrub brushes and the carbon just wiped right off. A couple of passes through with a bore snake and the barrel was sparkling. I rubbed a nice thin coat over the slide and then wiped everything down with a microfiber cloth.
Nice, easy, and I didn’t have to break out the little cleaning pads. The gun looked brand new when I was finished, which is exactly how I like it.
I don’t like to use the phrase “the difference was night and day” but I almost used it here. Yes, Ballistol is noticeably easier to use and smells better but the end result was a clean gun and that’s the same result with Hoppe’s.
So it’s more of a “difference of night and dawn”.
The big and most important difference is how easy it was to get to that point. I can’t believe how much easier it was to clean with the Ballistol. I don’t know what kind of voodoo they’re distilling into this stuff but it works and works well.
I’ve taken the challenge and come out a true believer. I’m now a Ballistol man.
But if you’re into cleaners that have no smell and are non-toxic, check out our How to Clean and Lube a Gun article for our newest suggestions.