Ballistol Product Review

I’ve been using Hoppe’s No.  9 to clean my gun since I’ve owned guns.  Mainly because they sell it everywhere here and it’s cheap.
It was only well into my hobby that I noticed the little disclaimer on the label that said “Not recommended for use on Nickel plated guns”…which is lovely considering my first gun was nickel plated.

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.

Ballistol Uses

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”.

WD-40 Aftershave
WD-40 Aftershave


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.

Ballistol In Use
Ballistol In Use

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.


Previous Comments:

Posted @ 9/19/2013 11:00 AM by Alex

Alex's avatar

I don’t remember when I discovered Ballistol – maybe 10 years ago – but I’ve used it ever since. The literature and history initially intrigued me but what was really the clincher is that Ballistol cleans beautifully and doesn’t turn to gum over time. Archival storage demands something like this and Ballistol delivers.

The other stuff I pooh-poohed thinking it was just hype, but then I tried applying Ballistol to a cut sustained in the woods and it protected the area until I could get back and wash the cut down. What would normally have been a nasty wound did not get infected at all and, in fact, I tested Ballistol’s properties further and applied it instead of ointments or other stuff and it worked beautifully to speed healing. Pre-WWI, they say, the Ballistol formula was meant for the soldier in the field (trenches) and was used for cleaning and preserving wood, metal, leather and the soldier.

Count me sold.

Posted @ 1/7/2014 11:48 PM by Moonbird

Moonbird's avatar

I bought a Hatsan 95 air rifle a couple weeks ago. I keep it indoors in a.c. I decided to clean it today, but I’m not sure if using BALLISTOL for the inside of the barrel is the right thing to do. Is it?

Posted @ 3/4/2014 9:16 PM by Razrbck

Razrbck's avatar

Just got some Ballistol and tried it on my shotgun, worked great. Just wondering about the vapors if they’re ok to breathe in? The label says otherwise but just wanted your take.

Posted @ 3/4/2014 9:32 PM by Teh Noob

Teh Noob's avatar

I don’t see why it wouldn’t be useable on an air rifle, Moonbird. Your best bet is to ask them directly. They’ve very good about getting back in a timely manner:

As far as the fumes, Razrbck, I’ve been inhaling them for a while now as I use it all over my house. As it stands, I have noticed no ill effects. Frankly, I actually like the smell. One of their big selling points is its non-toxic nature.

Posted @ 12/9/2014 5:35 PM by mikee

mikee's avatar

This stuff sounds like it’s a dry lube, how much and what cleaner/solvent does it have ?

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I used my first Balistol patch on recommendation from the oldest employee at my regular gun shop, when I asked how to get rid of surface rust that had appeared on my new 870 after one day of use, and one week in my closet. I’m used to having to scrub surface rust, but this was a simple wipe on, wipe off.

Only downside is that it smells like absolute SHIT.

Clark Kent
Clark Kent

So sh*t in your neck of the woods smells like black licorice? Consider yourself lucky. Or breathe through your (big) mouth.


It’s good non toxic CLP that is safe on leather and wood.

Arc Angel
Arc Angel

Wait a minute! I’ve been using Ballistol, now, for I’d say at least the past 25 years. Ballistol AIN’T the best thing to come into a gunman’s life since non-mercuric primers, or smokeless powder — It ain’t! Yes, Ballistol is wonderful for cleaning black powder firearms. There’s no better commercial cleaner. Ballistol works well on leather hunting gear, too. It does a nice job of keeping leather supple, and reasonably waterproof; HOWEVER, I personally would not use Ballistol on any modern firearm that I did not intend to use within the next succeeding 3 or 4 months. As a matter… Read more »

Clark Kent
Clark Kent

There is no such thing as a ‘valuable’ S&W Model 59 (aka the boat anchor). Nice try; no cigar.


If you cut it 1 in 4 or 5 with water you get “moose milk” which is used by all because the water goes everywhere and when it dries it leaves the Ballistol ….I shoot a flintlock rifle and 9mm hand guns, use in all. (Black powder is very corrosive….no rust after three months in storage.)


This stuff sounds like it’s a dry lube, how much and what cleaner/solvent does it have ?

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