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Review: Breaking in a new AR pistol with Ballistol


When it comes to building firearms, there is little more satisfying than firing the first shot.

After the first shot, however, comes the arduous and occasionally hit-and-miss period of ensuring that the firearm will perform reliably with a variety of ammunition- including ammunition which can prove to be rather dirty or adept at gumming up the internal mechanics.

Recently, I have finally completed a long-neglected project of building an AR pistol from scratch, mainly to have a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) that can be readily stowed into the cabin of a truck during natural disasters or something with a little more punch that is still classified as a pistol for places where a rifle may be warranted but nonetheless restricted.

AR 1
With both firearms sporting an overall length of around 26 inches, the AR-15 Pistol (bottom) lined up with the Tavor bullpup rifle (top).

When I received several of my parts, they were sent to me straight from their origin of manufacture and often packed in grease or whatever protectant they deem best to prevent the product arriving in less than satisfactory condition.

AR 2
With the upper assembled, I couldn’t help but hodgepodge the pistol together for a quick photo before finishing the build.

At around the same time, Ballistol approached me and offered a can of their multipurpose cleaner and lubricant for the manufacture and break-in period of my then-pistol in progress. With fond memories of Ballistol being the go-to solvent in my once-favorite gun shop back home, it was an offer I simply couldn’t refuse.

AR 3
Fully assembled and ready for the range

Spraying all the parts down with Ballistol, I found that the various greases and protectants simply slid away with a single coat and quick wipe of a cloth. Being a tried and true solvent, I had no qualms with using Ballistol on my new piece of equipment’s components- the German military used it with great success from 1905 to 1945 and gunsmiths the world over have been known to keep a supply on hand.

Although the can of Ballistol was kept on hand in case malfunctions occurred, it was not needed. I had exhausted every magazine in my rig without a single failure.
Although the can of Ballistol was kept on hand in case malfunctions occurred, it was not needed. I had exhausted every magazine in my rig without a single failure.

When the pistol’s construction was completed, the day had finally come to run it through its paces. Securing an indoor range all to myself for a spell, I prepared to dump as many magazines of different ammunition varieties as I could in an effort to not only break in the pistol, but ensure it could perform reliably with any kind of ammunition.

In particular, I was hoping to see how it would function with the cheapest, dirtiest steel-cased ammunition I could find. Spraying a healthy coat of Ballistol on the bolt, I prepared to not only test my pistol, but put Ballistol on trial as well. Hundreds of rounds -much of them fired in rapid succession- would tell whether or not either would pass the test.

Magazine after magazine, both the pistol and Ballistol performed flawlessly spitting out enough lead and casings to make for a hefty bounty at a scrapyard, if collected.

Ultimately, I ran out of both time and ammunition before I could get a malfunction, with the forend of my pistol becoming so hot that I had to let it cool before being able to transport it off the range.

After shooting, it was time to clean. Spraying Ballistol down the barrel and over the internal parts, I watched the carbon simply melt away and pool onto the towel beneath it. A few quick wipe downs and a quick run through with a straight-pull bore cleaner, dental picks and a brush, the rifle was clean and ready for another round.

While my range-specific ammunition supply certainly suffered, my faith in my new pistol -and Ballistol- only increased.

While there is a sense of satisfaction in building your own firearm and certainly one in shooting it, the sense of comfort that confirms a job well done is mere icing on the cake. When it comes to a gun cleaner (and lubricant), Ballistol more than played its part in bringing me that satisfaction- and I am more than willing to recommend it.

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