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Can You Use WD-40 on Guns?: The Truth Revealed

Can You Use WD-40 on Guns?: The Truth Revealed

Whether you’ve found yourself running low on gun cleaning supplies, or are looking for a cheaper alternative to maintaining your weapon, there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself turning to the trusty can of WD-40 in your garage and wondering if this do-it-all spray can get the job done.

If you look to the internet for answers, you’ll see plenty of folks on forums and YouTube videos pointing to WD-40 as a good substitute for traditional firearm lubricant. But, is cleaning a gun with WD-40 really a good idea?

Using WD-40 on guns is not recommended, as the solution can gum up the action and cause jams and malfunctions. It’s best to stick with solvents and lubricants specifically designed for firearm maintenance to avoid any long-term issues and ensure your weapon will be functional when you need it most.

In this article, we’ll debunk the myths surrounding WD-40 and its use on guns, and get to the bottom of whether it’s the best-kept secret for firearm cleaning, or if it can cause serious damage.

Can You Use WD-40 to Clean a Gun?

"You only need two tools in life: WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape."

— Earl Dibbles Jr.

When it comes to using WD-40 for guns, you’ll often find people on two very different sides of the debate. There are those who swear by it as their lubricant of choice, while others say WD-40 is the worst thing you can put in your firearm. We’d venture to say the truth lies somewhere in between.

Items like WD-40 and gun oil used to clean a handgun all laying on top of a marble table

According to the manufacturer, standard WD-40 is a multi-use water-displacing product that is made up of a blend of ingredients designed for lubrication, penetration, water displacement, and soil removal, along with anti-corrosion agents.

Sounds like a great product to use for gun cleaning, right?

Well, it’s important to remember that can and should are very different concepts here. While yes, you technically can use WD-40 to clean and lubricate your gun, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. In fact, according to Brownells Gun Tech Caleb Savant, it’s a pretty bad one.

“WD-40 is the worst thing ever to put in your firearm,” Savant said in a YouTube video on the subject. “Just because it breaks down rust and loosens stuck parts doesn’t mean it’s going to be good inside of your firearm.”

The tricky part about WD-40 is that when you initially use it in your gun, it will feel great. When you rack your slide, it will feel incredibly smooth, making you wonder why you didn't start using that blue and yellow can instead of gun oil years ago. But over time, WD-40 gums up the action of your firearm, putting you at risk of jams and malfunctions. Because it’s a penetrating oil, Savant says it can also cause damage to the finish of a firearm’s wood stock. Not fun.

That being said, while using WD-40 in place of gun oil can cause some serious issues, it does have a place in the world of firearms. Because of its water-displacing properties, WD-40 is a great solution for removing water from inside a gun. BUT, once you’ve removed the water from your weapon, it’s important to follow that up with a proper cleaning solvent and oil.

Handgun next to a WD-40 laying on a marble table

It doesn’t make sense to use WD-40 on the outside of your gun, either. Like any type of oil, it’s bound to eventually make its way into the internal workings of your firearm, resulting in the aforementioned gumming. Plus, spraying WD-40 on the outside of your weapon doesn’t really do anything for it, anyway, so why risk it?

If you’ve already used WD-40 on your gun, don’t worry. Although WD-40 isn’t good for your firearm, it won’t cause irreversible damage, either. According to Savant, the best thing to do if WD-40 is gumming up the action of your gun is to spray it down with even more WD-40. This may sound counterproductive, but the WD-40 will loosen the stuck parts and help remove the old gunk inside. Then you can clean the rest out with a real gun-cleaning solvent and lubricant, and your weapon should be as good as new.

What SHOULD I Clean My Gun With?

When it comes to firearm maintenance, it’s always best to use products specifically designed for the job. Gun cleaners and lubricants are formulated to keep your weapon functioning correctly without the risk of long-term damage or malfunctions, which could not only save you money in the long run but also ensure your weapon is working when you need it most.

2 Types of gun oil for handguns and guns in general

However, not all gun cleaners are created equal. If you’re still not sure what you need, don’t worry. Here are our recommendations for some of the best cleaning products on the market to help get you started:

  • Otis Technology offers complete cleaning kits of various sizes, individual solutions, and many other gun-cleaning items you may need.
  • For a lubricant, try BreakFree. It is a popular choice among gun owners – and for good reason.
  • Another popular brand, Hoppe’s, offers cleaning kits and sells individual products like lubricants.
  • Wheeler sells a wide variety of gun cleaning tools as well as a few cleaning kits.
  • Complete your cleaning kit with our Vedder Holsters Gun Cleaning Mat, which has a soft top and rubber back to keep everything scratch-free and in place while you clean.

Most firearm manufacturers include a guide on the best cleaning and maintenance practices for your gun. It’s always best to refer to their recommendations before using a cleaner or tool on your weapon.


Keeping your firearm clean and well-lubricated is essential to its longevity and overall functionality. While you may see some people on the internet from time to time using WD-40 on guns, it’s strongly recommended that you stick to solvents and oils specifically designed to do the job.

To learn more about gun cleaning and maintenance, check out our guide on How to Clean a Handgun Properly, as well as the article How Often Should You Clean Your Gun? Everything You Need to Know. If you’re looking for a new IWB, OWB, or pocket carry holster, visit our Holsters by Gun Model page for Kydex holsters that are custom-made for your weapon of choice.

Interested in items beyond holsters? Check out our Resources Page for links to recommended products like lights, lasers, first aid, maintenance, and more, and browse our selection of apparel, and accessories at our website,

To stay up-to-date on all the latest Vedder Holsters content and offerings, check out our blog and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And be sure to visit our sister company, GeoGrit, for all your American-made minimalist wallet needs.

*This page contains affiliate links. When you purchase a product included on this list, we receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Mikayla Blair

After launching her career as an award-winning journalist in the American Southwest, Mikayla Blair joined the Vedder Holsters team as a content writer in 2021. She writes about all things guns, holsters, and concealed carry, and is especially passionate about women's self-defense.

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