Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2012, 6:37 pm

Not your father's gun oil

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Bob Groene,

Photo: Submitted
Gunsmith Jim Knapp, holding a hangun and cleaning rod, stands in his shop next to four products he uses for gun cleaning. From left are: Hoppes #9 for general bore cleaning, J&B Bore Cleaner to remove lead residue, Shooter's Choice copper (bullet) residue remover and in the back, Break Free CLP Teflon-base lubricant.
Ahh, as we who have entered the grey-hair sect travel along the path of life, we seem to hit a few speed bumps and sometimes get a bit of the proverbial egg on our face.

While proof sighting in my several-year-old inline muzzleloader for the upcoming deer hunt weekend, a problem arose. The exposed hammer would not stay in the cocked position — the gun was inoperable.

Slight panic set in thinking the fall-back weapon is a Hawken-style cap-lock muzzleloader without optics — yikes, my eyes don't work like they used to!

As well as good fortune could provide, there were just two of us at the shooting range. In conversation, I found out that the other fellow, Jim Knapp, whom I'd not met prior, is a gunsmith. Woo-hoo, how lucky is that?

I asked if I could ask a professional question of Jim, who was there solely for pleasure. His answer was positive.

"Do you know what might cause the hammer to not stay in the cocked position?" I asked.

"Yes, there could be a couple of things going," was his reply.

"Any chance you could take a look before deer season?"

"I try to accommodate hunters and shooters to keep them in the field or on the line."

Walking into Knapp's shop to pick up the repaired gun a couple days later, I asked, "Did I do something wrong or what should I have done different that caused the problem?"

"Bob, you didn't do anything wrong," he replied. "You did what you were taught to do — after shooting, you cleaned the gun and oiled it. The problem came from using petroleum-based gun oil. Gun oils of yesteryear or even household oil like '3 in 1' oil or sewing machine oil is petro-based. Over time that kind of oil will stratify or solidify on metal surfaces, creating another surface that may contain tiny particles of whatever came into contact with the oil.

"That can, and eventually will, affect the operation of a gun. The action, firing pin, or springs won't work as designed. In your case, the sear would no longer hold the hammer back. All I had to do was remove the old oil that had hardened, lube it with Teflon-base oil and you were back in business."

"What kind of oil?" I asked.

"Teflon-based oil," he responded. "Break Free-CLP is the brand I use, and there are several more — CLP stands for clean, lube, protect. Remington calls theirs RemOil. Teflon-based oils also work well on wood stocks — petro oils will, over time, rot wood. I've seen some mighty fine old guns where the wood stocks have problems due to petro based oils — quite a shame."

Knapp has been as his gunsmith trade for over 40 years. He spent significant time with the US Army marksmanship program at Ft. Benning, Ga., where the emphasis was on accuracy, as opposed to appearance of a firearm. More recently he served a couple of tours as a contractor in Afghanistan teaching commandoes how to repair whatever weapons they could come up with to use.

Asked of his gunsmithing specialty, he replied chuckling, "I wasn't smart enough to specialize. What I do best is bull's-eye handguns. I do the secret stuff to make them perfect."

I would add that, in addition to general practice gunsmith work, Knapp is very strong in rifle and handgun accuracy. Not only will he test fire any gun in for repair, he will expertly zero in any weapon upon request.

Jim Knapp Gunsmith can be reached at (309) 441-5838 or

-- First Illinois deer season results: Hunters across Illinois harvested 72,111 whitetails during the first firearm season, Nov. 16-18. This is an 8 percent increase over 66,501 from a year ago. Quad City area county totals are: 2011 and 2012: Bureau 905 and 1,014; Carroll 708 and 835; Henderson 423 and 485; Henry 532 and 592; JoDaviess 1,664 and 1,877; Knox 1,022 and 1,146; Mercer 671 and 755; Rock Island 638 and 690; Stark 206 and 247; Warren 435 and 559; and Whiteside 512 and 648. The second firearm season is Nov. 29-Dec. 2, followed by muzzleloader Dec. 7-9 and late winter season (in some counties) Dec. 27-30 and Jan. 18-20.

-- FLW Outdoors Walleye Championship on TV: The Quad Cities-hosted event, held Oct. 25-28, will be shown on NBC Sports Channel at noon Sun. Dec. 2.
Bob Groene is outdoors writer for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, he can be reached at