Review: Clenzoil’s firearm cleaner, lubricant and protectant

Yes, this one is a do-it-all gun cleaning liquid

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Clenzoil gun cleaner

Clenzoil is new to the Australian market but it’s been around since 1948 and boasts that it was developed by a US WWII veteran who, by the sound of it, had some bad experiences with stoppages at inopportune moments. He wanted to fix things before the next war.

As it turned out, the solution developed by Captain Ellis Lenz — hence the name Clenzoil — has been very well received by hunters and target shooters as well as anglers. 

From what I’ve seen of Clenzoil so far, it’s good. Two things immediately stand out: First, it really does clean. Second, it adheres well to metal surfaces so it should maintain a protective oily film for the long term. I’ll come back to both those points.

Clenzoil is a cleaner, lubricant and protectant (or CLP) all stirred into one. CLPs are the all-rounders of gun-care liquids in that you can run them though the barrel to clean out gunk and fouling, drizzle it into the action to provide lubrication, and wipe it over the rest of the firearm to keep it from rusting or otherwise deteriorating. 

That’s convenient, of course, but Clenzoil takes convenience a few steps further with the variety of bottles and materials it comes in — bottles from big to small, and materials like pre-soaked patches and wipes.  

I haven’t used pre-soaked patches before and I don’t think they’re all that common here in Australia. Like sliced bread and factory ammo, once you’ve used pre-soaked patches you’re sold on the simplicity and ease of use. 

Clenzoil
Clenzoil made progress on the intense fouling in this barrel, where even solvents had failed before

They come in one size of 50mm diameter but with a pull-through they’ll fit a .22 and with the right rod attachment they’ll work on larger bores. I went up to 9mm and Clenzoil says they’ll manage .50cal and 12 gauge.

The pre-soaked wipes are like baby wipes for guns. They are quicker and handier than soaking a rag with oil and, if you’re a bit tight like me, you can re-use them a few times before binning them.

As for bottled Clenzoil, take your pick of medium or small bottles, with options of aerosol, trigger, pump and even a very handy needle applicator that gets into tight crevices. 

Clenzoil
A few strokes with a bronze brush and Clenzoil cleaned out the thick lead fouling in this rimfire barrel

Clenzoil also offers two cleaning kits. The Universal kit covers the major calibres and bores, includes a multi-piece steel rod as well as a pull-through, and comes in a compact pouch. 

The multi-calibre rifle kit has attachments from .17 up to .45 calibre and includes two pull-throughs and a brush. It too comes in a small pouch and the attachments are held in a box inside. 

The pull-through is a shrouded steel cable that’s strong but won’t damage your rifle if you don’t do something silly like drag it across the crown. 

Clenzoil
The 50mm patches fit .22 if you use a pull-through and up to 9mm or more on a jag or loop

The dry patches are very thin, strange little things that I often had to use doubled-up so that they’d sufficiently fill the bore to wipe it clean. They work alright, but I think I’ll go back to the traditional thicker patches.

It’s the Clenzoil solution that really matters here, anyway, and this stuff impresses me. 

It cleaned out a lead-fouled rimfire barrel in quick time. My centrefire rifles are generally pretty clean inside at the best of times and Clenzoil certainly helped them stay that way, not that they presented a big challenge for the stuff.  

An old custom Mauser I bought recently has a well used barrel that’s black and gold inside — gold with very heavy copper fouling and black with baked-on carbon fouling. I’ve had several solvents down this barrel with no great improvement. 

The first 10-minute soak in Clenzoil made a noticeable impact, though, and an overnight soak improved it further. Clenzoil didn’t perform a miracle. There’s still a thick build-up of stubborn fouling about a quarter of the way down the barrel but that’s much better than it was.

So yes, it does clean and it cleans well. Unlike the strong solvents, it does no harm if left in for a long time.

Clenzoil
Clenzoil brings up wood stock to a nice oil-finished shine

It sticks, too — not in a sticky, gooey way, but it clings like a protective oil should. I did a not-so-scientific test by sanding back some old tin, applying Clenzoil and another common gun oil (I won’t name it because this was too casual a test for a legitimate comparison) before spraying it with salty water and leaving it overnight. The Clenzoil resisted the corrosive attack with noticeably more success.

They reckon it won’t hurt timber or leather, although it does contain a small amount of petroleum products. Being a trusting bloke, I treated the old single-shot .22’s stock and it came up very nicely. 

Clenzoil’s lubricating qualities are equally good. Its clinginess means sliding parts don’t run dry for a very long time.

I’ll continue using Clenzoil. It is indeed a good CLP. I was a bit wary of a solution developed by a soldier because fighting a war doesn’t exactly qualify you as a chemist but Ellis Lenz went on to earn a doctorate, so he must have had a good head on his shoulders. 

And the proof is in the pudding. Or the liquid, as the case may be. 

Clenzoil is available in many gun shops or online from Eagleye Hunting Gear.

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