What if you never had to clean and lubricate your rifle again?
The new material, known as durable solid lubricant, would be applied during manufacturing and coats the gun's moving parts. Currently, shooting byproducts accumulate during firing of rifles and machine guns, leading to what's known as fouling. Buildup of powder residue and moisture can eventually cause the gun to jam, or lose accuracy, reliability and cyclic rate (rounds per minute it can fire). That's why soldiers have to clean their rifles every so often, generally with a wet lubricant known as CLP (cleaner, lubricant and preservative).
Testing so far has been limited but encouraging, the two said. A 10,000-round test of an M4A1, for example, produced zero stoppages despite testers never cleaning the gun, Foltz said. "The only time we weren't shooting was to let the barrel cool." There have been other tests that, while lab-based, incorporated sand, mud and extreme temperatures.
Not only does DSL make a rifle easier to maintain, but it greatly reduces wear thanks to removal of CPL. The oil mixes with phosphate and hot propellant gas produced by firing, which increases the volume of a buildup that can erode a weapon's moving parts, Mulligan said. The engineers provided an image depicting test results which they say show parts of a bolt and bolt carrier 50 percent to 90 percent worn after firing 15,000 rounds while treated with CLP. The DSL-coated parts showed wear ranging from 10 percent to less than 5 percent on the same parts over the same use.
There has been overwhelmingly positive feedback from a limited number of soldiers who have tested the DSL, they said.
Limited user evaluations have been conducted as well, generating overwhelmingly positive feedback, they said.
"We expect skepticism, and we look forward to proving it," Mulligan said. Foltz chimed in: "I was skeptical."
Kyle Jahner covers soldier uniforms and equipment, Medical Command and Recruiting Command along with investigations and other breaking news for Army Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.