We recently ran a post on the U.S. Army’s announcement that weapons engineers are developing a durable solid lubricant, or DSL, for M4 carbines and machine guns.
It sounds great. DSL, developed by engineers at the U.S. Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, uses a dry surface treatment that’s applied during the manufacturing process and has the potential to improve performance on any number of small arms while decreasing maintenance, according to an Army press release.
The Army maintains that if all goes well, DSL will make CLP obsolete.
“The intent of the DSL (durable solid lubricant) is to eliminate the need for CLP (cleaner, lubricant, and preservative) in all environments,” said Cassandra Mainierol a spokesman for Picatinny Arsenal.
So far the DSL has been applied to small and medium caliber weapons, such as the M4A1 Carbine and machine guns like the M240 to demonstrate the technology capability, said Adam Foltz, an experimental engineer at ARDEC.
Army engineers compared two M4 bolt and bolt carriers, one treated with DSL and one with CLP. The standard lubricant showed a complete loss of phosphate on approximately 75 percent of the bolt carrier and 90 percent of the bolt. However, the one treated with DSL showed less than 5 percent wear on the bolt and bolt carrier.
This shows a lot of promise, but weapons experts say that’s it’s highly likely that DSL will applied mainly to bolts and bolt carriers and not to charging handles, buffer springs and other weapons parts.
In pristine conditions, the DSL-treated weapons may not need any lubricant. But in gritty, battlefield conditions moving parts tend to bind up without wet lubricant, experts say.
Maybe DSL will change everything. Time will tell. The Joint Service Small Arms Program challenged the ARDEC team to mature and transition the DSL technology to Project Manager Soldier Weapons by fiscal 2017.