It’s an underappreciated reality that part of investing a lot of money in nice vehicles and a really good workshop is investing money in tools to help maintain it. Nothing will wear out something with a lot of moving parts faster than dry friction, and the first, most important way to address dry friction is proper lubrication. But, the second fastest way to wear something out is overlubrication, because too much grease will create a goopy mess and attract dirt and grit that can cause damage if it gets caught up in the action.
We spent some time looking at grease guns to help you protect your investment. Our reviews are based on the pretty simple idea that if you’re serious about your tools that you’re also serious about taking care of them. They reflect a range of methods of delivery. If, after reading them, you decide that they are a good starting point but not necessarily the entire story, we’ve put together a buyers’ guide to help guide your thinking. We hope you find all of this useful and wish you the best of luck in making the right choice.
|DEWALT DCGG570B 18V Cordless|
|Alemite 555-E Pistol||3 lbs||4.6/5|
|Drake Off Road 1134|
(Best for the Money)
|Lumax LX-1152||3 lbs||4.3/5|
|Milton S-3102 Mini||1 lb||4.0/5|
The most important things you want from a grease gun is consistent flow and knowing how much you’re applying. The DeWalt DCGG570B is our top pick primarily because it turns what can sometimes be a guessing game into a no-brainer.
It’s also fast. Its high-speed pump can push grease through at five ounces a minute, which makes short work of most lube jobs. If you don’t need speed, it’s also got speed control so you can slow it down to make sure you don’t overlube your machinery. That same pump can deliver enough pressure that if your joint is clogged it can push the grease through, instead of all around it and the machine in general.
Its only drawback is its price. Compared to other tool lines, it’s not really all that expensive, but there are much more affordable options on the market if you’re on a budget. If you’ve got a little cash to spend and need a knock-out grease gun, the DCGG570B is our top pick.
For something that weighs less than four pounds, the Alemite 555-E can build up a lot of pressure, 7,500 psi to be exact. That is a respectable amount of pressure for something this size, and the gun is also really easy to prime.
Loaded by either cartridge or bulk, the 555-E is fast to build pressure and is powerful enough to lube anything but the heaviest of machines and vehicles. While its flow rate is nowhere near that of our top pick, at 1 ounce per 30 strokes it’s still good for a handheld model. It doesn’t come anywhere close to toppling our top pick, but it’s also superior to its real competition, which are the manual grease guns most everyone uses.
Just as you’d expect, you will pay for that superiority. It has to be said that relative to other tool lines, especially power tools, grease guns are really cheap. If you care about your tools, vehicles and machines, you’re not going to want to get cheap on their maintenance.
The Drake Off Road 1134 is a great hand-held grease gun for just about every job. It’s also priced for value, which is why it gets our best for the money rank.
Of the grease guns we looked at, this one was the fastest to prime. When you consider what a pain in the neck that can be, that’s an outstanding feature. That’s on top of it being a great value. It also has pretty good lubing ability in terms of pressure and movement of grease.
We didn’t like it for two reasons. It only accepts cartridges, and while that’s the best way to load a grease gun this one’s price says it ought to offer versatility. We also found it a bit tricky to connect the coupler. If you can’t couple your grease gun to the thing you’re trying to lube, that’s a pretty big deal.
The good still outweighs the bad by a considerable degree, and we still like it enough to recommend it as our best for the money choice.
We actually really liked the Lumax LX-152. It’s affordable, effective and accepts cartridges or bulk loading. Once you work out the flow rate of the particular gun you own, it’s a handy tool to have around to make sure that you can take care of your machines and vehicles.
It’s a reasonable question of why we dropped it to the number four ranking. Even if it’s not nearly as good as our top two — and it isn’t — why isn’t it best for the money.
The answer: mess. Like the Drake Off Road, the LX-1152 is hard to couple. It also leaks, despite it having features designed to prevent leakage. We hate to pile on, and really hate to make a positive into a negative, but if you toss in there that loading by bulk is an inherently messy too, it paints a greasy story of a tool that will require a lot of cleanup.
It’s good for what you’ll pay for it, but not great. That’s why it doesn’t rate best for the money, but instead dropping to the four spot.
Super light, super compact and super cheap, the best thing the Milton S-3102 Mini has going for it is that if you need to lubricate something in secret, this is the model you’ll want to try. Otherwise, do yourself a favor and get an adult grease gun.
Okay, joking aside, for very small jobs like a lawnmower or a car joint that only needs lubing once a year, this is a perfectly acceptable grease gun. It’s small, compact and easy to store. It’s designed and priced for very occasional light use and nothing more. Did we mention that’s it’s super cheap?
For the price, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that there is some difficulty connecting it to fittings. It really is just designed for a very quick, five-minute job that you do very rarely. Anything else, and you’ll want to get something more substantial.
We totally understand that, after reading our reviews, you think they offer a good start. If you were to say to us, “Yeah, this is all pretty good, but really I want to think for myself,” we’d wholeheartedly agree. Choosing the right grease gun for your workshop is, considering the stakes, a much more important choice than people realize. Find the grease gun that works best for you, rather than the one we think works best in general.
With that in mind, we’ve taken the basic set of guidelines we used in our reviews and created a buyers’ guide to help shape your purchase. We hope you find as much or even more value in it than our reviews.
There is a lot more precision involved in lubrication than is generally appreciated. The time-honored tradition of using an index finger and a sharp set of eyeballs might harken back to a day when life was simpler and less complex. It’s also a great way to promote dry friction or introduce grit into moving parts. You really want no more and no less lubrication than is necessary.
Choosing the right grease gun starts with knowing what you need to lubricate. Keeping a lawn mower properly lubricated is a different critter entirely from greasing the ball joints of the tractor you use to haul logs around your property.
Grease guns generally break down into three different ways of building the pressure to move out the grease.
The most popular are hand-operated grease guns, where you crank a lever to create air pressure behind the grease to push it out. These are the most popular because they are the most portable and most affordable and because they are also suitable for most jobs. If you go this route, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the specifics about the amount of grease it pushes per crank. You want an idea of just how much lubricant you’re applying.
Hand-operated grease guns break down into another two subcategories. The traditional manual grease gun uses a lever as the primary means of building up pressure. This requires two-handed operation. For the smallest of jobs in the hardest to reach places, there is the pistol grip. You might be tempted to think of the pistol-grip manual grease gun as a great budget alternative. In reality, however, it’s a tool for a specialized situation. For most of your work, if you go manual, go with lever operation.
If you need a consistent and higher flow rate, or you want something that will operate more quickly, cordless grease guns are a good alternative. They are also pretty portable. They are also more expensive and require a charged battery for use.
For the heaviest use, there are pneumatic grease guns that push grease using compressed air. They are a good option primarily for commercial and industrial use, because not only are they really expensive but they work on enough pressure that if used on something lighter you might blow out bearings and other machine components.
There are three basic ways of loading grease into your gun. You can either load it via a cartridge or by suction.
Cartridges are the most convenient and cleanest way to load grease. They also ensure that you’re not mixing old grease with new. They’re also a little more expensive and have to build up additional pressure to operate them.
You build that pressure organically in a suction load, because you’re drawing it out of a bulk amount of grease. Because you’re purchasing in bulk rather than packaged, it’s a bit cheaper. It’s also a lot messier.
Once you’ve figured out what kind of gun you need and how it loads, the next step is figuring out how to get the grease from the gun to the joints you’re trying to lubricate. The big choice here is whether you buy a gun that has a flexible or a fixed hose.
Flexible hoses offer a great deal of versatility. You can grease a joint easily available with lots of space around it where a fixed hose would be fine, but you can also move it around a bit to get to a joint that is harder to get to. The issue here, however, is that it’s easier to break a flexible hose because they do have to sacrifice a bit of strength to make them bendable. A fixed hose is stronger, but not as adaptable. This gets back to knowing exactly what you need to lubricate.
You absolutely, positively only want to get grease where you need it. Grease attracts and holds grit and dust. Getting grease all over your surfaces and tools also makes it harder to grip them.
Using a grease gun is also inherently a dirty job. You will probably make a mess of some kind, so minimize that by looking for a gun that doesn’t help you do it.
Lots of grease guns come with little bells and whistles that frankly drive up the price without delivering higher quality work. When looking at grease guns, be very clear what you’re buying it for. You can get one with an LED light to shine on the joint you’re greasing. Is that helpful? Possibly. Is it necessary? Probably not. If you need it, you need it. If you don’t, don’t spend the extra cash.
The possible exception is a grease meter. It can’t be stressed enough that you want to apply only as much grease as you need. You can read the specifications in an owners manual and get a good idea. If you really want to pay for precise knowledge, a grease meter will deliver that information.
Because there are so many different kinds of grease guns, the prices range from less than you’d pay for a bucket of fried chicken to more than what you’d pay for several buckets of fried chicken. We wouldn’t recommend skimping on what you spend on a grease gun. If you get the cheapest, you’re not likely to get the right pressure or volume to properly lubricate what you need to grease up.
What we’d recommend budgeting money based on your needs. Most grease guns that will do most anything you’d want are pretty affordable. If you have big pieces of equipment that do a lot of hard work, prepare to spend a lot more money. In the long run, that investment is going to be well worth it.
Our reviews of grease guns ranged from models that left us saying, “Wow!” to those we feel are better suited as children’s’ toys. The DeWalt DCGG570B impressed us for its flow rate, pressure and ability to lubricate even clogged joints. It was vastly superior to the runner-up, the Alemite 555-E, which while outclassed by the powered greaser was our top pick among hand-held units. The Drake Off Road 1134 was nearly as good and faster to prime, but harder to couple and limited to cartridges. We actually also liked the Lumax LX-1152 but dropped it down in rank because of the mess associated with it. The Milton S-3102 Mini has its uses, mostly for lawn mowers or clandestine lubricating missions. Otherwise, get yourself something more befitting your workshop.
We hope you found these reviews helpful in shaping your approach to finding a home workshop grease gun. It’s an important purchase, especially if you’ve spent a lot of money on the machines and vehicles you need to keep lubricating. If we didn’t quite hit the right model for you, we hope that you poked around our buyers’ guide for useful tips for shopping for them.
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