Before the best grease guns and fittings were invented at the turn of the twentieth century, the job of lubricating industrial machinery and equipment was labor-intensive.
It required replenishing mugs or tumblers a number of times each day.
Today, the grease gun has become a standard and indispensable tool for every factory, workshop, garage, or do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiast.
A grease gun is a tool used for applying lubricant through a nipple or grease fitting up to a particular point where the grease is needed.
Grease guns come in different types, sizes, and applications which may either be automated (mostly used in large facilities) or manually-operated.
There are five types of grease guns made for different purposes and applications.
Types of grease guns
1. Lever – the lever-action grease gun is, by far, the most economical and the most commonly used type. These are found at every hardware store.
It is convenient for various light applications and operates by simply pulling the lever to generate enough pressure to push the grease out from the gun.
Both hands are required when using this gun, so you need to position and tighten first the nozzle into the grease fitting before dispensing the grease.
2. Cordless – this battery-powered type of grease gun makes the task of dispensing grease easier (especially in tight spots).
This reduces operator fatigue as it requires no pumping action – the power source provides the energy required for dispensing the grease.
Shoulder straps (for easy carry and portability) and other much needed frills are provided to ensure freedom of movement for both hands when moving around.
Naturally, you’ll have to contend with recharging or replacing the batteries when needed.
3. Hand- pump – or a hand-grip gun entails using a pump positioned at the butt of the gun.
By pumping, you generate a buildup of air in the device to produce the pressure needed to eject the grease from the gun.
The action involved may be ideal for some, but may not be the best option for most since it can easily sap one’s energies.
4. Pistol-grip – this type of gun allows the use of a single hand and works well in tight spots and seemingly hard-to-reach positions.
It’s easy to operate considering that the grip handles come in a variety of sizes.
Buyers may also choose between left and right hand fit.
To operate, simply secure the nozzle to the grease fitting and then apply the required amount of pressure to the trigger and you’re done.
5. Air-powered (pneumatic) – an air-powered grease gun functions by way of compressed air directed to the gun by a hose that produces enormous pressure to eject the grease.
With its impressive power, this type of gun is intended largely for industrial and commercial purposes.
This type of grease gun is not practical or economical for domestic use, as it is bulky.
It costs rather a lot and actually dangerous in the hands of an untrained lubrication technician or an overly eager DIY enthusiast.
What to consider when buying a grease gun
1. Amount of lubrication your facility or project needs
Determine the usual lubrication quantities your facility requires; you would not want a high-end, high-volume gun for parts that require just a few grams of grease.
2. Identify unusual areas you need to lubricate; certain areas or points are much easier to reach with a particular type of gun than the others.
Knowing these things will help you to decide the type of grease gun to buy and which extension – rigid or flexible – is needed for your convenience.
3. Maximum pressure and strokes-per-ounce of the grease gun
Manufacturers usually indicate the maximum pressure and strokes-per-ounce of their product.
Still, you’ll have to figure out how much grease the gun can deliver since the indicated strokes-per-ounce vary from one maker to another.
This must be understood so as not to over- or under-lubricate a piece of equipment or machinery.
4. Manner of loading grease: Don’t forget to consider how your chosen grease gun needs to be loaded. Would it be by bulk, suction fill, or cartridge?
5. Fittings and attachments: Know the type of grease fittings you’re going to use, and what type of guns these fittings work with best.
Some fittings have a ball check at the head to prevent dirt and contaminants from reaching the bearing.
Hydraulic fittings are commonly used in most facilities owing to their availability in standard and metric sizes.
6. Ease of cleaning: It would be great if you find a product that does not need to be totally disassembled before it can be cleaned.
7. Product warranty: Finally, look for manufacturers offering a lifetime warranty on their grease guns. This ensures the product’s quality and durability.
Lastly, always keep in mind the purpose for which you’re buying a grease gun.
Choose features and specifications according to your intended use.
There’s no need to spend so much on a 15,000 psi grease gun if it’s just for the day-to-day greasing of your bicycle or treadmill.
At any rate, buy one with working pressure at around 6,000-psi.
If grease needs to be applied on machine parts that are difficult to reach, then buy a grease gun that can be fitted with a special applicator, extension, or attachment.