About Dallas, and the Founding of CherryBalmz
Dallas founded CherryBalmz after a long and varied career that centered around international affairs, strategic communications, and politics. He's a gradute of University of the Pacific's School of International Studies, with a focus on Terrorism, Russian Language, and Russian Area Studies. After graduating he briefly worked as a terrorism analyst in DC before landing on Capitol Hill, working for US Congressman Jim Gibbons, of Nevada. Dallas worked in various capacities, including as a Legislative Assistant for Homeland Security Affairs, as well as covering international trade and Judiciary Committee issues, including the 2nd Amendment. While working on Capitol Hill Dallas was one of a small number of professional staff selected by the US Air Force to participate in a unique variant of Air Command and Staff College (a graduate-level program typically intended for mid-career Air Force officers about to assume their first command, and/or participate in higher eschelon planning and operations), taught jointly in Capitol Hill offices and at the Pentagon, as well as extensive off-site studies and site visits to numerous DoD installations, including NORAD, Nellis AFB's 547th Intelligence Wing, the Nevada Test Site, and others.
Dallas, welcoming then-Vice President Dick Cheney to Nevada, at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
After leaving Capitol Hill, Dallas served as Resident Country Director for the International Republican Institute in Baku, Azerbaijan, conducting, designing, and/or participating in democracy promotion programs in Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Lebanon. In this capacity, he and his staff worked with senior government and political figures, parties, and campaign teams to enhance democratization, and to strengthen civil society institutions in these countries, including working with NGOs, youth groups, and women's leadership initiatives. During this time, Dallas personally provided well over 1000 hours of training on issues ranging from leadership and organizational design to campaign planning, strategy, and political communications.
After returning to the US, Dallas held leadership positions in several federal-level political campaigns in the US and Canada, which eventually led to the founding of a political consulting firm, Red Cloud Strategies, and Pantheon Integrated Communications, which focuses on international strategic communications, and integrated small business communications. While Dallas decided to get out of politics, his other company, Pantheon, continues to work with clients both locally and globally. And it was after returning from working in the Republic of Georgia in 2012 with an international client that Dallas experienced an event that eventually led him to found CherryBalmz:
Democracy rally, Baku, 2006.
between their friction surfaces, and the lubricants you select will have clear and distinct parameters and limitations on what they can accomplish, in terms of reliability, service life, and maintenance requirements. Oils and greases are very different lubricants, used in completely different classes of machines, for very serious reasons.
"And when you dig into the tribology, the extremely advanced, cutting edge research isn't being done with oils - they're fairly simple compared to greases. That cutting-edge research is being conducted on additives, permanent coatings, and on greases. At the extreme end, greases, at the microscopic and molecular level, are in many ways still a mystery, surprisingly. But consider what a grease has to do, that oils just cannot:
"So I spent a few hours digging around online, trying to find a gun lubricant that didn't have teflon in it. Or ones that didn't have any reports of it going tacky with age, or other repeatedly reported problems. But largely I just kept hitting dead ends and getting more surprised at what I found. I'm prior service, having served as a Combat Engineer [132nd EN BN, 40th ID] and Psychological Operations Specialist [304th POC, 7th PSYOP Group] in the Guard and Reserves before graduating college and going off to DC, and something that quickly stood out to me is that standard-issue CLP isn't just loaded with teflon, but that it also uses a carrier oil that has a flash-point of 201F. The gas blasting over an M-16's BCG is four or five times that hot, and hotter in carbines, and two or three times hotter than needed to start decomposing teflon. This is where things started clicking into place for me, as in addition to countless rounds on M-16s, I've also got somewhere between 20,000-30,000 rounds on M-60s, and around 5000-7000 on M2 fifty cals. In the sandy, windy high-mountain desert areas we'd train in, I'd noticed that we got great results out of the crew-served weapons using LSAT, which is a light, teflon-based grease, but terrible with CLP. With M-16s, they'd get finicky if they didn't have a lot of CLP on them, but you only need to see LSAT in them once to see how bad of an idea it is, as it melts and gums them up. But M-16s always seemed to get finicky around 250-300 rounds of live-fire if you didn't apply more CLP.
I'm partial to. I think, like most of us, I always put my guns away clean and lubricated, ready to go when I pull them out next time. Unfortunately though, with this Sig, about every fifth round or so the slide wasn't fully going into battery for us. I was using factory ammo, brand-new mags, and the springs had been replaced and had less than 1000 rounds on them, but we kept getting these malfunctions. It had always functioned flawlessly, so the only thing I could diagnose, unless each of these new mags was bad, was possibly the lubricant, which was a fairly common and pretty highly regarded teflon-based lube. It had been on the gun for seven, maybe eight months max, but when I broke down the gun it didn't feel as slick as it should, and almost felt a little gummy.
"When I got home," Dallas continued, "I went online and found reports about it getting tacky with age, but even worse was that I found out that teflon starts off-gassing some really nasty toxins above 325F. It's not much of a problem in an handgun, but in a direct-impingement AR, that's a big problem, because you've got 1000F gasses at the gas key, blowing these toxins right into your face. The gasses cool quickly, and even after just a couple of inches of travel in the BCG they're at 450F at the bolt tail and much less a few more inches away, which is why we don't notice the intensity of them when we shoot. But the problem with
these toxins being blown back at you is that most of them are bio-accumulative, which means they keep adding up in your body, causing cancers, parkinson's-like symptoms, and some mess with your hormones. Two of them are variants of chemical weapons, PFIB, and the flourine analog to Phosgene, the World War I nerve gas. They're coming out in tiny amounts, but since it's being blown in your face and it keeps adding up in your body, I didn't want to have anything to do with it. Any vets out there with unexplainable parkinsons-like symptoms should pay attention to this, as teflon is in CLP. But given that I could start my car right up after 6 months overseas, without any problems with the lubricants, I thought it was completely ridiculous that this high-end gun lubricant I'd been using couldn't sit for that long on a gun without shutting it down. You should still change your oil after that long, but it'll still run fine.
"I'd spent about six months in Tbilisi doing communications for an election observation NGO, helping protect the integrity of a nationwide election there, and was looking forward to getting back to the US and spending some down-time with family and friends," said Dallas. "A cousin of mine had been wanting to learn how to shoot, so I decided to teach him the basics on a Sig 229
Massive democracy rally, Tbilisi, 2012. "You want to meet some cool people, who know how to hold on to their religion, traditions, and families in the face of 1500 years of almost continual religious and socialist aggresion? Go to Georgia," said Dallas. "They're a glimmering citadel in a rough neighborhood."
PSYOPer doing PSYOPy PSYOP stuff, 1998. "People tend to think dark-art, mindbending sorcery stuff when they hear 'PSYOP', but in the DoD, it's best understood as marketing on the battlefield. Mostly getting people to quit killing each other," said Dallas. "Believe me, it's child's play compared to the intensity of what democrats do on gun control alone."
"Eventually I went down to a local gun shop and asked them about a lube with no teflon, and they recommended a graphite-based lube they had. I went home, put it on the gun, banged out 250 rounds flawlessly, and boom, problem solved. Or so I thought," Dallas said. "A couple of days later I remember thinking, 'you know, you thought the teflon-based stuff was supposed to be the best, so maybe you should google graphite lubes in guns.
"And what I found was that graphite causes galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals," Dallas continued. "Especially between steel and aluminum. Which is what my Sig's slide and frame are made of. And just about every AR made. Colt and Armalite actually warn explicitly in their manuals not to use graphite lubes in their ARs, for this reason.
Galvanic corrosion, with a steel bolt and aluminum rail - the steel literally sucks away ions from the aluminum in the presence of an electrolyte. In this case, elements of oceanside air. It's bizarely extreme in the photo, but graphite can serve as an electrolyte for galvanic corrosion in guns between steel and aluminum, but at much smaller of a scale.
"So, in just a couple of days, I had found out that in one way or another, the vast majority of gun lubricants on the market had the distinct potential to shut my gun down, damage it, or poison me, during normal and intended use. You've got to remember, the majority of my profession by background has been international relations and communications, it's not engineering. But I'm also a lifelong shooter, and was becoming more and more bothered by what I kept finding about the gun lubricants world. All of this information was common knowledge outside of the gun world, and easily found.
"I ended up spending the better part of two weeks digging very deeply into lubricants in general, starting with online forums, and eventually specialty websites and some very serious academic and industry research papers.
"It was patently clear something weird was going on in the shooting world, because what we considered normal with lubricants was just not what I was finding in any other segment of the lubricant industry. Things like needing to harshly clean a gun so a special lubricant won't 'react' to it,
fairly primitive chemistry being passed off as 'wonderlubes', and especially all this application voodoo you have to do with some of them. It's just incredible. What other field on the planet requires you to heat your machine a couple of hundred degrees before applying a wet lubricant to friction surfaces? And, if you don't apply it just perfectly the machine shuts down? It's laughable. Eventually I contacted a tribologist [tribology is the science of friction, moving surfaces, and lubricants], had what turned out to be an incredibly illuminating conversation for both of us regarding gun lubricants, the state of the market, and lubrication in general, and a year and a half later I had a new company and we had our first batches ready for test marketing.
"This whole process for me has been like drinking out of a firehose, regarding the science," said Dallas. "I'm not a scientist nor am I any kind of materials engineer, but I do know how to build organizations and surround myself by people a lot smarter than I am, and get us all pointed in the right direction to solve a problem and accomplish a mission.
"Perhaps the biggest, simplest lesson I walked away with from those first few weeks was that I and about 80 million other gun owners in America, along with the DoD, had been making the same mistake for at least 50 years: we were using oil on usealed, sliding machines. Just because they're called 'guns' does not mean they occupy a special exception to the principles of multiple sciences, yet here we all were, largely not realizing that's exactly how we were treating them.
"You just will not find oil being used in unsealed, sliding machines in any other industry under the sun," Dallas emphasizes. "And before the M-16, the most reliable semi-auto weapons our people have ever been issued, M-1s and M-14s, used grease. John Garand was a precision
This chart could be found in virtually any lubrication maintenance manual across industrial America, and in any Intro to Tribology textbook. Look at the column on the right - it's like reading a description of a gun.
machinist by trade before building what became his legendary rifles, and with what I learned from my team, the fact he specificed using a grease on them would not have been an accident in how reliable they were. Oil is designed to flow, and to pick up and carry friction contaminant away from friction surfaces. Greases are designed to stay put, and to serve as a poor-man's sealant, trapping friction contaminant out of friction surfaces. This is tribology 101, and you'll find the same info in any plant maintenance manual in any other industry.
market, many are simply repackaged industrial oils, and most of the rest generally have only a couple of additives. This is fairly primitive tribology. Our primary grease has 14 separate major components, most of which are additives. Additives do a lot of incredibly important things, like lowering the temperature at which a lubricant can keep working, increasing the temperature range
"The problem for shooters, however, is that there just hasn't been a properly designed modern grease engineered from the ground up to be used in guns. What most people have seen or think of when they hear 'grease' is what are thick, peanut butter-like NLGI #2 industrial greases, which are generally far too thick for guns to achieve maximum reliability. They're designed for tons of pressure pers square inch, not the dozens or hundreds that guns operate under. Some guns can get away with using them, but the window of reliability between friction and applied energy is actually narrowed by #2 greases, as the tackifiers and overall thickness of #2s will apply their own friction to a gun's moving parts. What we ended up dialing in at, for optimal reliability, is a #0 grease, which is about the consistency of a creamy mayonnaise.
"Just as important, however, is that we engineered the proper additive package into our greases, specifically for the energies and physics that guns cycle under, and the environments we operate them in. If you look at gun oils on the
The consistency of our #0 grease is slick and light, similar perhaps to a creamy mayonnaise. It's contains 14 major components, based around a special lithium-complex 'thickener', selected specifically for guns, and a pair of synthetic oils, one of which is a PAO.
at which it will stay roughly the same consistency, they manage fouling and deposits, and they also provide anti-wear properties and what you might think of as 'backup' lubricants, in the form of what are known as boundary lubricants. Boundary lubricants and other additives are absolutely critical for any lubricant to have, but in machines like guns especially, they need to be built for the class of machine at hand and the environments they'll be operated in. Oils, categorically, are just not that for guns.
"We explain all of this in both the science and history sections of our website, along with discussing a lot of myths and misunderstandings about lubrication, and how to keep a gun running reliably. Want to know why Automatic Transmission Fluid or motor oil will work better in a gun than just about any 'gun oil' out there? Want to know why and how a properly weighted grease will provide 5-10x more shooting than either of those, without cleaning or relubricating? Or why Sperm Whale oil was so prized in the old days, or how ten WWI machinegun teams got 100,000 rounds out of each of their guns in one day without a single one of those guns going down? The website is a wealth of information.
"The bottom line for us, is that our mission is not just to crank out a gun lubricant. Our mission is actually to help save lives. It's a big deal to us. We do this in part by building the best gun lubricants we could possibly engineer. But we also do this by sharing both basic and advanced knowledge about lubricants. We firmly believe you should be able to go into any automotive section at a big box store and know exactly what lubricants you could use on your guns, and what their limitations will be, if you have to. This isn't magic and it's not rocket science, at the operator level. All machines need lubricant
Electron microscope image of the anti-wear 'tribofilm' deposited by ZDDP when activated by friction and heat. It literally lowers the coeffiction of friction of your gun's friction surafces, and is a key additive we use.
"Our greases took a year and a half to engineer for a reason. What we've accomplished was actually fairly difficult, especially in getting the performance we do at the extreme ends of the temperature scale. But that's what happens when you engineer a lubricant specifically for a class of machinery operating, as guns do, with relatively low amounts of energy cycling their unsealed mechanisms, anywhere across the globe, requiring instant reliabilty, even after being on the machine for months or even years. It takes time and a lot of resources. But what you get is performance that will change your expectations of reliability in your guns.
"This is how the company got started, and why we do what we do. At the end of the day though, whether you're using our greases, or using the knowledge you've gained from our website, our mission is to make sure you accomplish yours, and get home to your family."
It must stick to vertical surfaces against gravity and violent operational force, while maintaining a fluid film thick enough to offer lubrication in the hydrodynamic regime, for years if necessary
It must act like a solid at rest, behave as a liquid under load, and return to that solid-like state after the load and force is removed – all while staying put in unsealed systems, and not contributing notable resistance or friction for its application
It must not dry out over long timeframes when exposed to air
It must act somewhat like a gasket, sealing friction surfaces off from friction contaminant
It must be able to handle water and other operational and environmental contaminants without being displaced or losing its lubrication qualities
It must suspend and deploy boundary lubricants and other additives that are oil-insoluble, or would precipitate out of oils due to weight or size
It must serve as its own pump and reservoir, self-replenishing through molecular cohesion as moving parts work to displace it
It must accomplish all this – including staying put on friction/bearing surfaces – in machines which may sit for very long periods of inactivity and/or zero maintenance, while providing instant operational reliability without any warmup time.