How to Load a Grease Gun

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

Grease guns are the tool most commonly used to apply a lubricant to mechanical parts that move. You’ll find them most often in garages and machine shops, but they are important for home users as well. Learning to load a grease gun can be messy, but it isn’t a complicated procedure.

By keeping your equipment properly lubricated, you extend the service life as well as avoid abrasions. Grease guns are used specifically to apply a grease lubricant and are found at most auto parts stores or hardware suppliers. Let us show you how to load a grease gun with ease.

Load a Grease Gun – Reservoir Style

A reservoir style grease gun is convenient when you have access to grease in bulk.

Step #1 – Separate Head from Barrel

Start by separating the grease gun head from its barrel. Simply unscrew the head from its cap. If you aren’t sure what the head is, it’s the part that houses the handle and where your applicator tube is attached.

Then, ensure that the handle of the piston rod is depressed completely into the barrel. If you don’t, you are at risk of sucking material through the grease gun.

Step #2 – Insert Barrel into Grease

Fill the barrel of your grease gun by placing the open end into your container full of grease. Hold the open end into the container with the barrel down. Then, draw back the plunger rod so the reservoir fills. This allows you to pull grease into your barrel.

Step #3 – Remove Barrel from Grease

While the plunger rod is withdrawn, lift up the open end of your barrel until it comes out of the grease container. Rotate your barrel to break it out of the grease, otherwise, it might cling. Then, use a rag or cloth and wipe off the excess grease from your barrel’s end.

Step #4 – Reattach the Grease Gun Head

Once you’ve filled with grease gun, it is time to reattach the barrel and the head of the gun together. Each style of gun works in its own way so you may need to screw the end cap back on or screw the nozzle on. No matter which style you own, ensure that the threads are engaged and turn the barrel until it is fully seated.

Step #5 – Test the Grease Application

Before beginning any project, you want to test the application of the grease. Simply press down on your handle to the piston rod and squeeze the trigger. The grease delivery will be seen at the end of the applicator tube. Wipe off the excess amount of grease from the tip and body of the gun, if needed. You’ll want to use a rag or cloth to clean it up before use.

For a video tutorial on how this is done, watch this YouTube video instructional

Load a Grease Gun – Cartridge Style

Cartridge-style grease guns have two main parts: the grease cartridge and dispenser.

Step #1 –Remove the Barrel

Cartridge-loaded grease guns hold the cartridge in the housing of the unit. To remove the used cartridge in the gun, you’ll want to unscrew the barrel holding it in. Simply turn it clockwise while turning your dispenser the opposite direction. Sometimes these are on quite tight, so don’t be afraid to put some muscle into it.

Step #2 – Pull Back on the Handle

Located at the end of your grease gun barrel where the cartridge is located, you’ll see a plunger rod. This should be opposite of the nozzle and is used to push the cartridge and squeeze out grease. Pull this plunger rod out until it has fully withdrawn from its barrel.

On a few grease guns, doing this action in itself might make the cartridge eject itself automatically. If there is gunk built up inside, it might start to come out but get caught. Whatever you do, secure the plunger rod in place before you remove the cartridge.

Step #3 – Secure Your Piston Rod; Remove the Grease Cartridge

With the majority of grease guns, you can move the rod sideways a little into the pre-made slot so it won’t move around. On other guns, the piston rod latches into the retracted position until you pull the release tab which would be located at the end of the gun barrel. Once the tab is pulled, the piston rod will move again.

Once the rod has been secured, you can remove the cartridge from the barrel and throw it away.

Step #4 – Prepare your New Cartridge

You’ll find cartridges at your auto parts store and hardware suppliers. The most common sizes are 14 or 16-ounce cartridges. Before you put a new cartridge into the gun, it is wise to clean the barrel and prepare it.

Simply wipe the barrel’s end with a rag or cloth. This removes any excess amounts of grease that might have previously leaked. You also need to remove the plastic cap from the new cartridge to allow the grease to flow smoothly.

Pro Tip – Store your grease cartridge in the upside down position so it settles on the right side. This places the grease closer to the nozzle. If you don’t store it upside down, just be sure to shake it a couple of times towards the cap so it settles before you place it into the grease gun.

Step #5 – Insert the Grease Cartridge

Place the end of your cartridge which had a plastic cap on it into the barrel. Push it all the way in until the cartridge end seals to the barrel’s end. Remove your metal seal from the cartridge’s end and throw it away.

Step #6 – Put the Barrel Back on the Grease Gun

Screw the barrel on part way to the grease gun with two rotations. Don’t screw it on too tightly yet. First, release your piston rod from the retracted state and push it down while pumping on the handle of the nozzle.

This will work the air through the gun to get your grease started. Stop pumping when the grease starts to appear at the head of the nozzle. Continue screwing it together at the barrel and the head. Push down on the piston rod to fully engage it with the grease cartridge. Pump your handle one more time to ensure that grease is dispensing.

Make sure you watch the educational video tutorial on how to change a grease gun cartridge:


No matter which type of equipment you use, it’s easy and simple for anyone to learn how to load a grease gun. Prepare your materials and get to work on your linkage, ball bearings, U-joints automotive projects or other mechanical tasks.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply