How to Load a Grease Gun

how to load a grease gun

If you want to know how to load a grease gun we have a how-to video that includes directions for how to prime a grease gun that is air-locked and step by step instructions with photos that detail the process.

We just finished some tractor maintenance with our manual lever grease gun so we will be using that type to demonstrate how to refill a grease gun with a cartridge, but most styles of grease gun follow a similar procedure.


  1. Loosen the head of the grease gun.
  2. Pull back the plunger and lock it in place.
    • *There could be a notch in the end of the grease gun to set the plunger rod or a metal release tab that you push the rod toward.
  3. Unscrew the head and push the empty cartridge out with the plunger.
    • *You can push the plunger forward to eject the spent cartridge without messing up your manicure.
  4. Remove the cap from the new grease cartridge.
  5. Insert the cartridge in the grease gun, open-side down.
  6. Pull off the metal tab.
  7. Screw the grease gun head back on then loosen it one or two turns.
    • *This will allow any air between the cartridge and the grease gun head to escape.
  8. Release the plunger and slide it into the gun.
  9. Tighten the head of the grease gun and pump until grease comes out.
    • *If you are using a different type of grease than before, pump until you see the new grease.

Image Guide

Priming Air Locked Grease Guns

If nothing is happening then the grease gun is probably air locked. This means that there is still an air pocket between the grease and the head of the grease gun. This is a common issue (We also experienced this at DST headquarters while making our video) but there are two easy solutions.

  • If your grease gun has an air release then you can prime it by unscrewing the release a few turns, pulling the plunger out, and pushing it back in. This should push any air out of the grease gun and allow the grease to flow just fine.
  • If your grease gun does not have an air release then you basically want to repeat steps 7-9; unscrew the head of the grease gun about two turns, prime the gun with the plunger, and tighten the head.
solution for air locked grease gun

Tips and Tricks

  • Make sure you are using the right type of grease for your application.
  • Best practice is to use the same kind of grease in one grease gun since there will be grease left in the gun from previous use.
  • Clean the grease fitting and the nozzle of the grease gun before use. Pump some grease through the nozzle and wipe it off with a rag.
  • When finished, depressurize the grease gun and store horizontally in a cool place to keep the oil from separating.
  • Cover the nozzle between uses so contaminates won’t enter whatever you grease next.

Related Resources

How To Grease

If you’re loading up your grease gun for some vehicle maintenance you can check out our detailed How to Grease Ball Joints or How to Grease Tie Rod Ends articles, which also explain how to use a grease gun to lubricate sealed ball joints.

how to grease ball joints with a grease gun

Grease Guns | Grease offers a grease gun combo or mini grease gun combo with an optional flexible hose to make hard to reach maintenance easier. Grease options include Lucas X-tra Heavy Duty or Marine Grade grease depending on your application.

grease gun combo kit

If you have any other tips or tricks we would love to hear from you in the comments section below! If you want to take another look at something then head back to the table of contents.

  1. David
    June 8, 2018 at 8:45 am

    I prefer to use a pneumatic grease gun. Is the process of loading grease the same? Do you offer pneumatic or pistol grip (full size) grease guns? I really hate lever grease guns.

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      June 11, 2018 at 9:45 am

      Hey David,

      If the grease gun uses a cartridge then these steps should get you through the process. One convenient difference might be that most pneumatic grease guns have a simpler air release valve, which would make clearing any air pockets easier.

      We are planning on stocking a pistol grip grease gun soon for those who don’t like the lever style.

      Thanks for the question David.

  2. Jim Hobbs
    Jim Hobbs
    August 8, 2020 at 10:41 am

    Help please. My grease gun is locked, but not the way “locked’ is used on usual instructions. apparently as it was running out of grease, i squeezed the handle more and more until it would not go further, and is now locked so that the handle cannot be squeezed. i assume there is some kind of release of the handle to get the handle to open up so it can be squeezed . note: i am not referring to the rod in the cartridge holder with the spring on it and problems some may have with locking or air locking. any idea if the gun has some kind of catch or lock that the grip when it gets to a certain point locks so it won’t open?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      August 10, 2020 at 12:49 pm

      Hey Jim,

      Without knowing more specifics about the grease gun itself its hard to say what might be going on. Is it a lever or pistol grip style? What is the brand and model?

      Getting in touch with the grease gun manufacturer might be your best bet. I would suggest unscrewing the head of the gun and see if that resets the pump action but this is a shot in the dark.

      Good luck getting that grease gun squared away Jim and let us know how it works out.


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