Powder lubricants are more efficient in lubrication than oil at extremely hot conditions and at high vacuum conditions. This work investigates the wear and the friction characteristics of metals lubricated with three different powders CuO, MoS2 and ZrO2 in dry state under extreme contact pressure situations. Reciprocating sliding wear tests were performed to determine the lubricating characteristics of these powder lubricants under varying combinations of temperatures and loads based on central composite design. SEM with EDS (Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy) analysis was carried out to analyze the surface morphology of the mechanically formed oxide film. The results shows that powders could be effectively used as solid lubricant in dry conditions. It was observed that CuO acted as better powder lubricant for steel specimen when constant wear rate is required at varying temperature and load situations. © 2019 Elsevier Ltd.