Essential Gun Cleaning Tools

Cleaning your firearm is the best way to make sure that it functions reliably. Dirty firearms experience more feeding problems and can even lose accuracy.

These essential gun cleaning tools you help your firearm operate reliably:

  • Gun Cradle
  • Cleaning Rods
  • Bore Guide
  • Bore Brushes
  • Jags
  • Patches
  • Cleaning Brushes
  • Gun Solvent
  • Gun Oil

Cleaning your gun isn’t hard to do, but it is something that many people avoid or put off for too long. These gun cleaning tools that will help you do a good job cleaning your firearms and maybe even help you enjoy doing it a little more.

Gun Cradle

Tipton Best Gun Vise

If you are cleaning rifles and shotguns, a gun cradle or gun vise is very helpful. I use mine the most when I am cleaning bolt-action rifles. A good gun vise, like the Tipton’s Best Gun Vise, will hold your rifle securely while you push patches or brushes through the bore. It is adjustable to hold various firearms, including AR-15’s. Gun vises are also very helpful if you need to install new optics on your firearm. 

Cleaning Rods

Dewey Gun Cleaning Rod

Good gun cleaning rods are essential gun cleaning tools and are the heart of your gun cleaning tool kit. They allow you to remove powder residue and copper fouling from your firearm’s bore. When selecting a gun cleaning rod, choose one that is one piece, not segmented like the ones that come in cheap cleaning kits. A one-piece rod, like the ones made by Dewey and Tipton protect the inside of your firearm’s bore from damage. Dewey and Tipton rods also feature ball bearing handles that allow the rod to rotate as your brush or jag travels down the bore. This makes using the rod much easier.

One-piece cleaning rods come in solid steel, brass, carbon fiber, or nylon-coated varieties. I personally use nylon-coated rods by Dewey. The nylon coating will not damage a firearm’s rifling if it comes into contact with it. Some people don’t like nylon-coated rods because abrasive material can embed itself into the nylon. To avoid this, I wipe the rod down each time it passes through the bore. This is a good habit regardless of what kind of cleaning rod you are using.

Your cleaning rod should be the correct diameter for the firearm you are cleaning. For example, I cannot clean my .22 and a 30-06 with the same cleaning rod. If I try to use a .22 caliber rod in a 30-06, it will flex and may even break. But if I try to use a .30 caliber cleaning rod in a .22, it won’t even go into the bore.

Bore Guide

Dewey Bore GuideBore guides are essential gun cleaning tools, especially when you are cleaning a precision rifle. They help protect the inside of your bore as well as the rifle’s crown, which is where a bullet exits the barrel. Both the bore and crown are critical areas of your firearm when it comes to accuracy. A lot of gun cleaning-related damage occurs as a cleaning rod exits the barrel and scrapes against the crown. Over time, this can deform the crown, causing accuracy issues.

A bore guide is a cylinder that fits in a rifle’s receiver where the bolt would normally go or slides over the barrel’s muzzle. They reduce the amount of contact that the cleaning rod makes with the bore’s surface by directing the cleaning rod and keeping it straight as it travels inside of the barrel. This reduces the chance of your cleaning rod damaging the inside of your bore or your rifle’s crown.

Bore Brushes

Bore Cleaning Brushes

Bore brushes are essential gun cleaning tools that allow you to thoroughly clean the inside of your barrel. They attach to the end of your cleaning rod to break up and remove fouling from the inside of your bore. Bore brushes are caliber-specific, so you will need to get the correct size brush for whichever caliber you are using. For example, don’t attempt to cram a .45 caliber brush into a 9mm barrel. It won’t go well.

Bore brushes come in a variety of materials, the most commonly-used being bronze and nylon. Most shooters consider bronze brushes to be superior to those made of nylon since bronze brushes tend to do a better job removing fouling. While some may say that nylon brushes are less likely to damage your barrel, your barrel’s steel is much harder than bronze. Because of this, bronze brushes should not damage the inside of your bore under normal use.


Gun Cleaning Jags

Jags are used to push patches and solvent down the bore. They are spear-like attachments that connect to the end of your cleaning rod. Jags feature a sharp tip that holds a patch in position as it travels through the firearm’s bore.

Like bore brushes, jags are caliber specific. This allows them to firmly press the patch against the bore, really helping it scrub out any fouling that it encounters. They are far superior to patch loops which only allow you to distribute solvents or oil down the bore. Jags make fouling removal much easier.


Bore Cleaning Patches

Patches are necessary but inexpensive items that allow you to clean your gun’s bore and other surfaces. You can buy patches anywhere that sells sporting goods or you can make your own out of old t-shirts. Patches must be cut to the correct size for the caliber you are using. An oversized patch may get stuck inside of the firearm, whereas an undersized patch won’t do a very good job cleaning.

My favorite patches to use are the square Outers “All Gauge Shotgun” patches. Since they are square, they are easy to cut in halves or quarters to fit whichever gun you are working on. They also leave behind very little fuzz or lint.

Cleaning Brushes

Gun Cleaning Brush

While bore brushes scrub out the inside of your bore, cleaning brushes clean other parts of your firearm, such as bolts, slide rails, and receivers. Although you can buy brushes that are specifically designed to clean firearms, many people simply use old toothbrushes.

Even if you don’t buy a full set of gun cleaning brushes, I recommend that you buy a double-ended one like the one in the picture. The small end of the brush is great for cleaning out small nooks and crannies that larger brushes may not be able to.

Gun Solvent

Hoppes #9 Gun Cleaning Solvent

A solvent is a chemical that you use to remove fouling from your firearm. They work by dissolving copper, lead, and other substances that gunk up the inside of your gun. There are numerous solvents on the market today, most of which do a good job cleaning out fouling.

Although there are newer solvents available, I still like to use good old Hoppes #9. It may not work as quickly as some other solvents, but it works, and it may be a little more gentle on my gun if I accidentally let it sit longer than I should. Plus, it makes my shop smell really good after I use it. No matter which solvent you use, be sure you have good ventilation. Most of them produce strong fumes that could be harmful.

Gun Oil

Break Free Gun Oil

While a solvent will help you clean your gun, a good gun oil will help it run reliably and protect it from rust. I like to use Break Free CLP in a squeeze bottle. It comes in an aerosol can also, but it is really messy.

Although I use Break Free as a lubricant, it can also be used as a cleaning agent. It is formulated to clean your firearm, lubricate it, and preserve it, hence the name “CLP”.

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