When you buy a gun, you also need to buy more things for it than just ammo. Thatís because youíll also need to get extra magazines, a carrying case, holsters (if itís a handgun), sling (if itís a rifle), and so on.
Something else that youíll need to get as well is a cleaning kit. In fact, buying a quality cleaning kit will arguably be one of the most important things that you buy as a gun owner.
But do you really need to have a gun cleaning kit? The simple fact of the matter is that there are numerous important responsibilities that come with owning a firearm of any kind. One of those responsibilities is keeping that firearm well maintained over the long term and keeping it protected from rust and corrosion, both of which can not only ruin the finish but also damage the structural integrity of the gun at hand.
Think of it this way: firearms can regularly cost several hundred dollars each, if not more. Theyíre not cheap, and if anything theyíre an investment. When you buy even more guns, the costs will go up into the several thousands
Yet most gun cleaning kits can be had for under a hundred dollars. Is that really too much money to spend on protecting your investment? Or what about on family heirloom guns that you inherited? You can decide for yourself, but most gun owners would answer with absolutely not.
In this guide, we will discuss the very best gun cleaning kits on the market today and what makes them great. But first, we will dive into what parts of a firearm generally need to be given the most attention to, and then the main components that your cleaning kit will need to have.
What parts of a firearm will need to be kept the most clean? The short answer: everything.
However, the parts of the firearm that need to be given the most special attention to will be the metal. The wood or synthetic furniture of a long gun or the polymer or wood grips do need to be taken care of, but they are not essential to the functionality of the firearm like the metal pieces are.
The specific metal pieces that you will want to clean out after taking your firearm to the range will be the barrel (this is important to conserve accuracy, as a pitted barrel will underperform), the gas block (if applicable), the receiver (in a rifle), the inside of the slide (in a semi-automatic handgun), the inside of the frame and the cylinder (in a revolver), and magazines (the number one cause of a failure in a semi-automatic firearm is not because of an issue with the gun itself but rather because of the magazines).
Letís put it this way: you need to take good care of the entire gun and you would be wise to apply solvent and then wipe away any part of the gun that is dirty after shooting. But the above components will deserve the most special attention first.
Depending on the specific cleaning kit you get, the amount or kinds of tools and components within it can vary significantly. Some cleaning kits are designed to be more simple and minimalistic and are only suitable for a few select calibers, while others will come packed with just about everything you need and be good for every major caliber out there.
You have two options when getting a gun cleaning kit: you can either buy the parts to the kit separately and then customize the kit exactly as you want it, or you can buy a kit thatís already assembled and ready to go. Either way, you will want to make sure that your kit has everything that a gun cleaning kit needs to have. If you buy a pre-assembled kit and there are any important cleaning components that it lacks, you will need to buy and add them to the kit yourself.
With that said, here are the top components that your gun cleaning kit will need to have:
Bronze brushes are used to be run down the barrel of a firearm to remove any carbon build up. Obviously the higher quality the bronze, the better. Bronze brushes come in many different sizes to accommodate different calibers; you need to make sure that your kit will have enough brushes for each firearm that you own.
To use a bronze brush, you will first need to spray it down with your gun oil or cleaning solvent. Then, youíll screw the brushes onto either the end of a cleaning rod or on a bore snake, and then run it through the barrel of the firearm a few times.
Nylon brushes are designed to get to and clean the harder to reach areas of a firearm, and specifically areas where you wonít want to use bronze brushes due to the risk of scratching the firearm.† This is because while nylon brushes do not do as good of a job at breaking up fouling or carbon as bronze does, they are much more gentle on your gunís finish. They can be used to clean both the interior and the exterior of the gun.
Whereas bronze brushes are usually designed to screw onto the end of a bore snake or cleaning rod, nylon brushes often come in the appearance of a traditional toothbrush, and you can then hold it in your hands to begin scrubbing away the carbon from the action and intricate parts of the firearm. Before using the brush, spray the action or piece of the firearm that you intend to clean with your gun oil or solvent, and then likewise spray the brush itself before cleaning.
Cotton swabs and patches are made to remove any residue that has been left over in the barrel or action of the firearms. No gun cleaning kit is complete without patches because while you will want to use your bronze or nylon brushes to remove the carbon buildup, any residue or oil that has been left over will need to be removed by the patches.
Many people make the mistake of using cotton swabs or patches first to clean the firearm. You can do this if you want, but itís much more effective to use a swab first and a swab/patch later.
To use the swabs or the patches, you simply need to spray them directly with your gun oil or solvent before applying directly to the firearm. You may additionally want to spray the piece of the gun that you will be cleaning as well.
Without a cleaning rod, it will be virtually impossible to thoroughly clean out the inside of a gunís barrel, especially if itís a rifle or a shotgun. Get one cleaning rod for long guns and another for handguns, and make sure that they will be thin enough to fit down the barrels of most calibers.
In addition to the cleaning rod itself, you will need to buy a slotted patch holder that screws onto the end of the rod, allowing you to then run the patches down the barrel of the gun. Your cleaning rod should also allow screwing on bronze brushes to run down the barrel as well.
As an alternative to a cleaning rod, you could also go with a bore snake. A bore snake is basically the same thing, only it built out of either a paracord-type material or steel cable and is therefore much more flexible rather than being rigid like the rod.
Your cleaning oil/solvent is used to lubricate and clean the firearm. Simply wiping your gun and its components down with a brush or swab will not be enough. You need to run it with solvents first, in order to remove carbon/metal deposits and fouling, and then apply lubricant to protect the metal components of the weapon to ensure an overall more smooth operation.
Take note that solvents and oils are not the same thing. This is because solvents cannot lubricate your firearm; they evaporate very quickly and are only used to dissolve carbon build up and fouling. They will not protect your metal, and will therefore not defend your gun against rust. This is what gun oil is used for instead. Always apply the solvents first and the oil last.
You should ensure that every metal component of the firearm gets a light coating of oil over it; this ensures that the firearm will run smoothly and will also protect it against rust, hopefully until you need to clean it again. Plan on applying oil to the internal components of the gun, and then apply more oil to the outside finish of the gun as well and then wipe it down with a rag as a rust inhibitor. You do not need to apply solvent to the outside components of the gun.
The cleaning rag is basically used to wipe down the firearm and its components after it has been cleaned in order to remove any remaining oil or residue. You can wipe down each piece after you clean it and then dry off the entire firearm after youíve reassembled it. The best cleaning rags will be made out of cotton. Keep in mind that you donít have to go with an official Ďcleaning rag,í as some gun owners are totally complacent with using an old cotton T-shirt or socks (and either will honestly work just fine).
Most firearms can be field stripped without the aid of tools, but not all of them. It will be handy to keep a small hammer and punches in your cleaning kit so you are prepared to field strip or take down a firearm that cannot be so easily field stripped.
Your punches should be made out of brass, stainless steel, or plastic (or you can have examples in all three). A rubber or plastic hammer should be sufficient; you donít need a metal hammer as you risk it hitting the surface of the gun and damaging the finish.
Include a screwdriver for the same reason you want a hammer and punches: you need to be ready to completely disassemble the firearm or to field strip a firearm that necessitates the use of tools. To totally take apart any firearm after basic field stripping, it is basically guaranteed that you will need to use a screwdriver at some point, so include one in your cleaning kit.
Here are the best gun cleaning kits on the market today, presented in alphabetical order:
The Allen Ultimate 65 Piece Gun Cleaning Kit is designed to provide you with literally everything that you need in a gun cleaning kit at once. This is a true professional-grade cleaning kit that utilizes high end components, and everything fits into a toolbox-sized container.
Some cleaning kits are designed for specific types of firearms, such as rifles, shotguns, handguns, or rimfire firearms. The Allen Ultimate Cleaning Kit, however, is designed to accommodate any and every kind of firearm that you have in your safe.
From your 12 gauge field hunting shotgun to your .22 rifle to your 9mm concealed carry pistol to† your .270 hunting rifle to your old muzzleloader, the Allen Ultimate Cleaning Kit will have you covered. Thatís because this kit comes with numerous different kinds of bore brushes and cotton swabs that are designed to accommodate very major caliber for rifles, shotguns, and handguns alike, in addition to cotton patches, cleaning mats, solvents, jags, and so on.
All in all, if youíre looking for a complete and high quality gun cleaning kit that can be used to clean all of your guns right out of the box, the Allen Universal Gun Cleaning Kit will be a great option.
If youíre looking for another complete gun cleaning kit that is also easily portable, youíll want to consider the DAC Winchester Super Deluxe Universal Gun Cleaning Kit. This kit is shipped in an organized nylon carrying case that comes with a Velcro carrying strap so you can haul it around across your shoulder virtually wherever you go.
As with the Allen Universal Gun Cleaning Kit that we just covered, the DAC Winchester Kit is designed to accommodate every major caliber of firearm for shotguns, rifles, and handguns alike.† Made in the UDSA, it has 65 different pieces, including brushes, rods, and mops. The kit is designed into different sections, each of which are attached to the nylon case with velcro.
The biggest negative to the DAC is that it does not ship with solvents or lubricating oils, so you will need to purchase those separately and then add them to the kit yourself.
The Hoppeís NO.9 Deluxe Universal Gun Cleaning Kit is the perfect beginnerís gun cleaning kit. Unlike the Allen and DAC kits that we just covered, the Hoppeís No. 9 kit is sold at a lower budget-minded price and designed to be as simple as possible, coming with only eighteen pieces that ship in a wooden case.
The kit also comes with very detailed instructions, so those who have limited to no experience with cleaning firearms will be well served. The kit has five bronze brushes, a brass rod with four slotted ends, a cleaning cloth, and lubricating oil. It can accommodate .22 caliber firearms, .30 caliber rifles, .38 and .357 Magnum revolvers, and 12 or 20 gauge shotguns.
Similar to the Allen and DAC kits that we went over above, the Otis Elite Gun Cleaning Kit is an advanced cleaning kit with a very wide assortment of different gun cleaning tools designed to accommodate practically all major calibers.
The bronze brushes of the Otis Elite are very high quality, and the caliber they are designed for are engraved into the rod for convenient. The carrying bag of this kit is built out of nylon with a heavy duty zipper to keep everything protected from the elements.
Overall, the Otis Elite has twenty two bronze brushes that can clean over forty different calibers, six memory flex cables, a brass scraper tool, ten ounces of solvent, and as an added bonus that most cleaning kits lack, a lens cleaning kit that can be used to clean scopes, binoculars, rangefinders, cameras, and red dot sights,
Owning and knowing how to use a gun cleaning kit is the number one way to keep your firearms in good condition and to protect the hefty investment that you made into them. The specific kits that we have covered here today will serve you well, but in all honesty, any cleaning kit that is comprised of the pieces that we covered earlier will be sufficient.
Keep in mind that you donít have to buy a pre-assembled kit if you donít want to, and can instead buy all of the pieces separately and then put together your own custom kit.
Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
Email: Doug Ritter
Revision: 01 November 19, 2019
© 2019 Douglas S. Ritter
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