7 Best Gun Cleaning Kits (2023 Update) Buyer’s Guide
Cleaning your gun is an integral aspect of gun ownership. And the easiest way to accomplish this simple but vital task is to pick up a gun cleaning kit. Gun cleaning kits help prevent the most common causes of firearm malfunctions (1) and in the process allow you to become familiar with your firearm and its workings.
Today’s gun are an expression of centuries of evolution and refinement. They’re as far removed from the muskets of our forebears as the new Corvette C8 is from the horse and carriage. But that doesn’t mean they’re maintenance free.
Below we’ve brought together the 10 best gun cleaning kits on the market today.
1. The Otis Elite Gun Cleaning Kit
The last item on our list of best gun cleaning kits is this impressive compact number from Otis. The Elite will enable you to clean anything from a .17 to .50 caliber gun. Which makes it the most widely applicable best gun cleaning kit on our list.
Whatever you need for the job it’s in here including a variety of brushes, patches, memory-flex cables, T-handles, picks, lug scraper, lens tissues, lens spray and much more. The Otis Elite Gun Cleaning Kit is going to cost you more than most other gun cleaner kits. But then again if you own a variety of firearms you’re going to be very happy to have it around.
2. Hoppe’s No. 9 Deluxe Gun Cleaning Kit
Hoppe’s leads off our list of the best gun cleaning supplies and kits with their outstanding No. 9 Deluxe kit. This is a compact, versatile, high quality kit that includes everything you need to clean your .38 caliber pistol, .22 and .30 caliber rifles or 12 and 20 gauge shotguns.
The No. 9 Deluxe Kit also gets high marks for including the company’s well-regarded solvent and lubricating oil as standard equipment; an example more kit manufacturers would do well to follow. The hardwood presentation box is one you’ll be proud to display in your workshop. And the fact that it comes with a comprehensive gun cleaning guide is just icing on the cake.
3. Real Avid Gun Boss Handgun Cleaning Kit
The Real Avid Gun Boss Handgun Cleaning Kit comes in a durable and convenient zippered case that opens to reveal everything you need to clean your treasured sidearm. Whether yours is a .22, .357, .38, .40 or .45 caliber or a 9mm the Boss has you covered.
There’s a 9” swivel tip cleaning rod with T-handle, a variety of brushes and jags, 2 different nylon covered tips that won’t damage the barrel and 50 high quality cleaning patches. Whether you own a Glock, Colt, Smith & Wesson, SIG Sauer or almost any other type of handgun the Boss Handgun Cleaning Kit will help you keep it in pristine condition so it can continue to provide you years of trouble free service.
4. Hoppe’s No. 9 Cleaning Kit with Aluminum Rod
Those looking for a slightly more affordable alternative to some of the more expensive gun cleaning kits out there will want to consider the Hoppe’s No. 9 Cleaning Kit with Aluminum Rod. This is a slightly scaled back version of the company’s Deluxe No. 9 Kit (see above) with the difference being the standard kit comes with brass barrel rods.
Also, the storage box here is not the handsome wooden box of the Deluxe kit. Instead, it’s a pretty run of the mill plastic box. But if you can see past the aesthetic deficiencies, there’s very little difference between the two from a practical standpoint. Including the fact that both come with Hoppe’s outstanding solvent and lubricating oils.
5. Gloryfire Universal Gun Cleaning Kit
The Universal Gun Cleaning Kit from Gloryfire is going to cost you a bit more than some other gun cleaning kits. But if you own a variety of firearms you should consider making the financial stretch. There’s pretty much everything you need here to clean whatever type of gun you have. A total of 111 items including brushes, T-handle barrel rods, plastic picks, stainless steel picks, cotton swabs and nylon-covered tips that will clean anything from a .17 caliber to a .45 caliber firearm.
If we have one bone to pick with the universal cleaning kit manufacturer it’s over the fact that they don’t include a solvent or lubricating oil in the kit. While it’s no big deal to pick up some of your own it would be nice if they remedied this oversight in future versions of their otherwise outstanding Universal Gun Cleaning Kit.
6. Allen Company Ultimate Gun Cleaning Kit
Allen provides their 65 piece gun cleaning kit in a handy toolbox that’s easy to tote around and easy to store away when you’re not using it. The box bore cleaning tools itself is a marvel of organization with each tool having its own custom designed storage nook complete with name and size.
The kit is intended for handgun and sport rifles, although there are also provisions for specialized kit for cleaning 12 and 20 gauge shotguns. At the bottom of the box there’s lots of room to store your solvent, lubricating oil and other cleaning fluids. But alas, Allen doesn’t supply any of their own. Aside from that, you’ll find everything else you need to keep your firearms clean and on the ready line.
7. DAC Winchester Gun Care Kit and Soft Sided Case
The DAC Winchester Gun Care Kit is comprised of 68 components including 14 brushes, 2 breech brushes, 50 cleaning patches, multiple slotted tips, 13 jags, various other cleaning tools, picks and more. It’s all wrapped up in a custom EVA soft-sided case that slips into any drawer or under the seat so you can take it to the range if need be.
It’s compatible with virtually every firearm from .22 to .45 caliber and all of the components exhibit Winchester’s commitment to quality and functionality. Like many such kits it doesn’t provide any cleaning fluids. If you own multiple firearms and you can overlook the lack of solvent and oil you’ll find a lot to like here.
What Should Be Included in a Good Gun Cleaning Kit?
Here are some of the items we want to see in a good gun cleaning kit.
Barrel Rods – Cleaning your firearm will require that you reach down into the barrel to remove all carbon and gunpowder residue along with whatever dust and dirt found its way in there. Barrel rods are how you do this. Barrel cleaning rods can be fashioned from any number of materials including aluminum, nylon or bronze.
The most important thing to keep in mind when using a barrel rod is to employ a bit of finesse. Just jamming the rod into the barrel aggressively or haphazardly may damage the barrel and undermine the integrity of your gun. Because it’s so important to safeguard the integrity of the barrel nylon or nylon coated rods have found favor with many gun owners lately.
A Quality Solvent – Some gun cleaning kits will leave it up to you to get your own solvent. But we would always be partial to the ones that provide it. Simply because the kit is supposed to be about convenience. That said, the solvent is used to wet the cleaning patches and brushes in order to loosen up carbon and gunpowder residue in the barrel and on the action. Some are no doubt higher quality than others.
Kerosene, ethyl alcohol and ammonium hydroxide are common ingredients in many high quality formulations (2). What you don’t want in your best gun cleaning solvent is benzene. Which has been proven to cause cancer (3) and which most responsible manufacturers removed from their solvent formulations long ago.
Brushes – If the residue inside your barrel is particularly heavy or stubborn you’re going to need something more substantial than cleaning patches. Enter the bore brush. Bore brushes are manufactured in different sizes to accommodate different caliber (4) weapons. So if you own a .44 magnum you’ll want a brush designed for that size barrel. Likewise if you own a .22 caliber sport rifle you’ll need a bore brush designed for that caliber gun. Make sure the kit you’re thinking of buying has bore brushes that will work with your particular gun.
Cleaning Patches – The best gun cleaning kits will provide both bore brushes and cleaning patches. As we mentioned above the cleaning patch is typically moistened with solvent and then inserted into the barrel by way of the barrel rod. There the solvent wipes away residue and leaves the barrel in pristine condition. There are various types of different gun cleaning kits and patches available that feature different types of weave. You’ll want some that are absorbent, durable and which won’t produce lint.
A Storage Box – Gun cleaning supplies and kits can have lots of different components. The last thing you want is for them to be lying around loose. Any decent gun cleaning kit will come with a storage box of some sort. It doesn’t have to be fashioned by hand from 100 year old oak trees harvested from the mountains of Eastern Europe. But it should provide the ability to keep everything organized and clean.
High Quality Lubricating Oil – We clean our firearms to keep them functioning smoothly. And nothing is more important to maintaining smooth, reliable action than a quality lubricant. Most of the best used gun oil and cleaning kits provide this for you. When judging whether a lubricant is of sufficient quality to use on your firearm the first thing you’ll want to consider is its viscosity (5). A high quality oil will retain its ability to lubricate regardless of temperature or conditions. Cheap oils will break down quickly and fail when the mercury dips.
What’s The Right Way to Clean A Gun?
Before we begin we need to emphasize the importance of working in a well-ventilated area. Since you’ll be working with a solvent you don’t want to be in an enclosed area where you’re forced to inhale the fumes. That said, let’s go through the cleaning process step by step:
Make Absolutely Sure it’s Unloaded!!
Don’t even think about cleaning your gun until you have made absolutely certain to remove any and all ammunition. Even if you clearly remember unloading the gun after you last used it, check it again, thoroughly, before you start the cleaning process. Gun safety (6) begins with building good habits. And this is one of the most basic and important. So no buts. Once you’re sure you’ve removed all the ammo take a look through the barrel just to be sure. Now that you’re sure the gun is unloaded you can proceed.
Disassemble the Gun
Bear in mind that not all firearms need to be disassembled in order to be cleaned. Revolvers, for instance, can be cleaned without being disassembled. Rifles on the other hand will need to be taken apart in order to be cleaned. If you are unsure about how to disassemble your gun there are lots of resources on the internet today that will take you through the process. Including numerous detailed videos on Youtube and other platforms.
Start With the Barrel(s)
Once the gun has been properly disassembled you should begin by cleaning the barrels. Before you begin make sure you have your barrel rods, patches and bore brushes handy. The first thing to do is soak a patch in solvent (again, make sure you’re doing this in a well-ventilated area). Once the patch is soaked attach it to the end of the rod using the patch holder that came with the kit. Then gently insert it into the barrel. Gently guide it all the way through until it emerges from the other end. Don’t pull it back though. Just push it through and out the other end and then repeat. If you are dealing with stubborn residue use the bore brush to scour the inside of the barrel until it’s clean. Some people will alternate; doing a pass with the patch and then a pass with the bore brush.
Lubricate the Barrel
Once you’re sure the barrel is clean it’s time to lubricate it. To do so take a clean patch and soak it with oil. Then attach it to the end of a barrel rod (as you did with the solvent-covered patch) and gently push it all the way through the barrel.
Move on to Clean the Action
Once the barrel has been cleaned and lubricated, it’s time to move on to the action. Put some gun cleaning solvent down onto a patch and wipe down any exposed parts of the breech, making sure to remove any and all grit and grime. Then take the patch and wipe down the rest of the visible parts of the action mechanism. Follow that with a clean dry patch making sure you have removed every last bit of dirt and firing residue. Then apply some of the lubricating oil to all moving parts of the gun’s action.
Reassemble and Clean the Exterior
Finally, the last step in cleaning your gun is to reassemble it and then thoroughly wipe down the exterior using a clean dry cloth. An old T-shirt will do as long as it’s soft and clean. Once you’ve removed all smudges, fingerprints and other marks your gun is clean and ready to be used again.
How Often Should I Clean My Firearm?
There are several schools of thought on this so we’ll provide them all and let you decide. You should clean your gun…
- After every other trip to the range, regardless of how many rounds you fired.
- Any time you fire 250 or more rounds.
- After every hunting trip. Every one.
- After exposing the weapon to excessive moisture on humid days.
- After firing corroded ammo. Although you really shouldn’t be doing that.
- Before storing it away for any length of time.
We adhere to the notion that your gun can’t be too clean. So even if you want to get a bit obsessive about it that’s a better approach then not cleaning it enough.
What Happens if I Don’t Clean My Gun?
Every time you fire your gun the process leaves behind tiny particles of lead, carbon, copper and even plastic (from shotgun shells). This material is known as fouling residue and with each shot more accumulates inside the gun. If this residue is allowed to accumulate past a certain point the result will be a malfunctioning firearm. And for the record: if you believe the ammo you’re using doesn’t create fouling residue, think again. There is no type of ammunition on the market that does not generate residue once fired.
There are two primary types of fouling that occur with dirty guns. One is called the “failure to fire” (7) and the other a “failure to feed” (8). Failing to fire occurs when the ammunition fails to discharge. This type of fouling occurs because residue is preventing the firing pin from moving fast enough to activate the round. Failing to feed is a matter of the gun failing to chamber the next round. The feeding mechanism becomes so gunked up that it can no longer execute all the movements required to chamber the round.
The Bottom Line
The best gun cleaning kits allow you a trouble free way to keep your firearm in tip-top condition at all times. They provide all the tools necessary to clean and lubricate the gun so that you can avoid the problems produced by excessive fouling residue. And, of course, they provide you with a way to keep everything organized and tucked away until you need it.
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