Gun Cleaning Kit – The Complete Guide [Updated 2020]

Gun Cleaning Kit – The Complete Guide for 2020

There are a lot of gun cleaning kits available today. Knowing which one to buy is the key to not wasting time or money. I have tried over 20 gun cleaning kits in the past 30 years. Some are good and some are not so good. Some are complicated and some are simple. I prefer simple as long as its effective.

Here are some examples. The Hoppes BoreSnake Kit, Otis Elite and a Universal Kit.

Hoppes Boresnake Clenaing KitOtis Elite Cleaning KitMulti Gun Cleaning Kit

So what’s the Best Gun Cleaning Kit?

It depends what type you prefer and what kind of gun you’re cleaning. A good gun cleaning kit for a shotgun might now work too well for a rifle or handgun. And conversely, a 22 cal gun cleaning kit might not be effective for a shotgun or large bore rifle. Learn more from the outdoor experts at

There are 3 types or technologies of gun cleaning kits.

  1. Rigid metal rod with screw in tips
  2. Rope style cotton bore snakes
  3. Cable style flex cables

All 3 of these styles of gun cleaning kits can be effective, if you buy the right ones. Here are some brands that are the best, in my opinion.

  1. Dewey, Tipton, Hoppes Elite, Gunslick ( gun cleaning rods)
  2. Hoppes Boresnake (cotton rope style gun cleaner)
  3. Otis (steel flex cable kits)

The most popular gun cleaning kits feature a metal rod with screw in tips. These have been around for 100 years and have come along way. The latest cleaning rods are carbon fiber and are most likely the absolute best gun cleaning rod you can buy. They are lightweight, safe for bores, stiff, yet somewhat flexible and inexpensive. There are other cleaning rods available like stainless steel, bronze, aluminum and coated rods but it’s not worth risking your gun bore by using a risky cleaning rod. Carbon Fiber is just the best.

Pull Through Gun Cleaning Kits

I really like “pull through” gun cleaning kits. They make cleaning guns much easier and faster. There are 2 types of pull through gun cleaning kits.

  1. Hoppes Boresnake Gun Cleaning Kit
  2. Otis Elite Gun Cleaning Kit

Hoppes BoreSnake Cleaning Kit

The Hoppes boresnake cleaning kit features the famous Boresnake which is a thick cotton rope with bore brushes embedded. This is of course an over-simplification of a Boresnake. It’s actually quite brilliant in design and function. I have used them for many years and find them effective and speedy.

I’ve used many BoreSnakes on shotguns, rifles and handguns and really like them. It’s just much easier to pull a rope through a bore than to push a rod and brush down a barrel. The cotton rope of the Boresnake really scrubs the bore, much better than a square patch. You can’t beat them for shotgun cleaning!

Hoppes Boresnake Cleaning Kit

Otis Flex Cable Cleaning Kit

The Otis Elite Gun Cleaning Kit is a very sophisticated system that features a coated metal “Flex Rod” (or cable) that is used to pull a bore brush or gun cleaning patch through the bore. This kit is very compact and easy to bring into action. The quality is unsurpassed by any gun cleaning kit made today. Otis is tops.

The Flex Rod is a steel braided cable with a nylon coating. It won’t damage gun bores and makes it easier to pull patches through a barrel rather than pushing with a gun cleaning rod. The Flex Rod is compact and will last a lifetime.

Cheap Gun Cleaning Kit

There are many budget or cheap gun cleaning kits on the market that feature aluminum cleaning rods and cheap gun cleaners and oils. They cost about $10. I don’t recommend them because of the quality and would rather buy a Boresnake for $15 and some M-Pro7 gun cleaner. You might spend about $25 but you will have an effective cleaning kit that’s going to save you time and grief. The cheap aluminum gun cleaning rods will cause you grief sooner or later. They bend and the screw threads will become stripped after several uses.

Best Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

The most effective and most complete universal gun cleaning kit is the Otis Elite Gun Cleaning Kit. It will handle complete cleaning of .22 caliber guns up to 50 cal and shotguns from .410 to 12 gauge. The Elite gun cleaning kit is the only gun cleaning kit you will ever need. It’s huge.

Here is a list of the contents of the Elite Cleaning Kit

  • Cleans all rifles/pistols/shotguns/inline muzzle loaders with 100% cotton 2” & 3” patches
  • 3 slotted tips & 2 patch savers
  • 16 firearm specific bronze bore brushes with size marked on brush stem (.17, .22 limited breech, .22/.223, .243-.260, .270/7mm, .30-06/.300/30-30/.308, .338-.35, .357-38cal/9mm, .40/10mm, .44/.45, .50cal, .410ga, 28ga, 20ga, 16ga, 12/10ga)
  • 8”, 12” and 36” aircraft grade Memory-Flex cables and thread connector for proper Breech-to-Muzzle cleaning
  • Small & large obstruction removers knock out mud, snow, stuck casings and double as a t-handle base for included t-handle; small t-handle & stud included for small caliber cleaning
  • .223cal/5.56mm chamber brush, pin punch, end brush, straight pick, locking lug scraper, scraper, short AP brush, double end AP brush and male & female rod for more precise cleaning
  • Lens tissue, lens spray, lens brush and lens cloth for optics care
  • Complete Tactical cleaning kit in compact soft pack cases included with 6 brushes, 3 cables, 2” & 3” patches, 0.5 fl.oz. Bio-CLP, chamber flag
  • Six (6) Memory-Flex Cables of varying length for effective and correct Breech-to-Muzzle cleaning

Hoppes Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

The Hoppe’s Universal Gun Cleaning kit is a pretty good one for the price ($30). It features a bronze gun cleaning rod which is much better than an aluminum or steel rod. Bronze will not scratch a steel gun bore. It also includes phosphor bronze bore brushes, patches, Hoppe’s No. 9 solvent and oil, slotted rod tips, cleaning cloth and rifle/pistol adapter. It comes in a nice wooden case. It can clean .22 – .38 caliber rifles and pistols and 20 and 12 gauge shotguns.

Hoppe’s # 9 Gun Cleaning Kit

The Hoppe’s # 9 gun cleaning kit is a very basic and inexpensive gun cleaning kit. I think it retails for about $12. Remember…you get what you pay for. This cheap gun cleaning kit features an aluminum rod which is not ideal for rifles and handguns but is OK for shotguns. Aluminum is soft and can shave off if rubbed or scraped against a steel surface. It can also be embedded  with sand or dirt and then possibly scratch your gun bore. You have to take extra precautions when using aluminum rods.

Top Rated Gun Cleaning Kit

Be wary of so called “Top Rated Gun Cleaning Kits”. If you are reading these review type websites, just make sure the gun cleaning kits reviewed or rated are good quality. They should include a carbon fiber or at least a coated steel gun cleaning rod, bronze bore brushes, cotton patches, nylon utility brushes and picks, and a good solvent and lubricant or oil. Otis gun cleaning kits are perfect examples of good ones. Hoppes also makes some good kits. It’s pretty easy to pick out the good ones if you know what to look for.

22 Gun Cleaning Kit

There are literally hundreds of .22 caliber gun cleaning kits available and most have a aluminum rod. It’s best to look for a kit that has a coated steel or bronze rod or the Otis Flex Rod. I do not recommend buying the cheapest .22 cal gun cleaning kit. Look for good quality components. Otis makes some of the best and they are not expensive. Otis is just a safe bet when in doubt. Gun cleaning will just be faster and easier with a quality kit.

Ultimate Gun Cleaning Kit

The ultimate gun cleaning kit is the Otis Elite Gun Cleaning Kit. The Otis kit is the “high-tech” gun cleaning kit featuring advanced gun cleaning technologies like the Flex Rod. The Flex Rod is a braided steel cable coated with a protective nylon sheath. You pull bore brushes and cleaning patches through the bore instead of pushing them. It’s much easier with less risk of damaging the barrel. it just makes sense too. There are hundreds of items in this huge complete gun cleaning kit. You can clean any gun from .22 to .45. There are multiple Fled Rods, bore brushes, patches, gun cleaner and oil.

Compact Gun Cleaning Kit

When is comes to compact or portable gun cleaning kits, only one comes to mind and it’s Otis. Otis makes the most compact/portable gun cleaning kits available and are excellent quality. Since Otis uses a Flex Rod (steel cable with nylon coating) to pull brushes and patches through the gun bore instead of a rigid metal rod, it can be rolled up and kept in a very small pouch or case. It’s very effective, safe for gun barrels and easy to use. The pouch or soft case can fit in the palm of your hand or in any pant pocket or coat pocket. Check it out…

The Otis Elite gun cleaning kit measures about 2-3″ in diameter. There is nothing more compact or smaller and certainly not more effective. These super compact gun cleaning kits can be used as a field gun cleaning kit since you can store them in your pocket. You can take one anywhere, on a boat while duck hunting, in a tree stand, at the gun range or in you hunting vest. I never go hunting or shooting without one. The Otis Elite is a perfect small gun cleaning kit for young adults learning to hunt and shoot. It’s simple to use and organizes the brushes, patches, Flex Rods, cleaning tips, gun cleaner and oil. Everything has its own place.