Gun Cleaning – Tips and Tricks

Gun cleaning is most likely the least fun aspect of shooting or hunting. It can be tedious and downright boring. Because of the repetitive nature of cleaning a firearm, a lot of shooters avoid it or blaze through it halfheartedly. The process of scrubbing the barrel until it is spotless can be time consuming and sometimes taking an hour or more per firearm.

Gun Cleaning

In order to keep a firearm in good working order and accurate, it is necessary to clean it thoroughly. Does this mean it must be perfectly spotless? NO.  If we can make gun cleaning faster, easier and fun then it changes this whole unpleasant scenario. And it doesn’t have to be drudgery either. I actually enjoy cleaning my guns. I have 2 shotguns, a rifle and 2 handguns and I shoot them all often which means I do a lot of cleaning.

First off, you do not need to clean to a spotless degree, believe it or not. If you talk to a few barrel manufacturers like Lilja, Pac Nor, Shilen or Douglass they will tell you that the barrel does not need to be totally free of all fouling. It only needs to be clean enough to regain it’s accuracy potential. When a barrel becomes fouled badly, it will start to loose its accuracy. You need to clean the barrel until the accuracy is regained and no more. So scrubbing a barrel for hours and hours to remove every little trace of fouling is not needed. But if you enjoy cleaning and the satisfaction of knowing the barrel is 100% pristine, then go for it. I’m kind of like that.

So knowing you do not need to remove every micron of fouling means you do not have to spend hours cleaning your gun. There are other solutions that can shorten the cleaning time or make it more pleasant. The tools and cleaners you use can make or break you. Use effective tools and cleaners and gun cleaning is a breeze.

So what are some things that can make gun cleaning faster, easier and more pleasant?

Let’s start with a good place to field strip and clean your gun. This is essential. A table, workbench or desk makes a great stable and sturdy place to disassemble and clean a gun. You need plenty of space to lay out the parts to clean. A rifle or gun vise make it easy to support your gun while cleaning it. I use a computer desk and a small suction cup vise to hold my handgun barrels while cleaning them. It is very difficult to hold a gun and clean it at the same time.

small table vise

Proper tools will really make gun cleaning a breeze. Like tools to a car mechanic, it makes the job easier to do. Get a good cleaning rod (coated or carbon fiber) with a ball-bearing handle like a Dewey , Gunslick or Tipton. These high quality rods will make it easier to brush and patch a barrel bore plus protect the bore from scratches. I have a Gunslick carbon fiber rod. It has a large hand filling handle that makes it comfortable to brush and patch my barrels. Spend a little more and get something that makes cleaning pleasant.

Tipton carbon fiver cleaning rod

Bore brushes are not all the same. Let me tell you! I have been cleaning guns for over 35 years and have tried just about every type of bore brush available. Some are good and some are not. There are brass, phosphorus bronze, steel and nylon brushes in various brush styles. I have used all of these with the exception of steel. I won’t use a steel brush in any of my gun barrels. Steel on steel is not good. You don’t want to scratch the bore or the muzzle crown.

So which bore brushes are the best?

The answer is brass or phosphorus bronze. I use brass bore brushes exclusively. Here is the story on Nylon. It doesn’t remove or loosen fouling well at all. I have brushed barrels with nylon brushes until patches came out white and then used a brass brush afterwards. The next patches came out black. Nylon brushes do not clean well. Don’t waste your time with them. I personally only use Otis brass brushes. They are excellent quality and come with a neat case plus the base is stamped with the caliber for easy identification.

Otis Bore Brushes

Brass or bronze jags are the best. There are many different shapes of jags. I have used 3 or 4 different brands and shapes and they all worked very well. Buy jags for your specific bore size and the shape or brand that you like.

Here we go again…all patches are not the same. Some leave lint in the bore or fall apart easily. I prefer to not have lint all over my clean gun/barrel. I like a good quality patch that is absorbent, tough without any lint. I used to use M-Pro 7 patches when they were available. They were the best patches around but they are no longer available. I have tried several brands recently and really like Southern Bloomer. These patches are very absorbent cotton and hold together well while scrubbing the bore. They feel super soft but really scrub the barrel bore, removing carbon and copper fouling that was loosened by the bore brush. There are other good patches like Sagebrush. I use them also.

Southern Bloomer Patches

Now for the final component of gun cleaning, gun solvents and CLP’s. I’m going to state right off the bat…I will only use non-toxic gun cleaners. I’m done with toxic, smelly, flammable, harmful if swallowed, carcinogenic chemicals. I WILL NOT USE THEM.

Gun cleaners or gun solvents clean only while CLP’s or Cleaner Lubricant Protectants are multi-function solutions. I really love CLP’s. They kill 3 birds with one stone. They clean, protect and then lubricate. However they typically do not clean as well (as fast) as a straight gun cleaner or solvent. But that is OK with me. I just spend a little more time cleaning.  Some really good CLP’s that I have used are FrogLube, Archoil AR4200, CorrosionX, Otis Bio CLP, SEAL 1, Fireclean Gun Oil and M-Pro 7 LPx. Another popular CLP that has been around for many years and was issued to many military units is Break-Free CLP.

Non Toxic Gun CLP's

Some really good gun cleaners are M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaner, Gun Werkz Gun Cleaning Fluid, Hoppes Elite Gun Cleaner, Slip 2000 725 Gun Cleaner and MC25 Weapon Cleaner.

Non Toxic Gun Cleaners