Best Gun Cleaning Rod – how to choose

Best Gun Cleaning Rod – rifles, handguns and shotguns

I have stuck with carbon fiber for quit a long time because I feel it’s the best gun cleaning rod available. I have used many gun cleaning rods and shotgun cleaning rods in the past 35 years. I can tell you which ones work the best, at least in my opinion and why.

Best Gun Cleaning Rod – what to buy?

  • Hoppes Elite carbon fiber
  • Gunslick carbon fiber
  • Tipton carbon fiber
  • Dewey Nylon Coated

Why I recommend and Use These

  • Will not damage/scratch gun bore
  • Remain perfectly straight
  • Ergo handles – comfortable
  • Ball Bearings in handle for easy rotation
  • Inexpensive – $30-40
  • Last a lifetime

Best gun cleaning rods - Gunslick carbon fiber

Gunslick carbon fiber gun cleaning rod above used on my Glocks. Here is where I bought this one…Shop at

Carbon Fiber – Best Gun Cleaning Rod Material IMO

I only use Carbon Fiber gun cleaning rods because they are lightweight, unbreakable and will never damage a gun barrel. They do not cost much more than a steel or brass cleaning rods and are worth the money. Steel, brass and aluminum gun cleaning rods can become embedded with dirt or sand and then can scratch the gun bore. A scratched bore will ruin accuracy.

All of the gun cleaning rod brands I listed above have a comfortable handle with a roller bearing attaching it to the rod. A roller bearing ensures the handle rotates while the rod and brush engage the barrel rifling and turn easily. They are good quality cleaning rods and will last many years. Most carbon fiber cleaning rods cost about $30+. They are well worth the money.

Hoppes Elite – best gun cleaning rod brand

The one feature that sticks out in my mind on the Hoppes elite is the super soft and grippy handle. It’s very ergonomic and just feels really nice in your hand. It’s most likely the ONE reason I would use it, if for no other reason. And there are plenty of reasons to buy the Elite.

Elite carbon rods are one piece and remain straight forever, unlike metal rods. They also do not attract or hold dirt and foreign debris. Aluminum rods, being soft, can become embedded with sand and foreign debris which can damage a gun bore. The Elite handle features ball bearings and allows the handle/rod to rotate freely. It’s very smooth. The elite rod costs about $30 depending on size and length.

Gunslick – 2nd best gun cleaning rod

I have several Gunslick carbon fiber rods and love them. The handle is ergonomic and fills your palm perfectly. It’s soft and non-slip even with gun cleaner on it. The handle rotates super smoothly on real ball bearings. The carbon fiber rod is one-piece and very rigid. It will remain straight regardless of the number of cleanings or abuse. You can’t go wrong with Gunslick. I believe they are owned by Bushnell. I could not find these online anymore though. I’m not sure if Gunslick stopped making them. Go with the Hoppes Elite.

Gunslick gun cleaning rod - carbon fiber


Tipton cleaning rods have been around for a really long time and this tells you something about the quality. It’s very good. The somewhat ergonomic handle is hard plastic and is mounted on 2 sets of ball bearings to allow the handle and rod to rotate freely. It is not as comfortable, in my opinion, as the Gunslick or Hoppes Elite rods but is still good. Tipton rods feature “shank- through” construction which provides extra strength for tight patching. They cost around $35-55 depending on caliber and length.

Aluminum – not recommended

I have used aluminum gun cleaning rods for many years, before I knew why they are not good. I remember seeing aluminum shavings on the rod and on my gun cleaning mat after cleaning several guns. I never thought about it too much back then. I also never thought about how soft aluminum is and that sand or dirt could get embedded into it. I also remember stripping the threaded segments more than once and bending them. Aluminum is not very strong and can be easily bent. These issues are avoidable with a good carbon fiber gun cleaning rod. Aluminum gun cleaning rods are certainly cheap but they can damage a firearm very easily.

Nylon Coated Steel


Dewey rods have been a top seller for many years. They are just really good. They feature nylon coated steel rods with brass ferules. The ergo handle features ball bearings which allows the handle to rotate like ice. It’s a really smooth setup and will last for many years. I’ve had one for 15 years. They cost around $40 depending on the length.

Nylon coated steel rods and safer to use than bare steel or aluminum but the nylon can become embedded with fine sand or debris since it is softer than metal. So be aware of this if you decide to use them. I have used them in the past with no problems.

Steel – not recommended

Steel gun cleaning rods are certainly popular but are they a good choice? I believe they are not for the simple reason, cleaning a steel gun barrel with a steel rod could cause scratches in the bore. In order to prevent scratching a gun bore, you need a softer metallic material or a non-metallic material. Carbon fiber (non-metallic) is hard but it will not scratch metal. There are coated steel gun cleaning rods available that do provide a protective barrier for the gun bore but if any part of it gets scuffed or worn away then you could experience a problem of scratching.


When it comes to shotgun cleaning rods, you can use aluminum or brass as well as coated steel and carbon fiber. Shotgun barrels are smooth bores, most of the time, and can’t get damaged enough by a metal cleaning rod to change its shot pattern.

Rifled slug barrels are a different story and should be handled like a regular rifle or handgun, cleaning wise. Aluminum, brass and coated steel will work fine on any shotgun other than a $20,000 double. I used aluminum and brass cleaning rods on my Browning Citori and Maxxum shotguns.

I’ve also used Boresnakes with great success on shotguns.

Conclusion: The best gun cleaning rod is the Hoppes Elite Carbon Fiber… hands down. It’s not worth gambling with metal rods when the cost difference is zero or a few bucks. Carbon Fiber is harder than steel/metal yet will not damage steel or gun barrels plus it will remain perfectly straight indefinitely.

You might also be interested in the Best Gun Cleaning Kit


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