So, what are the best cleaning rods?
Here’s the short answer….the best cleaning rods are carbon fiber and/or coated metal rods.
The gun cleaning rod is the heart of gun cleaning. It enables you to clean areas of the gun, like the bore, that you cannot reach by hand. It’s an important tool and should not be taken lightly. Remember it comes in close contact with your barrel. You don’t want to use just any gun cleaning rod. Use one that will no only do the job well but also do it safely. A cheap or poorly made cleaning rod could cause damage to your barrel bore and/or muzzle crown and ruin accuracy. You do not want to buy a new barrel because of a cheap cleaning rod.
Aluminum Gun Cleaning Rods
Here is the danger with some gun cleaning rods. Let’s look at aluminum cleaning rods. Aluminum is soft which could allow dirt granules to get embedded into the surface. Dirt or small sand particles (sand is made of Quartz which is much harder than steel) that are embedded in the cleaning rod could come in contact with the bore and scratch it. This could ruin accuracy. Aluminum rods can also leave shavings inside the bore when it comes in contact with the chamber or muzzle. These shavings if not removed will become fouling after a round is fired. You certainly don’t want to add any more fouling to the bore than already occurring when you fire a round.
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Here is an exception regarding aluminum gun cleaning rods. If you are cleaning a shotgun then an aluminum cleaning rod may be OK, since there is no rifling to damage. Most shotguns are smooth bores and so aluminum cleaning rods will work. And even if you were to scratch the inside of a shotgun bore, its unlikely the shot pattern will be affected that much or at all. It’s also easier to push a rod down a 12 gauge barrel without it touching the inside of the barrel.
Here is an aluminum gun cleaning rod kit. They are very inexpensive but are just not the best tool for the job. However if you can prevent the aluminum cleaning rod from touching the barrel, chamber and muzzle than they are totally acceptable. A chamber guide can protect the front of the barrel but I’m not sure how you can 100% protect the muzzle.
Stainless Steel Gun Cleaning Rods
Stainless steel cleaning rods should not be used to clean rifle or pistol barrels. Steel against steel is just not ideal. It would be easy to scratch a barrel with a steel cleaning rod. There are better options that are not cost prohibitive. So why chance your gun barrel with a steel cleaning rod? However, coated steel rods are great.
Brass Gun Cleaning Rods
Brass gun cleaning rods are very popular and are good but should be coated to protect the bore. I prefer to not have any metal (even brass) touch the bore with the exception of the bore brush. Nylon coated rods (brass or steel) will protect the bore and muzzle crown from any damage and it prevents any foreign matter from becoming embedded into it. A nylon coated brass/steel rod with a ball bearing handle is a quality setup that will help clean your rifle or pistol and not damage anything in the process. J. Dewey Mfg, Tipton and Pro-Shot make some of the best quality cleaning rods. I have used all of them.
Coated Steel or Brass Gun Cleaning Rods
Here is a competition coated gun cleaning rod. Its very nice. It’s from Pro-Shot. The steel rod is coated with a very tough nylon that will not get embedded with debris. The hard nylon will not harm the gun barrel, chamber or muzzle. A coated cleaning rod is my second choice only to a carbon fiber rod.
Here are 2 coated Dewey gun cleaning rods. I love Dewey cleaning rods. They are top quality and very reasonably priced at about $35. The handles are fitted on ball bearings to give you effortless spinning when the patch or bore brush engages the barrel rifling. The rod handles are also very comfortable in my hands. The plastic handle is practically indestructible and will last a lifetime.
Carbon Fiber Gun Cleaning Rods
Carbon Fiber gun cleaning rods are the latest and greatest in cleaning rods. And they are fantastic! Carbon fiber is extremely hard but will not damage metal. It’s also super lightweight and will not allow foreign material to embed itself into the rod.
Gun Cleaning Rod Experiences
I have a Gunslick carbon fiber pistol cleaning rod and I love it. Carbon fiber is very stiff yet will flex when enough pressure is exerted. Any type of metal cleaning rod could bend and then become useless but this is not the case with carbon fiber. They will not bend or break and remain straight as an arrow. If you accidentally step on a metal cleaning rod or trip and fall with one, you could end up bending it. A slightly bent cleaning rod is a dangerous tool for firearms.
Here is my Gunslick carbon fiber gun cleaning rod. It’s a pistol length rod with a ball bearing handle. The handle is very comfortable. I use this cleaning rod on my Glock pistols. The very end is brass where bore brushes and slotted tips screw in place. This brass tip is safe to come in contact with the barrel because it is much softer than barrel steel. Carbon fiber cleaning rods are about the same price as a good coated steel rod. when you have a choice that doesn’t cost you anything, always choose carbon fiber.
Gun Cleaning Rod Recommendation
I have owned and used many gun cleaning rods in the past 35 years and I can tell you a good one makes a big difference when cleaning rifles. When I was young, I bought the cheap aluminum rods and learned the hard way. I had a Smith & Wesson 586 .357 Mag handgun and managed to scratch the muzzle crown with an aluminum rod that had dirt or sand embedded in it. Accuracy didn’t change (15 yard accuracy only) but knowing I scratched the crown sucked. I threw that rod away and bought a Dewey coated rod. Then a few years ago, I bought carbon fiber rods.