No matter how many guns you own, you need a good gun cleaning kit.
Every gun owner should try to get in the habit of regularly cleaning their guns, particularly after each use.
Sure, a universal gun cleaning kit comes with mostly everything you need, but you can certainly put a kit together yourself with the added bonus of choosing each and every component.
Here are the absolute essentials for every gun cleaning kit.
These are great to have in your range bag so you can give the bore a quick, thorough cleaning before you even pack up to head home.
In fact, if you don't typically engage in lengthy range sessions, a Boresnake might be all you need to keep your rifle barrel in tip-top shape. Beware, though, as they're caliber-specific.
Cleaning Solvents and Bore Cleaners
These do a lot of the heavy work so you don't have to. There are a lot of good solvents out there, from good ol' Hoppe's No. 9 to heavier-duty cleaners like Gun Scrubber.
If you're a heavy rifle shooter, you'll eventually need a cleaner that includes a copper solvent. Be sure to let a solvent sit in the bore and on gun parts awhile before cleaning. These come in a liquid or aerosol form.
Gun Oil and Lube
Once you get the gun clean, this is what keeps the machine running smoothly. An old-fashioned gun oil like Rem Oil works pretty good for most people, but there are plenty of more modern, synthetic lubes out there that will shed dirt and stand up to the toughest conditions. These are also available as a liquid or aerosol.
Be sure you're not over lubricating, though. Most firearms come with factory-recommended lubrication points.
You'll go through a lot of these, so luckily, they usually come in giant bags. Again, they are caliber-specific, as they have to fit down the bore, but not be too loose. Once you run your brush and solvent through the bore, these are the little pieces of cotton cloth that soak up the dirty solvent and grime and get it out of there.
They also don't leave behind any lint, which is very important. Get a bag of large 12-gauge patches for cleaning your actions and other parts and they'll undoubtedly come in handy. They can also be wrapped around other tools like cleaning brushes or bore brushes.
These are the little plastic loops that hold the cleaning patches on the end of the cleaning rod.
They break every so often, so make sure you have a few.
Typically made of bronze, bore brushes are caliber-specific and are meant to be tight so they can scrub the rifling of a bore as clean as a whistle. They do the bulk of the work when it comes to bore cleaning.
Some people like to put a bit of solvent on the bristles in addition to soaking the bore.
As it goes through, it will break up and scour off fouling without damaging the barrel.
These are the thick, tightly fitting soft brushes that go down the bore after the cleaning patches. They make sure all the solvent and fouling is pulled from the bore.
These are also caliber-specific, so you may need a whole set.
You can choose a brass or aluminum rod, the idea is its a metal that's softer than steel, and therefore won't damage the bore. Depending on how many different caliber rifles you have, you might need more than one, especially for small bores like .22LR.
Typically, a couple sections of a rifle rod can be used as a pistol cleaning rod, too.
Great for cleaning hard to reach parts, especially handgun actions. Make sure you don't get the tips caught on any edges and leave behind bits of cotton. The longer types made with wood sticks are better for this kind of use. They're also a good way to precisely apply lube or solvent.
Chamber Cleaning Tools
A good set of tools for cleaning a gun chamber is a must. Sets like this one from Pro-Shot includes the right-sized nylon brushes for getting stubborn fouling out of an action.
A Gun Vise
This can be particularly useful for quick rifle cleaning and shotgun cleaning when you don't want to break the gun down all the way. Simply put, a gun cleaning vise holds a long gun in place so you can thoroughly clean it without feeling like you need a third hand. They aren't necessary, but they sure are helpful.