Every gun owner needs a good gun cleaning kit--here's how to build the perfect one.
If you own guns--whether it's one or 20--you'll need some kind of gun cleaning kit.
Universal gun cleaning kits are great, but they're usually not as universal as they claim to be, even if they have "Deluxe" or "Complete" in the name. It doesn't matter if they are extremely comprehensive, it always seems they're missing something.
The best gun cleaning kit is usually one you assemble yourself. Of course, you can use a universal gun cleaning kit as a base and build off it, but don't be afraid to changes the components, container, or a combo of anything else to your preferences.
Kits sold by Otis Technology make for a solid kit foundation and are readily available on Amazon.
If you're just interested in building up a dedicated handgun cleaning kit, the Real Avid Gun Boss Pro is solid, compact, and easy to toss in a range bag and it comes with everything you need to clean handguns chambered in .22 through .45 caliber.
For the home, it's advantageous to organize one big ol' gun cleaning kit with all the right cleaning tools so it can serve as your rifle cleaning kit, shotgun cleaning kit, and pistol cleaning kit all at the same time. It will keep you from searching for cleaning supplies and make your firearm cleaning easier and more organized.
List of Essential Gun Cleaning Supplies
Cleaning Patches - Keep plenty of these on hand. They're meant to scrub and soak up dirty solvent and be thrown away, because if you don't do that, you're just smearing gunk around.
Get cleaning patches sized for a range of calibers if you own multiple firearms, and also grab a bag of 12 gauge patches every so often, even if you don't have a 12 gauge shotgun. They're big and multipurpose. I like to wrap them around a cleaning brush to get tough-to-reach spots.
Cleaning Rod - A rifle/shotgun length brass rod can usually be used with fewer sections as a handgun rod. Also be sure to stow a thin rod for smaller caliber rifles and handguns as well, like .22LR or .17 HMR.
Bore Brushes - Bronze brushes are the tool for scouring tough fouling from a barrel's bore without damaging the rifling. This is another component that is caliber specific.
Jags - these are the little plastic or brass doohickies that hold your cleaning patches so you can drag them through the bore. They are sized by caliber, so make sure you have at least one for each caliber you own.
Cleaning Solvent and Gun Oil - Don't skimp here. Get high quality products. Use gun cleaners from big name brands. They'll work better and last longer and a good gun oil will not only protect the surface of gun components, but also lubricate the internals so that it functions correctly.
Bore Cleaner - If you are a heavy shooter, you will eventually develop copper fouling in a handgun or rifle barrel from jacketed bullets, and that can be tough to remove with an average gun solvent. Get a dedicated bore cleaner formulated to deal with copper buildup as well as fouling.
Boresnakes - I love using Hoppe's Boresnakes, and as I usually clean my guns immediately after a range session or a hunt, along with some patches and a chamber brush, it usually does the trick. The only downside is these are caliber specific, so if you want Boresnakes for everything from your .22 to your 12 gauge shotgun, you'll need a bit of a collection.
Cotton Swabs - It's always a good idea to keep some regular old cotton swabs in your gun cleaning kit. They can apply solvents to spots you might not be able to get to otherwise and are great for cleaning tiny crevices.
Chamber Brush - A chamber brush is great for heavily used rifles, especially ARs with lots of fouling. They typically consist of a section of tapered bronze bristles that scrub the chamber, neck and shoulder. A chamber brush designed for ARs will often also have a wider section of steel bristles that scrub the star chamber of the locking lugs.
Utility Brushes - I like to keep a couple stiff bristled nylon brushes and brass brushes in my kit for various scrubbing needs. Dedicated chamber brushes are great, but utility brushes can usually tackle the same task just fine. Brushes made for gun cleaning will usually have a head that looks like a large toothbrush and a smaller brush on the other end for tight spots.
Cleaning Mat - You don't want to get solvent and gun oil all over your work bench or table. Keep a good cleaning mat rolled up in your kit that's big enough to provide plenty of work surface. Some include a magnetic area that will keep small parts in their place when breaking firearms down.
Carrying Case - Pretty much anything that's sized right and easy to carry will work. I like to use a medium to small sized toolbox for a more portable kit.
For an at home kit, a tape-wrapped cardboard box can work just fine, but it's difficult to organize and it's exactly a protectant. An easy and cheap solution is to use a bunch of heavy duty clear plastic freezer bags to keep your gun cleaning system separated and organized for easy accessibility. You can even label them if you want.
With all these things customized to your guns and needs, you'll have a master cleaning station set up to help tackle all those necessary jobs, whether it's an AR-15 rifle or a pistol collection.