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Gun Cleaning Tools Explained – 15 Essential Tools & Their Uses

Gun Cleaning Tools Explained
Written by Dan Goldsmith
Last Update: August 11, 2023

Ever cared to clean your own gun instead of having a professional do it?

Some find it a tedious job while others enjoy cleaning their weapons as much as they do shooting with them.

Don’t get me wrong, my friend. I’m on the former side, and I think you should be too. The market is flooded with cleaning kits.

However, knowing about them beforehand is better than just blindly going for one and then struggling to use them.

Here, I’ll try to help you learn the facts about gun cleaning tools.

Gun Cleaning Tools Explained: Basic Gun Cleaning Tools

Here, I’ve covered all the basic tools and some parts that you may avoid or get depending on your gun(s), cleaning difficulty, and your experience.

1. Bore Brush

Bore sight cleaning brushes come in two different materials: bronze and nylon. You should know about the utility of both before counting on either of them.

Bronze Brush: Each kit comes with a number of bronze brushes. The bronze brush is generally used as a first pass down the barrel to remove heavy carbon buildup.

When purchasing a kit pay attention to the materials of the brushes. The best brushes are made from high-quality bronze.

Nylon Brush: Larger cleaning kits come with nylon brushes. They are designed to use on the gun’s sensitive parts, in situations where it wouldn’t be a great idea to use the bronze brush.

Nylon brushes had been designed to reach into carving as well as other hard-to-reach areas.

Gun Cleaning Nylon Bore Brush

2. Double Ended Brushes

Similar to the brushes that you attach to your cleaning rod, these are toothbrush style brushes that you can use to clean the exterior of your firearms.

They come in a variety of different materials, including stainless steel, nylon, and brass.

Double Ended Brushes

3. Cleaning Swab

Used in the same way you would a brush, the cleaning swab or gun mop, is made of cotton and is designed to remove any leftover residue in the barrel.

Once you’ve removed all of the buildups, the cleaning swab is great for removing access oil that is in the barrel of your gun.

gun cleaning swab

4. Cleaning Patches (Cotton/Wool Patches/Mops)

Are dipped in your favorite cleaning solvent and then placed on the end of the cleaning jag or in the slotted patch holder.

Then you slowly push it through the chambers and bore it with a jag.

Patches come in a variety of different fabrics and some are thinner than others, so pay attention to the details when you purchase these.

gun cleaning patch

What Is the Mop for in a Gun Cleaning Kit?

Realistically, you can get away with just using cotton patches, but a good cotton mop provides the best option for applying gun oil to the barrel once cleaning is completed.

Cotton mops can be sized for a specific caliber barrel, and they will only apply a light coat of oil to the barrel.

Cotton Mop for in a Gun Cleaning Kit

5. Cotton Swabs

Is it a popular choice for detailing all firearms?

The long wood handles make them easy to push down a barrel and you can apply more pressure.

Gun cleaning cotton swabs usually come with 6? wooden handles and cotton tips in packs of 100.

cotton swabs for gun cleaning

5. Luster Cloth

A luster cloth is a specialized cloth treated with a silicon lubricant. It is the perfect material for use as a wiped-down cloth for the outside of the firearm.

A little dab of gun oil is used with a luster cloth in the final part of the cleaning process.

Gun Cleaning Tools - Luster cloth

6. Cleaning Jag

A cotton cleaning patch is placed in the center of the jag and you are able to get a 360° clean with bore surfaces

. Most jags are nickel-plated or brass, which prevents scratching the inner barrel.

It’s very important to make sure all solvent is removed, as it can dry out and cause the metal to rust.

Gun cleaning jag

7. Bore Snake

Many individuals believe that all you need for cleaning your gun is some cleaning solvent and a bore snake kit. This is not the case.

A bore snake can be used after you fire a gun each time in order to give it a quick clean. Every bore snake is designed for a specific caliber of the gun.

Gun cleaning kit - Bore Snake

8. Cleaning Rods

These are possibly the most essential tools contained in a gun cleaning kit. They are used for attaching all of the components mentioned above.

There are cleaning rods available in many different materials, sizes, and shapes.

They are one of our top 5 leaning rods, and in our list, we looked at the best cleaning rods and explained why they are the best of all.

Gun cleaning rod

9. Cleaning Solvent

This is used to clean, lubricate and protect your firearm, also referred to as CLP.

Please refer to our gun cleaning solvent guide to learn how important a good CLP is as most of the CLP cleaners available in the market can cause dermal toxicity.

Solvents come in a variety of different types and you should familiarize yourself with the different kinds.

10. Gun Oil

Gun oil is the other necessary can of liquid that you need to clean your firearm.

Gun oil helps lubricate your firearm and protect it from the onset of rust. You’ll find all-in-one oils and solvents and lubrication-specific oils.

Which one to use is a matter of preference, but the most comprehensive solution is usually a combination of a cleaning solvent and a separate gun oil.

Gun cleaning oil

11. Slotted Patch Holder

Rather than providing a cleaning jag, many kits will include a patch holder which is designed to perform the same function as the cleaning jag.

Used for the same purpose as the jag, you put the cotton on the end and it helps to remove access solvent.

slotted patch holder

12. Flashlight

Use a flashlight to spot debris that may not be visible on the gun.

13. Muzzle Guards

The most seasoned firearm owners always caution owners about cleaning rod damage.

For only a few extra dollars, you can add a muzzle guard and protect the muzzle crown from unnecessary damage.

Muzzle guards also keep the cleaning rod centered, and they are usually composed of brass materials.

Gun cleaning kit - muzzle guards

14. Firearm Cleaning Mats

If you’re cleaning a firearm with many advanced parts to disassemble and reassemble, then a firearm mat can be a great investment.

A quality firearm mat serves several purposes.

It provides an ideal cleaning/work surface, it is non-slip so it keeps gun parts in place, and it is printed with a diagram of your chosen weapon so you have a guide to where every part fits.

Firearm mats are also resistant to cleaning chemicals, and even if you don’t necessarily need the diagram, they are a good investment for firearm cleaning around the house.

15. Don’t Forget About a Case

By the way, where would you keep all these tools? A toolbox, right?

A toiletry bag should be good enough, but I suggest otherwise. There’re several materials in use when it comes to the making of a toolbox.

Woods, steel, and synthetic are the common choices.

While wooden boxes seem classy, I recommend that you take care of the tools first, and this is where synthetic boxes are preferable.

The reason is some of your tools (brushes and plastic items) might interact with the steel or wood and break or lose their utility to some extent.

Synthetic isn’t that aggressive, but try to make sure oils/solvents don’t stain it.

What Did I Not Tell You Already?

After learning all these, I can guess you’re going to buy all/some of the tools now or later.

However, there’re things you must know in the first place. Whether you buy some gun cleaning kit parts or the whole kit, the following tips will help you.

What Are the Gun Cleaning Kit Parts?

Let me make the ‘kit and parts’ clear to you. The cleaning kit consists of different parts that perform particular tasks, all of which make up the entire gun cleaning process.

There are different gun-cleaning brush types, swabs, patches, solutions, and standalone parts like rods, bore snakes, jags, oils, gels, and lubricants.

In this article, I’ll be explaining them to let you know about their uses, so you can decide which one you need or what to look for while buying a kit.

Number of Parts of a Gun Cleaning Kit

There’re four choices available, such as,

  • 10-12-piece kit (Ideal for those who’re doing the cleaning the first/second time)
  • 28-piece kit (Ideal for those seeking versatility with the cleaning)
  • 32-piece kit (Ideal for those with a variety of firearms and prior cleaning experience)
  • 64-piece kit (Ideal for professionals and those with in-depth cleaning experience)

Additional Tips to Remember

1. Try to find a versatile gun cleaning kit that consists of the essential tools for cleaning a variety of guns rather than one or two particular types.

It’ll save you some money plus you can enjoy the learning curve with your own tools.

2. As long as your arsenal has weapons like pistols, rifles, and shotguns, you can rely on small kits.

3. Don’t forget your own needs and experience, get misguided by attractive sales pitches, and end up buying the wrong kit (especially the one that is ideal for commercial purposes).

4. I suggest everyone I know purchase items like CLP, cotton swabs, oils, lubricants, etc. separately because these items aren’t often included in the kit.

Even if some kits include, you may not find the best products.

Remember that your gun, be it a nicely designed revolver or a semiautomatic rifle, is a possession that makes you feel proud.

If you don’t maintain/tweak it properly with the right gun cleaning kit, your pride may soon vanish; leaving you sad as a result.

So, my suggestion as your well-wisher is that you take some time to choose the most appropriate kit and tools (if you get them separately) for your firearm(s).

About the author

Dan Goldsmith

Hi, this is Dan. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 30+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed.

My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

Whenever I am able to catch a moment of free time, you will find me enjoying my family or heading to the range on my motorcycle. I have enjoyed shooting sports ever since my dad introduced them to me as a child.

I like to think of myself as an outdoorsman who lives his life to the fullest. I hope you will benefit from my efforts to create valuable resources on this website. Happy reading!

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