By David Link
Any substantial investment deserves protection, and this is certainly the case for those valued firearms that you store in your gun safe. Even if you’re a first time firearm owner, a good collection of maintenance tools and cleaning materials is something you should always have around the house. Let’s examine what a basic firearms cleaning kit consists of, and then we’ll offer a few advanced cleaning and maintenance items to consider as well.
The Basic Cleaning Kit
It all starts with a good can of cleaning solvent. Cleaning solvents will help remove residue from your barrel, and they are best used in conjunction with cotton cleaning patches. Note that cleaning solvent and gun oils are not the same thing. You start with cleaning solvents and finish with gun oil. Also remember that moderation is key. You should only use a minimum amount of cleaning solvent as excess solvent can negatively impact key firearm parts like the trigger. There are also toxicity concerns with some cleaning solvents. While the harsher, more toxic varieties can clean better, they can also harm your skin and lungs if used improperly. Biodegradable alternatives are worth a try to protect the environment and safeguard your health.
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.
A good cleaning rod is an essential part of any cleaning kit. They are usually separated into a few segments and they screw together to give you the appropriate length for your chosen firearm. They come in several different materials like aluminum, fiber glass, carbon fiber, and brass. Brass usually represents the strongest option although they will be heavier.
Cleaning kit consisting of cleaning rod, brushes, and cleaning mops.
A good quality bore brush will help remove residue and keep your barrel as clean as possible. Brushes are caliber specific, so for the best performance, use only approved caliber brushes in your firearm barrel. You can also find some universal brushes out there depending on how customized you want your kit to be. Brushes come in a variety of materials but again brass is the most popular material.
An essential part of the cleaning process involves a patch holder that holds cotton cleaning patches. Patch holders are configured to fit a variety of barrels, but make sure the patch holder you select is approved for your chosen firearm caliber. Patch holders are usually made of brass, and they will attach to your cleaning rod just like a bore brush. An alternative to a patch holder is a cleaning jag that acts more like a pushing device for the cleaning patch. Jags are slightly less wide than the caliber barrel you’re cleaning, and you’ll need to get one specifically designed for each barrel you plan to clean.
Be sure to stock up on a good number of cotton patches. They are great for running solvent through your barrel, but since they gather residue, you can only use them once before discarding them.
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.
Extras / Advanced Cleaning Materials
Cotton / Wool Mops
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.
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.
Firearm Cleaning Mat
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.
Thumb courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.