Weapons Cleaning Basics

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So for those of you who don’t have much experience with firearms, perhaps bought one recently or maybe just inherited the old shotgun and pistol from your father it is important to know how to clean your weapon.

In fact knowing how and when to clean your weapon is just as important as knowing how and when to use your weapon, you can be a crack shot, but with a busted or locked up weapon you are now just holding a hunk of steel that will do more damage if you threw it at the assailant.

Unclean weapons have lead to more deaths on the battlefield than can be counted, famously the story of Jessica Lynch’s convoy is a cautionary tale.  Of course after action reports can be notoriously…edited, however one fact that shines through is that her unit was unable to return accurate and sustained fire because most of their weapons were jammed with dirt and dust.


Now you may say “I have a AK-47 (or other similar low tolerance weapon) so it wont jam even if you cake it in mud!”  That old adage is partially true.  Yes the AK is famously reliable in shitty conditions however you are tempting fate even with a exceptionally reliable weapon like the AK and not cleaning it.  In fact the AK was made to be easily stripped down and cleaned so that even the most uneducated mud dweller could do it, i hope you have a little more intelligence and care for your life than Somali Pirate.


The basic components of a weapons cleaning kit are…

First off, I consider the AP brush to be one of, if not THE most important part of your kit, you can clean more of the weapon with a simple AP brush than anything else.  I used the AP brush more than any part of my cleaning kit in all my time overseas.  You CAN use an old stiff bristle toothbrush, but it really wont hold up, the best use for a old tooth brush is knocked the dust off of components and the outside of the weapon as well as magazines (clips if you have a rifle that uses them).

As far as Gun Oil goes, I have always used CLP, the military version of Gun oil and I have loved it to this day, however any sort of lubricating gun oil will work.  Solvent is tricky and you will want to make sure you are careful with it.  I prefer J-B Bore Cleaner, it is sort of like a greyish paste that you put on the patches and push through, I will explain more about the Solvent portion later in the post, this is more a “BEWARE” section.  The Beware is most in effect with a produce called “SWEETS”, which works wonderfully… However DO NOT LEAVE IT IN THE BARREL LONGER THAN 20-25 MINUTES!  Why? Because the solvent is so caustic it will actually begin to ‘pit’ your barrel, leaving small indents in it which will adversely affect your accuracy.

As far as the Rod/Brush/Patch holder goes i would recommend having both Plastic and Brass brushes.  The Brass brushes will not scar your barrel and are much more effective in getting carbon and copper fouling out than plastic.  The plastic bore brush comes in when you are using a COPPER SOLVENT (such as JB or SWEETS as i talked about above), because the solvent dissolves copper that starts to accumulate in the rifling grooves it will also start to dissolve the Brass brush (brass has copper in it!).  So you use the Plastic brush for solvent cleaning.  with most basic Rifle/Pistol cleaning kits you will usually get one set of rods that you can add onto for longer barrels etc.  I like the metal rods for most uses, but in my precision rifles i prefer to use hard plastic rods as to not ding up the edges of my barrel.  You will also want to make sure you have all the brushes you need for your various firearms, you cant clean a .45 with a 9mm brush, etc.  Buy 4 or 5 of each as backups (we are preppers!) since most are relatively cheap.  I bought an old tackle box to hold all my cleaning kit and it works quite nicely and i can fit all the different brushes, patches, rods, oils, etc inside.


Patches are pretty straight forward, you CAN sometimes use larger than listed patches for smaller caliber firearms, all depends on how big a difference.  However I often take old t shirts, underwear, etc. and use those for gun cleaning rags and patches.  Over time you can accumulate quite a bit of patch material, also look at going to thrift shops that will give you pounds of white t shirts for pennies, take those home and have a fun Saturday afternoon cutting patches!


Other things you may want to have…

  • Q TIPS: These are great for getting in nooks and crannies of your gun parts to remove carbon…Carbon is not your friend, it builds up from the gun powder residue
  • Pipe Cleaners: These, like q tips can get in some more nooks and crannies
  • Gun Cleaning Mat: This can be anything from an old sweatshirt to a more fancy made for cleaning materials that soak up oil, etc.  You dont want to do this on the living room floor necessarily, but wherever you clean you dont want it soaked with oil and gunpowder residue I’m Guessing
  • Safety Gear: This is up to you but *disclaimer* you should use latex gloves and eye protection when cleaning your weapon.  When using more caustic solvents this actually is a really good idea, as you are brushing there is a spray of the oil/solvent and carbon that splatters in the area. Solvent in the Eye is not fun.




Not much more to say here, but the AP brush is great for busting off dust and dirt off the outside of your weapon as well as the inside components, basically any where it will reach it will do a great job.  depending on the weather and terrain i will put a small amount of oil on it (drop) and then scrub the inside components to break up the carbon, wipe it clean and brush it dry again until it is pretty clean.  The AP brush is plastic bristled so it may take some time to break up built on carbon if you have been firing a lot and/or haven’t cleaned it since the Reagan Administration.

Otis sells a great  9 Brush Kit a mix of plastic and brass bristles for around $15




I prefer military grade CLP if you can find it, it can be very expensive, but in places like MIDWAY USA you can purchase gallons of it, which will last you a very long time.  I prefer M-Pro personally, it has proven reliable and of high quality.





I mentioned earlier that I prefer JB Bore Cleaner, which can be seen above in the picture, however SWEETS is also a great solvent, however as i warned you earlier DO NOT LET IT SIT LONGER THAN 20-25 MINUTES!





You can purchase a basic gun cleaning kit for “Rifle” or “Pistol” or “Shotgun”, that is more than fine its a cheap and easy way to get your cleaning kit started.


HOPPES makes these and other varieties of kits



HOPPES CLEANING KIT FOR .380, 357, 9mm Pistols



I Love Otis, they make a beautiful product and their “rods” are not rods but a plastic coated metal wire that slips down the barrel for easier and more compact cleaning.


For Patches you can purchase large packs like this one for .223 (5.56) for your AR, about 1000 patches for 17.64, but of course you can do it the DIY hard way and make your own from old clothing, use cotton, not nylon/poly blends.

For brushes just shop around for ones for all your weapons like these for 9mm Pistol, or these for .30 cal rifle (will work for 7.62)


gun patch holder cleaning

Make sure you also have the patch holder attachment for your cleaning rods, it basically looks like a large end of a needle.  They come in the basic gun kits, but if you are parting together a kit, this is essential have both metal and plastic.  I prefer plastic so as to not ding up my barrel, its really not an issue, but I’m overly cautious.

That About covers all the stuff you need to have a good Weapons Cleaning Kit.

If you have any questions or comments please email me or leave them in the comment section below.






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