Gun Cleaning Kit, Buy One Or Make Your Own?

Most people have an idea what a gun cleaning kit is, but not everyone has used one. Whether you were exposed to it from your grandfather, when he taught you how to shoot or your dad doing the same thing during your youth. If you shoot a gun, whether it is a handgun or a rifle, you need to clean it when you are done.  So a gun cleaning kit is what you use to clean your guns after you shoot them. But my question to you is do you buy one from a gun store or do you put your own together? Lets explore that question.

Why Should You Clean Your Guns?

In order to define a gun cleaning kit, you need to understand why you need one. Almost all bullets, centerfire and rimfire are made of a lead core with some type of copper jacket surrounding it. Even lead-free ammunition contains copper. When a bullet is fired, residue from the bullet components are left behind in the barrel, chamber, and action and that process is called “fouling.” The four most common types of fouling are:

  • Carbon, which occurs as a result of the burning powder that propels the bullet from the chamber through the barrel
  • Copper, caused by copper-jacketed bullets leaving residue in the gun’s barrel after firing
  • Lead, caused by lead bullets leaving residue in the gun’s barrel after firing
  • Plastic, caused by the plastic wads from shot shells

It’s impossible to find ammunition that will not foul your gun. Black powder, most Berdan-primed, and a lot of military surplus ammunition is corrosive. This means there are salts in the ammo’s primer. These salts will damage your gun. If you shoot a gun using corrosive ammunition, you should clean it after each shooting session.

If you neglect your guns and there are moisture issue where they are kept (gun cabinets, closets, under your bed, etc.), such as high humidity then rust can be a problem too. Rust can cause severe damage, becoming corrosive and eating through the metal. It is even possible that parts can rust together. Rust can also affect the rifling in the gun barrel, causing pits to occur thus permanent damage.

Now that you understand how firing bullets and neglect of your firearms can leave residues that can damage your firearms, you should understand the need for a gun cleaning kit.  So a gun cleaning kit is made up of cleaning rods, swabs, patches, solvents and lubricants used to clean your guns in a way that removes all the dirt, oils and residues from your gun. Then it can be re-lubricated and ready for use.

What Is In A Gun Cleaning Kit?

Gun cleaning kits usually have many of the following items in the kit:
  • Cleaning rods – A cleaning rod is what will move the bore brush and cotton patches through the inside of your gun during the cleaning process. There are one-piece carbon fiber cleaning rods and ones made out of brass or aluminum. These metal rods are in screw together sections.
  • Bore brush – The inside of the barrel is called a bore and the brush used to clean the bore is a bore brush, they are caliber specific.
  • Cleaning Jags – Every cleaning kit will come with some type of jag to hold the patches in place on the end of the cleaning rod. There are a couple of different types – slotted and form-fitting.
  • Patches – Are usually made of cotton, round or square in shape.  
  • Gun oils and lubricants
  • Mops
  • Cleaning patches (caliber specific, lint and fiber-free)
  • Luster cloth/Silicone impregnated Gun and Reel Cloth
  • Disposable gloves
  • Double-ended/utility brushes
  • Cleaning swab (optional)
  • Bore snake (optional)
  • Cleaning chemicals, including bore cleaners, action cleaners, 
  • Disposable drip pan (to catch byproducts and residue of the cleaning process)(optional)
  • Gun cleaning mats (optional)

There Are Many Gun Cleaning Kits Available.

There are many gun cleaning kits on the market today and here are a few that work very well:

  • Guardtech  Gun Cleaning Kit -This kit comes with almost everything you’ll ever need for shotguns, pistols, rifles, and even rimfire. It also comes with stainless, brass, and nylon brushes that I use for getting the gunk off hard-to-clean surfaces. You will need to get some extra patches, cleaning solution, and gun oil and your cleaning kit will be complete.
  • M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaning Kit – This gun cleaning kit does have everything you need, including the oil and cleaner for your gun cleaning kit. The kit has individually packaged brushes and tips (.22 to 12-gauge) so you can keep everything organized and the case has more pouches to add additional cleaning items. It even comes with a silicone cloth to wipe down the surface of your guns. 
  • Winchester 32-piece Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

    This kit is a good deal for $30 since it is pretty universal…covering everything from .22 to 12 gauge shotgun. Two sets of brass rods won’t scratch your barrel’s harder steel and all the copper brushes are pretty good quality and marked with the caliber. It has a nice nylon case which keeps everything together. It comes with a small amount of patches, but you’ll need to add your own gun oil and gun cleaner to this kit.

  • Real Avid Gun Boss Handgun Cleaning Kit

    Now, do you only have a handgun right now, or want a super compact kit? The Real Avid kit is a great one for that. This kit covers everything from .22 to .45 caliber handguns. It’s tiny since the rods are long enough just for handgun-length barrels. It does not come with gun oil or cleaner…and you’ll be hard-pressed to fit anything in the box besides eye drop-sized droppers.

  • Gloryfire Universal Gun Cleaning Kit  – It’s small, slim, and has an empty bottle to put some cleaner or oil. This makes a good range kiy, if you are doing minimal cleaning. Can’t go wrong with a backup cleaning kit for around $10.
  • Hoppes Deluxe Gun Cleaning KitModel: 62108, This 62-piece cleaning kit contains everything you need to keep firearms spotlessly clean. Traditional Hoppe’s No. 9 Bore Cleaner, Lubricating Oil, and full-size brass rods and components keep pistols, rifles, and shotguns clean. All parts are contained in the durable, reusable locking tab carrying case.
  • Otis Tactical Cleaning System for Rifles, Pistols & Shotguns – For a little kit it is well-contained. It contains 100% cotton 2″ & 3″ patches (10 each), 3 slotted tips & 2 patch savers, Six firearm specific bronze bore brushes with size marked on brush stem (.22/.223, .270, .30/.308/30-06/30-30, .38/9mm, .45 cal, 12 ga),  8″ and 30″ aircraft grade Memory-Flex cables and thread connector for proper Breech-to-Muzzle cleaning. 34″ aircraft grade Memory-Flex cable (5-40 thread) with slotted tip is small enough to clean .17 caliber firearms,  Small & large obstruction removers knock out mud, snow & stuck casings. T-handle quickly attaches to the cable for added comfort. It also includes a chamber flag, 0.5 fl. oz. Shooter’s Choice FP-10 Lubricant Elite CLP & instruction manual and All items packed neatly in a 4″x4″x2.5″ soft pack case

How Do You Make Your Own Gun Cleaning Kit?

This option would be for individuals who have been shooting for a while and are familiar with what is needed, not for the ones who are just getting started with firearms. If you decided to build your gun cleaning kit from scratch, you would first need a container to hold everything.  My favorite is a fishing tackle box with three shelves, they have plenty of dividers to keep all your items separate and organized. Once you have your container picked out then you need to customize your kit how you would like it. I have collected a lot of cleaning supplies through the years so making my own was very easy. I added brass cleaning rods, brass jags, cleaning patches,  cleaning brushes (nylon and brass), Q-tips, pipe cleaners, cotton swabs,  Hoppes #9 solvent squeeze bottle, Hoppes elite gun cleaner, Break Free CLP, and some wash clothes. I have recently added a Otis Tactical Gun Cleaning System and it works great. I also added a bore scope, a 1911 front lug wrench, some small screwdrivers, needle nose pliers, a pick set (plastic), and some silicone rags. This is very mobile kit but I usually just use it at home for good gun cleaning.  The newest addition to my cleaning kit is a Otis Tactical Gun Cleaning System, it has everything necessary to clean rifles, shotguns  and pistols. It gives me the tools to always clean from the breech to the muzzle and that is the best way to clean. I just purchased a one piece cleaning rod to be used on very stubborn gun cleaning situations, these will not scratch your bore or crown when cleaning.  I also added a smaller version of the Otis Cleaning System to my MB Sxowbmu Handgun Tactical Range Backpack (See the review on March 24,2022) for quick cleaning at the range.

Final Comments

My recommendation would be if you are just starting out using guns, buy yourself a medium-priced cleaning kit.  This will help you decide what you like and dislike, what is necessary for cleaning and lubrication, and what is only useless stuff (not necessary). Then you can modify your cleaning kit to fit your needs.  Some people like the commercial gun cleaning kits and never feel a need to make their own, and that’s OK.

If you have been shooting for a while you may feel the need to make your own kit, and that’s fine too.  I hate the “junk” that some kits include in their kits, that’s what I call useless stuff.  So building your own gun cleaning kit is a way not to have that useless stuff and it only contains what you feel you need in a kit.

I am leaning toward the Otis Tactical Gun Cleaning System in my gun cleaning kit.  I like the cables and they cannot scratch your barrel or crown and they do a very good job cleaning your guns, plus you can clean anything that you have. This method lets you use the chemicals to do the work instead of you scrubbing your barrel.

So, the choice is yours, you do what you feel is right, there is no right or wrong answer.  I am here if you have questions; just leave a comment and I will answer your question.  Take care.

If you have any questions about this post or anything related to Everyday Carry (EDC), feel free to leave a comment below and I will be happy to get back to you.

All the best,


Founder of EDC Essentials


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