There’s no question whether a gun stands near and dear to its owner’s heart. Therefore, most gun owners are also very picky about what kind of gun cleaners they allow to touch their precious firearms.
When evaluating different gun cleaning solvents, it is best to consider a few different factors. First, you will want to use different solvents for different jobs. Some solvents work well for the quick clean after a day at the range, and others work better for the deep clean at the end of hunting season. You will also want to remember that some gun cleaners are only solvents, and others include lubricating oils as well.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best gun cleaning solvents on the market and what sets them apart from each other. We’ll also discuss the application of each gun cleaning solvent, and what they excel at.
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List of the Best Gun Cleaning Solvents
To find the best gun cleaning solvents, we looked at a variety of gun cleaners, each with different formulations, features, and applications. Depending on your gun cleaning needs, there is likely a solvent that will suit them.
Here’s the list:
Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner - Best All-Around
Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner is the gun cleaner that your father and grandfather both used. Many old timers still prefer Hoppe’s because it loosens residue easily, something that modern cleaners fall short on.
I tend to use Hoppe’s on hunting rifles when I need to get in for a deep clean. I have found that Hoppe’s tends to be better and removing rust than other gun cleaners.
I also like Hoppe’s for quick cleans after firing some shots at the range. A few drops of Hoppe’s on a bore snake such as the Hoppe’s Bore Snake can remove most grime before it gets a chance to build up. Then when I get home, I will apply a lubricating oil such as Hoppe’s No. 9 Lubricating Oil.
Kano Kroil Penetrating Oil - Best for Deep Cleans
It’s kind of hard putting Kano Kroil Penetrating Oil in an article about gun cleaners. Technically, Kroil is not a gun cleaning solvent, it’s a penetrating oil. However, many people have had great success using Kano Kroil for deep cleans on old guns.
Kano Kroil is excellent at releasing seized metal parts and removing rust and dirt from stamped areas. For how strong it is, it won’t affect any bluing or finishes on your gun.
It does give off a strong odor and should be used in well-ventilated areas. It is very fast at removing oils, so you probably don’t want to be using it all the time, only when deep cleaning is required.
Break-Free CLP Spray - Best CLP for Field Use
Break-Free CLP Spray is known as the gun cleaner that the U.S. Military uses. The military uses it because it is a versatile cleaner that can be used in diverse environments. It won’t get sticky or stiffen up at extreme temperatures, and it inhibits rust from metal surfaces.
I tend to use Break-Free CLP Spray when I’m out hunting because it leaves a barrier to protect against moisture and corrosion. It comes in an aerosol spray can, so it is easy to apply while I’m out in the field. It also doesn’t leave as much of a smell as other gun cleaners such as Hoppe’s.
After cleaning a gun with Break-Free CLP Spray, it isn’t necessary to apply a lubricating oil. This is because it not only cleans, but lubricates your gun as well. Break-Free CLP Spray is a great choice for a shooter that is looking for an all-in-one gun cleaner.
Ballistol Multi-Purpose Spray - Best CLP for Cleaning
Ballistol Multi-Purpose Spray has been around for a long time and is one of the original CLPs (Cleaner, Lubricator, Protector) for guns. Like Break-Free, it will both clean and lubricate your gun.
Users of Ballistol tend to swear by it and for good reason. I have found that Ballistol will pickup residues that other gun cleaners will leave behind. It also makes for a good lubricator for tools as well.
I like to use Ballistol at the end of hunting season when I’m giving my rifles one final clean before I put them up in the gun case. I’ll also spray the metal parts of my guns to give them a little extra protection. However, it does give off kind of a funny smell that some people don’t like.
Gun Scrubber High Pressure Spray - Best for Spot Cleaning
Gun Scrubber! – this stuff is great for removing all of the shards and residues from tight spots. I like to use it when cleaning trigger and bolt assemblies. If a gun has extra grime built-up, the first thing I go for is the Gun Scrubber to spray the build-up away.
I also use Gun Scrubber for my first-time cleaning of old guns when I get them. Most of these pawn-shop finds will have a good layer of rust on them, and Gun Scrubber is perfect for cleaning that stuff right off.
I wouldn’t use Gun Scrubber as my regular cleaner because it is purely a solvent and evaporates very quickly. It is suited for deep cleans and when you need to get stubborn residue off of your gun.
Hoppe’s M-Pro 7 - Best Gun Solvent for Field Use
Hoppe’s M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaner is what I like to carry with me when I’m out in the field because it is designed to work in all-weather conditions. It comes in an 8 oz spray bottle so the application is simple. Another reason that I like to use it when I’m out in the field is because it leaves no odor behind.
If you are deep cleaning your gun at home, then this stuff is pretty good for removing carbon build-up from metal surfaces. It doesn’t seem to affect the non-metal parts of your gun either, such as the wooden stock or glass scope.
Lucas Oil Extreme Duty Bore Solvent - Best Ultrasonic Gun Cleaning Solvent
Lucas Oil Extreme Duty Bore Solvent is used primarily for ultrasonic gun cleaners. That’s why the bottle is shaped for a pour-out. But it also works well as a standard gun cleaning solvent for hand cleaning.
It excels at removing carbon and powder residue from actions, as well as copper and lead fouling from barrels. This gun cleaner is only a solvent, so it will remove old greases and oils from your firearm. You will need to use a lubricating oil afterward if you want to give your gun lasting protection.
Things to Consider When Using a Gun Cleaning Solvent
For most people, their gun is like their baby. Even though gun cleaner is not very expensive, using the wrong one can impact the condition of your precious firearm. It is important to make sure that you’re using the right gun cleaner for the right job when it is time to clean your gun.
Here are a few tips to remember when cleaning your gun:
Not All Gun Cleaners are Created Equal
Not all gun cleaners are created equal – so there are a few things that you should know of before making a purchase.
First, you should know the difference between a gun cleaning solvent and a gun CLP:
A Gun Cleaning Solvent is only good for cleaning the residue and rust from your gun. Most gun cleaning solvents will clean your gun, and then evaporate away. If you use a gun cleaning solvent, then you will probably want to use gun oil afterward to lubricate and protect your gun.
A Gun CLP (Cleaner, Lubricator, Protector) will not only clean your gun, but also lubricate and protect it as well. This is because a gun CLP also includes lubricating oil to protect your gun from the elements long after you have cleaned it.
The Right Cleaner for the Right Gun
Using the same cleaner for every gun is probably okay, but definitely not the best practice. Take some time to look at what each cleaner is good at doing, and what they fall short on.
For instance, Break-Free CLP Spray is probably one of the best choices for cleaning your AR since that is what the U.S. Military uses to clean theirs. However, you might want to use a cleaner such as Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner for cleaning an old hunting rifle with a wooden stock.
Use a Gun Cleaning Mat
Spilling a bottle of gun solvent can easily ruin whatever surface it is spilled on, especially a wooden table. You also don’t want the metal parts from your gun to scratch up the family dining room table – if that’s where you clean your gun.
I recommend investing in a gun cleaning mat such as the Drymate Gun Cleaning Pad. They are inexpensive, and give you a nice surface to work on when servicing your firearm.
Gun cleaning mats have a liquid-proof coating on the bottom to prevent gun cleaning solvents from seeping through and damaging surfaces. On the top, the mat has a soft absorbent fabric to rest your gun on.
Secure Your Gun
One of the worst things that can happen when cleaning your gun is damage. Damage to either your gun, or damage to the surface that you are cleaning your gun on. Securing your gun while you are cleaning it takes care of both of these problems.
Using a gun vise will keep your gun in one place while you are cleaning it. It holds your gun up, making all surfaces of your gun accessible for a much easier cleaning process.