There is nothing worse than being at the ranges, or on a hunt and having a weapon which is working at less than optimum performance. Less accuracy, chances of shells jamming, slow FPS are all things that can happen due to lousy gun hygiene.
Cleaning your gun is getting more and more efficient in 2020 and beyond. We have already seen the innovation in cleaning chemicals to make them more environmentally friendly, but what changes do we see in maintenance tools?
Well, for starters, we see more and more companies manufacture their cleaning rods from carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is an excellent material for cleaning rods as it does not scratch or collect contaminates which could scratch your bore like aluminum.
Carbon fiber is also robust, durable, and as it is now more affordable than ever, it is an excellent investment for your gun cleaning arsenal. When choosing a gun cleaning rod, there are a few things you should take into consideration.
We are also seeing more and more rods being made in one piece instead of screw together. All in all, a good gun cleaning rod is worth its weight in salt, and when it comes to proper gun hygiene, you want nothing but the best gun cleaning rod.
What You Need to Know About Gun Cleaning Rods
As mentioned, carbon fiber is the best cleaning rod material for your gun. Aluminum can damage your bore and rifling. Now we aren’t saying all-aluminum rods are bad, but what we are saying is if you do use aluminum, then you need to take extra care when cleaning.
Different size bores will require different thickness rods to clean them. It is essential to pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions, though, as some claim to be universal but will be too tight to fit down your bore.
Now, it should go without saying that when you buy a cleaning rod, the aim is for the whole rod to go through your barrel and pop out the end. If you have an AR15, the standard barrel is 20″ if your gun cleaning rod is only 18,” you may have a small issue.
If you own an AR-15, check our guide on which are the best AR-15 cleaning kits.
A single piece of screw together
Manufacturers are now opting to design rods as one single piece instead of the screw-together types we have always known. This makes them easier to use, you won’t lose any, and it also makes them stronger with less chance of flexing and bending.
We recommend you to do all cleaning on a gun cleaning mat.
The 6 Best Gun Cleaning Rods
1. Tipton Deluxe Carbon Fiber Cleaning Rod
Best Overall Cleaning Rod
If you’re after trouble-free and safe cleaning rods, then Tipton is the company you go to. Tipton makes some of the very finest gun cleaning equipment on the market, and they do it with no exception.
Tipton is a part of the Battenfeld Technologies family, you may know them as BTI Brands. They have been producing high-quality gun cleaning and maintenance equipment for many years.
The first thing that stands out to us, and probably to you, is that these rods are Carbon Fiber. As you ‘should’ know, using anything other than a carbon fiber rod is asking for trouble.
Aluminum rods can damage your barrel rifling, throat, and muzzle, as well as the lands and grooves of your rifle or shotgun. Carbon fiber also doesn’t hold onto particles that could scratch and damage the inside of your barrel.
Tipton has erased this issue by using high-quality carbon fiber as its primary material. They also use brass ends, so if they come into contact with the barrel, it would be just the same as a bullet being passed through it.
This rod is super, and thanks to its carbon fiber construction, it can take some power before it even gets close to bending. It has two ball bearings in the handle, which, when you attach your patch, you can feel how smooth the cleaning motion is.
It will rotate freely down your barrel following the rifling and cleaning as it goes. It is a one-piece rod so you can say ‘bye-bye’ to threading multiple rods together! This means the rod is stronger, and there are no weak or flex spots.
The Tipton Deluxe Carbon Fiber rod comes in various sizes. You’re covered from your AR15 to your shotgun and everything in between.
What we like:
- Two ball bearings in the handle for smooth rotation
- Strong and durable
- Made from carbon fiber
- Brass ends won’t damage the barrel
- Multiple Sizes
- Rotates with the rifling whether pushing or pulling
2. Dewey 1-Piece Cleaning Rod
Best Rifle Cleaning Rod
If you have been using rifle cleaning rods a while, then you will likely have heard of Dewey Rods. Dewey Rods have been producing gun cleaning and maintenance equipment since 1975 and pride themselves on being a family run business.
With all products being made in the USA, they are proud of what they have achieved and boast customers from US Navy SEALs to the US Olympic Shooting Team. They sell a wide range of cleaning equipment which will cover your every need.
The Dewey 1-piece cleaning rod is an excellent example of the quality you can rely on from Dewey. It is made from aluminum but has a high-quality Nylon coating, so you already know it is going to be reliable. It has a screwdriver type handle with a single ball bearing.
These rifle rods are perfect for your AR15 or other high-powered service rifles, but they also come in multiple sizes. As with all rods, it would be a good idea to use a bore guide to avoid any unnecessary flex action if you need to apply more pressure.
Dewey includes a 22j brass jag and SMBA brush adapter. The rods themselves are manufactured with an 8 x 36mm male thread so you can use accessories from most reputable manufacturers, not just Deweys.
Overall, if you’re in the market for a simple yet effective bore cleaner for your rifles, then you cannot go wrong here. It should be part of every rifle cleaning kit.
What we like:
- Simple design
- The high-quality nylon wrap
- Single ball bearing handle
- Includes brass jag
- Compatible with other manufacturers components
3. Hoppe’s Elite 1-Piece Cleaning Rod Carbon Fiber
Best Pistol Cleaning Rod
Is a gun maintenance list complete without an honorable mention of Hoppe’s? It seems no matter what corner of the world you travel to, if you’re into guns, then Hoppe’s won’t be too far behind.
Hoppe’s have designed some of the best bore cleaning solvents and oils on the market, and have been for over 100 years. It is no surprise then that their maintenance tools are just as useful and have just as large as a fan base.
This pistol cleaning rod is perfect in design. It is made from carbon fiber, so it is the ideal material for cleaning your handgun without damaging it. It is strong and durable and will resist a little rough treatment.
The handle is a screwdriver shape, comfortable grip material, and design, which is soft and great for putting some elbow grease into your clean. It has two premium ball bearings built-in, so the rotation action when you’re pushing through perfectly follows your rifling.
As with most carbon fiber rods, it is one piece, no fiddling around screwing rods together. As it is one piece, there is less chance of breakage, and it does not have weak spots. Although this is the 8″ .22cal it also comes in a 36″ .22-.284/.17-.20/.270
What stands out about this rod is the quality of the double ball bearings and how smooth the rotating action is, even under the pressure of a tight patch. There is almost no flex within the carbon fiber. This rod meets the need of the pistol enthusiast amongst us.
What we like:
- Double ball bearing
- Smooth rotation even with a tight patch
- Brass parts
- Carbon fiber – zero flex
4. Pro Shot .22-.45Cal Universal Pistol
Best Budget Pistol Cleaning Rod
ProShot has been active in the shooting scene since 1984. They produce high-quality firearm maintenance equipment for all types of shooters.
John E. Damarin, founder of ProShot, along with his father, was an avid marksman. He competed in many shooting events from pistol to bench rest rifle and shotgun events — Proshot pride themselves on being the last family-owned, traditional cleaning accessories company, made in America today.
The ProShot .22cal – .45cal is a significant cleaning rod in the way that it is made to do a job, and it does that job fantastically. It is simple, yet sturdy and durable and is sure to last the test of time.
The rod itself is made in the USA and is made from stainless steel. Stainless is softer than your bore, so there shouldn’t be any damages. However, you should always use a bore guide and take care when cleaning any weapon.
The kit comes with a brass patch holder that is suitable for .22 to .45cal pistols, and a great thing about this cleaning rod is the T shape handle comes with a brass tightening screw to control how much resistance you want on the rotation while pushing through.
Overall this is a very well made and durable bore cleaning rod that is suitable for a variety of caliber pistols. If you’re looking for reliable, sturdy, and affordable, you cannot go wrong with this choice.
Check here why it is not a good idea to use WD-40 to clean your gun.
What we like:
- Strong, sturdy design
- Brass patch holder included
- Made from stainless steel
- Torque control for rotation
5. Outers 1-Piece Universal Coated Steel Cleaning Rod
Best Budget Rod
Outers have been producing great quality hunting equipment for many years. For the most part, they cover the budget end of the market, but with the quality of their products, you wouldn’t assume so!
They have their gun care kits, as well as the primary cleaning and maintenance products you need to keep you firing at optimum uptime.
What we are looking at right now is their coated steel cleaning rod, which measures at 33″ long and cleans .22cal rifles plus larger.
The rod itself is made from thick steel and surprisingly is one piece, which we have come to see more of in the carbon fiber range. It has a T shaped handle that is designed to fit in the palm of your hand comfortably.
With it being one piece, it stronger and has no weak points when you need to put some elbow grease into your clean; you don’t need to worry about any bending or snapping with this rod. The rotating action from the rod as it follows the rifling down your bore is smooth and natural thanks to the ball bearings.
The covering on the steel is well set, and you would be unlucky for it to chip or break away while cleaning. If you’re in the market for a budget rod that you can use and abuse to your heart’s content, then this is the right choice.
What we like:
- Solid, strong for deep cleans
- Low flex
- 33″ for rifles
6. Tipton Max Force Cleaning Rod
Best Innovative Rod
It shouldn’t surprise you that Tipton is making another appearance on this list. After all, they do produce some of the best quality gun cleaning supplies we have ever seen.
As usual, Tipton is leading the way with innovation in the gun cleaning and maintenance world, and this rod is a testament to how they are going about it. This isn’t just your standard one-piece rod. The Tipton Max Force Cleaning Rod is taking gun maintenance to a whole new level.
Now, this is a carbon fiber rod, so we are already off to a good start. We have come to believe that the best rods are indeed, carbon fiber. It cleans .22 – .45cal rifles, pistols, and shotguns. With this rod, you can clean most firearms.
The rod itself measures at 40,” so cleaning your rifles, and long guns won’t be an issue what is fantastic about this rod, though is the handle. The handle is designed to slide up and down the rod to allow you to clean any size gun with ‘max pressure’ and as much force as you need to apply.
The handle is loose and slides freely up, and down the rod, until you push down on the clip, when you push down, the clip pressures the rod and stops it sliding up and down BUT still allows it to rotate as it follows the rifling down your barrel.
If you’re cleaning your Glock, you make the rod shorter and clean away, want to clean your AR15 next? Fine, make the rod longer, and your good to go. The Tipton Max Force comes in two sizes .17 – .20cal with 5-40 threads and the .22-.45cal with 8-32 threads.
What we like:
- Easy to use
- Carbon fiber
- Adjustable rod length
- Using it at a shorter period means you can apply more pressure
That wraps up our best gun cleaning rods guide. You may be interested in which are the best bore snakes.
What is the function of the cleaning rod?
What are gun cleaning jags used for?
How long should a cleaning rod be for an AR-15?
Do you need to use a bore guide?
Are carbon fiber cleaning rods good?
Yes, carbon fiber cleaning rods are excellent for gun cleaning. They are lightweight, strong, and less likely to damage the barrel compared to traditional metal rods. Additionally, they are non-abrasive and reduce the risk of scratches.
What is the best thing to clean a gun barrel?
A bore brush and gun cleaning solvent are best for cleaning a gun barrel. Run the bore brush through the barrel several times, soak the bore with solvent, and then use patches to remove fouling and residue.
Is a bore snake better than a cleaning rod for AR-15?
Both bore snakes and cleaning rods have their advantages. Bore snakes are quick and portable, ideal for field cleaning. Cleaning rods offer more thorough cleaning and are better for deeply fouled barrels. Using both can be beneficial for comprehensive gun maintenance.