Keeping your gun clean is a must. That not only keeps it firing more efficiently but taking good care of your weapon will also increase its life span, accuracy and safety. So, taking care of your gun should be as close to your heart as your constitutional right to bare one.
Sitting down after a blast on the ranges, or a hunt, to a gun clean, is not only good for your firearms but also very therapeutic. If you’re new to shooting or are a veteran just after some advice on the latest gun cleaners to hit the market, then we have you covered.
Most gun cleaning kits, unfortunately, do not contain a quality solvent, so it is important to get one separately.
First thing first though, let’s understand the different type of cleaners on the market and what we can use them for.
Gun Cleaning Solvent
Gun cleaning solvent is the staple product any gun owner will have in his range bag. The primary job of a solvent is to attack, penetrate, and dissolve fouling, which has built up on your gun.
Now, choosing the right solvent can be a little tricky. As with any cleaning product currently, there are thousands to choose from, with the primary difference between them being how good of a job they do.
From thick reliable liquid solvents to aerosol spray can solvents, we will go through some of the best. For the most part, each solvent does act and works in the same way, but for some jobs, an aerosol cleaner may be a little more efficient than say a thick viscosity lube.
Now some of you will probably remember buying your first solvent. It likely stunk to high heaven and resembled brake fluid. Well, not much has changed. Due to the ingredients used, including ammonia, they can pack a punch, but there are now more pleasant-smelling cleaners on the market and even eco-friendly cleaners, which are safer to use in less well-ventilated areas.
Your primary oil solvent is used for soaking patches and mops, which you will use to apply the solvent to the bore. The most important thing to know right now is what debris or fouling your solvent will dissolve.
After firing your gun, there are usually three types of contaminants left behind: Carbon, Copper, and Lead. So, purchasing a cleaner which can penetrate all three is a bonus, but we at least want to hit two.
The second type of solvent you will come across and use is a foaming solvent. Now they usually come as an aerosol, but there are now a lot more companies putting out pump bottles instead of aerosols.
These pumps dispense your oil at a much thinner viscosity than an oil cleaner, which allows them to be used to penetrate moving parts, like your rail and firing mechanism. Because they also foam up using them to attack caked-on debris in your bore is a lot easier.
If you are into collecting older firearms, this can be particularly helpful. They often have years of fouling stuck inside the bore. You can use these pumps to fill the bore and let them ‘soak’ for a few minutes before removing the debris with a bore snake or cleaning swab.
Now lastly, there is also aerosol-based solvent cleaners. These are particularly helpful for cleaning moving parts and can be used as a mini spray gun to attack stubborn debris. The viscosity is usually thin, like water, which allows them to penetrate and flow through your moving parts very easily.
OK, so a little different from a solvent, your oil will be used after you have cleaned your gun. Typically, your oil is used to offer ‘protection’ after you have cleaned and stripped away all the things that could harm your firearm.
After a shooting session, you not only have firing residue on your weapon but also grease from your skin and other harmful things from the environment like dust and sand after a good clean applying a layer of oil will add a protective barrier to stop these contaminants settling on your firearm again.
The other hugely beneficial benefits of using a cleansing oil are that it will penetrate down into the pores of the metal and remove any dirt which a solvent couldn’t. A well-oiled firearm will also disperse heat much more evenly and increase your FPS, as well as your accuracy.
Using a quality gun oil will help increase the lifetime, accuracy, FPS, and operation of your weapon.
Clean – Lubricate – Protect, In case you were wondering. CLPs are the modern and time-efficient way of cleaning your firearms. They were once considered to be a bit cheap and nasty, and you would have likely swerved them hard.
In recent years though, they have come a long way in developing the formulas in CLP cleaners, which has made them much more efficient and reliable for removing fouling and lubricating your weapon.
We and we are sure most wouldn’t recommend using a CLP cleaner for a deep clean. When at the ranges though with your semi-auto and it jams, you are not about to strip down your gun for a deep clean.
A few sprays of a CLP are usually enough to get you going again for the rest of the day with the minimal amount of fuss or downtime.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints (and laziness), we can’t always keep on top of our gun cleaning regiment. So, using a CLP in between a deep clean won’t cause any long-term damage, but it shouldn’t be the base of your cleaning.
You might also be interested in our guide on which are the best AR15 cleaning kits.
The 8 Best Gun Cleaning Solvents
Without further hesitation, let us get through our list of the best cleaners and lubricants on the market today.
1. Hoppe’s No.9 Gun Cleaner – Best Bore Cleaner
The Best Overall Cleaner
So, Hoppe’s is a name we hardly need to introduce. They have been producing top of the range of gun cleaning equipment and solvents for over 100 years. They have stood the test of time and the test of quality.
What we love about Hoppe’s as a company is their story. In 1903 Frank August Hoppe mixed nine chemicals and low and behold he manufactured the world’s most effective gun cleaner of the time.
Frank was a soldier, and he knew the importance of keeping your gun clean and safe. Thanks to this over 100 years later, we are blessed with Hoppe’s’ No.9.
Hoppe’s No.9 is an extremely versatile gun cleaner; it is suitable for all firearms.
It is incredibly easy to use and can be used as often as you feel you need. It comes complete with the Hoppe’s No.9 scent, which is a bonus if you don’t want your gun stinking.
Although this is one of the best overall cleaners on the market, it is designed to be used for quick and light cleaning. Used in conjunction with a bore snake, you will find that Hoppe’s No.9 is the perfect companion for a quick weekly clean after your intense range sessions.
What we like:
- Simple, quick and easy to use
- Pleasant smell
- Childproof caps
- Range of different sizes
- Suitable for any firearm
- Approved by world champion shooters
2. BreakFree CLP Aerosol – Best Gun Cleaner Spray
The Best Aerosol Cleaner
More and more people are opting to use an aerosol type cleaner than an oil-based. It makes things easier, and you can target smaller moving parts with the straw attachments and really reach inside the mechanisms.
Break Free is leading the way in this regard. They have a wide range of lubricants, which to our delight, were initially developed for military use. With that in mind, they crafted their cleaners to withstand extreme conditions and temperatures.
Break Free CLP was designed to meet the needs of the PD-48 initiative, which was a description of properties for a multipurpose product needed to maintain firearms for the military. This initiative came to be known as the ‘impossible specification’…until Break Free came along!
It has been tested in temps from -65F to +475F in which It has shown how durable and hard-wearing it is. Break Free CLP aerosol is also designed to reduce metal to metal wear by creating an advanced boundary layer thanks to its unique formula.
Break Free CLP penetrates deep into your gun mechanisms and will displace and free up any grit and rust as well as protecting it from further dust settling on your moving parts. It will also reduce friction and clean firing residue.
We love how practical and durable Break Free CLP is as well as being simple to use. This is one of the most effective CLP cleaners on the market, and we can see why it was initially developed for military use.
What we like:
- Aerosol spray can
- Straw attachment makes cleaning mechanisms easy
- Works in extreme weather conditions
- Stops dust settling on your gun
- Effective even after saltwater testing
- Available in a range of different sizes
3. CLP by Sage & Braker – Best CLP Cleaner
The Best CLP
CLP by Sage and Braker is an incredibly popular product. It is a standard CLP (Clean, Lubricate, Protect) product, but it goes that little bit further with its capabilities, which make it stand out that little bit more.
Sage and Braker were started by Fred Bohm, and he set out to create a product that stood by a set of principles and morals which he believes in. Although he considers it to be a small company, they are growing significantly.
The reason for this growth is pretty simple; they do a great product at a fair price. Sage & Braker, as a company, believe in products that are safer for the environment and about building and maintaining a sustainable future for our future generations.
Their CLP is pine-scented, so it is excellent to use and leaves your firearms feeling ready for the outdoors. It is a bio-based product and contains no hazardous ingredients, which it seems is the way forward for firearms cleaners in 2020 and beyond.
It comes with a mist sprayer lid, and you simply just spray down the barrel or onto the parts you want to clean. We recommend not spraying onto wooden or plastic stocks. But it should be fine to use on most metals.
It works by penetrating the molecules in the steels and removing debris, but what is really great about this CLP is that it goes one step further by leaving a protective layer on the metal.
This protective layer stops any future dust or sand settling in your bore on your moving parts, which helps to reduce clean time. This also reduces how often you need to clean your firearm.
This is all thanks to a little research they did with our boys in Afghanistan, thanks to that this anti-static formula reduces wear and tear on firearms in dusty or desert terrains.
The final thing we love about this CLP is that with regular use, it provides improved heat dissipation, which allows your firearm to have a cooler operation temp. This, in turn, allows for a complete burn of powder, which provides a more consistent FPS.
What we like:
- Environmentally safe
- Great all in one CLP
- The anti-static formula prevents dust and sand build-up
- Reduces clean time
- Improves heat dissipation
4. Breakthrough Military-Grade Gun Cleaning Solvent
The Best Small Firearm Cleaner
BreakThrough really has broken the mold with this cleaner. They have gone above and beyond the call of duty to produce an outstanding gun cleaning solvent, which is safe to use for yourself and the environment.
Thanks to their consistent efforts to produce a product that serves the needs of gun enthusiasts and armed forces personnel, BreakThrough was selected by the US Department of Defence as an authorized small firearm cleaner.
On top of this, they have been granted a toxicity clearance by the army’s center for health promotion and preventative medicine. None of the ingredients are regulated by EPA or OSHA-Z, making this the safest cleaner on the market.
Breakthrough Military-Grade solvent is 100% odorless and is exceptionally effective at removing carbon, lead, and firing residue.
This spray is really simple to use and quite useful when it comes to cleaning your firing mechanism and other moving parts. Because of the lack of harmful chemicals in BreakThrough, it is pH neutral, so it will not stain or damage your wood or plastic components.
No need to worry if you get a little bit carried away in your spit shining.
It has been designed to clean in less time, and just as effectively, as most other top-rated cleaners on the market. BreakThrough pride themselves on their ability to penetrate the pores of the metal and lift contaminants away as well as breaking down carbon deposits.
Thanks to this, you shouldn’t need to clean your firearm as often, but when you do, it should take half the time. The last thing to note about the BreakThrough Cleaning Solvent is that it has a high flash point meaning it isn’t flammable.
The Best Environmentally Friendly Gun Cleaner
Again, another great feature by them for an already safe to use product for us, animals, and the environment.
What we like:
- Approved by MOD for small firearms cleaning
- Environmentally friendly
- Easy to use
- No corrosive
5. Ballistol Multipurpose Aerosol CLP – Best Aerosol Cleaner
The Most Practical CLP
Yes, this is the second ‘best aerosol cleaner’ we have on this list, there is a reason why we have decided to split this title!
Whereas Breakthrough is a fantastic firearms CLP, Ballistol is so much more. Ballistol has been and can be used to clean and lubricate your guns, woods, and leathers making this one of the most practical CLPs here.
Ballistol was first designed around 1904 by Friedrich Klever and his son, Dr. Helmurt Klever. They were contracted by the German Imperial Army to produce an oil that could be used to clean, maintain, and protect metallic rifle parts as well as wooden stocks and leather gear.
By 1905 the Imperial army was using Ballistol full time and was in regular use until 1945. Around this time, though, the methods and benefits of using Ballistol had spread far and wide, and hunters, shooters, fishermen, boaters, hikers, and all sorts of outdoors persons throughout Germany, Austria, and the broader areas were all using Ballistol.
Ballistol is a super easy to use aerosol spray and is perfect for cleaning in zero time. It cleans all sorts of bore fouling, and thanks to its alkalinity, it neutralizes and melts away the black powder and corrosive ammo residue.
It works safely on all metals, but it is designed to dissolve copper, zinc, lead, and tombac. Ballistol gets to work by actively attacking and melting deposits in the barrel.
It then lubricates and protects from further deposits building up. The bonus thing about using Ballistol is that if you have wooden stocks on your firearm Ballistol will preserve the wood and even beautify the natural wood look by bringing out the grain and luster.
If you shoot or hunt outdoors, then you don’t need to worry about treating your rifle with a separate product. Ballistol also works to protect the wood in hot and humid environments. You can also use Ballistol on your knives, boots, and more.
What we like:
- Easy to use
- Environmentally friendly
- Protects wooden stocks
- Great for corrosive ammo deposits
- Can be used for all outdoors equipment
6. Hoppe’s Elite Gun Cleaner – Best Gun Cleaner Oil
The Best Odorless Cleaner
It shouldn’t surprise anybody that Hoppe’s is appearing more than once on our list. Being one of the biggest names in the firearm maintenance and cleaning game for more than 100 years, they continually outshine most.
Their Elite range is another great asset to the company, and it works brilliantly. Now the thing which some people find is that this isn’t a thick copper annihilator, it isn’t a bore solvent, so you may need something with a little more power for your older rifles.
But for general cleaning or more serious stuff on smaller firearms, great things are being said about the Hoppe’s entire Elite range of gun cleaners.
This is one of the only cleaners on the market, which is odorless; your wife/husband will never know you’re shining your rifle in the basement! It has no ammonia, so working in smaller, more confined spaces is perfectly safe.
With regular use, it is designed to penetrate down into the microscopic pores of the steel and remove carbon, copper, and other fouling. As well as this, though, it adds a layer of protection to stop it from building up as easy again.
The Elite range is perfect for quick general cleans after a session at the ranges. If you cannot or don’t need to do a full deep clean for a while, this is an excellent product for removing skin oils and to condition your gun in between deep cleans.
What we like:
- Simple to use
- Great for quick cleans
- Can be used in smaller rooms
- Reduces cleaning time with regular use
- Water-based – low impact on the environment
7. Slip 2000 725 Gun Cleaner
The Best Oil Residue Degreaser
Slip2000 makes a range of gun cleaning and maintenance products for the everyday shooter and the weekend warrior. The story behind Slip200 is actually kind of nice.
They designed their range of cleaners to provide the American gun industry with the best environmentally safe lubricants and cleaners on the market. Their products are non-toxic, non-hazardous, and are water-based, so biodegradable.
They continually aim to make improvements to their range and to build a reputation as a brand of products which allow us to ‘spend more time shooting and less time cleaning.’
Now, you are probably a little dubious about using a water-based product. But rest assured, this is an excellent cleaner. According to Slip2000, this cleaner works exceptionally well on the M1, M16, AR15, 9mm, and .40Cal weapons as well as full autos.
This isn’t a deep heavy cleaner, but lots of people are reporting success from leaving it to ‘soak in’ a little longer than the instructions say for stubborn or caked-on residue. It is ready to use and works great in a parts washer as well as a direct spray.
It is brilliant at penetrating carbon stains, grease, and gunk and is safe to use on aluminum, magnesium and stainless steel. We would suggest avoiding getting on any wood or plastic stocks or surfaces.
If you’re looking for an easy to use cleaner which you can use safely indoors, has little to no impact on the environment, and will not cause caustic burns and fumes, then this is a great choice. It also contains no petroleum, so disposing of it isn’t as complicated.
Quite often, once used, you can water it down and pour it down a sanitary sewer, but please check local, state, and federal laws first!
What we like:
- Environmentally friendly
- Easy to use
- No smell
- No petroleum
8. Hoppe’s No.9 Lubricant – Best Gun Lubricant
The Best Lubricant
As we come to the end of the list, it is only natural that we end on a Hoppe’s product. After all, they are one of the longest standing firearms maintenance product suppliers in the world.
Their gun cleaning lubricant does a great job of cleaning and protecting your arms after a deep clean or when they are going into storage. This, unlike most others on the market, is synthetic oil, and we think that is what makes it stand out from the rest.
The Hoppe’s Gun cleaner formula has been designed for use with modern firearms but also works with fishing reels and other metal mechanisms, ball bearings, and moving parts. It is used to create a barrier and offer protection against moisture and corrosion.
When a firearm is well lubricated, it works more efficiently. Heat is dissipated more evenly, and this can increase accuracy and FPS. In turn, this also increases the life of your weapon.
This doesn’t have Hoppe’s signature smell, so using it in a well-ventilated area is a must. We also recommend using a small amount as a little goes a long way with most Hoppe’s products.
What we like:
- Thin synthetic oil
- Easy to use
- Great to use before storage or after a deep clean
- Helps reduce firing friction
- Protects against moisture, rust, and dust.
Concluding our Best Gun Cleaning Solvents Guide
Hopefully, now we haven’t left you dazed and confused. Understanding the need for proper gun cleaning and maintenance is a vital part of being a responsible gun owner. Using high quality and reputable cleaning equipment is a must!
Most solvents and cleaners use ingredients that can be bad for you and the environment, so buying cheap and nasty products may save you a few bucks but will likely cost you in the long term with damage to your weapon.
There are uses for each product listed here, but if you really want the best, then we recommend Hoppe’s No.9. The full range of equipment will care for, protect, and love your firearms for the short and long term.
Cleaning your firearm
Please take care when cleaning your weapon. Always make sure your gun isn’t loaded and remove your clip to be safe. Please make sure there isn’t one in the chamber when you remove your clip. Check how often to clean your gun.
Clamp your Gun
When cleaning your weapon, it is always a good idea to invest in a good gun vise. It won’t be the end of the world if you don’t, but it will allow you to clean your weapon much more efficiently.
A gun vise will also stop you from damaging your gun. The last thing you want to do is cause more damage to the inside of your barrel when you’re trying to shine it like a silver dollar.
See the 6 best gun vises.
Use a Cleaning Mat
We are assuming you won’t be cleaning your gun at the kitchen table, but sometimes a deep clean is a must, and doing it in sub-zero temperatures in your unheated garage won’t do.
In times like these, and most other times, we ALWAYS recommend using a gun cleaning mat. It is all too easy for you to knock over your bottle of solvent or CLP accidentally. It will take some serious elbow grease to remove it and will possibly damage it.
Avoid this issue altogether by investing in a decent mat and always using it.
Keep Pets and Children Away
This should go without saying, but most cleaners and solvents are toxic. If you are going to leave your solvents or firearms while doing other tasks, always make sure no children or animals can gain access to the room.
When you are finished cleaning, then make sure your solvents and firearms are properly put away, safe from children and animals.
Use Protective Clothing
As mentioned, most cleaners contain ammonia and substances, which can cause caustic burns. Cleaning your firearm in a well-ventilated area is better for your health. We advise using goggles when using sprays to avoid any accidents.
Rubber gloves are also a godsend if you find your skin gets irritated from the solvents. It will also keep your hands protected for the long-term.
You may also be interested in which are the best cleaning rods.