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Like with all guns, cleaning is an important component of the AR-15’s maintenance routine.
If cleaning is skipped, build-up of copper, lead, plastic, and other substances can occur, as can corrosion. These things interfere with the performance of your rifle, making it less accurate and even possibly causing malfunctions.
That’s what AR-15 cleaning kits are for. These kits contain all — or at least most — of the most important things for keeping your AR sparkling.
And to help you choose the right AR-15 cleaning kit, we’ve put together this guide. In it, we’ll go over our top recommendations for the best AR-15 cleaning kits, then talk about how to choose the right one for you.
Our overall top pick is the Real Avid Gun Boss Pro-AR-15 Cleaning Kit. This kit contains the basic tools you need to clean your AR-15 kit, plus some incredibly useful extras without anything unnecessary.
Also Read: 24 Best Multi-Tools in 2022 (Hands-on)
Real Avid Gun Boss Pro AR-15 Cleaning Kit
Our favorite AR-15 cleaning kit is the Real Avid Gun Boss Pro AR-15 Cleaning Kit.
With this cleaning kit, Real Avid really struck the balance of giving you everything you need without any extras.
It contains basic essential cleaning supplies, like a cleaning rod with a T-handle, a nylon slotted bore patch tip, a bore brush, a chamber brush, and cleaning patches.
On top of that, though, it also has extras that you’ll appreciate, like a bolt carrier brush, a scraper, a hooked cleaning pick, wool chamber cleaning pads, a holder for those pads, and a 3-in-1 bore illuminator, pin punch, and safety flag.
For extra utility, the cleaning rod’s T-handle can also function as a handle for the scraper, pick, and bolt carrier brush, and can also be used to tap pins.
To top it all off, these pieces all come neatly organized in the crush-proof case. The case also has a built-in kickstand to keep your cleaning tools easily accessible while you clean.
The only important things not included are cleaning solution and lubricant, but I can’t fault Real Avid for that since so many people are particular about which of those products they’ll use.
- Convenient, sturdy case keeps supplies organized
- Essential cleaning supplies
- Additional useful cleaning supplies
- Doesn’t contain a bunch of unnecessary extras
- Case doesn’t provide room for additional pieces
With the Gun Boss Pro AR-15 Cleaning Kit, Real Avid has managed to include just about everything you’d need or want to clean your AR-15 without wasting space or your money on useless extras.
DAC Winchester Super Deluxe Soft Sided Gun Care Case
If you’re looking for a universal gun cleaning kit for your AR-15 and other firearms, the DAC Winchester Super Deluxe Soft Sided Gun Care Case is one of our favorites.
As a universal cleaning kit, it has the necessary equipment to clean not just your AR. With the included supplies, you can clean guns from .17 caliber all the way up to .50 cal.
To be able to clean all those calibers, the kit includes 14 bronze brushes and mops, 13 brass jags, and four slotted tips. To go with those, there are six cleaning rod segments, three for calibers .17-.28 and three for .30-.54 caliber. In addition, there are two sizes of choke/breech brushes and three sets of cleaning patches in different sizes, each set containing 50 patches.
For one-size-fits-all cleaning, there is a polishing cloth, a double-ended pick, a pair of double-ended utility brushes, and three utility brushes, one in each phosphor, nylon, and stainless steel.
All in all, the kit contains 68 pieces, so there’s just about everything you need. This is another kit that doesn’t include gun cleaner or lubricant, though, so you’re free to use whichever ones you prefer.
What really puts this cleaning kit over the edge, however, is the case. All of the accessory holders are removable and repositionable for easy organization and access. The case lays flat when open for even easier access to your cleaning supplies. There’s a small amount of space available in the zipper pouches for adding additional items you might need.
- Virtually everything you need to clean guns from .17 caliber to .50 caliber
- Great price for the amount of pieces
- Case keeps things organized and accessible
- Rods are a little flimsy
- Overkill if you just need to clean your AR
If you want a single kit that you can use for your entire firearm collection, it’s hard to top the DAC Winchester Super Deluxe Soft Sided Gun Care Case.
Otis Technology MSR/AR Cleaning Kit
Our second AR-15-specific cleaning kit recommendation is the Otis Technology MSR/AR Cleaning Kit. This little cleaning kit is very compact, yet ultra-comprehensive, so it’s a great option for both throwing in your range bag or just keeping at home.
One unique feature of this cleaning kit that allows it to be so compact is that it doesn’t contain a full-length cleaning rod.
Instead, it has a 30-inch Memory-Flex cable, which allows you to pull your brushes and other cleaning supplies through your AR’s barrel. This is better for the rifling than pushing a brush through, plus the flexible cable can be wrapped up for compact storage.
There is a pair of short rods to which you can affix the detailing heads, including scrapers, an end brush, a pin punch, a utility brush, and more. The kit also comes with Otis’s B.O.N.E. Tool.
- Very comprehensive
- Otis’s No Nonsense warranty
- Comes with a 0.5-ounce bottle of Shooter’s Choice FP-10 Lubricant Elite CLP
- Made in the US
- On the pricier side
For the most comprehensive AR cleaning kit, it’s hard to top the Otis Technology MSR/AR Cleaning Kit.
Hoppe’s No. 9 Deluxe Gun Cleaning Kit
The Hoppe’s No. 9 Deluxe Gun Cleaning Kit isn’t designed specifically for AR-15s, but it is designed for .22 to .30 caliber rifles, plus .38 caliber pistols and both 12 and 20 gauge shotguns.
It includes a three-piece brass cleaning rod, five bronze bore brushes, five slotted tips, patches, and a silicone cleaning cloth. Unusually, this cleaning kit also comes with Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner and Hoppe’s No. 9 Lubricating Oil, each in full-size 2-ounce bottles.
All of these pieces stow in a beautiful hardwood box.
- Doesn’t contain more than you need
- Comes with full-size chemicals
- Contains all the basic cleaning supplies
- Works for multiple calibers
- Beautiful wooden case
- Lacks detailing tools
The Hoppe’s No. 9 Deluxe Gun Cleaning Kit is great if you’re looking for a simple cleaning kit for a quick clean, or if you already have detailing supplies for other guns and just need the basic items for your AR-15.
Gloryfire Universal Gun Cleaning Kit
If you’re looking for a universal cleaning kit, the Gloryfire Universal Gun Cleaning Kit is another excellent option.
It has the necessary supplies for cleaning rifles, handguns, and shotguns in calibers from .17 to 20 gauge. That includes 14 bronze bore brushes, 9 bore mops, 13 jags, and 4 slotted tips, plus two brass cleaning rods in different sizes.
Despite all that, it’s a pretty basic kit without a lot of extras. There are no picks or scrapers for detailing, just three utility brushes, one brass, one iron, and one nylon.
The kit does include a 30ml bottle and a 50ml bottle, allowing you to store cleaner or lubricant in your cleaning kit.
- Not a lot of extras relative to most universal cleaning kits
- Piece for calibers .17 to 20 gauge
- Includes muzzle guards
- Bottles for cleaner or lubricant
- Lacks detailing tools
If you want a universal cleaning kit that isn’t bogged down by a bunch of extras, the Gloryfire Universal Gun Cleaning kit is precisely that.
M-Pro 7 Tactical Universal Cleaning Kit
The M-Pro 7 Tactical Universal Cleaning Kit is a universal cleaning kit, but it was created specifically for tactical-style weapons like the AR.
This universal cleaning kit is interesting in that it doesn’t waste a lot of real estate with redundant bore brushes or by including bore mops when you can just use patches. Instead, it utilizes that space to include full-size bottles of M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaner, M-Pro 7 Copper Remover, and M-Pro 7 Gun Oil LPX. It also has a foam gun pad that you can use as a work surface.
- Works for calibers from .22 to 12 gauge
- Comes with copper remover, gun cleaner, and gun oil
- Has a foam gun pad
- No unnecessary extras
- Locking case
- The only detailing tool is a nylon utility brush
- Case doesn’t keep the contents organized
- Cleaners may leak in transit
The M-Pro 7 Tactical Universal Cleaning kit doesn’t waste space with unnecessary extras, but it does go above and beyond by incorporating so items we don’t normally see in cleaning kits, like cleaning solutions, gun oil, and a gun pad.
Allen Company Ultimate Gun Cleaning Kit
Our last recommendation is the Allen Company Ultimate Gun Cleaning Kit, a universal cleaning kit with a great storage case.
Within the trays are just about everything you need for cleaning standard rifle and pistol calibers as well as .410 bore, 20 gauge, and 12 gauge shotguns.
It includes gun wipes, cotton swabs, 2 utility brushes, a pick, cotton patches, a three-piece brass cleaning rod, 14 bronze bore brushes, 13 brass jags, 4 brass slotted tips, 2 muzzle guards, 3 brass adapters, and 6 bore swabs.
The trays are removable to make unpacking the kit easy and to keep the components organized. Underneath the trays is plenty of room in the box for storing other odds and ends, like cleaning solutions and additional detailing tools.
- Works with
- Box has plenty of space for extra items
- Comes with detailing tools
- Comes with muzzle guards
- Comes with cotton swabs
- Takes up a lot of space
- Cleaning rods are somewhat flimsy
- No scraper
The Allen Company Ultimate Gun Cleaning Kit is a comprehensive cleaning kit that also provides plenty of space for any extras you might want to add.
Buying Guide: What To Expect From The Best AR-15 Cleaning Kits?
There are a few different things to keep in mind when selecting an AR-15 cleaning kit:
Obviously, the most important factor is that the included cleaning supplies work effectively. Are the brushes good quality? Is the cleaning rod sturdy and long enough to get your entire barrel? If they’re included, do the cleaning solvent and/or lubricant do the job?
Unfortunately, there’s not a great way to tell if the products in a cleaning kit are high quality besides just looking at reviews and recommendation lists like this one.
Basic Cleaning Supplies
Any cleaning kit needs to include the basic essential cleaning supplies to clean your AR-15. These include patches, a cleaning jag or slotted tip, a bore brush, a chamber brush, and a cleaning rod.
Extra Cleaning Supplies
There are other essential cleaning supplies that aren’t typically included for particular reasons. Cleaning solvents and lubricants, for example, are frequently not included in cleaning kits since many people prefer a particular formula for those products.
You’ll also want a cleaning mat or other surface to work on to protect your work surface, but many people just use an old towel they have sitting around than a specialty item. Similarly, you’ll need a luster cloth or similar soft, lint-free cloth, but many people use microfiber cloths that they already own.
Other supplies are only needed for deep cleans and are therefore frequently skipped by basic cleaning kits. Those include scrapers and picks, as well as utility brushes.
There are also even more supplies that aren’t strictly necessary for cleaning your AR-15 but are a big help.
For example, a punch will make it much easier to remove the pins to fully disassemble your AR-15. A chamber flag assures you that the chamber doesn’t contain a round, so as long as the magazine is removed, you know your AR-15 is empty, making a chamber flag a very helpful safety tool.
As you probably already know, .223 Rem/5.56 NATO is the standard AR-15 round. That is also the chambering that most AR-15 cleaning kits are designed for.
With that said, you are also probably aware that there are alternative chamberings as well. A few of the most popular of those include 6.5 Grendel, .300 BLK, and pistol calibers, like 9mm and .45 ACP. Of course, that’s far from a comprehensive list.
Whatever round your AR-15 shoots, you need to make sure that your cleaning kit contains the right supplies. The chambering impacts what size of bore brushes, jags, bore mops, patches, and more need to be to varying degrees.
Fortunately, there are cleaning kits out there for just about every chambering possible and many kits fit multiple chamberings within a range.
There’s also the option of universal gun cleaning kits. These kits are designed to be used for virtually any firearm, so they contain multiple sets of the cleaning supplies that need to be sized for different calibers, plus a single set of the supplies that can be used across calibers.
Universal gun cleaning kits are very useful for those who own (or plan to own) firearms across different calibers, since you can use the same cleaning kit to maintain all your different firearms. This saves space, as well as money, since a single universal cleaning kit, while more expensive than the average cleaning kit, is cheaper than buying a bunch of different cleaning kits.
In our list of recommendations, we’ve included both AR-15 specific and universal gun cleaning kits on this list to give you plenty of options.
Also Read: 17 Best Long Range Calibers 2022
You’ll need to consider your budget when selecting an AR-15 cleaning kit. Fortunately, there are many very affordable cleaning kits available. However, there are cleaning kits at a variety of prices.
Generally, if you pay more, you receive more pieces, but it may be because the manufacturer included extra items of little utility in order to justify charging more for the kit. Whatever the reason, you’ll want to try to avoid kits that include things you don’t want or need, since they’re just a waste of space and money.
Consider exactly what you need from a cleaning kit and what your budget is to choose the right balance for you. And if you need more than you can afford, you may want to go with a simpler kit to start, then add to it later as the funds become available.
Finally, you’ll want to think about how the cleaning kit is stored.
Generally, cleaning kits come with their own storage case, which you may or may not want to actually use. The case that comes with a cleaning kit shouldn’t be a make-or-break factor in choosing a kit, though.
It’s generally easy and inexpensive to buy a different case to keep your cleaning kit inside. Ammo cans and fishing tackle boxes are both popular choices.
Whether you want your cleaning kit to come with a case that you’ll use or are planning to buy a separate case, there are a few things to consider.
For a cleaning kit case to be useful, it needs to keep your cleaning supplies accessible and tidy, and should generally have space for you to add additional cleaning supplies as necessary. It should also be durable.
It’s unnecessary and can actually cause some damage, so we say no. Generally, cleaning your rifle once every few hundred rounds is more than enough, with a deep clean every third or fourth cleaning session.
Of course, if you notice reliability issues you should of course clean it to see if that’s where your issues are coming from.
At the absolute minimum, to clean an AR-15 you need:
– Cleaning Solvent
– Cleaning jag or slotted tip
– Bore brush
– Chamber brush
– Cleaning rod
– General cleaning brush
– Cleaning mat or towel
– Luster cloth
There are also a few things that aren’t essential for cleaning your AR-15 but will make the whole process easier. A nylon punch is helpful for removing pins without scratching up your AR’s finish. A bore illuminator will help you see what you’re doing better. Picks and scrapers can help you remove very stubborn buildup.
Cotton swabs will help you get into nooks and crannies easier. I particularly like the ones with pointed tips that are made for manicures and makeup touch-ups. They are great for getting into small areas that even the rounded ones can’t fit into.
A chamber flag is also handy. Placing one in the chamber provides visual proof that the chamber has been cleared. With a chamber flag in place and the magazine removed, you know the gun is empty before you start cleaning.
Finally, a few small containers are useful for soaking small pieces or just stowing them so they don’t walk off while you work. This is less important for a quick clean of the bore and chamber but is very handy if you’re disassembling your rifle for a deep clean.
Generally speaking, every 250-400 rounds is a good time to pull a bore snake through the barrel and give things a light cleaning, and every third or fourth time you do that you’ll want to break things down and give the rifle a more thorough cleaning.
Eventually, you’re going to start getting reliability issues. The first thing that will generally happen is you’ll start seeing brass fail to eject, and you’ll see the bolt not fully extracting spent brass.
After that, the extra stress andwear will start to cause mechanical failures in the bolt carrier group.
These are the top AR-15 cleaning kits currently on the market.
The Real Avid Gun Boss Pro AR-15 Cleaning Kit is our overall top pick because it contains effective cleaning supplies, including both the basic cleaning supplies that you need and several extras that you’ll want. At the same time, it doesn’t contain a single thing we don’t think you’ll use. Even the case is great, with its durable design and integrated kickstand.
With that said, each of the AR-15 cleaning kits we’ve recommended here is a high-quality option that will do a great job cleaning your AR-15 and, in some cases, your other guns as well.
With the information that we’ve provided in this buying guide, you should be able to choose the right cleaning kit for you without difficulty.
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