Polish & Protect

Must-Have Supplies For Gun Care & Cleaning

Image: Otis Technology

Whether you love or loathe gun cleaning and maintenance, you need the proper tools to do the job the right way. 

For retailers, gun cleaning products are also a necessary evil. They’re not high-volume sellers, generally speaking, but when customers need them, they appreciate a retailer who has them.

Modern shooters are more educated about the relationship between cleaning and maintenance to accuracy and reliability. Cleaning is no longer a necessary evil. It’s part of the lifestyle.

In response, the shooting industry offers an ever-expanding selection of high-performance cleaners, lubricants and specialty cleaning tools. Obvious items are solvents to remove carbon and copper from bores, of course, but myriad other items we might take for granted occupy the high-performance niche, too. Mundane options like cleaning rods, bore brushes, lubricants and even cradles and vises have evolved to the modern age.


Forget all the mythology about scrubbing fouling from the bore, said Jesse Rambo, co-owner of Bore Tech. A quality cleaner is necessary to chemically separate and remove carbon, lead and copper fouling from the bore. He contends Bore Tech’s Eliminator is the ultimate solution.

“We figured out a way to effectively remove both fouling types with our Eliminator bore cleaner,” Rambo said. “It’s our best-selling product.”

“The old-school way is using a separate copper and carbon remover,” he elaborated. “Effectively removing metallic fouling and carbon fouling are chemically different processes. Copper fouling is ‘welded’ to the barrel. You’re not mechanically removing it without potentially damaging your barrel. Then there’s carbon fouling. Some of it is literally one step away from the hardness of a diamond. You’re not mechanically removing it safely, either. Let your cleaners do the work, not your elbow.”

According to Rambo, Bore Tech Eliminator is safe to handle and bio-friendly. It is also odorless, which initially created skepticism from influencers who believed a gun solvent had to have a strong odor. Unlike traditional ammonia-based solvents, Eliminator can safely be left in the bore to soak for extended periods, Rambo noted.

Bill Pool, owner of Arkansas Gun Traders in Benton, Ark., and a highly regarded gunsmith, still prefers traditional standards like Sweet’s and Shooter’s Choice, but he speaks highly of Eliminator.

Cleaning Hardware

Eliminator and other copper solvents react with the copper in cleaning tools like jags, brushes, mops and even cleaning rod tips. Rambo said this prompted required Bore Tech to re-engineer common accessories because those products are traditionally made of bronze or brass, alloys that contain copper and create false copper residue on cleaning patches.

“Eliminator solved a problem, but it created another,” Rambo stated. “You can’t use brass tips on jags, bronze brushes or brass tips on cleaning rods. This is how our Proof-Positive products were born.”

Bore Tech’s Proof-Positive Bore Stix cleaning rods and terminal hardware are made of non-copper alloys, so they do not impart false copper deposits on patches. 

Proof-Positive Bore Stix also have an industry-exclusive barrel twist-rate identification system. The simple index dot system allows shooters to easily determine a firearm’s barrel twist rate. 

Proof-Positive Bore Stix are available in diameters from .17-cal. to .416–.50 cal. Yes, it is also available in 6mm–.270 cal.

One area many gun owners ignore during cleaning is the bolt seating recess and the throat, the site of the dreaded carbon ring. Bore Tech makes tools to clean those areas, as well.

“The carbon ring; it’s always been there. That’s what got us into our action-cleaning tools,” Rambo said. “People forget about the throat and the chamber areas. They get dirty too, especially in ARs. Our action-cleaning toolkits are absolutely one of a kind. We molded a piece of rubber with a jag through the center to mimic the bolt face, be it two lug or three lug. Let me tell you, these are the best things since cold canned beer. It’s so simple, but it works so well! If you start with our products, you’ll never develop a carbon ring. If you come to us later, you’ll never have another one.”

Bore Tech offers complete action kits for AR platforms to clean the upper and lower units.

“When I grab this kit, everything I need to effectively take care of my AR upper and lower is there,” he concluded.


A popular development in gun cleaning over the past few decades is the CLP class of liquids. The acronym stands for Clean Lubricate Protect.

Jerry Milam, president of 80 Below Oil, said his 80 Below CLP is one of the few pure synthetic CLP products on the market, and it’s a true Class 4 product. (Break Free, a CLP pioneer, also offers a Class 4 product.)

Milam said a hunting trip to Canada revealed there was a need for such a product.

“What started 80 Below Oil was when I was a distributor for a lot of high-speed manufacturing products for the food industry,” Milam recalled. “I’d go to Canada every year to hunt with clients, and we would always have problems with guns functioning, especially autoloaders. I took my chemist to Canada, and we started developing this lube in 2015.”

“When we came out, we tested it against several products,” he added. “If we could not measure up or beat them, I didn’t see any reason to come on the market. For lubricity, longevity and rust prevention, I think we nailed it. It’s a pretty phenomenal product.”

Pure synthetic composition is the key to its consistency and effectiveness, Milam noted.

“This is Class 4 lubricant. You rarely see this in the gun industry,” he said. “Being Class 4 and being a really cold-tolerant lubricant is unique. The high end is pretty amazing, too. It goes well over 500 degrees.”

80 Below comes in a 2-oz. bottle, 2-oz. jar and a 12-mL syringe. 

“Trapshooters like to use the syringe on their choke tubes and all kinds of coil springs,” Milam informed. “It’s the same as what’s in the 2-oz. jar. Some people like to dip their fingers in it and smooth it onto their gun parts because it doesn’t have a greasy finish. It adheres and stops rust.”

Mack’s Prairie Wings in Stuttgart, Ark., the world’s largest waterfowl hunting retailer, uses 80 Below in its gunsmith department, as does Retay USA for its shotguns. 

Bore Guides

The best way to clean a firearm is from the breech, and this requires precise rod alignment to prevent damaging the throat.

It’s important to use a bore guide specific to the brand of rifle. Bore Tech, Tipton and Dewey make retail-accessible bore guides. All emphasize a hands-free operation for stabbing and inserting a solvent-soaked patch into the bore.

Tipton offers two products: the Universal Bore Guide and the Rapid Bore Guide Kit. The Universal Bore Kit is a basic kit containing an anodized aluminum tube and bore inserts, including one for AR-15 actions, as well as a stop extension to keep it stationary.

The Rapid Bore Guide has additional features. These tools enable you to insert a dry patch into a collar, apply solvent to the patch and then push the patch into the bore without having to touch solvents.

Bore Tech’s Centerfire Bolt-Action Patch Guide includes a bolt collar that fits many popular centerfire actions with a 0.695–0.700″ bolt diameter. This complies with most Remington, Winchester, Ruger, Browning and Savage rifle-bolt diameters. Bore Tech’s Patch Guides are available for AR and rimfire platforms, as well.

Place a patch over the opening on the angled patch plate, wet the patch with cleaner and push the rod down the bore. A self-centering, tapered rubber nose cone in the front and an extended barrel design in the rear of the guide ensures proper alignment. Replaceable solvent-resistant molded rubber nose cones prevent cleaners from leaking into the chamber and action areas.

Cleaning Stations

A stable, secure platform improves the cleaning process immensely. 

Several fine options from Tipton and MTM Case-Gard provide compact, steady cleaning stations. Tipton’s Best Gun Vise and Tipton’s Gun Vise with Quick Release Cam are excellent middle price-point options. MTM’s Gun Cleaning Vise for Rifles and Shotguns and MTM’s Maintenance and Cleaning Centers are good economy price-point options. 

I have used MTM’s Maintenance and Cleaning Center for nearly 30 years. It holds a rifle or shotgun securely and angles the muzzle down to prevent contaminants from flowing toward the action and trigger.

With proper maintenance, your customers’ guns will shoot accurately and flawlessly for generations. Having these tools on hand will help them accomplish those missions. 


Read More Shooting Industry July 2024 Issue Now