Welcome back, amigos. Gun care kits. Today we consider their makeup, efficacy and real versus perceived value.

There have been SO many gun cleaning kits on the market over the years, mainly originating from some of the historically biggest brand names in gun care for the firearms industry. The formerly independent Kleen-Bore company thoroughly covered the gun cleaning system concept with a comprehensive portfolio of products, from an array of solvents to jags to fit every caliber barrel. We know they put a strong emphasis on hunting, but the concepts apply to all firearms and the market niches therein.

Kits almost always contain caliber-specific parts, such as bronze bore brushes in sizes catering to: .17 to .50 caliber rifles, .17 to .50 caliber pistols, and .410 to 12/10 gauge shotguns. Bronze brushes are also made as chamber cleaning brushes shaped like a toothbrush — though a nylon brush is a better bet because nylon is less harmful to metal surfaces. Bronze has been used widely over the years because it effectively scrapes hard buildup off the bore and other parts. But, more recently, the more enlightened thinking here is to clean and lubricate with materials that will minimize if not negate the need for bronze — by preventing hard buildup in the first place.

Think about it. Hard buildup is caused by one of several factors or a combination of factors, among them: carbon and carbon fouling combined with heat; petroleum-based solvent residue — and surface abrasion caused by bronze brush usage that establishes a conducive footing in the metal for further debris attachment. Metal scraping metal can be a bad thing in gun care.

The practice is like a dog chasing its own tail — a vicious circle that actually creates unnecessary work, while unnecessarily slowing down working parts along the way.

Next-generation synthetic lubricants and safer cleaners create a friendlier environment in the bore, where buildup becomes much less prevalent, and cleaning can be done easily while sing gentler materials, with less effort. As good as that sounds (and, yes,  it’s even proven to be true) there are still loyal adherents to the old way…gun owners mindlessly scraping the hell out of their metal just because Grandpa always did it that way. It feels manly, or something.

We’ve heard from many users of Mil-Comm’s NRA Licensed GUN CARE SYSTEM products (TW25B synthetic gun grease; MC2500 synthetic gun oil and MC25 enzymatic cleaner/degreaser) that they can, in most cases, simply dry wipe parts clean after a shoot and not have to clear or clean as much. One of the newer gun cleaners is going to clear the way for the lubricant protectant, which can then act as the friction barrier for a smooth operating firearm.

Other common gun care cleaning kit components include a cleaning rod or, alternatively, a bore cable or rope product; a pick or obstruction remover; a brass scraper; a patch saver; a bore mop; a bore reflector; a copper solvent; a bore solvent –all of which typically fits into a nylon case or hard container. In all, we’ve seen kits that contain in excess of 40 individual parts. So it would probably blow your mind if someone told you that you can get better results using only four items.

Why, then, would people keep buying bags and suitcases of unnecessary stuff that doesn’t do the best job possible? Yeah, we don’t know either.

Under the heading of GUN CARE ESSENTIALS, you have to put cotton patches at the top of the list. Square cotton patches measuring: 7/8” for .17 cal. barrels, 1 3/8” for .22 – .270 cal.; 1 3/4” for 7mm – .38 cal. / .357 cal.; 2 ¼” for 9mm / .38 – .45 cal. / .410-20; 2 ½” for .35 rifle / 20 gauge; and 3” for 16 – 12 gauge shotguns. Cotton swabs are used about as often; people have personal preferences based mostly on barrel fit.

Now that you have your wiping applicator, along with a nylon brush and some cotton swabs for those tight, hard-to-reach grooves, you move on to your all-purpose gun cleaner to pre-treat the surface. Think beyond the old fashioned, chemically harsh, nasty smelling cleaners of another generation.

There are newer formulations, including some good enzymatic gun cleaning solutions that perfectly fit into the modern gun maintenance regimen. Use heavy solvents only as a last resort — and, again, these will be increasingly less necessary once you adopt newer enzymatic gun cleaning and synthetic gun lube products.

Next, lubricate all friction points, wear surfaces and the bore with your light grease or light oil depending on the application need or your personal preferences. Some folks like an oil finish, while others prefer a dry-like finish. Thick greases are bound to slow down parts, so keep them out of this discussion. Think synthetic, light greases and light oils.

And that’s it – cotton patches, gun cleaner, gun grease and/or gun oil.

Easy, right? You can build your own gun care kit with a few essentials that truly result in gun cleaning made easy.