TFBTV: Random Gun Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Everyone seems to have a different approach to cleaning and maintaining their firearms, and here we talk about our methods and a few tips and tricks regarding the less glamorous aspect of marksmanship!

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Full English transcript is below (sorry we don’t have non-english subtitles for this video) …

– Hey guys, I’m Alex C.

– And I’m Patrick R.

– We’re at you today with a little different video than we normally do.

This is going to be about gun cleaning.

Gun cleaning’s probably not the best part of shooting, but it’s still very important.

If you want to protect your investments, a lot of people tie up a lot of money in guns.

I know Patrick, you have, Lord knows, probably…

– No where near what you have.

– Well, nonetheless, you have, and our readers have as well, presumably, even if you have three guns, and they’re $1,000 a piece, – [Patrick] that’s still… – [Alex] that’s $3,000.

– I mean, that could be a car for somebody.

– [Alex] That’s a car. – [Patrick] Yeah.

– My first car was less than that.

– I’ve owned cars much less than that.

– Oh yeah, good lord, yeah.

Anyways, guys, let’s talk a little bit about it.

I know it’s not the sexiest subject we’ve ever taken on, but maybe we’ll show you a trick or two that you haven’t seen or haven’t considered.

I doubt it, but you know, this is just kind of what we do, and I’ve been doing it for 10 years or more.

Patrick, you- – I don’t even know, honestly, but I know that some of our readers are very passionate about how they clean their firearm.

– And, guys, this is just what we do.

You might have a completely different ritual, and to most shooters, it is almost like a ritual.

When you get home, this is what you do.

Some of you guys don’t clean your guns at all, and if your guns work and you don’t care, who am I to tell you to do something different? – Well, you haven’t told me anything.

– (laughs) Well, you know, I’m maybe a little pickier than he is, but nonetheless, if you have an AK and you shot 10,000 rounds, and it still works every time you go out and it’s still just as accurate as it is from day one, who am I to say, clean your gun, do something different, this and that? – Like we said, we’re by no means experts.

This is just some things that we put together, some tricks that we’ve learned.

I brought my cleaning kit today.

He keeps his inside of a drawer system that we couldn’t get on camera, so we just brought a couple pieces out.

– Yeah, but Patrick, you can kind of tilt your box up to the camera.

He’s got a really nice set-up actually.

He bought a tackle box, and he used it to organize his brushes, his q-tips and things like that.

That’s actually a really good idea, guys, a nice, affordable tackle box.

– I think I paid $20 for the tackle box, and then I found a bunch of the Otis multi-pack brushes, and they just fit really neatly inside there.

– Yeah, absolutely, and they’re great brushes, guys.

– They’re fantastic. – Otis products are great.

Everything from their patches all the way up to their expensive rods and kits and everything are just great.

Let’s kick it off, Patrick, since you brought the tackle box, why don’t you- – The Spring Tactile box.

– The tactile box, okay. (laughs) – Well, one thing I really like about it is if you go to the range, or you go out hunting or something like that, it fits in a nice little neat package.

Doesn’t take up a whole lot of room.

There’s a fairly good amount of organization in here.

I’ve got brushes in just about every caliber tucked inside the little pockets here.

Up here I’ve got some q-tips, some various brass brushes, 12-gauge brush, mop, all that kind of good stuff up here, and assorted cleaning jags and obviously the cleaning rods, but I’ve got picks and screwdrivers and greases, toothbrushes, more 30-cal brushes than I can count, and it offers me a nice place to go ahead and kind of stash all of my little cleaning items down in here.

– In case you can’t see it in frame, he’s got a silicon rag, some patches, stuff like that.

Guys, those are all good tools.

I do want to hit on this.

An understated cleaning item is the simple q-tip that you can find in your neighborhood drug store.

Q-tips are fantastic.

I mean, I know a lot of military people that keep just a bunch of q-tips to clean their guns.

– I’ll tell you why.

When I was trained on how to clean the M16, q-tips are part of that.

We use them to clean out the, if you’re in the military, it’s referred to as a star chamber, the locking legs on the M16 uppers, and the gas tubes, they just fit really nicely in there.

That is how they train us how to do it.

– Very cool. – How they did.

– I’m sure they probably still do that.

You know, q-tips are inexpensive, and I’m sure for the military, with the discount they get by buying them by the million, that they still do that.

Probably, don’t quote me.

– Yes, and I didn’t bring any of them with me, but they actually produce long swabs.

They look like the ones the doctor sticks down your throat when he’s checking you for strep throat.

– Sure, I’ve seen them.

Obviously, I don’t have military service, guys, so I rely a lot on Patrick for input from that, but I’ve seen the swabs he’s talking about.

They’re just basically like q-tips.

There’s also a product in the market called RamRodz – that you might have seen – Very similar.

– Yeah, but they’re for the bore of a gun, and if you want to saturate your bore with maybe some sort of copper solvent, it’s actually a pretty good idea.

– No, it’s not bad. – I like that.

– It’s not bad, but I’m going to go through some of the oils and stuff that I’ve got in here.

I keep a little can of FrogLube in here.

I admittedly have not used it yet, but I think we were talking about doing a bit of a torture test on the Tantal by packing this into the action and sticking it into a cooler with some dry ice to simulate cold weather, since we live in Texas, and there is none here.

– You know, another cool thing about that, that product right there, FrogLube, I believe it’s owned by a veteran.

– I believe so.

– Yeah, which is neat, and I know, actually, a manufacturer that uses it as their primary.

Yes, it smells like Pepto Bismol, kind of.

– No, it smells like Wintergreen gum.

– Well, okay.

– Apparently, that’s food safe.

– Wow, well, I wouldn’t eat it, but you know.

It’s a good product, guys.

FrogLube, the praises are sung by many people.

– Actually, I just noticed on the package it’s owned by a service-disabled veteran.

– Well, there you go.

So that answers that. – [Patrick] So, you know, we appreciate what you do. – [Alex] Shout out to the people at FrogLube.

Absolutely, guys, so it’s a good product, not only by its own right, but the people who own it from what I understand are very good people.

They back the product.

It’s got a very good following in the Internet.

I’m sure if you had a problem and you said, “Hey, man, your product didn’t work out for me.” They’d listen to you and they’d take that.

– You know, speaking of FrogLube, CJ was using it in his M16.22 upper, and he put like 1,000-1,500 rounds through it in an afternoon.

– Yeah, we have a friend, a friend with a full auto registered lower, and he has a.22 upper, and as you guys know, .22 runs a little dirtier. – Yes.

– He uses that exclusively, and when you shoot.22, since it’s cheap, of course this guy goes through thousands and thousands of rounds.

– [Patrick] It’s ridiculous, he’ll go through a bucket.

in a few hours. – [Alex] Yeah, I’ve seen him shoot a bucket, get a rag, wipe it off, and the part’s clean. – [Patrick] Yup.

– [Alex] And I’m just like, whoa, that’s something else.

– Yeah, but him merely applying it is a little bit painstaking, that’s why I haven’t dove into it yet, but moving on, no cleaning kit is complete without some Hoppe’s #9.

I keep a small bottle in here, and then I think I’ve got a couple pints at home that I just refill the small bottle with.

I am a CLP guy, as of right now.

Unfortunately, it worked for me when I was in the military.

It works for me now.

I don’t see any reason to change, but I do plan on testing out some other stuff, like I was sent a snake oil prime sample, and we’re going to try that out at some point.

– I’m skeptical of a product called snake oil.

I don’t know why. – [Patrick] Righfully so.

– [Alex] I’m sure it’ll be fun to see, but Hoppe’s or as I think they want it pronounced, Hopees, but I’ve never heard it called Hopees in my life.

– Tell you what, I’m going to keep saying it like hops.

– I’m going to keep saying hops.

Extra syllable, nah.

Nobody has time for that.

– No. – Yeah, so anyways, but let’s keep rolling here.

– Yeah, and I’ve got a ton of patches.

I clean with gloves, I don’t know about you guys, but I really don’t like cleaning the carbon off of my hands, so I keep a little package of gloves inside the box.

I mean, that’s really about it.

It’s a pretty standard kit.

It’s just a little bit more comprehensive than most of them, and I put forth the effort to make sure it was nice and organized, so when I do break it out to clean something, I don’t have to spend a lot of time hunting for bits and pieces.

– And that’s a good idea.

How much would you estimate you have in this box total? – You know, I’m willing to bet maybe $120 total.

– Okay. – And that’s to include the big bottle of CLP, I mean, cleaning rods aren’t cheap.

If you priced them out, I think I paid $20 for this, almost a decade ago.

– It’s taken you a long time to accumulate all this, of course.

– Some of it, yes, but honestly, most of it’s relatively new.

– Okay, yeah, so that’s good stuff, guys.

He’s got a really nice kit here, and you could piece it together.

If you have a ritual, the tackle box idea is a good idea.

Maybe you have products that you prefer.

There’s no reason you couldn’t think, “Hey, I want all my products in one convenient place.

“I go out hunting, I want to have some extra parts “in case something breaks.” A lot of AR guys keep things like- – I keep a bolt and firing pin.

– People say, a bolt never breaks.

Well, you know what, the other weekend we were out shooting, – I broke a bolt.

– He broke a bolt and we had to replace it.

– That’s the second bolt I’ve broken in 6 months.

– There you go. (laughs) When you’re hard on your gun, we’re lucky in that we get to do a lot of testing and stuff for TFB, and TFB TV.

When you shoot a lot, and not to say you guys don’t, but when you shoot all kinds of crazy stuff that we get to test and stuff, stuff breaks.

It happens, – [Patrick] It does, and admittedly, we have so much going on for you guys that sometimes I don’t devote the time I should to my own firearms, and I kind of neglect them.

You know I do. – Sure.

– That’s because we want to go ahead and provide content for you guys, and it kind of takes away from my time to take care of my stuff.

– You know, shooting’s more fun than cleaning.

– [Patrick] I agree. – It all comes down to that.

– [Patrick] I’m making excuses, I think.

– All right, so you guys have heard us talk a little bit about the products we use.

We want to kind of break our cleaning rituals down a little bit. Patrick, go ahead.

– Yeah, our cleaning rituals are pretty much the same.

We do things a little bit differently, but I start off with a brass brush, and I’ll dip it in my little container of Hoppe’s, and kind of ram it back and forth until I feel like it’s probably scrubbed clean enough to go ahead and run a dry patch through.

I’ll do that until it comes out dry, and then I’ll run another patch soaked with Hoppe’s, and then do another dry patch until it comes out dry again, and then follow it up with a CLP patch, and then I’ll put one clean patch through the bore to go ahead and kind of soak up the excess oil.

That’s pretty much my bore ritual.

Now, after that, it’s just a lot of CLP, toothbrushes, and q-tips, and then depending on whether it’s a handgun or not, I may go ahead and break out some of my grease or some CLP, depending on what I’m cleaning.

I think your ritual’s fairly similar.

– You know, pretty much the same, guys.

Brass brush, I run it through several times.

I use a John Dewey cleaning rod.

These are great rods.

They seem to have a fiberglass shaft, and then whatever attachment you put on the end of it.

I’ll run a brass brush with Hoppe’s on there, and then I’ll use CLP plus a bore snake.

Bore snakes are basically just, you know.

– It’s kind of a rope with some brass brush weaved into it. – [Alex] Exactly.

I’ll saturate the front and the rear with CLP, run it through several times, and then I’ll push a CLP-saturated patch through to make sure I got everything.

That way, you can see on the patch how much you’ve done.

The last thing I have to say, the last patch, when it comes out clean, you’re pretty much good, but I did put brake cleaner with a question mark.

Now, this is gun scrubber.

It’s basically the same thing as brake cleaner.

– Yeah, yeah, and you know, actually, sometimes I do use non-chlorinated brake cleaner.

– Absolutely, no question about it.

– I don’t want to spend the money on that, so I generally go ahead and buy- – Realistically, go to your auto parts store, get some non-chlorinated brake cleaner, and it’s the same thing.

This just happens to be convenient.

It’s in an aerosol can with a straw here.

Spray off some parts you’re worried about, maybe that you can’t get into quite right.

Get a q-tip after you follow up with this, if you can.

I mean, it does the trick.

It’s a great product.

– As a matter of fact, I use that to clean the 10/22 after we took it out and shot it.

– Yeah, and oftentimes, high-pressure brake cleaner or high-pressure gun scrubber really blasts out a lot of the dirt and grime.

– But you do have to be careful not to get it on any wood finishes or anything like that, because it can damage finishes if you’re not careful.

– There is a synthetic safe version which I would highly recommend over the traditional version because I’ve had some polymer melt before as a result.

So be careful with that, guys, but anyways, that’s kind of our insights on cleaning.

Some of you guys are definitely more experienced than us and we’d like to hear your feedback.

Maybe post your ritual below.

– Yeah, post your ritual. Tell us what you use.

What do you prefer? – Absolutely, and if you have an alternative to the tackle box or something like that, – The tactile box.

– the tactile box, sorry, if you have an alternative, I’d like to hear it.

It seems like the apex of convenience to me, but maybe there’s, maybe you have a Ghostbusters lunchbox from the ’80s that you use.

– That would be pretty cool.

– That would be pretty rad, but anyways, guys, thanks for listening to our spiel here on cleaning products.

I know it’s not the most exciting thing we’ve probably done.

We appreciate you nonetheless, guys.

If you like what you saw, subscribe – Drop us a comment.

– [Alex] Yeah, drop a comment. – Give us a thumbs up, whatever you like.

– Yeah, subscribe, and also I would be interested in letting the, if you have any tricks or tips, let us know.

– If you’d like to hear more about my cleaning box, go ahead and drop a comment, I might go ahead and do a write-up on it.

Other than that, I’m Patrick R.

– I’m Alex C.

Thanks for watching TFB TV, guys.

We sincerely appreciate.



Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • Paladin

    Hoppes #9 for bolt action/revolver/shotgun. Dishwasher for MSR’s/other pistols. Dishwasher may not be field expedient (and don’t put anything with a wooden stock in there), but good to do every once in a while. It goes without saying but make sure everything is bone dry before reassembly, then light coat of CLP or equivalent.

    • Andy B

      Holy sh*t. I never thought of using the dishwasher. Do you just use normal dishwasher soap when you run your stuff through? Normal cycle? Or one of the “tough srcub” cycles?

      • Andy B

        Scrub, not srcub.

      • Paladin

        I dont use soap actually. Just the hottest and most powerful setting it allows. I can’t see how a soap like Dawn or something would hurt though if ya got some bad carbon buildup.
        Ya may also wanna run an empty cycle afterwards depending on how clean your dishwasher keeps itself, in order to prevent a funky taste on your dishes later.

        • Andy B

          Thanks man. I may have to try that.

    • Slim934

      Just to clarify, you actually run your rifles/pistols (the ones with no wood stock) through a dishwasher cycle? If so, could you kind of expand on how you setup the cycles and whatnot?

      • Paladin

        Just disassemble everything to a reasonable level. For an MSR i just stick to -10 level maintenance ( separate upper and lower receivers, remove buffer and spring, remove charging handle, remove and dissasemble BCG). Make sure and put all the small components (cam pin, firing pin, cotter keys, etc) in a mesh tray or keeper that will contain them, if your dishwasher doesn’t have one, and ya cant find one at a store, I would recommend not running them through the dishwasher.

        Then set it to its hottest and most powerful setting. basically ya are steam cleaning the weapon. So if a have a super soft rubber grip or something similar ya may want to remove that too. you also may need to remove a tray in order to stand the upper and lower receivers up, so that the jets can actually get in there (I think all dishwashers have vertical jets anyway).

  • iksnilol

    WHAT IS IT WITH AR GUYS AND BOLTS BREAKING. Seriously, if your boklt breaks there is something seriously wrong (most likely with the bolt).

    Regarding cleaning, I have used bits of everything. Diesel and motor oil works well. Crude, but effective.

    • nova3930

      Every AR bolt out there will eventually break due to high cycle fatigue. There’s only an issue if it happens at low round counts. A good quality bolt made of the appropriate steel should last a minimum of 5000 rounds….

      • Generally, I think replace the bolt with the barrel. Um, or if a lug shears off.

        • nova3930

          I agree. 5k is the bare minimum If absolutely everything goes wrong. MRBF for most bolts should be higher than the barrel life. The army did some analysis to determine why some bolts were failing at that approx round count and found it to be a combination of micro pitting at the base of the lugs and a timing issue due to gas port erosion. The pitting induces a stress concentration at the base of the lug and the timing issue induces a torsional load on the lug driving the stress at that point even higher. Which adds up to the common failure mode of sheared lugs.

          • Yeah, if we’re going to throw in rifles that aren’t made right, we can cite some pretty gnarly examples in just about any firearm.

    • They shoot a lot more than you do.

      Iks, stuff breaks. Eventually, everything breaks. AK bolts will break.

      An aside, I’ve heard another criticism of the AR-15 (not from you, I don’t think): The action spring wears out and needs to be replaced. It’s a spring, springs wear out. Russian springs are not made of a magical material that prevents them from wearing out. It’s entirely coincidental that I was just talking about this earlier today with my SO (my Colt’s action spring is finally giving up the ghost, providing the prompt).

      Back on topic, the AR-15’s bolt fails very gracefully. It’s not recommended, but if you shear a lug, you can continue to use the rifle. A good friend of mine’s rifle in Iraq had three shorn lugs, and continued to function mostly OK (it was an unreliable dog, but it didn’t explode). This was obviously an extreme case, but it illustrates how forgiving the AR-15’s bolt design is.

      • iksnilol

        I didn’t want to turn this into AR vs. AK but AK bolts fail way less often (they do fail tho). If your bolt doesn’t last 10k rounds then you need a higher quality bolt.

        Also, of course springs wear out. Not even Kraut space magic can prevent that. Though in the case of the AK you can just use rubber bands so… No problem?

        • AR bolts will usually last as long as the barrel (circa 10-15,000 rounds).

          • nova3930

            Just as an off the cuff SWAG with no calculations, the locking lugs on an AK appear oversized for the bolt thrust of both 7.62×39 and 5.45×39. Larger lugs for the force they see results in lower stress. Cycles to failure due to fatigue is a function of average stress so lower stress means a longer life span. Kinda explains why there are some AK muskets out there with what appear to be original bolts…

            The downside to the robustness being that you’re carrying around more weight than you actually need. But if you’re Russia, grabbing some kid off the farm and handing him a rifle with minimal training and the admonition “go kill enemies of motherland” it makes perfect sense. Who cares is Mr. Draftee has to carry an extra 3 or 4 lbs of rifle…

          • The actual engagement area is less than an AR’s, believe it or not. The right lug is huge, but doesn’t engage all the way. The left lug is pretty modest in size; it’s the one most likely to shear.

      • n0truscotsman

        That is actually one of my criticisms of the AK family.
        When barrels are worn, they are more difficult to replace than AR barrels. The AR is quite convenient when it comes to parts replacements, to include the barrel. This does go back to the philosphy of the AK design though.
        Im curious if the AK12 addresses this issue with a barrel that is easier to replace…

        • I am curious about the AK-12, too.

          The AK was designed around an older paradigm. Worse, sure, but valid in its own day. AR-15s offer a lot more in the configurability/maintenance department than AKs do, but each has its own charms.

    • n0truscotsman

      My AR and AK cleaning kit is comprised of the following:
      -Clean Bore cable w/ patches
      -Small dispenser with synthetic motor oil
      -Small tube of high temperature wheel bearing grease (red stuff)
      -Rag

      I clean with the motor oil, wipe parts off, re-grease, shoot. Simplicity. Cheap too.

      I replace bolts every 10k rounds. Ive only done this with one carbine of mine. With a 10.5″ barrel, its 5k rounds, alongside the barrel.

      • A tin of wheel bearing grease can literally last you a lifetime of shooting nothing but ARs. Great choice.

  • Paul White

    I feel like an idiot for not using a tackle box before this. Adding that to the shopping list.

  • MountainKelly

    I’ve become a big fan of Hornady One Shot. Cleans well, decent lube too. Proven very resistant to surface rust as well

  • They didn’t talk about it, but my list of cleaning supplies is in the video, too. For those that missed it, here it is:

    • Y-man

      LOL!
      I got you!
      I totally KNOW what you did there! 6 hours and no one has understood that your list of cleaning supplies is ZERO!

      • I’m only mostly joking. 😉 For nice commercial guns, like my SO’s CZ 527, I insist on regular cleaning after every range trip. That’s just good sense, to keep the gun in good shape so it can be passed down.

        Military firearms, or derivatives? They don’t need to be cleaned so often, if you’re not staking your life on them.

      • Oh, also, my actual cleaning supplies suggestions:

        1. Solvent. Hoppes #9 is the classic and works great, but I got a tub of Barnes CR-10 bore solvent and it’s been working great.

        2. Store brand “facial cleansing pads” as patches. One pad, cut up, gives you like four or five bores worth of cleaning.

        3. Eezox and Rem-Oil as preservatives. Eezox is good for long term storage. Apply it over the gun liberally if you’re going to throw it in the trunk in the humid South for 6 months, works great. Don’t use this product indoors, really, don’t. My big reservation with Eezox is that it’s pretty aggressive, and I’d rather use simple oil on guns that have fine finishes. For those, and for guns that are parkerized and just need to soak up some oil, I use Rem-Oil.

        4. 1 part Ballistol/10 parts water for flushing corrosive salts.

        5. TW-25B for a lubricant. Really, for casual shooting just about anything – including motor oil – works great as a lubricant. I’ve found that TW-25B sticks to the gun longer and requires fewer applications of less lube than other lubricants I’ve tried. It also works very well in cold weather, I found. I have shot AR-15s lubed with it at temperatures below zero.

        6. Keep spare parts in your cleaning kit. I’ll use the AR-15 as an example, but this goes for anything. Steadily accumulate a collection of spare action springs, extractor springs, extractors, gas tubes, hammer springs, FCG pins, a bolt or two, anything that’s liable to break and that is readily replaced in the field. It might not be your gun that breaks; if someone else’s extractor spring goes out, you can really save their day by tossing them a new one. They may not even know that’s what’s causing the problem, and to step in, not only with a verbal solution, but an actual physical one, is a great feeling for both of you.

        Hopefully this adds to Patrick’s and Alex’s hard work, and helps give newer shooters a starting point for building their own cleaning kits.

  • Grindstone50k

    Nice video. I use a .50 cal can to hold most of my cleaning utensils other than rifle rods. I’ve got over a thousand cotton patches in a plastic beef jerky bin. I’m pretty happy with that set up.

  • Phillip Cooper

    TLDR.

    Seriously, it was like transposing the Rain Man’s ramblings…

  • Colonel Angus

    I want my 3 minutes back that I just wasted watching these guys go over the title of the video.

  • R H

    In my experience, I just don’t like using harsh solvents. I much prefer Ballistol for my guns, and it works like a dream. I keep a bottle of Hoppes in the kit, but I really hate cleaning my guns outdoors and I refuse to use that stuff inside. I did a full clean on an AK with it when I first bought it (used) because it was filthy. Ever since then I have just cleaned it like all of my other firearms with Ballistol. You really can’t say enough about a product that cleans as well as it does, protects from rust, leaves a nice slick surface, and makes subsequent cleanings much easier. Plus one of the biggest advantages to Ballistol is that it is actually good for your wood and leather. I’ve actually cleaned my boots with it before, and in Germany there is a “medical grade” version of it that is used to treat bed sores in hospitals. The day I bought my first can an old vet stopped me at the counter and told me that his sergeant in Vietnam used “the same thing” to treat trench foot (honestly I have no clue how true that story was, but after reading the part about treating bed sores it seems plausible). My point is that it’s kind of a product that truly has “1001 uses”. I know I sound like an infomercial but I truly believe in the stuff!