In my younger days, in cleaning my guns I made do with a cheap aluminum segmented cleaning rod I found on sale, some Hoppe’s #9, and cloth patches torn out of old bed sheets to clean my artillery. They were lubed afterward with anything that said “gun oil” on the can. Being mostly self-taught, I didn’t even use a bore brush until Uncle Sam provided one and his designated rep insisted I use it in August of 1972.

Since then, we have more choices for specialized maintenance products. From small single-caliber individual range bag kits on up to larger self-contained kits intended to service several weapons, it can pay to shop around and match one to your needs. After a one-day qualifier or every night after a three-day gun course, keeping your tools clean keeps them running, and if you keep them in the game they’ll be more likely to keep you in the game.

For casual use or full-blown out-of-town training sessions where your guns are pushed hard and you’re far from your regular maintenance station, the right support gear can make a genuine difference — both portable and practical for home and away.

brownellsBrownells Samson Field Survivor
Brownells carries Samson’s new Field Survivor multi-tool for AR-15s. This palm-sized armorer’s kit combines several different tools and functions in a space small enough to store in the standard A2 pistol grip, should it be needed on the range or in the field. It includes a straight-blade screwdriver, firing pin retaining pin removal hook, carbon scraper, oil ampoule, broken shell extractor, magazine feed lip gauge, and a serrated base with slot to realign damaged magazine lips. The kit goes on to feature two spare firing pin retaining pins, a half-inch hex “wrench” on the base for adjusting accessories, steel pull-through cleaning cable, a .223 bore brush and a front sight adjustment tool.

Constructed of stainless steel and polymer, the unit slips up inside the grip and tightens in place via an O-ring compression lock arrangement by twisting the base to tighten or loosen the fit. $119 covers a lot in a tool that travels anywhere your A2-handled AR goes. Check it out at Brownells,

gunslickGunslick Snap-N-Pull
I’d estimate that the number of small diameter aluminum jointed rifle cleaning rods in this great nation has to be at least 20 million. Of those, maybe 294 still have usable non-chewed-up threads on all segments, and it’s possible that 40 or so could even be relatively straight (thicker rods giving better odds). Not knocking them unduly, they are inexpensive, light in weight, break down to a transportable length and they do work (I have four or five myself). But we can do better and still stay compact.

Gunslick’s Snap-N-Pull Quick Barrel Cleaning System uses a version of the increasingly popular cable that pulls a brush or a patch through the barrel from the chamber end, instead of pushing them through from the muzzle end. A good cable has several advantages over a segmented alloy rod, the most important being that it pulls gunk away from the action instead of pushing gunk towards it. It also doesn’t damage the muzzle crown as easily as a rod does when inserted from the front. It coils compactly for storage or carry and it rarely strips threads or breaks inside a bore. Better quality brass and steel rods are less temperamental than aluminum, but the cable requires less hassle than rods that need to be assembled, and takes up less space than one-piece rods that don’t.

This Gunslick kit comes with its own zippered nylon case that stores the cable, T-handle, patches, Ultra Care cleaner and lube, caliber-specific brushes, slotted tip, and mops, all of which attach quickly using Gunslick’s Snap-Lock technology. Sized to fit in a cargo pants pocket and in several calibers to cover popular law enforcement rifles, handguns, and shotguns, the kits each sell for $29. For more information, contact Onalaska Operations (Gunslick), 800-635-7656;

hoppesHoppe’s Premium Universal Field Cleaning Kit
Stepping up for a more complete kit to cover more than one gun or caliber, it’s back to Hoppe’s for their Premium Universal Field Cleaning Kit. Packed into a larger black nylon zipper bag with carry handles, $67 buys you a three-piece solid brass cleaning rod, three slotted ends, two adaptors, five different caliber phosphor bronze bore brushes, four different size cotton patches, and one phosphor bronze toothbrush. The kit also comes complete with Hoppe’s gun oil, good old #9 solvent, a silicone cleaning cloth, a bore light, and even a 12×36-inch fold-out cleaning mat.

The rod included is too thick for a .22 caliber bore, but it’s adaptable to rifles and handguns. The case features internal pockets with plenty of room to expand contents and add a .223 segmented rod or cable and additional stocks of brushes and patches. As is, the universal kit covers .30 caliber bores on up to 12 gauge shotguns and is easily customizable to service just about any combination of duty weapons you run at work —short of a .50 BMG. Still not too big to drop into a range bag, it’s just as useful for concentrating a fully equipped kit in one spot at home. Get it at Bushnell Outdoor Products (Hoppe’s), 800-423-3537;

IOSSO offers an alternative to the usual bronze brushes and liquid bore cleaners with their Nyflex bore and chamber brushes. A more flexible fiber, these brushes can scrub both ways inside a barrel. While that’s not recommended with metallic bristle brushes, the Nyflex brushes are less harsh and work with less cumulative wear to rifling. The $17 AR-15 Brush Kit shown includes chamber brush, upper receiver brush, bolt carrier brush and bore brush, all tightly wound around a twisted brass shaft sized to fit 8/32-inch cleaning rods and dimensioned to tightly fit their intended nooks and crannies. These are not cheap plastic bristles; they’re stiff and quite aggressive for serious use.

IOSSO recommends running a patch or two of their Eliminator Gun Oil through a bore to help loosen fouling, then a dab of their Bore Cleaner paste on the fiber brush, and passing it through the bore eight to 10 times, followed by dry patches until you get a clean one. Prices are $6.35 for the oil and $6.85 for the bore cleaner. Used correctly, these products can reduce the mess, and IOSSO also produces a similar fiber brush set for AR-10s. Go to IOSSO Products, 847-437-8400;

gerberGerber eFECT tool
Gerber’s new eFECT is an interesting weapons maintenance tool. The tool intended primarily for the Military M4/M16, works just as well for the ARs. You get a 4-ounce multi-tool with a flat pin- punch blade, scraper blade, flat screwdriver blade, removable sight adjusting tool (with four prongs on one end and five on the other), removable curved wire pick and removable small bristle brush.

The hinged arm that holds the sight tool is magnetized to retrieve small parts or to hold them while working on a rifle. In a collaboration between Gerber and Otis, the two arms that hold the screw-out pick and brush are compatible with several different Otis small cleaning components should you prefer them instead.

Each arm and blade locks into place with a spring-loaded wedge lock when fully extended. The tool comes with a sturdy digital camo pouch adaptable to either belt or MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) carry. Without the pouch, the tool can also fit inside the trapdoor of a conventional M4-type fixed buttstock. Learn more at GerberGear, 800-445-4871;

streamlightStreamlight Stylus Reach
The invention of the bore light was a welcome thing to those of us who used to drop burning matches down our bores to see what they looked like inside. Yet most simply use a short section of rigid fiber optic bent at an angle, and that means limited utility. Streamlight’s Stylus Reach takes the idea to a new level by attaching a 100,000-hour solid-state white LED light at the business end of a 6-inch section of flexible steel cable. Running off three AAAA’s in the main stylus body, the unit lasts roughly 60 hours without needing new batteries.

The combined length of the reach is 14 inches, providing two switching options (momentary contact by pushing the tailcap button or constant on by rotating the tailcap to the right), and the head can be clamped to the body for storage or transport to cut its length in half. It can also clip inside a pocket like a pen.

This little Streamlight can be bent or twisted to light up places inside rifles and handguns that you never even knew existed, and for checking internal conditions and cleaning applications it’s a bargain at less than $20. Learn more at Streamlight, 800-523-7488;

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