Part of gun ownership is gun maintenance to keep everything clean and in working order and knowing a few quick and easy tris can make the process a whole lot easier!
So to help save you some time and frustration, along with a lot of wasted money on cleaning products, here are some cheap and easy hacks that will help in your gun cleaning routine!
Buy a couple of solvent transfer bulbs or squeeze bottles to apply solvent to patches and brushes.
Transfer bulbs are plastic bulbs with a long spout. You can suction up solvents into the bulb and this allows putting just the right amount right where you want it.
Most important, it prevents contaminating the solvent by dipping brushes or patches into the jar. You can buy these bulbs from lab supply houses and some hardware and art/hobby shops.
Midway sells a nice squeeze bottle with a long spout:
Using a bulb or bottle you can push a bore brush or patch into the barrel, then give it a shot of solvent. This keeps the solvent where it needs to be, in just the right amount, and without dripping it all over the place. You also waste a lot less solvent.
To apply a thin coat of lube to a gun to prevent rust, pick up a couple of soft toothbrushes. Apply a few drops of a good rust preventing product like CLP Breakfree to the brush, then "scrub" the surfaces to leave a very thin coating.
This ensures a coating even in hard to reach crevices where normal methods fail.
Wash the brushes often in a solvent to keep them clean.
Make your own silicone wipe down cloths.
Most people use silicone cloths FAR longer than they should until the cloth is black with dirt. That dirt includes grit that scratches finishes.
Due to the cost people just keep using them way too long. Instead, go to a fabric shop or many Walmart's and buy a couple of yards of cheap white cotton flannel fabric. Also, buy auto store spray cans of silicone. Cut the cloth into about 12x12 inch size, take them outside and spray them dripping wet with the silicone. Allow to dry and store in a plastic Ziplock bag.
When the cloth begins to look dirty, just throw it away and make a new one.
Make sure to buy automotive type spray silicone NOT the environmentally "friendly" type. That type uses water as part of the propellant and that will cause the cloth to mildew horribly in the bag.
Another use for cotton flannel cloth is to cut your own cleaning patches.
Just use scissors to cut whatever size patches you want and store in plastic bags.
To remove heavy carbon from gas pistons or muzzle attachments, try an aggressive copper solvent like Shooter's Choice Extra Strength.
I always used a carbon remover like Slip 2000 Carbon Killer to try to clean the muzzle brake on my AK-74. I'd pack the brake and the gas block with a paper towel and soak it with the Slip 2000 and let it soak for hours, removing the fouled paper toweling and repeating for several days. It would never come clean even though the brake and block are hard chrome plated, and would remain black inside. Once just as an experiment I tried some Shooter's Choice Extra Strength Copper Remover and was very surprised when it cleaned the parts down to the hard chrome lining, removing virtually all the carbon.
For revolver shooters, even if you only fire jacketed bullets you should still buy a Lewis Lead Remover kit from Brownell's. This kit is THE way to remove lead from the bore, but the kit also includes a special cone-shaped tip that is used to clean off the critical forcing cone at the rear of the barrel and is the only way to really get it clean.
Even if you're shooting all jacketed bullets, the Lewis kit will clean the buildup of copper and carbon off the forcing cone. A fouled forcing cone can contribute to cracked barrels in the forcing cone, and was suspected of being a major contributor to the cracking problem with Magnum loads in the S&W "K" frame revolvers. A Lewis kit takes only a minute to clean the cone of the buildup and can prevent potential problems.
To clean revolver chambers buy a couple of BRONZE chamber cleaning brushes from Brownell's. These brushes are not only over-sized, they're made of a much stiffer bristle.These work far better than using over-caliber bore brushes.
These make short work of removing leading, carbon, and copper from chambers.
To use "screw" the brush into the chambers until about 1/2 of it is sticking out the front. Rotate the brush 2 to 3 full turns, push it all the way through and pull it back out. Usually, one pass like this will completely clean even heavy fouling.
DO NOT use stainless bore or chamber brushes. Stainless can damage bores and chambers and are intended for gunsmiths to use on barrels or chambers that are so bad you have nothing to lose.
To clean .22LR revolver chambers, use an AR-15 .223/5.56 bore brush.
These are larger than .22 bore brushes and are much stiffer. Again, usually, one pass will remove all fouling.
To protect your investment in an expensive gun, don't use hardware store screwdrivers. These are notorious for damaging screw slots, a sure sign of a gun butcher.
Instead, invest in a set of Brownell's Magna-Tip gunsmith's screwdrivers.
These are the best quality made and are the industry standard.
Brownell's offer more sizes than anyone and they're American made.
Damage a bit, and all you must do is email Brownell's and they'll send you a new bit FREE.
Brownell's also sold individual bit sets for specific guns, like 4 bits to fit all S&W revolver screws, or a set to fit all Colt Single Action Army screws. I recommend buying a "law enforcement" size screwdriver handle from Brownell's. These are the perfect size for the best control. Since these are cheap enough, buy both a magnetic and a clip-tip retention handle, you'll find need of both.
Due to the quality of the Brownell's driver sets, they're expensive, but it's a case of "Buy once, cry once" because you'll only have to buy them once, for a lifetime of use.
Start off with gun-specific bits and add to them as you need them if you can't afford a Master set.
For cleaning rods, buy either uncoated one-piece stainless steel or carbon fiber.
Screw-together rods and rods made of brass or aluminum are infamous for damaging barrels.
This is counterintuitive. You'd think that a soft metal rod made of brass or aluminum would be better, being softer than steel.
The truth is, that grit can embed into the soft rod and will scratch or abrade gun barrels and the delicate muzzle.
Coated rods are falling out of favor because the coating scrapes and peels off and you have to buy a new one too soon.
Carbon fiber is finding favor because it's either perfectly straight or it's broken.
Dewey one-piece rods seem to be the default standard. If you have pistols or rifles that have to be cleaned from the muzzle end, buy brass muzzle guides.
These slip over the cleaning rod and guide and protect the muzzle.
Bore snakes are controversial.
Bore snakes were originally marketed for use as a field expedient cleaner for use in deer camps or in the field where you couldn't carry a rod. They were intended to be used a couple of times then thrown away. They were never intended to be washed and used over and over. The material they're made of will deteriorate and weaken over time and washing. Sooner or later a bore snake will break off in the barrel.
It's natural to quickly grab the other end and try to pull it back out.
Unfortunately, the brass bristles can't flex backward and the other end of the snake breaks off, leaving you with a plugged bore.
I once contacted several bore snake makers and asked what the procedure was to extract a jammed snake.They informed me that they HAD no recommended method of getting a stuck snake out. This problem with breaking off is much worse in small bore barrels like the AR-15. These snakes are much smaller and weaker.
Another issue with the snakes is that each time you pull one through the barrel, you're dragging the fouling right back through the barrel. This is sort of like taking a shower with your clothes on.
In any case, a bore snake cannot get a gun barrel as clean as a rod, brush, and patches. You can use a snake, but often you need to give it a thorough cleaning with the rod. Also, don't continue washing and reusing it too long. Again, they were intended to be disposable.
To remove leading, copper, and carbon fouling from revolver cylinders and gas pistons in rifles and shotguns, use a "Lead-Away" cloth.
These stiff cloths are sold under several brand names in most gun shops.
To remove leading from the face of a revolver or from a gas piston, just rub the area with the cloth and it strips the fouling right off.
WARNING: These cloths also strip BLUING right off...Use ONLY on stainless steel or hard chrome.
For badly fouled barrels, especially old military rifles, buy a jar of JB Bore Paste from Brownell's. This is a super-fine non-embedding abrasive that was discovered by bench rest shooters to get a bore absolutely clean. This won't harm a bore and will significantly speed up getting a barrel clean.
Many people remove the grips from a pistol and are shocked to find rust and pitting, even on stainless steel guns. This is especially a problem with rubber grips. Sweat and moisture seep under and corrode the metal.
To prevent this, take the grips off and apply a medium-heavy coat of Johnson's Paste Wax to the areas covered by the grips. Don't wipe the wax off, let it dry for 30 minutes, then replace the grips. The wax will seal the metal and shed moisture and sweat. Oils and greases tend to flow away or soak into wood grips. Wax will stay put. If the grips are wood you can apply wax to the inside of them too, but don't apply wax to rubber grips. Buy Johnson's Paste Wax in big yellow cans at most any hardware store and some grocery and Walmart stores.
Johnson's Wax is also the preferred treatment and preservative for modern holsters and gun belts. Unlike dressings and oils the wax protects without soaking in and discoloring or softening the leather. Unlike older types of holsters, modern holsters are intended to be very stiff, so you don't want them to be softened because that allows the leather to stretch and that ruins it.