Carbon, copper and lead all can build up in a bore, and can destroy accuracy. Sometimes, depending on if you are shooting black powder or substitutes or old military surplus ammo, you might even encounter bore-destroying affects as well.
The bottom line is that you need the best bore cleaner you can find, but bore cleaners seem to be a mix of superstition and science. After consulting with a voodoo priest and a chemist, though, we think we’ve moved past both of those issues and are pleased to offer up the 4 top bore cleaners for your consideration.
Hoppes No. 9
- Hoppe's No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaning Solvent, 1-Quart Bottle
- Price: $14.07
- Price as of 04/14/2021 17:48 PDT(more info about ad)
Well, of course, we’d put the famous Hoppes No. 9 on the list. Cleaning bores since 1903, this is the gold standard for bore cleaners. Capable of taking out lead or copper fouling, neutralizing corrosive salts from old military surplus ammo, and suitable for most all firearms, generations of soldiers, sportsmen, and knowledgeable shooters have depended on Hoppes No. 9, so shouldn’t you?
The secret of course is a mix of ammonia and light protecting oil that cleans and protects your bore. Many users report successfully busting even stubborn lead deposits with the venerable No. 9, so shouldn’t you take a cue from millions of happy customers and get some yourself?
Gunslick Foaming Bore Cleaner
This is a serious bore cleaner for badly fouled bores. I’ve used it myself on second-hand guns or old surplus guns or just filthy, nasty bores and have found it is a marvelous bore cleaner. The foaming action gets the powerful cleaning chemicals inside every nook and cranny (which is also why you don’t want to use it on an AR-15, because it will clog the gas tube) and allows a solid soak time.
Follow the instructions on the bottle, and you’ll find that you scrub an unholy amount of fouling from your bore. Remember to clean up carefully afterwards because the high ammonia concentration can damage metal if left in contact with bare steel for too long. Use this if you need to clean the most stubborn guns or like a good solid deep down clean. Whichever its use, this is hands down one of the best bore cleaners on the market.
Hoppes Boresnake Venom Cleaner
Boresnakes are an increasingly popular way to clean your guns and for good reason. They are simple, combine a brush and patch in the same scrubbing action and do not have the same risk of damaging your barrel like a traditional cleaning rod can.
Naturally, the good folks at Hoppes designed a special bore cleaner/solvent that is designed to work well with the unique properties of boresnakes. Use this bore cleaner when you want to do more than a quick pass through/scrub, and find out how well you can really clean your gun with a boresnake.
Hoppes Black Powder Bore Cleaner and Patch Lube
- Hoppe's No. 9 Black Powder Gun Bore Cleaner and Patch Lubricant, 8 oz. Bottle
- Price: $8.47
- Price as of 04/14/2021 17:48 PDT(more info about ad)
Cleaning up after black powder or black powder substitutes is quite frankly a messy and unappealing task. Some use boiling hot water, others scrub and scrub away. Smart shooters use Hoppes No. 9 Black Powder Bore Cleaner.
No matter if you shoot a muzzeloader or black powder cartridges, you are stuck with a mess at the end of a shooting session, so you might as well clean up with something designed specifically to clear the nasty, bore-destroying carbon deposits that build up. As a bonus, it also serves as a patch lubricant, making it a truly versatile and powerful bore cleaner and lube.
Why Choosing the Best Bore Cleaner Matters
There are many types of guns, bullets, propellants and types of bores. Some are chrome lined or treated with other corrosion resisting methods; others are stainless steel or simply untreated bare steel or even iron in older guns.
Lead, alloy bullets, copper jacketed bullets, black powder or substitutes, type of action, even the kind of primer, can all affect how dirty your bore is and how you have to clean it after a shooting session. Often, you can safely go for hundreds or thousands of rounds without affecting safety or accuracy in some modern firearms, and in other cases, it is beneficial to clean after nearly ever round. However, some things remain constant.
Black powder shooters will have to deal with lead fouling and the buildup of water absorbing carbon deposits, which can destroy bores if not cleaned after use. Modern black powder bore cleaners attack lead fouling and carbon buildup, while also leaving a bore protecting lubricating film behind.
Modern firearms have their own unique set of bore cleaning issues. If you are shooting lead bullets, you will eventually build up accuracy destroying lead deposits in your bore. These can be scrubbed away with mechanical force if addressed early on, but a good bore cleaner with its strong chemicals helps cut it even more.
Copper fouling is also a concern, and the traditional way of cleaning that is with ammonia based bore cleaners. Especially in modern semi-auto rifles where you can easily shoot hundreds or thousands of rounds in a long shooting session, copper-fouling reveals itself in short order. Clean every few hundred rounds or when accuracy suffers or after each range trip such as you feel is best.
Carbon fouling is not such a concern with modern propellants and mainly reveals itself in the action of gas-operated rifles. However, it does build up, and any effective bore cleaner will also cut carbon like a hot knife through butter.
The bottom line is any modern, highly rated products like the ones above can be called the best bore cleaner. Most are a mix of ammonia, light lubricant and detergents. The science is simple and settled, so there is no need to chase this year’s boy wonder bore cleaner. Stick with the tried and true bore cleaners and you will have a happy gun.
Owner of Reloaderaddict.com, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.