For hunters, competition target shooters, law enforcement and soldiers alike a well maintained gun is necessary to get the job done or save a life. Machines will break. There is no “can” in that equation for machines will break. The best way to prevent a catastrophic failure when the machine is needed most is to do routine cleaning and maintenance. In order to do that well, a complete gun cleaning kit is necessary.
There is really no good choice for an off-the-shelf gun cleaning kit that has everything. There are so many types of guns and so many calibers that a comprehensive kit that would cover them all would not be a popular item since consumers really only need tools to clean the guns they own. There is no need to have tools to clean a .50 caliber Barrett if all one owns is a few .22 pistols that he goes plinking with and a .30 caliber deer rifle.
The real complete gun cleaning kit you must have is one that is personally put together, but there are a few things that should be known before putting together the kit. First is having a safe place to clean a gun. Ideally a bench that is up against a concrete block wall would work well. A large plastic or wooden container packed with sand with a solid block wall backstop is good to have too.
This is to protect against the possibility of an accidental discharge of a firearm when cleaning. The container should be the object that the gun being cleaned should be pointed at when removing ammo, checking function after cleaning or reloading. Law enforcement and civilians with concealed carry permits will be reloading after cleaning a gun. A safe place to point the muzzle is good for pistols that have to have the trigger pulled before disassembly can occur such as Glock pistols. Sure, we know the gun is empty, but pointing it in a direction of an object that will absorb an accidental discharge is just a good common-sense safety practice.
The nitty-gritty of the gun cleaning kit can be acquired over time but should include the following products:
Wheeler Engineering Professional Gunsmithing Screwdriver Set
Wheeler FAT Wrench
Hoppe’s 9 Solvent (still the best for general cleaning)
Hoppe’s Copper Solvent
Remington’s Rem Oil both spray and bottle (proven Teflon based lubricant)
Hoppe’s Bore Snakes (great for shotguns)
Tipton’s Best Gun Vise
Tipton’s Deluxe Carbon Fiber Cleaning Rods & Rod Rack (if you have a wall to hang them on)
Tipton Jag & Bore Brushes, Slotted Tips & Mops
Sentry Solutions Tuf-Cloth, Tuf-Glide, Smooth-Kote, and Hi-Slip Grease (nothing better is available)
Lots of cotton swabs such as the Q-Tip brand
Small cleaning and applicator brushes
A couple of cheap toothbrushes
Plenty of gun cleaning swabs cut for all calibers that will be cleaned and lots of cleaning rags
Safety Goggles (recoil springs can blind a person in less than a second)
Bright work area light and a flashlight or flexlight for up close work
Magnifying glass (to look for flaws, fatigue or cracks in parts)
Another vital piece of equipment is a metal trash can that can be lined with a plastic grocery bag. This is to hold any disposable swab, rag or other item that is saturated with cleaning solvent or lubricants. At the end of each cleaning session be sure to safely remove and dispose of any rags or swabs saturated with chemicals to prevent the possibility of spontaneous combustion.
With these items any firearm can be maintained. Some firearms need some specific equipment for their maintenance which will be set forth in the firearm’s owner’s manual. Most pistols need to have parts such as recoil springs replaced on a regular basis. A person who shoots a lot would need to keep spare parts like that on hand. Also some firearms are known to have a certain part that fatigues quicker than might normally be expected. Usually these items are springs as well. For such a firearm just keep a spare part handy.
Be sure to set up a field cleaning kit as well. A field kit does not need to have all of the stuff available at home, but it should include an extra of any part that is prone to failure for the particular firearms that one owns and shoots. Many of the gun cleaning kit manufacturers make field kits. Put one together based on personal need and the fieldwork. A lazy day target shooting is different than a day afield for the soldier.