Whether you’re a pro or amateur gun enthusiast, keeping your AR-15 clean is a necessary part of its maintenance. You may already have cleaned your rifle a few times or you might be wondering how to get started.
A good cleaning kit will have everything you need to clean your rifle thoroughly and prevent the build-up of residue inside the barrel. Let’s walk through the factors that go into deciding which kit will work for you and keep both you and your AR-15 happy.
The Importance of Proper Gun Cleaning and Maintenance
Why is cleaning your rifle regularly so important? Well, if you want your gun to last you a long time and keep performing flawlessly every time you squeeze the trigger, cleaning the gun occasionally is something you’ll have to do.
Here’s what can happen if you don’t clean and maintain your rifle.
First, the gun will rust and face material degradation without proper oiling and cleaning. This will decrease its longevity. Second, buildup of residue and dirt inside the gun will lower the accuracy of the gun as well as increase the chances of a misfire or failure to eject. Copper particles will build up inside the gun’s barrel, which can affect the bullet’s velocity by slowing it down. The fouling of the barrel impacts the barrel’s rifling. This is a big no-no in the world of guns. You must always take care of your guns so that they can take care of you.
Some other advantages of cleaning your gun are that you can become familiar with the insides of the gun and know how to disassemble and reassemble the gun easily.
How Often to Clean Your AR-15
A question many gun owners ask is how often they should clean. While the answer will vary from person to person, a good rule of thumb is to clean it once after every 500 rounds. After every 1500 rounds you should do a more detailed cleaning including taking the bolt apart and removing carbon and other residue. Also clean your AR-15 if you’re not planning to use it for a month or more, and always keep it lubricated to prevent rusting.
Cleaning needs will differ in more humid, dusty or rough environments where grit and dirt can foul the barrel or form gunk inside the gun. Salt in the coastal areas will also corrode and rust the guns faster so frequent lubrication is more necessary.
Essential Components of a Cleaning Kit
You can build your own kit by purchasing individual items to suit your AR-15 cleaning needs or buy one off-the-shelf. But knowing what a good cleaning kit requires is important to help you decide which option to go for. Some items a kit definitely needs are the bore-cleaning rod, bore snake, brush attachments (suitably sized), cloth patches, rod adapters and a patch loop.
Most of these items are meant to clean the inside of the barrel and bore, helping to extend the gun’s life and make it more accurate while preventing jams and misfires.
The ideal kit will also contain a solvent or cleaner that removes buildup from inside the rifle. It should also have oils, lubricants and brushes to apply them. The oils and lubricants will need a cloth for application and buffing. A lubricant is essential to ensure the smooth running of the gun’s parts movements and to prevent rust. You should ensure that any cleaning attachments are strong enough to not break off inside the gun.
Is a Premade Kit Good Enough?
A premade kite can help you save time and money by giving you everything you need to clean an AR-15 in one package without having to spend time looking for individual items. Some kits are ideal for taking to the field for a quick cleaning, while others are suited for more extensive cleaning.
You will need to select the kit that works best for your needs including lightweight, compact kits for the bare minimum cleaning, or a complex cleaning kit that can do everything. In case you can get quality products bundled into a single kit for a reasonable price, you may find a great bargain.
Whether the premade kit is good enough depends on your personal needs. Some AR-15 cleaning kits have everything you need to maintain and clean your rifle, including products specific to the size. Some contain useless items that won’t help at all in cleaning the rifle, so recognize and avoid those.
Quick Comparison Chart of the Best AR-15 Cleaning Kits
Otis AR-15/M16 Msr/Ar Cleaning System
Real Avid Gun Boss Pro AR-15 Cleaning Kit
Bushnell M-PRO 7 Tactical Rifle Cleaning Kit
Gunmaster GM 223AR 17piece .223/5.56 Ar Rifle Cleaning Kit
Xage Gun Cleaning Set
Reviews of the Best Cleaning Kits for the AR-15
In order to help you choose the best cleaning kits for the AR-15, we’ve narrowed down the list to just five, although there are a lot more in the market which can do the job.
This cleaning kit from Otis claims to be an all-in-one cleaning solution or your AR-15. It includes:
- 8" and 30" cleaning cables
- .22 cal. slotted tip and obstruction tool
- bore reflector/safety flag
- (2) bore brushes
- (2) Mongoose brush/swabs
- (10) 2" cleaning patches
- 5.56mm chamber brush
- straight and curved locking lug picks
- nylon ended brush
- short A/P receiver brush
- female rod handle
- brass scraper
- NATO adapter
- microfiber cloth
- pin punch and locking lug scraper
- B.O.N.E. Tool
- and ½ oz. tube of O85 solvent.
The kit comes in a durable, belt-attachable black nylon carry case.
Contains almost everything you may need.
- Missing a lubricant to prevent rust.
This kit combines many of the company’s AR-15 cleaning tools into one package, making it easy for gun owners to find all the tools they need. The pieces included ensure that carbon buildup can be removed from the bolt carrier group with ease, and allow you to access hard-to-reach areas like the star chamber.
Included are a 29-inch sectioned cleaning rod, 50 cleaning patches, bore illuminator, pin punch and chamber flag and star chamber cleaning pads. It also comes with bronze brushes. The case measures 8.25x4.5x1.25 inches.
Plenty of cleaning options for the bolt and star chamber.
- It does not contain a solvent or lubricants for keeping the rifle rust-free.
- It does not have a bore snake or brushes or cloth for applying lubricants either.
This kit comes with two boresnakes. The 5.5mm one can also be used on .22, .22 long rifle, .223, 5.7 X 28mm, .22-250 calibers. The 7.62mm boresnake can also be used on .30 caliber 30-06, .308 Win. , .300 Win Mag calibers.
The kit includes:
- 4 oz. M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaner
- 4 oz. M-Pro 7 Gun Oil LPX
- (1) 5.56mm M-Pro 7 boresnake
- (1) 7.62mm M-Pro 7 boresnake
- lint-free cleaning cloth
- nylon utility brush
- foam gun pad
- weapon maintenance product guide
Unlike other kits, this one includes oil and cleaning pads.
No patch loops.
This cleaning kit features a multi-function handle that can be used with traditional rods, pull cords and also functions as a screwdriver handle. Included in the kit are:
- a two-piece solid brass rod
- (1) phosphor bronze brush
- (1) mop
- (1) chamber brush
- a pick scraper
- a utility brush
- a plastic slot tip
- 25 cleaning patches
- one set of 6 driver bits.
The kit comes in a clear top dual bond molded TPR locking case with a custom molded tray.
Plenty of cleaning attachments and items for cleaning the rifle thoroughly.
No solvent or oils
The cleaning kit offered by Xage is both affordable and has decent cleaning items. The kit includes:
- a bottle for cleaning solvents
- one pack of cleaning cloths
- 2 different sized barrel cleaners
- a brush
- 6 different sized attachment rods.
The whole kit weights about 9.8 ounces and comes in an olive green carrying case with the dimensions 9.8 x 3.54 x 0.8 inches.
- Plenty of options for cleaning different sizes.
No solvent or oils included in the kit.
Another product you may need for cleaning is a cleaning mat, which can not only hold your rifle parts for cleaning but help to keep your work area clean and prevent any parts rolling off. The Ironclad AR-15 Cleaning Mat is a good mat for this purpose.
Whether you choose to go for a pre-built AR-15 cleaning kit or prefer to make your own is a choice is up to you. But keep in mind that a kit is only as good as the quality of the materials and equipment that it offers to clean the rifle.
You don’t want an item breaking off inside or damaging the gun. It’s better to err on the side of caution and clean your rifle occasionally in order to ensure it keeps working smoothly and gives you no problems.