Maintenance Miracles

Let Technology Help You Cut The Crud!

It used to be Hoppe’s No. 9, some sort of “gun” oil, a brass bore brush, an old toothbrush and some torn-up T-shirt material (cloth diapers were the best!) and you were good to go. Now we’re not saying that still doesn’t work fine — because it does — and of course it smells so darn good too. But sometimes the convenience, speed and sheer high performance of many of today’s cleaning products and related tools and accessories make plenty of sense too.

Shooting is fun for me — gun cleaning, not so fun. So, I’m always looking for ways to keep it simple, smart and to make sure our guns and equipment work the way they’re supposed to, but with a minimum of fussing. We’ve had our hands on most of this stuff, so we’re not just parroting advertising hype here. If it’s in our pages — it works. While we aren’t qualified to do any scientific-type testing, we do clean cruddy guns around here all the time, restore guns, work on them and have plenty of gear around our property here we try all this stuff out on constantly. If it’s some sort of machine (gun or otherwise) it gets cleaned and lubed regularly. We’ve gotten our hands dirty with this stuff, for sure, I guarantee that. Keep your mind open as many of these products really are game-changers in some ways.

I like to keep a bunch of different gun-lubes on the shelf and keep using different ones to learn their properties. We’ve been experimenting with Royal Purple, good old Break Free CLP, KG4, BLU and a mainstay, MFR7 by ProGold a lot lately. Each has subtle differences and some are specifically intended for certain jobs. We’ve found we lean toward dedicated lubes rather than “cleaner-lubricants” when we’re doing a “deep clean” at the bench, but also like the convenience of the latter for the range, traveling, hunting or for a quick clean-up. Having said that, the military seems to do just fine using Break Free for about everything so there’s likely a lesson there.

Present Arms makes many varieties of high quality synthetic material-based gun maintenance platforms (all CNC machined). Their latest is a “Sentinel Plate” (base) matched with a magazine post holding a 1911, an AR or other gun models. It’s a good way to hold a handgun (or rifle) while you adjust sights, clean the bore, wipe things down, adjust bits, or just enjoy the look of things after a good cleaning. We’ve showcased their products before and use them ourselves all the time. American made, by veterans. Those are Robar custom guns in the pic, by the way.

G96 is an icon in the industry and their new Rapid Fire Gun Grease (RFG) is a high quality 85 percent biodegradable gun-specific grease. The tube holds about 30 percent more than similar delivery systems, and the grease itself is good from -80 degrees F, to +500 degrees! We tend to use a good grease on our daily carry guns as it doesn’t migrate like oils and once the initial placement is wiped off lightly, also doesn’t tend to collect dust buffaloes in a pocket. G96 RFG seems to work as-advertised, and they say it also cuts down on carbon residue and metallic and powder residues.

Hygenall LeadOff is something we all should have in our range kits. His Editorship keeps a can of the wipes in his office for wiping his hands off after shooting off the back porch. Lazy is a good word for it too. But Hygenall products do everything a good soap and water wash does, but also specifically removes 99 percent of lead you get on your hands from shooting. It also removes Cadmium, Chromium, Arsenic, Mercury, Silver, Zinc, Nickel and other nasty metals from your skin. They make surface wipes, foaming liquid hand soap, a cool “range station” for range use and single use packs containing one wipe. Pay attention, since ignoring this threat from lead poisoning can indeed be deadly. You don’t want to be using a drool cup later, do you?

Here’s something to keep in mind. Using a good cleaner (even the cleaner/lubes) means application tools like brushes, scrapers, cleaning rods, etc. need to be involved. This line-up of products goes perfectly with something like the Precision Cleaning Tool kit from Real Avid. The Hoppe’s Gun Medic spray is a “quick” clean/lube job to keep your gun running at the range. Their new No.9 (a synthetic blend these days) still smells pretty close to the original and works just fine. It just doesn’t feel like I’m cleaning a gun unless there’s a bit of No.9 involved! A side note: We were told the “original” smell was based on banana oil and various solvents. We’re not sure about that, but it does sorta’ make sense when you think about the smell.

Ballistol can do a similar job and being 100-year-old technology has a great track record. You can even use it on stocks and leather!

Aqua Clean from Shooter’s Choice is a water-based cleaner for fouling and residue and is non-toxic and non-flammable too. Prolix is another staple, and none of its components appear on the government’s hazardous substances list. It’s citrus-based and works and smells great, actually.

Weapon Shield products are another of the “environmentally friendly” non-toxic product lines so popular today. We’ve found their kits to be awfully handy. You get a needle oiler (my favorite way to deliver lube in precise spots on rails and such), solvent, Weapon Shield CLP and a syringe of grease. Weapon Shield CLP is a do-everything product while the others are more specialized. It all also comes in bigger containers for ranges, police agencies, military units, etc., or if you just need to clean a lot of guns! It all works fine and won’t drive you out of the garage with a bad smell!

Otis has just announced this amazing cross-section of new products and accessories. Called their “Smart Chemical Line” it covers everything from cleaners, lubricants, surface prep, dry lube, solvents, protection, wipes and their precision cleaning tools and famous field cleaning kit. Some products are “bio-based” and some are more conventional, depending upon their use. There’s even a specific MSR/AR cleaner and a long term protector spray. It’s nice to become familiar with one brand of products so you get comfortable with predictable performance across the board, regardless of what you need to do.

Real Avid is outta’ control when it comes to delivering cool tools to help shooters and we had to share this one too. Their Gun Tool Max has 37 tools in one. Aside from the obvious screw drivers, pliers, knife, etc. there’s a carbon scraper, universal choke wrench, pin punches, tap hammer, interchangeable picks, and a carbide cutter in the plier jaws. There’s lots more and this one now lives in our “grab-it-and-go” range/hunting/travel kit.

We’ve used Shooter’s Choice products for literally decades in our household, and our main go-to solvent for really getting the crud out is their MC #7 Extra Strength Bore Cleaner. We like this spray delivery method (it comes with an extender for the snout) and it cleans everything from common copper/lead and powder fouling, to carbon, corrosive ammo residue, plastic shotgun wad fouling, black powder fouling and works pretty fast too. It’s ammonia-free which makes it nose-friendly. Shooter’s Choice makes a broad range of products to go with MC #7 and we’ve always been happy using them.

Breakthrough Clean Technologies, in partnership with Hoback Knives, has put together this handy knife maintenance kit. I’m 99 percent sure if you own guns you own knives and rather than ignoring them, put this simple kit to good use. It comes with a neat mat you can use to keep things sorted out too. Breakthrough offers cleaners and lubes (great for guns too, of course!) which are clear, non-toxic, non-hazardous, non-staining, odorless and eco-friendly. They’re safe for you, the kids, pets and the environment. These are things to keep in mind if you’re a “clean your guns on the kitchen table” guy, while the kids are playing nearby. No need to stink up the house, right? This is high-performance gear for today’s high-performance guns and knives.


Bull Frog is a funny name for a big product line! They’ve been around for years and their wide-range of cleaning/preserving and maintenance products have proven themselves in the harshest environments. We tried out the “Rust Remover” on a beater, rusty .22 and it works just fine, leaving the surface protected too. The “Rust Hunter” is a great general purpose spray cleaner/protectant for long term storage or even daily “handling” guns. The “Gun Wipes” are a sort of do-it-all treatment and keep tools, machinery — and even guns — safe and sound from rust and the nasties. Bull Frog has a huge product line and you need to give it all a very close look. It may change the way you think about doing many things in the shop, garage and in your gun safe.

Hurley’s Gold is an interesting stuff. Made of a synthetic oil and an industrial grease (with a dash of “secret sauce”), it’s blended, and even comes with a metal ball in the container to help it mix when you shake it. The idea is the grease stays put while the oil finds its way into the nooks and crannies. They say gunpowder residue and expelled gases are toxic in and of themselves so the addition of a tiny bit of “real” oil doesn’t seem it will hurt the environment much. Hurley’s declares better wear characteristics and thermal stability led them to add a little industrial grade petroleum-based product to the mix! It comes with a tiny brush to help apply it too. It’s sort of old school, but sometimes old school works just fine.

RAND CLP and solvents are relatively new to the market and profess to have broken new ground using “nanoparticles” to ramp up the lube game, with several products. According to their website: “RAND CLP is a patented formulation of recently discovered nanoparticles that engage with the surface of metal in ways never before observed. These particles bond with the metal of your firearm, creating a long lasting film that does not burn off or dry out like other typical lubricants.” There seems to be a well-thought-out process to what they’ve created and it bears more looking. We tried the CLP product, and in our non-scientific testing it seemed to perform great. We’re always happy to see new science involved in this sort of thing.

There’s more to gun maintenance than squirting lube onto a slide, and having the right tools helps a lot. Apex Tactical Specialties offers several “Polymer Armorer’s Block” models to help with installing parts and maintenance of different semi-auto models. We can’t stress enough how tools like this help you to keep track of things and assist you as you install new parts and disassemble/reassemble your guns. Apex products are all first-class and of the highest quality. We’re always impressed when we handle an Apex product.

The Seal 1 brand offers a CLP product in a spray, liquid, paste and pre-moistened patches. It’s a non-toxic bio-based cleaner, lubricant and protectant. They say it “Liquefies carbon on contact” and fouling residue wipes clean. After two or three applications it “seasons” the metal allowing residue to be much easier to clean-up. A “Micro-protective” barrier inhibits residue build-up. They say you can use their products for archery gear, marine use and essentially anywhere you need to clean and maintain equipment. Seal 1 says their products are also “98 percent” bio-based. The smell is reminiscent of Wintergreen, and is very pleasant, reminding His Editorship of the Bore Butter product he used to use on his black powder guns. It seemed to work just fine in our test uses.

Tipton’s Max Force cleaning rod is simple but ingenious. If you’ve ever bent or broken a small-bore cleaning rod trying to push it through a bore with a tight patch, this solves that problem. The handle actually slides down the length of the cleaning rod so you are only pushing against a small portion of the rod outside of the bore. Push a bit, slide the handle back, push more, slide the handle back, etc. The locking lever makes it easy. Great for rifles, but makes sense for longer pistol barrels too. Very cool idea.

Also from Tipton is their Ultra Gun Vise. It’s modular and has a well-protected steel frame, with virtually unlimited adjustability. It can hold handguns easily, but it also handles rifles, shotguns, AR-style rifles, even compound bows. Knobs are “fast-turn” and it features leveling feet, ball and socket articulating clamp pads, two accessory trays and over-molded rubber contact points. It’s also solvent resistant and has additional accessories so you can grow the system. We were impressed when we handled a demonstration sample.

The old saying about “If your only tool is a hammer, all your problems look like nails” is true, but when it comes to your guns, make sure you use the right hammer. Wheeler Engineering’s Master Gunsmithing Interchangeable Hammer Set includes two hammer bodies and eight hammer faces. There’s a larger hammer for tough jobs, like driving out large or stubborn pins, and a smaller one for more precise work. Heads include non-marring nylon, rubber, brass and even steel — for when things are getting serious.

This “quick changing” gun cleaning system from Gungenics is clever. Using color-coded brushes and jags matching various calibers, you can use them with any cleaning solution you normally like. The mounts are a sort of bayonet mount and while I initially thought it would be fussy to use, it wasn’t at any level. It’s so nice to just do a quick-change out from brush to loop patch holder or jag and back and forth as needed. I normally have several rods handy to do this but this system lets you use just one and makes it extra-handy for travel, hunting or the range. They’re nice people too, and it shows real American ingenuity.

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