If you already have other guns, and you’re cleaning them like you should be (you are cleaning your guns regularly right?) then you most likely already have just about everything you need to clean an AR-15, except for some AR-specific things like a bore brush for your particular caliber.
Here in California, you’ll also want to make sure to include cleaning your AR-15 magazine lock device and other AR-15 accessories, such as our QUICK PINS, SAFE MAG and PIN PAL.
If you don’t already have cleaning supplies, or if you want to build a complete AR-15 cleaning kit that you can carry to the range or competitions, you have two options: build a kit, or buy one.
But, which one is better?
That’s going to be a decision you have to make for yourself.
If you just want a kit that works, or maybe you don’t shoot your AR-15 a lot and aren’t worried about maximizing your cleaning efficiency, then just buying a pre-made kit is perfectly fine.
Think of the pre-made kit like an off-the-rack suit. Sure it’ll work, but its never going to be as nice, or as personalized.
Complete kits online run from at least $19-$50.
Build your own
First, get an old (or new) toolbox or some other case for your kit (Here’s a good list from Gun Carrier).
What you need:
- A cleaning solvent. Copper-removing bore solvents work best on firearms per Gun Carrier.
- Gun oil and lubricants for the kit such as Gun Oil
- Cotton patches, no specific shape required
- Bore brushes, either plastic or brass is best for rifle owners.
- A cleaning rod, but make sure it fits down the bore.
- Nylon gun cleaning brush
- Flashlight (optional) to spot debris otherwise that would go unnoticed.
- Q-Tips (cotton) to hold the solvents when cleaning your weapon.
- Microfiber cloths to remove invisible debris
According to Gun Digest, use only copper-removing bore solvents in the bore. The various “powder” solvents do little or nothing on copper deposits, and the copper solvents, combined with a good brushing, wash away powder deposits.
Also, use brass or plastic brushes on the bore of the rifle, not stainless. Buy the correct-sized cleaning patches, 100% cotton. Cotton patches hold solvents better than synthetics.
Using the wrong size “because it’s cheap” or cutting down too-big patches is a recipe for disaster. If too small, they won’t clean well and you may lose one in the bore, according to Gun Digest. Too big, and you might wedge one (still secured to the cleaning rod) in the bore, or worse yet it might come off, which can be an expensive error to correct.
Another source of good cleaning tips comes from Pew Pew Tactical.