Keeping guns clean is a must and an important part of gun ownership. Cleaning a gun will not only allow it to shoot efficiently, but it can also increase its safety, accuracy, and overall lifespan. Because of this, taking care of your guns regularly is a must and something you need to stay on top of. Using the best gun cleaning solvents can ensure you get the job done right, even if you already own a gun cleaning kit. For the most part, kits don’t include top of the line solvents, which is why I recommend purchasing a solvent separately.
If you’re new to gun ownership and have not cleaned your guns before, then now is the perfect time to start. If you’re not sure what type of solvent to choose or you don’t know about the options are available, then my buyer’s guide can walk you through what to look for in a top of the line solvent, the different types of active ingredients, and how to choose a solvent based on gun type. Below, the comparison chart lists the six solvents that landed on my list, what features they have to offer, and how they rated.
Gun Cleaning Solvents Comparison Chart
Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaning Solvent
This solvent comes with a childproof cap but does not come with any type of applicator, which would make it easier to precisely apply the solvent. This means you’ll need to be cautious when pouring the solvent on a brush or patch, in order to avoid overdoing it. The formula itself penetrates quickly and deeply, working to remove built-up dirt and grime. The typical solvent has a chemical-heavy scent that can be very overwhelming for some users. Fortunately, this solvent has a mild, fresh scent, which is a huge plus for any buyer. The formula is also versatile, so it can be used on any type of gun or rifle. Aside from cleaning out your gun, it will also work to protect it from future damage and can be applied as often as needed.
- Cleans and protects
- Fresh scent
- Powerful and potent
- Low price
- Works on any type of gun or rifle.
- No applicator nozzle
This solvent will work to remove built-up dirt and grime and provides protection from damage from future use. The bottle lacks an applicator nozzle, so you’ll need to pour carefully to prevent oversaturating the brush or patch. Since it can be used on any type of gun or rifle, this solvent is perfect for the serious gun collector who is in search of a versatile product that’s compatible with a variety of guns and rifles. Depending on how often you use the solvent, this bottle can easily last for several months, so it’s a steal for the price.
Ballistol Multi-Purpose Oil and Solvent Aerosol Spray
This oil and solvent spray is designed to clean, lubricate, and preserve gunstocks and firearms. It can also be used on other gun-related accessories. With regular use, you’ll note how effective this spray is since it reduces the need for scraping and brushing chambers and barrels. It’s designed to leave behind a protective film on the surface of the metal and works deep down to penetrate any fissures and cracks in the gun’s surface, which will help to loosen any stuck-on grime. This spray emulsifies, unlike competing solvent and oil combos. This means when used on leather or wood as a protectant, when the water evaporates, the spray will remain behind to prevent water damage and mold growth. As you can see, this is a multipurpose spray that can be used to treat and protect metals, wood, and leather, so it can be used on holsters, any gun accessories, and of course, guns and rifles.
- Multipurpose spray
- Works for all types of guns and rifles
- Solvent and oil formula
- Can be used on wood and leather
- Cannot be used on suede
This multi-purpose spray can be used on all types of guns, rifles, leather, and wood. This versatile spray not only efficiently cleans out guns and rifles, but it also leaves a protective residue behind that will help to minimize future damage. It can be used as often as needed but should be used at least once a month if you use your guns or rifles often. The spray formula makes the product easy to apply and prevents overapplication. This solvent offers a powerful, effective formula that will keep your guns looking new and firing as they should, for many years to come.
Super Nano Gun Solvent
If you’re tired of your home smelling like gun solvent for days after you’ve cleaned your gun collection, then you’ll appreciate the Super Nano odorless gun solvent formula that’s free of toxins, alcohol, and ammonia. This is a non-abrasive cleaner, which means it should only be used on guns that do not have tough built-up grime. So, if you have older guns that need a deep clean, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The formula leaves behind a protective film that’s designed to penetrate every crack and crevice in the gun’s surface. It will remove lead, copper, oil, rust, and dirt. It will also keep your guns in top condition and can be used on any type of gun or rifle.
- Non-toxic formula
- Removes dirt, rust, copper, lead, and oil
- Odorless formula
- Cannot clean built-up grime and should not be used on older guns in need of a deep clean
Not only will this gentle formula remove dirt, grime, and debris, but it’s also safe to use around children and pets and will not leave a lingering overpowering odor behind. The formula is not tough enough to clean older guns that have built-up grime, but it’s a good product to use on guns that have received regular care. This is a safe formula that will work well if used consistently and often. This product is a great buy if you’re looking for a solvent for regular use.
CLP by Sage & Braker
This is both a solvent and lubricant, that’s designed to reach deep down to remove grime while leaving behind a protective layer that will prevent damage and rust during use. Basically, this liquid is designed to keep your gun firing the way it should by preventing the build-up of dirt, debris, grime, and other harmful contaminants. The formula is also designed to reduce static, which is what attracts dirt, gun powder residue, and grime.
- Easy pour applicator
- Cleans and protects
- Low price
- Can reduce static buildup
- Very strong scent
This is a great solvent if you’re looking for a product that’s multi-purpose and features an easy pour applicator that will ensure you don’t pour too much product on your brush or patch. The strong scent of the solvent can linger in the home. Because of this, I recommend only using this product in a well-ventilated area. The easy pour applicator makes this solvent very user-friendly, while its multi-purpose action gives you more bang for your buck.
Butch’s Bore Shine
This solvent features a tough formula that’s designed to remove carbon and other toxins from the gun barrel that can impact its shooting efficiency such as gun powder residue, or copper. This product can be used on both standard and stainless barrels and works well on older guns that have built-up grime. This solvent has a very strong scent and should only be used in a well-ventilated area. Additionally, since this solvent doesn’t have an easy pour spout, you must be very careful when pouring.
- Works on plastic, copper, and metal
- Removes carbon and copper
- Can be used on older guns
- Can be used on standard and stainless barrels
- Lingering odor
- Does not leave behind protective residue
This powerful formula can start working its magic immediately. It can be used to soak an older gun and does an impressive job of reaching deep down into every crack and crevice to remove built-up grime and dirt. Because of the stronger smell, it should not be used indoors. This is not a multi-purpose solvent, which means it will not leave behind a protective coating like some solvents will. However, it will keep your guns clean and firing efficiently, which is exactly what most gun enthusiasts are looking for.
OTIS Technology Foaming Bore Cleaner
This is a foaming spray that does an excellent job of cleaning the bore and removing any built-up dirt and grime. Using the foam is simple, spray the product as directed, and sit back as this foam solvent works its magic. This is another solvent that doesn’t provide a protective layer behind that can prevent gun damage in the future. Instead, it simply works to clean your gun, in a matter of minutes. I would not recommend this foam on older guns since it’s not able to penetrate deep down like competing sprays and liquids, however, it’s a great buy if you’re looking for a spray that can be used for regular maintenance.
- Powerful formula
- Removes dirt and grime in under five minutes
- Mild scent
- Low price
- Cannot be used to remove deep-down grime, so it should be used on new guns only
This simple spray does an efficient job of literally eating away any contaminants found on your gun. While it’s not tough enough to remove severe build-up, this is still a great spray to use for regular cleaning and maintenance. The mild scent and non-toxic formula make it safe for use around kids and animals, so you can handle your regular gun cleaning maintenance in the home, without having to deal with a strong scent that lingers for days.
Gun Cleaning Solvents Buyer’s Guide
As a gun owner, you spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars a year on purchasing new guns, ammo, and accessories, so it makes sense that you want to use only the best products to keep your gun clean and working as it should. But not all solvents are created equal. Considering how many products are available to choose from, selecting a solvent that’s designed to remove a variety of contaminants, such as gun powder residue, and copper seems like a complicated process, and one that will take plenty of research on your part, especially if you’re serious about keeping your guns cleaned properly.
When you clean your gun after a hunt or taking it to the range, it can be a very therapeutic task and one that ensures your guns continue to fire correctly in the future. Unfortunately, most gun cleaning kits sold these days don’t come with a decent solvent. Instead, it will usually contain a small container or a knock off solvent that’s not nearly as powerful as the products I’ve reviewed.
But before you get started shopping for a new solvent, it’s important to learn about both the benefits of cleaning your gun and the different types of products that are available.
Choosing the right solvent can have a major positive impact on your gun, how it handles, how it shoots, and can even add some years to its lifespan. But some gun owners prefer to use other chemicals, such as rubbing alcohol, in place of a solvent, which is okay to do, but other chemicals simply don’t have the type of cleaning power that a good solvent does.
This guide will walk you through the different solvents available, why you should always use one in order to properly clean your gun, what the benefits of using a solvent are, and how it can totally change how your gun fires and performs, for the better.
Benefits of Gun Cleaning Solvents
- What’s the big deal about solvents? Firearms tend to get incredibly dirty, whether or not you use them. Using a solvent is a more efficient way to clean your gun and it’ll do a lot of good compared to just taking a brush and removing only a portion of the grime from the gun’s interior.
- While using a brush to rub down your gun may make it look better, there are still going to be dirty elements inside that you can’t easily see. A solvent is the only product that you can use that will ensure the interior of your gun is as clean as a whistle.
- Solvents are used to remove a wide range of materials that can cause damage to guns over time. This can include powder residue, copper fouling, salts, acids, lead, and carbon. Because each brand will use a different formula, it’s important that you take a look at the ingredients listed and what the manufacturer claims the solvent can do, in terms of what harmful materials it can remove.
- Using a solvent is a hassle-free way to clean your gun. It can save you time and money and offers a low-maintenance way to keep a gun clean.
- A solvent can add several years to a gun’s lifespan, especially if used consistently. Leaving harmful contaminants in your gun can impact it’s shooting accuracy, and can lead to corrosion if left untreated. These powerful solvents can clean out months of left behind residue, in a matter of minutes.
Other Must-Have Features
Once you’ve decided to purchase a gun solvent, then you need to learn more about what to look for in a product, to ensure it can get the job done.
The first step is determining what type of guns the solvent can be used on. Many of these cleaners are very versatile, so they can be used on a wide range of guns, in addition to other objects that require a good cleaning. For best results, you’ll use a cleaning rod or cleaning patches, for a more efficient cleaning process.
Like with anything you buy, you’ll want to ensure you get the most bang for your buck. If you only own one or two guns, then a smaller bottle can last for several months. However, if you have an extensive collection, then you’ll want to pay close attention to the size of the bottle and determine how long it’ll last you. Often, you’ll come across larger bottle sizes that will cost only a few more bucks than the miniature bottles made by the same brand.
Is the cleaner you’re interested in just a basic cleaning solution, or is it designed to protect the gun as well? Some models are designed as multipurpose products, which can save you some money in the long run since you won’t have to purchase separate solvents and oils for each task. Some gun owners prefer multipurpose products, while others prefer to use a dedicated oil and solvent.
Many gun owners want a product that can clean out a gun as fast as possible. No one wants a cleaner that takes a long time to loosen up the gunk stuck inside a gun, which is why fast-acting formulas are often a more popular choice. However, these faster-acting formulas can be toxic and very abrasive. You may not want to sacrifice the integrity of your gun for a formula that’s designed to clean it out in a fraction of the time compared to slow-acting formulas that don’t contain harmful chemicals.
Check the product’s label to determine what types of materials it can be used on. Some multipurpose formulas can be used on all types of guns, but you’ll also come across products that are very limited in terms of the type of guns that it can be safely used for. If you use the wrong type of solvent, you can risk doing some serious damage to your gun.
Types of Gun Cleaning Solvents
There are a number of different solvents to choose from, which can make it hard for the new gun owner to determine which type to choose. But for the most part, these products tend to work much the same way. You’ll come across many different types of solvents, ranging from aerosol sprays to liquids.
When you fire a gun a few times, lead, copper, and carbon are left behind. Using a cleaner that’s designed to remove each of these contaminants is a huge plus since you won’t have to purchase multiple solvents to get the job done. Liquid solvents are applied to a brush or patch and used to clean the gun’s bore. The big issue with liquid is how messy it can be. Some bottles do not come with a small nozzle that’s designed to control pouring, preventing you from using too much product at one time. So, pour carefully, and avoid using too much solvent which can leave behind a greasy residue that can make it difficult to handle your firearm.
Foaming solvent is easier to apply than the liquid variety and is usually packaged in a pump. These pumps will dispense the solvent in a much thinner consistency compared to a liquid solvent. This will allow the product to penetrate moving parts such as the firing mechanism and rail, easily. They also do a better job of removing built-up gunk. Foam style solvents are a great choice for older gunk that needs to soak for a few minutes before you wipe it down.
These sprays are easier to use than liquids and foam, but they can also easily be wasted if you’re not careful during application and spray on too much of the product. This type of cleaner does a great job of removing gunk from moving parts and handling stubborn debris. The consistency is very water-like, which allows the spray to penetrate many of the gun’s moving parts.
CLP is a term that’s used for any type of chemical solvent that is designed to protect, lubricate, and clean a gun. The combination of chemicals in this type of solvent can prevent corrosion, provides lubrication, and works to remove built-up grime. This type of solvent works well on most guns, especially if you’ve just purchased an older, dirty gun that’s in need of some serious cleaning.
However, this type of solvent does have its drawbacks. While it will not do any serious damage to a firearm, it can be easy to overapply, which can lead to performance issues, since an abundance of oils and solvent can build up in places that are hard to reach. It can also attract dirt and debris, so it shouldn’t be used to detail a gun since it works as merely a band-aid for any underlying issues a gun may have. A straight solvent with a non-greasy formula is the best preventative in terms of damage and corrosion. CLP cleaners are more of a quick fix and can be used if you notice your gun is not performing as it normally does, but it should not be used as an alternative to proper gun care, repair, and maintenance.
Oils Versus Solvents
Oils are slightly different from solvents in that they’re not designed to clean out a gun. Instead, they’re applied after a gun has been cleaned. These oils are used to protect the gun after a cleaning when a firearm has been stripped of things that can harm the integrity. After a gun is fired, shooting residue is left behind, in addition to the oils from your skin, and other types of harmful things such as dirt and debris. Applying an oil can provide a type of protective barrier that will prevent contaminants from settling inside a gun. These oils are designed to penetrate deep down into the metal’s pores to remove any dirt that a solvent is not able to reach. A firearm that’s well-oiled will disperse heat evenly, increasing the gun’s accuracy.
Solvents are designed to ensure your gun fires efficiently while providing it with some protection from the elements. It’s no secret that some products are better than others and some are not very versatile, which will require you to purchase more than one type of solvent. Choosing a multipurpose solvent is one way to get around this, but it may not be as powerful as dedicated solvents that are specifically designed to remove copper only, or lead only.
Once you’ve picked out a solvent, you’re ready to take care of your firearms the right way. To start, use a gun vise to secure it during a cleaning. Doing so will prevent you from damaging parts of the gun and scratching the inside of the barrel. You should also use a gun cleaning mat, to prevent the solvent from getting on your floor and table. If the solvent leaks onto the floor or the kitchen table, it can be very difficult to remove. When you’re done, make sure you have placed the cap back on securely to prevent the solvent from leaking when stored. Cleaning your gun with solvent should be done based on the manufacturer’s recommendations found on the packaging. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning a gun after a few uses, while others claim that cleaning a gun after each use is the only way to ensure it fires when you need it to each time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Gun Cleaning Solvent Toxic?
Some solvents do contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful if exposed to the skin or ingested. These solvents should be carefully stored, out of the reach of children and pets and used only in a well-ventilated area. These products are also highly flammable, so they must be stored appropriately and kept out of direct sunlight.
What is Gun Solvent Made Out of?
Acetone is one of the most common ingredients found in a gun solvent. Heptane is another chemical that’s used and it has a reputation for its oil-dissolving ability. Toluene is a common ingredient in solvent that’s used in a variety of disinfectants, glues, printing ink, silicone sealants, paint thinners, and paint.
Can You Clean a Gun Too Much?
There is no such thing as over-cleaning a gun, as long as you do the job properly. If you don’t have the proper tools, then you’ll need to be careful when you’re cleaning a gun and avoid cleaning it often until you purchase the right type of solvent, patches, and a brush specifically designed to clean out the barrel. Using the wrong tools can cause damage to the interior of the gun and can scratch the barrel.
Can I Use Rubbing Alcohol to Clean My Gun?
Yes. However, some gun owners do warn that using rubbing alcohol can damage the finish on some guns. For the most part, using this chemical is totally safe, even on a polymer gun, such as a glock. Rubbing alcohol can be used to remove gunk and oils left behind from handling the gun. However, it should not be used in place of a solvent, which is designed to provide a type of deep clean of sorts, and remove any built-up gunk, oil, and grime.
The best gun cleaning solvents will provide your firearms with the protection it needs from the elements, can remove deep-down dirt and grime, and can improve your gun’s shooting efficiency. Proper firearm care and maintenance is important since a dirty gun will neither be reliable or accurate. Cleaning will also significantly lengthen the lifespan of your gun, which is a huge plus for the serious collector. I hope my guide and my reviews of these leading products has helped you choose a solvent that offers the type of cleaning power you need, whether you’ve purchased an old gun, you haven’t cleaned your guns in months, or you’re a new gun owner who’s eager to clean their firearms properly, after each use.