The Best Cleaning Kits for your AR-15

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Whether you’re a pro or amateur gun enthusiast, keeping your AR-15 clean is a necessary part of its maintenance. You may have already 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.

Comparison of the Best AR-15 Cleaning Kits

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Tube of bore solvent
  • Includes two MemoryFlex cleaning rods
  • Designed to work with 5.56 NATO and .223 caliber AR-15 rifles
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  • 17 pieces of equipment in total
  • Includes brushes and cleaning rods
  • Designed for 5.56 NATO and .223 caliber rifles
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  • Includes 50 cleaning patches
  • It comes with a 29-inch cleaning rod
  • Bore illuminator, pin punch, and chamber flag also included
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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.

Quick Take - The Best AR-15 Cleaning Kits

Reviews of the Best Cleaning Kits for the AR-15

The following is a list of the four best AR-15 cleaning kits currently on the market. As you go through each one, be sure to know what’s included so you have a good idea of what will fit you best due to some of the features, characteristics, and what’s included inside. 

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. Let’s take a look at the first AR-15 cleaning kit on our list:

Pros

  • Cleaning rods are super-durable
  • It has all the basic cleaning tools you need
  • Doesn’t scratch the barrel or any part of the rifle
  • Super-portable, you can take it with you just about anywhere
  • Easily cleans most AR-15 rifles without any scratches or leaving anything behind
  • Contains almost everything you may need

Cons

  • Missing a lubricant to prevent rust

What Recent Buyers Report

This cleaning kit was a hit with new users. They were really happy with what’s included. The cleaning managed to take nearly less than a half-hour for most users. Once complete, there wasn’t a trace of gunk or carbon in any part of the rifle. One user said he considers this one of the most basic cleaning kits on the market, but has everything he needs to make each and every cleaning a success.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This is a kit that basically includes all your essentials. You have your cleaning rods, pads, and solvents. So, it’s a basic kit that will last you a few cleaning sessions. If you want a good amount of cleaning material that will get you through a few months, then you may want to consider this kit as a possible option.

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
  • 5.56 mm chamber brush
  • straight and curved locking lug picks
  • nylon ended brush
  • short A/P receiver brush
  • female rod handle
  • brass scraper
  • NATO adapter
  • T-handle
  • 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.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will work out nicely as a portable cleaning kit. You can take this out hunting or out to the range. Either way, you’ll have all the cleaning stuff you need no matter where you go. The good news is, you’re not lugging around a huge kit of cleaning material. If you want something that’s easily portable and doesn’t give you too much, this kit might just take the cake.

Bottom Line

The Otis Technology M-16 Soft Pack Cleaning System might be one of the best on the market. But you have enough to work with for just a few cleaning sessions. If you want something that will keep your rifle clean and will leave no gunk or residue behind, you know for a fact that this kit will stand up to the challenge. 

Pros

  • Cleaning pads are nice and soft
  • Allows for excellent cleaning of your AR-15 rifle
  • It does a great job cleaning hard to reach places
  • The cleaning rod is easy to assemble and disassemble
  • It doesn’t scratch the surface or the inner workings of your rifle
  • Plenty of cleaning options for the bolt and star chamber

Cons

  • 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

What Recent Buyers Report

New buyers were happy with the kit, particularly with the number of cleaning pads that were included. They were able to clean their AR-15 rifles with ease and in a matter of minutes. One user said the pads were soft and easy enough to clean off all kinds of carbon, residue, and gunk. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This kit has a few little gadgets you’d never thought you’d find in a cleaning kit, of all places. Take for example the bore illuminator. The illuminator is a small light that will allow you to double-check your bores and other inner workings of the rifle so you can see whether or not you missed any spots. In fact, it’s a lot more effective than a flashlight that may not be able to reach those hard to access places.

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.

Who Will Use This Most 

This kit would likely be put to good use if you’re looking for a great AR-15 cleaning kit you can use at home. Since you’ll also have all kinds of cleaning pads at your disposal, this kit should last you a long time. If you want a kit that will be used as a long-term solution, this might be it.

Bottom Line

The Real Avid Gun Boss Pro AR-15 Cleaning Kit will likely be your kit of choice if you need a ton of cleaning pads to work with. Plus, the cleaning rod is built to last you a long time. In fact, this might be the last cleaning kit you’ll ever buy for a while.

Gun master GM223AR 17Piece .223/5.56 Rifle Cleaning Kit

Pros

  • Fits most calibers perfectly
  • Fits in most gun cleaning bags
  • Doesn’t scratch the bores at all
  • Easily cleans out a lot of carbon and gunk
  • Portable, you can take it just about anywhere
  • Plenty of cleaning attachments and items for cleaning the rifle thoroughly

Cons

  • The packaging is cheap
  • No solvents or oils included
  • Some complained about the cleaning rod not being long enough
  • No solvent or oils

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, most new buyers were quite satisfied with the kit. They were able to take this with them wherever they went. Whether it was at the range or out in the hunting field, they were confident they had a cleaning kit that would come in handy whenever they needed it the most. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This kit consists of a few good bore brushes and cleaning rods. Each brush is measured to perfectly fit your caliber of choice. So, you’ll have a brush specific for .223 bores and another for 5.56 bores. Either way, each brush gets down to the nitty-gritty and will clean out every nook and cranny of your rifle.

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.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will be used by the AR-15 user who’s on the go. If you have all the cleaning stuff you need (with brushes and rods included), this kit will be the best possible option for you. This kit is also a great choice if you’re looking for a basic kit that is affordable for most budgets.

Bottom Line

If you want a kit that is simple and easy to carry, the Gunmaster 17-Piece Rifle Cleaning Kit will probably be your best choice. You have all the things you need in a small package. But rest assured, they are sturdy enough to last you quite a while and will get better with every cleaning session your AR-15 goes through.

8 Pieces Pin Punch with 4 Pcs Starter Punch - Stainless Steel Picks, Cleaning Brush and Soft Faced Mallet for Woodwork/Machinery/Automotive/Watch Repair/Jewelry/Repairs and Crafts by Axageid

Pros

  • Easy to carry around
  • Affordable for most budgets
  • Pin punches are durable and strong
  • It allows for easy cleaning for most AR-15 rifles
  • Brushes can access hard to reach places without any issue
  • Affordable
  • Plenty of options for cleaning different sizes

Cons

  • Some pin punches might be missing
  • Hammerhead could be better in quality
  • Hammer can be a little heavier in weight
  • No solvent or oils included in the kit

What Recent Buyers Report

Most new buyers were quite happy with the fact that this was another portable kit they could take with them just about anywhere. They managed to use the brushes and pin punches to their advantage for the purpose of disassembling their rifle and cleaning it piece-by-piece. The brushes did a great job not leaving any carbon or residue behind.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

One of the unique things about this kit is the pin punches that are included. Yes, you’ll need to take apart your AR-15 in order to clean it. So, what better way than to include pin punches in the kit so you are able to dislodge the pins that hold the rifle together? The manufacturer was smart for including this in their cleaning kits.

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.

Another product you may need for cleaning is a cleaning mat, which can not only hold your rifle parts for cleaning, but also helps keep your work area clean and prevent any parts rolling off. The Ironclad AR-15 Cleaning Mat is a good mat for this purpose.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will be useful if you’re out and about at the range. Sometimes, a good AR-15 will require a good cleaning before a long day at the range (or before a competition). Plus, if you need a cleaning kit that will help make the disassembly process easy, this kit will definitely stand out as one of your best choices. 

Bottom Line

If you want a cleaning kit that is easy to carry and provides all your basic cleaning needs for your AR-15, the Xage Gun Cleaning Set will probably be the best fit for you. It fits most gun cleaning bags and is small enough to go wherever you want to go with your AR-15 rifle. On top of that, you have all the tools you need to take the rifle apart with ease. Never again will you have to search high and low for the right punch pin to fit your rifle.

Pros

  • Unlike other kits, this one includes oil and cleaning pads

Cons

  • No patch loops

This kit comes with two boresnakes. The 5.5mm one can also be used on .22, .22 long rifle, .223, 5.7 X 28mm, and .22-250 calibers. The 7.62mm boresnake can also be used on .30 caliber 30-06, .308 Win., and .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

How to Clean an AR-15

Cleaning an AR-15 rifle might be a difficult task if you don’t know what you’re doing. But if you follow the instructions below, you’ll be able to know step-by-step how to clean an AR-15 rifle with the greatest of ease. Here are the steps:

  1. First off, check to see if you are clear of any live ammo. This means removing the magazine and checking the chamber for any rounds. Once you get the all-clear, move on to the next step.
  2. Be sure to wear eye protection to ensure that no solvent will end up splashing in your eyes.
  3. Using an aerosol solvent, spray down the lower receiver. Be sure to give it a couple of spray overs before wiping it down. 
  4. Using a bore brush, clean the upper receiver, including the barrel.
  5. Clean the bolt carrier using a small-bore brush. Make sure it’s clear from any carbon or residue. Make sure that the gas rings look nice and clean. Be sure to double-check and make any wipe downs if you have missed a spot.
  6. Wipe down the firing pin. Also, check for any signs of wearing.

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. If you can find quality products bundled into a single kit for a reasonable price, you have likely found 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.

Conclusion

Whether you choose to go for a pre-built AR-15 cleaning kit or prefer to make your own, the choice is up to you. But keep in mind that a kit is only as good as the quality of the materials and equipment 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.

About Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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