Owning a gun isn’t just about shooting it. There’s a lot of upkeep and maintenance that goes into keeping a gun in its best shape, and this is more true for rifles than for most guns. Cleaning your AR regularly will ensure that you get the best possible shooting experience from it.
In this review, we’ll be looking at some of the best AR cleaning kits along with some of the best carbon removal tools. A standard universal cleaning kit is not really designed for the M-16, AK, or M4 and may not come with the right sized brushes. That’s why we wanted to take a look at the best cleaning kits on the market that are specially designed for these models.
For this review, we looked at all of the top AR cleaning kits on the market to find the best AR cleaning kits. Many brands don’t market their cleaning kits specifically for AR but we will be looking at all cleaning kits that work with .22/5.56 caliber firearms as well as cleaning kits that are designing just for the AR.
Best AR-15 Cleaning Kits Short List
Real Avid .223 Gun Boss Gun Cleaning Combo
I’m a big fan of the Real Avid products and have been using their products for a couple of years now.
This .223 / .556 kit comes with everything you need for your AR and also comes with the best AR cleaning tool.
I really like that this kit comes with 500 cleaning patches and a 7 piece cleaning rod that extends to 33” and fits into a small 8” carrying case.
The gun case is heavy-duty ballistic nylon and weighs 3 pounds with everything in it.
The threaded brass cleaning rods are pretty nice, a lot better than what comes with most kits. The field guide is another nice addition, which will show you everything you need to quickly assemble and disassemble your AR.
Real Avid MSR Scraper – Carbon Removal Tool Review
This tool is one of my favorites and really it’s all you need to keep your AR-15 clean. If you ask me this tool should come in EVERY Real Avid kit but since it doesn’t you have to get it separately or with this kit.
For any AR15 owners out there you know how difficult it can be to clean all the carbon from the nooks and crannies. A good bore snake and this tool will handle most of your cleaning needs and of course the cleaning brushes once in a while.
An old military buddy of mine introduced this tool to me and It’s by far one of my favorite multi tools for removing carbon fouling.
When you first look at the tool it has a weird deign and takes a little getting used to. It comes with instructions on how to clean every rifle surface.
You will soon realize that this tool is precise and very well thought out. The angles and curves, hook and millings really do allow you to get into every possible area of about 99% of firearms.
As usual with any gun cleaning kit, most people don’t like the design of the cleaning rod. This one I will admit can be a pain to put together all 7 pieces and then disassemble it. This would be my biggest complaint with this kit and you should probably look into a one piece 33” cleaning rod to save you time.
Some reviewers have also claimed that the brushes they received were bent, which made them unfit for use. However, this can just be a packaging issue. Don’t risk using a damaged brush to clean your rifle. Overall, reviews say that this kit is a great starter kit for cleaning your AR.
Otis – M4/M16 Cleaning Kit
I’m a big fan of the Otis memory-flex cleaning rods and have been using them for a couple of years. For those that aren’t familiar with these rods, you attach your piece to the rod and then it slides down the barrel the same way that a carbon fiber cleaning rod or brass cleaning rod works. It saves you time attaching the pieces required for a 30” barrel.
The brushes are the quality you would expect from Otis Technology and are probably the best brushes you can get. The chamber brush is a bit smaller than I like which is why I have several different sized brushes that I purchased separately from Otis.
The carrying case is the standard small black nylon bag with a belt clip. There’s enough room in the bag for a small bottle of gun cleaning solvent and a few other tools.
The Otis flexible cleaning rods work with many types of firearms but the AR15 pattern rifles need the bold carrier cleaned every time after firing the his cleaning rod can be difficult to do that. The locking lugs are another thing that needs a good cleaning on the rear of the barrel, which is why you should look into a carbon removal brush.
Some folks also have a problem with the plastic that’s used in the construction of the case the kit comes in. While the equipment itself is of decent quality, the container isn’t the best. You might want to purchase a separate case for carrying your cleaning equipment for a better experience.
Overall, this is not really they kit you want if you’re going to be firing your AR on a regular basis. The tools just don’t do a good enough job to clean it well enough. It’s more of a range kit that you would take with you once in a while to clean your gun before and after firing.
Tipton – 13-Piece Nylon Rifle Brush Set
I purchased this Tipton nylon brush set a while back and thought I would add it to the list. It’s not an entire kit but these brushes are very high quality and very inexpensive. Tipton makes the best gun cleaning rods and you can simply purchase a 32” rod and this kit and you’re good to go to clean about 99% of rifles.
The price of many kits is equal to that of a good cleaning rod and this 13 piece brush kit. The only other thing I would add is a carbon removal tool and of course some good CLP. The quality of these brushes are comparable to any others and the price is great The brushes are made of bronze and I haven’t had one bristly fall off yet.
Calibers include: 17, 22, 243, 25, 270, 7mm, 30, 8mm, 338, 375, 416 and 45 calibers
Many of the rifle kits come with one or maybe two brushes. I would definitely think about getting more than 1 brush if I were you and these are the best brushes I have used. When I bought these a while back there were no reviews and now there are plenty of good reviews and no bad ones. The brushes do what they say and they are high quality.
There might be some issues with the brushes that might be a concern. According to a few folks, although the brushes work, they should have more wires in their construction to make sure they don’t fold over. This means that you might have to be more careful while cleaning your gun, as aggressive brushing might lead to damage.
BOOSTEADY Pro .223/5.56 Cleaning KitWe wanted to a look for the best affordable AR cleaning kit and I think we found it with this one. Certainly, you don’t want to use this kit as your primary kit but it looks great for taking to the range or in the field. I really like the simple pouch design.
Simple but effective, this kit does what it says. The pouch is large enough to hold a small bottle of CLP and a few other cleaning items. It comes with a cool little clear plastic bottle to store your CLP as well. The bronze brush is designed to fit only the AR and this is an AR kit. It weighs less than a pound and measures 8.4″ inches by 5.4″.
It includes everything you need for .223/5.56 including a 5 section cleaning rod, patches and brushes.
For the low price, you can’t expect much. This kit is by no means a full cleaning kit and would be a secondary or backup cleaning kit for your AR. The brushes might not be the best and the brand is relatively unknown, so if you don’t want to take a gamble I would opt for the Otis kit instead.
Cleaning Your AR
Choosing the best AR cleaning kit is a tough task. We really like the Real Avid rifle cleaning kits and the Otis is a smaller cleaning kit for the AR.
If you want to put your kit together yourself, then you will be spending about double the money but it is fun to do. I have done this a few times thinking that I could save money by avoiding a kit but that’s not usually the case.
For people who don’t shoot their guns too often or aren’t worried about cleaning efficiency, buying a premade kit is completely fine. However, for enthusiasts who use their guns regularly, putting together your own kit would be the better option.
I have the Real Avid AR gun cleaning mat and really like the magnetic sides. You can put your tools and gun components in there and they stay right where they are.
The AR-15 gun mats have a diagram of each component on it which is great for beginners who are unfamiliar with their firearms, telling you how to clean each piece. But even though there’s a diagram, it’s important to properly go through the manual so you know what you’re doing.
If part of the cleaning process involves disassembling and reassembling the gun, test out its working properly once you’re done. Triggers and other moving parts should be tested before putting the gun into storage.
Another tip that you should keep in mind while cleaning your AR is to clean the chamber and barrel from back to the front. This will ensure that any residue that would be knocked loose will come out of the front of the barrel in the form of debris.
Keep in mind that while cleaning your AR, it’s a great idea to use a gun vise to secure it. This will help prevent you from damaging the rifling. It’s actually pretty easy to damage the crown and rifling if your AR is not properly secured, which is why a gun vise is almost necessary for cleaning an AR.
One of the best investments you can make with your AR is a good Carbon removal tool like the Combat Application Tools barrel scraping tool. This will save you a lot of time because it can be nearly impossible to fully clean your AR of all carbon buildup.
You shouldn’t need to clean you AR as often as most other guns and often times only require a good cleaning with a bore snake and your favorite tool.
Of course once in a while you’ll want to do a full clean with your kit when you start to see a lot of gunk start building up. In general though the AR is much more less prone to intense cleaning and you shouldn’t be cleaning it very often.
The Bottom Line
A regular gun cleaning kit might not have the brushes and other equipment that you need to clean an AR. While you can always spring for a universal gun cleaning kit, getting a specialized AR cleaning kit for your rifle will ensure that your gun stays reliable, accurate, and long lasting.
We hope that this review about the best AR cleaning kits for 2021 has helped you make an informed decision about which of these options is the right fit for you. To learn more about similar topics, browse through Gun Cleaning HQ for more articles, reviews, and buying guides!