If you own an AR-15 then you know how often you have to clean it. Most people think that they’ll just use their rifle or shotgun cleaning kit and they’ll be fine. Unfortunately, the AR needs to be handled a little differently than all other guns. Many tools are specifically designed to clean the AR-15 and you won’t find them in other cleaning kits.
One such tool that’s designed for the AR is the carbon removal tool. Carbon builds up quickly in the bolt carrier group and can get pretty bad if now attended to with the proper tools. This is especially true if you are using cheaper rounds. If you have ever watch a YouTube video of assembling, disassembling and cleaning the AR, you’ll find that many pros use a carbon removal tool.
The carbon removal tools are designed carbon buildup from the interior walls of the bolt carrier and the bolt tail radius. If you’re new to the world of AR-15’s then you need to go the extra mile to get a carbon removal tool. This tool is not necessary for other firearms and usually specifically designed for the AR styles.
CAT Barrel Scraping Tool – Best AR Cleaning Tool
If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video where they clean an AR then you may have seen the CAT-4 carbon removal tool. This is the standard Military issue AR cleaning tool and is the most popular on arguably the best AR cleaning tool. This tool is designed to make your AR look brand new after firing a few hundred rounds. There are many similar AR carbon removal tools that clean the bolt carrier and bolt but most are very expense. I’ve used this one for years and it’s reasonably priced and is perfectly designed to do the job.
You’re able to scrape away any carbon buildup, including burnt deposits off of the areas that get the hardest. This includes the back end of the bolt, inside the bolt carrier and the firing pin. Use a little gun cleaning solvent on the parts and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes and then watch the magic happen. Simply scrape the parts and rub it down with a cloth and all the carbon will come off.
While most reviews about the product are positive and claim that the tool does an excellent job, some verified customers have had a few complaints about this scraping tool. One complaint that stood out was that there might be some fitting issues with the tool. While a lot of customers say that the tool fits perfectly, it might not be the case for you.
If it’s too tight, the best thing to do in this scenario is to get a replacement or go for a different option. Don’t try to force it in as it might cause gouging of your gun bolt.
Real Avid MSR Scraper – Best AR Cleaning Tool Under $20
The most popular alternative to the CAT-4 is the Real Avid MSR scraper. At about half the price, many people like this tool better than the Cat-4. So, how can a tool that’s have the price be better? Well, many people love this tool and many people, including myself would have to say that it doesn’t remove 100% of the carbon from your AR.
I’ve been using this scraper for a few years, along with a few other and I really like several things about it. It has very specific patterns that allow you to get into places that other scrapers don’t. You can tell they put a lot of effort into designed the most effective scraper possible. Without being able to adjust to the profile of the surface being cleaned it’s tough to get rid of all the carbon.
One of best things about this AR cleaning tool is the price. It’s under $20 and does the job. You may want to use it as an add-on to your other cleaning tools because there have been complaints of it not removing all carbon buildup, which I can attest to. However, if you’re on a budget than this is the best AR tool you can get and it’s one of my favorites in my tool box.
Kley-Zion CRT – AR Carbon Removal Tool
One of the newer AR cleaning tools is the KZ CTR Carbon Removal Tool. This has become a popular inexpensive alternative to the CAT-4 carbon removal tool. Made in the USA, this tool looks bad ass and is on my Christmas list this year. From all the reviews I’ve looked at people are kicking themselves for now getting it sooner. So, let’s take a closer look at this tool and see what makes It so unique.
Many people who have used the Otis BONE tool have switched over to this one. The Bone has several flaws and I’m not going to include it on this list because I have it and don’t really like it because it doesn’t clean the entire BCG, so I’m not going to recommend it to others.
The tool is made from solid bar stock, premium grade steel, giving it a durable construction. The black oxide finish on the tool ensures resistance to corrosion. The dimensions of the tool are designed with the help of precise geometrical profiles, ensuring that proper cleaning of the bolt from the tip to the shoulder is effectively achieved.
Another interesting aspect of this device is the 15 degree clearance rake on the tool. This allows better cleaning capabilities inside the bolt carrier.
The KZ CTR has a large end that cleans the end of the bolt and the other end cleans the carrier. Most bolt carrier tools are expensive, so I’m a little surprised that this tool seems to be so effective. All of the reviews are amazing for this tool and it seems to work great for cleaning ALL parts of the bolt carrier group. No negative reviews have been written, which is amazing. This one is on my list of gun cleaning tools to buy next!
Real Avid – Carbon Boss AR Cleaning Tool
I bought the new Real Avid Carbon Boss a couple of months ago when it came out. This is their newest carbon removal tool designed for the AR, so I thought I would give it a try because it looked pretty cool. The best part about this is the design and all the features, it has 16 different features I believe. It comes with a version of their MSR scraper on one side, a brush on the other side and the bolt tail brush in the center is amazing.
This is the only AR cleaning tool that I’ve ever seen that has three-sided design and it’s a pretty awesome design. The nylon brush is an amazing add-on that I’ve never seen on a cleaning tool. Although, I have a bunch of nylon brushes it’s nice to have an extra one mounted on the tool. The best and most innovative thing about this tool is the 360 degree bronze brush in the center. This is the first tool of its kind to have this and it does an amazing job of cleaning the bolt tail.
Another brilliant aspect about the tool is that it has 16 different functionalities. Your bolt, bolt carrier group, and multiple other surfaces can be scraped clean of carbon by using the various options on the tool. It also has 12 precision cut non-hardened surfaces that do a great job of scraping off residue without leaving behind scratches.
The brushes included with the tool are all replaceable, and come in the form of a nylon/phosphor detailing brush and a 360-degree phosphor bronze brush. You also get the option to replace the cotter pin puller and the pin punch.
The sleek design of the Real Avid cleaning tool also ensures that you get one-handed access to all the tools present with the device.
There are, however, some problems with the device that verified some folks are facing. One issue is that the interior and exterior bolt tail scraper device doesn’t scrape all the way to the base of the tail. Some other fitting issues have been noted, which is something that might depend on the person and their gun
Overall, I would have to say this is my favorite cleaning tool for the AR for now. It comes with a nice nylon case and is a very heavy-duty. I can see this becoming one of the most popular AR cleaning tools in the future.
If you’re the proud owner of an AR-15, you know how important it is to keep it in peak physical condition. The reliability, longevity, and accuracy of your gun depend upon how well you maintain and store it. Using professional cleaning tools can help you get the best possible experience from your gun.
In this article, we outlined the best AR cleaning tools available on the market today. We hope that you could make an informed decision about which one of these options is the best fit for you. You can also check out this article about the best AR cleaning kits to learn more.