Experts say for a successful hunt, a hunter must have a clean firearm. In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know before choosing the right muzzleloader cleaning kit, how to clean your firearm, tips to improve its durability, and review the best five muzzleloader cleaning kits available.
How to Properly Clean a Muzzleloader
Cleaning a muzzleloader isn’t as difficult as it may seem – a gentle wipe down and an oil finish is all it needs. But every firearm is a sensitive piece of equipment and following a proper cleaning procedure is the best option.
Here’s a step by step process on how to clean a muzzleloader:
Clean the Barrel
First, unload the muzzleloader then, take a gun cleaning patch and saturate it with the solvent or a bore cleaner. Hook it up to the end of a cleaning rod then, open the barrel and run the cleaning rod inside. Switch the patches on the rod until they start to come out clean.
Clean the Breech
After cleaning the barrel, take apart the breech plug and dunk it into the gun cleaning solvent. Then, take a small brush and rub out all the gunk that has built up on it.
Clean the Threads
The next most important step is to clean out the threads present inside the barrel. It helps in the movement of the breech plug. Saturate a gun cleaning patch and simply wipe down the threads.
Oil the Components
Take the cleaning rod and hook it up with a cleaning patch saturated with gun oil. Run it down the barrel, grease the threads inside, and oil the exterior to make the muzzleloader waterproof. This will help prevent corrosion.
What to Look For in a Muzzleloader Cleaning Kit
There are a variety of gun cleaning kits available on the market and choosing the right one might be more difficult than the actual cleaning procedure. To help you ease into the process, we’ve outlined what to look for in a muzzleloader cleaning kit.
Gun cleaning patches are usually made of cotton and are used most often. So make sure to pick up a box with at least 500 pieces that are thick, absorbent, and lint-free.
Brushes are used to deep clean the barrel of a firearm and replace the work of gun cleaning patches. They are usually made of bronze as it lasts longer. Make sure the brushes are durable but soft so the barrel doesn’t wear out.
Similar to a Q-tip, a cleaning swab or a pick is used to clean gunpowder buildup inside the nooks and crannies of the muzzleloader so rust doesn’t spread. Experts recommend getting a bronze pick instead of a plastic pick – it is more durable and does not damage the barrel.
Usually made in aluminium or stainless steel, a cleaning rod is used to reach the deep ends of the barrel and clean debris out with the help of a cleaning patch, a jag or a bore brush. Make sure it is durable and matches the caliber of the muzzleloader.
Generally present in premium kits, a gun cleaning tooth brush is used to rub out all dust and rust that may be glued to the barrel or the bearings. It is mostly utilised while deep cleaning a muzzleloader. Make sure it is durable but soft enough to not scratch the barrel.
A cleaning jag is an attachment for the end of a cleaning rod and it is used to securely hold a gun cleaning patch in place while the rod is run down the inside of the barrel. Nylon and brass cleaning jags are most preferred as they do not damage the bore of the gun.
Slotted Patch Holder
Also an accessory to attach at the end of a cleaning rod, a slotted patch holder is used to wipe down and oil the deep ends of a bore using a gun cleaning patch. Make sure it is wide enough to hold a thick patch but tight enough to fit it securely.
To clean months of rust, dust, and gunpowder buildup, a muzzleloader needs a gun solvent that deep cleans better than water but will not ruin the rifling of the bore. Make sure the gun cleaning kit you choose comes with a solvent so the setup is complete.
The last step in the gun cleaning procedure is oiling the barrel, bore, and other bearings. It helps waterproof the components so no rust can ruin the trigger. It also ensures the finish of the muzzleloader lasts longer so it looks as fresh as the day you brought it home.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Cleaning Your Muzzleloader
When you’ve set up the cleaning kit and gotten the muzzleloader in place, go through the tips below:
- Before you take out the cleaning kit, it is crucial that you unload the muzzleloader so it does not accidentally fire.
- Read the instruction manual beforehand in case the manufacturer has specific directions on cleaning the muzzleloader or even extra tips like removing the breech plug.
- Ventilate the room as well as you can and wear a mask so the gun solvent’s strong scent doesn’t cause breathing issues.
- Make sure to submerge the thick gun cleaning patch in the solvent and then let it sit inside the bore for up to 3 minutes so it is cleaned thoroughly.
- Don’t skimp out on the gun cleaning patches, it will take at least 6 to 7 passes inside the barrel until it comes out as white as it went in.
- Always use a fresh gun cleaning patch to grease the bearings of the muzzleloader as solvent-infused patches can compromise the effectiveness of the oil and thus, expose the firearm to corrosion.
- If you’re in a hurry, use a spray lubricant and then wipe the excess with a clean rag.
The 5 Best Muzzleloader Cleaning Kits
The Marksman Precision gun cleaning kit includes all of the basics needed in a gun cleaning kit and then takes it up several notches by constructing them in solid brass (even the jags and slotted holders). It also includes an LED battery that has a run time of 8 hours.
- Bronze and brass constructed materials
- Super bright magnetic LED bore light
- caliber size labeled
- Easy to carry case
- 5-year warranty
- Universal gun cleaning kit, works well for all calibers of muzzleloaders
- The construction is high quality, lasts for years
- Does not include gun solvent or oil
The Otis Technology elite range box is true to its name, perfect for elite gun owners. It includes premium features such as a gun rest, flexible cables, and plenty of bore brushes. Even the way they packed the cleaning patches was well-thought-out.
Considering the add-ons and exceptional durability, the price tag on this kit is well worth it.
- High quality
- Breech-to-muzzle cleaning
- 16 bore brushes
- 4 ripcords
- The B.O.N.E tool
- 4 bottles of solvent
- 2 oz bottles of lubricant
- Versatile box, the portable range kit doubles as a gun vice
- Compatible with multiple calibers and gauges
- Expensive kit
The Hoppe’s 62108 gun cleaning kit is one of the best premium choices for a kit and this is mainly because it includes the most-famous Hoppe’s no. 9 gun bore cleaner, constructed with bronze for extra durability and doesn’t break the bank.
- 62 piece universal kit
- Durable travel storage case
- Hoppe’s no. 9 gun bore cleaner included
- 6 solid brass rods
- 14 bronze brushes
- Includes cleaning solvent and gun oil
- Universal kit, it’s compatible with pistols, rifles, shotguns and muzzleloaders of all calibers
- Last quite long and does not wear out after every use
The Guide Gear 62 piece gun cleaning kit is the perfect choice for a beginner to learn how to clean a firearm with hands-on experience. It comes with all the necessary tools, from solid brass rods and bronze brushes to polishing cloths and even some mops.
Each piece is carefully situated in the portable kit and does not shuffle around when the kit is moved.
- Compartmentalised carrying bag
- Multiple-caliber solid brass rods
- High-quality bronze brushes
- Spear-pointed jags
- Equipped with space to add two bottles of solvent or oil
- Compatible with all firearms, perfect for a beginner’s gift
- Low-quality plastic pieces
The Blackpowder Outfit kit is a sturdy piece of unit consisting of all the necessary elements needed to wipe down a muzzleloader and get ready for the next season. It even comes with a company-exclusive DVD to provide instructions on how to clean the muzzleloader and what not to do.
- An all-in-one unit
- Instructional DVD installed
- PowerBelt bullets, PowerBelt speed clip loader equipped
- Solvent and grease stick included
- Scrimshaw outfit
- Perfect for muzzleloaders, has all the necessary equipment for a successful hunt
- The gun solvent removes all harsh residue including rust
- Does not come with primers or powder measure
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of gun cleaning kit do I need?
It depends on what type of firearm you have but generally all gun cleaning kits should have a durable steel cleaning rod, bore brushes that match your gun’s caliber, a brush to deep clean, thick cleaning patches, jags to secure the patch and last but not least, some lubricant for lustre.
Are gun cleaning kits worth it?
Yes, gun cleaning kits are worth the expense, especially the premium kind – they consist of a variety of bonus elements like a storage box for gun cleaning patches or deep-clean magazine brush. Add-ons like these take the guesswork out of the user’s hands. It’s easier to buy a cleaning kit than purchase every item individually.
Can you clean a gun without a kit?
Yes, you can clean a gun without a kit. However, you’ll need cleaning cloths that are cut exactly small enough to fit down the barrel, a solvent that does not ruin the finish of the gun, some patches and brushes that match the caliber of the gun. That is why it’s easier and safer to buy a caliber-specific gun cleaning kit.
How often should your muzzleloader be cleaned?
A muzzleloader sits in storage much more often than it is used for shooting, which means it is exposed to corrosion and dust that could ruin the durability of the firearm. It should always be cleaned before it is placed into storage and then deep cleaned every 2 to 3 months. For better results, wipe down the muzzleloader after every shooting.
Does one gun cleaning kit work for all guns?
Yes, one gun cleaning kit may be compatible with all guns especially if it is labelled “universal.” However, even if you pick up a universal gun cleaning kit, make sure to double check whether the gun cleaning patches and the bore brushes match the caliber of your gun.
What happens if you forget to clean your gun?
When a gun is left unattended and dirty for long periods of time, the internals may start to rust which would compromise the trigger and firing mechanism.
Cleaning a muzzleloader takes no more than 15 minutes if you have your cleaning supplies laid out and ready. Now that you have a better idea of how to choose a muzzleloader cleaning kit and the different kinds available, you can pick one up in less than 15 minutes, too.