Keeping your firearms clean is very important, if not the most important aspect of gun maintenance. Thus, you’ll be in need of a gun cleaning kit and the most important piece of this kit is going to be the rod. So, it’s imperative you have the best gun cleaning rod possible.
When you purchase a gun cleaning kit, there’s often already a cleaning rod included, however, in order to have the best cleaning rod possible on hand, you’ll want to make another separate purchase. Your firearms will only last so long without proper maintenance, so you’ll definitely want to keep this in mind. In order to have your guns firing at optimal performance, you’ll want them cleaned regularly to a high standard.
A few things to keep in mind when shopping for the best gun cleaning rod –
- Material – You’ll find a lot of aluminum rods on the market, but you’ll want to avoid these at all costs. They’re soft and thus can allow small particles in that will scratch your run. Additionally, aluminum bends and breaks way too easily, so you’ll want something tougher such as carbon fiber, steel, etc.
- Length – You won’t too short of a rod as it won’t be sufficient for the job. One that’s a bit too long however, can typically get the job done. Thus, when in doubt go longer than you may initially think.
- Accessories – Most rods include 8 – 32, however ones that don’t should be easy to find accompanying cleaning jags and brushes. Most gun cleaning kits also come with a gun cleaning rod, however, as mentioned above you’ll still want to buy an additional extra.
Rotating Vs. Stationary Cleaning Rods
There are two main types of gun cleaning rods; rotating and stationary. Rotating rods turn in use, this is often thought to be an advantage as the ability to turn is thought to easily remove more gunk. However, if you have the right technique, a stationary rod will work just as well and often be more durable and secure. However, in the end you’ll have to decide for yourself what you prefer.
Still a bit confused? No worries, that’s why we’ve designed this guide reviewing the best gun cleaning rods in the US, along with pros, cons and all the frequently asked questions!
1. Gunslick 32011 Cleaning Rod
In our opinion this is one of the best carbon fiber cleaning rods from Gunslick. It has a smooth and reliable swivel as well as bearings, although it can be a little difficult to get a good feel for the movement initially. This may be odd at first, but stick with it and you’ll see it’s an extremely reliable rod, it just takes a bit getting used to.
As it is made up of carbon fiber, you’ll notice quite a bit of extra flexibility. This means you’ll need to treat it with a bit of extra care, but the rewards are definitely worth it! So, make sure you reserve this for it’s intended use, cleaning and no other jobs.
It also comes with a flexible muzzle guard, which is good as you don’t want this aspect locked in place, although if you’re used to a more “fixed” model, it may feel odd at first. So, if you want a high quality and economic option, this is your best bet.
- Smooth swivel
- Loose Muzzle Guard
- Difficult to get a “feel”
2. Pro Shot Rifle Cleaning Rod
This stainless steel cleaning rod from Pro Shot is a great option for any gun owner looking to keep their firearms optimally clean. It’s also finished nicely with an extra polish, without the extra coating other materials may require, which inadvertently collect debris in the barrel.
The stainless steel material is also nice as it is stiff enough that it won’t bend or break, with enough give that it’s flexible enough to get the job done. You’ll notice less overt-bending than with carbon fiber models.
The handle is a bit on the smaller side, so keep that in mind if you have larger-than-normal hands. This rod is also made and sourced from material 100% from the US, always a bonus, get yours today.
- Stainless steel
- Prevents debris build up
- Made in the USA
- Small handle
- Not very bendy
3. Dewey Cleaning Rod
One of the most popular brands, it’s always good to include a Dewey cleaning rods review in a guide such as this. Now, normally we wouldn’t recommend a nylon coated rod, as they can easily pick up grit, however that’s not the case with this best pistol cleaning rod from Dewey. Rest assured you will be purchasing the best quality product possible that will do the job without dirtying your firearms.
This particular model is known to be extra sturdy and strong, not to mention extremely efficient. Worth mentioning is Dewey rods will have male threading while other branded products, female. This is the opposite of most other companies. Not to worry though, this rod comes with an adapter, ensuring you’ll be able to get right to work!
It’s meant for any firearm between a 22 and 26 caliber, but may be a bit larger than you’d prefer for a 22, so keep that in mind. Otherwise, a great product you can’t go wrong with!
- Doesn’t pick up grit
- Adapters included
- Opposite male/female threading
- Can be big for 22s
4. Hopper’s Bench Rest Cleaning Rod
This is an amazing, all-in-one option for cleaning rods and even better, this is one of the best rifle cleaning rods as it is compatible with most firearms on the market.
At 35.5 inches in length, it’s well-prepared for any gun 22 caliber or higher, so rest assured all your firearms will be able to be cleaned with it. The stainless steel material is always preferable, sturdy and reliable, not to mention prevents debris build up. You’ll also love the ball bearing swivel handles, making it easy to use.
It’s an extremely versatile tool that is perfect for anyone wanting to keep equipment to a minimum, just note it may require a bit of cleaning oil upon first use. If you have a varied collection of firearms and want a cleaning rod you can use on all of them, this is certainly your best bet.
- Ball bearing handles
- Needs prepping with oil
5. Tipton Deluxe Cleaning Rods
The other major brand in the never-ending Dewey vs Tipton cleaning rods debate, this product from Tipton won’t disappoint! It’s a high quality product that is sure to delight with how well it gets the job done.
The carbon fiber material is perfect for super hands-on users, as it will bend to your will without breaking and won’t leave any debris behind after use (which could damage your gun). It also won’t strip off and damage the gun when in use (as other materials might do), always an advantage.
The extra flex of the carbon fiber makes this ideal for gun owners who prefer this feature. Additionally, the amazingly comfortable bearings and handle are unlike most on the market. This ensures the rod will perform for years before you’ll need to replace it. Note that with Tipton cleaning rods it’s often advisable to order a size below the caliber of your gun.
- Comfortable handle
- Smooth bearings
- Run large
- Can be too bendy
6. Pro Shot Universal Cleaning Rod
In our experience, the best value cleaning rod is this one from Pro Shot. This versatile product is the best shotgun cleaning rod for those of you with a varied gun collection, as it’s compatible with most models. It is specifically built however, for pistols and handguns, so if that’s what you primarily use, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on one of these!
The smaller size and simple construction makes it ideal for trips to the range, out hunting or around the house of course. The standard compatibility ranges from 8 to 32 threads, so rest assured you’ll be able to use it with most of your existing accessories.
It’s generally meant to be a stationary rod, however you can clearly see that the not/bolt on the handle is an addition. Thus, if you wanted to use it as a rotating rod, you could theoretically loosen the nut to allow for this, although if you do so too much, it does become a bit too loose.
Overall, this is a great simple cleaning rod, perfect for handguns but easy to use with all sorts of firearms. It’s also a great price, so get yours today!
- 8-32 threads
- Primarily stationary
- Not many features
7. TuffMan Cleaning Rod
This product from TuffMan is an extremely highly rated option and for a good reason! It’s one the best shotgun cleaning rod and one of the best rifle cleaning rods you could purchase. Compatible with both handheld and hunting rifles, it’s generally good for anything between a 22 and a 50 caliber.
The best feature however, is it’s ergonomically designed handle, sure to keep your hand from getting sore, no matter how many guns you have to clean that day. It also rotates a full 360 degrees, a truly amazing design.
The hybrid steel strength and carbon rod combine for a unique design that has the flexibility and bend of carbon fiber, with the durability and strength of steel. This ensures it will shape to each gun barrel and clean without leaving any potentially damaging residue. Get yours today.
- Good for shotgun or rifles
- Full 360 rotation
- Ergonomic handle
- A bit pricier than others
8. Hoppe’s Elite Cleaning Rod
This simple, yet effective design from Hoppe’s is truly one of the best gun cleaning rods on the market. The 8 inch rod is perfect for 22 caliber pistols and compatible with all accessories ranging from 8 to 32 threads. Thus, it’s not recommended for rifles, but if you primarily own pistols or handguns, it’s a great option.
The carbon fiber material is of the highest quality, meaning you can be rest assured that no debris will be left in your gun and it will be crystal clean by the end of use. The double ball bearings are an absolute premium and you will be pleasantly surprised how much this enhances the process.
Additionally, the ergonomically designed handle is extremely comfortable in the hands, even after being in use for awhile. If you’re a handgun owner you’ll want to get your hands on this cleaning rod ASAP.
- 8 to 32 threads
- Double ball bearing
- Ergonomic handle
- Not compatible with rifles
Should I buy a gun cleaning kit as well?
Yes, in our opinion, in addition to a gun cleaning rod, you’ll also want a gun cleaning kit on hand as well. This is because you’ll need more than just a gun cleaning rod (although that is arguably the most important piece) to keep your firearms in top condition. A gun cleaning kit will come with all the necessary accessories (which you’ll want to double-check are compatible with the rod you purchase) to do so. A kit will also often already come with a rod, which makes a good back up, but for the best gun cleaning rod, you’ll want to purchase a separate one, like the ones recommended in this guide.
What’s the difference between bore snakes and cleaning rods?
In our experience, bore snakes and cleaning rods are similar, with a few important distinctions that often mean you’ll want a gun cleaning rod for sure in any tool kit. A bore snake is smaller and takes up less room than a gun cleaning rod, however it’s difficult to apply enough pressure to completely clean your firearm. Although, it is easier to cause potential damage with a cleaning rod.
Thus, we recommend having both on hand, but if you absolutely can only choose one, you’ll want a gun cleaning rod for sure.
Looking for more gun maintenance tools? Check out our reviews for the best bullet pullers and the best powder tricklers!