There’s no use in owning a gun if you’re not going to keep it maintained. Like with any tool, a firearm needs cleaning when it’s been used, and it’s a good idea to clean them if they’ve been sitting around for a long time, too.
General maintenance is the duty of any responsible firearm owner but it can be messy work. Fortunately, there’s a whole market of specially-designed gun cleaning mats available online, with some even being tailored to specific gun types and models.
You have a lot of choices but, if you’re here, you want our two cents. We’ve given you five gun cleaning mats below. We’ve taken general quality into account but each mat attacks a different type of firearm, so our number four could be your number one.
Take a look, and if you want to learn more about gun cleaning mats and how to get the best ones, we’ve also included a small buyer’s guide at the foot of this page. Once you know what to look for, it’s hard to go wrong in buying a mat.
In a Hurry?
If you want us to cut to the chase, we’d suggest to you the Real Avid Handgun Smart Mat. Real Avid stock quite a few universalized cleaning mats that have all the features we like to see.
The reason a smaller handgun mat made the top of our list is because we’ve made the assumption that the average reader will have a smaller self-defense piece or a first gun and they’re new to gun maintenance.
If you’re packing something more substantial then read on, but if you need a great new mat for your equally new pistol or revolver, take a look at the features you get with the Real Avid Handgun Smart Mat:
- A 19”x16” gun cleaning mat that’s made to serve most handgun sizes. It’s also available for specific handgun models complete with tutorials.
- Liquids of all kinds will bead up and wipe away from this mat instead of getting soaked up. It also has a metallic tray and a magnetized compartment attached to it for small parts storage.
- The back is treated with a non-slip material that makes sure it doesn’t slide about when you’re working. When you’ve finished, it rolls up for carefree and convenient storage.
OUR TOP PICK
Our top gun cleaning mat is the Real Avid Handgun Smart Mat, a universal handgun cleaning mat that’s perfect for those of you with smaller guns.
Many people’s first guns tend to be handguns, so whether it’s your first or just a firearm for your bedside cabinet, this is the mat you’ll want to clean it with.
If you’ve already got your handgun then you may like the more specific mats that Real Avid supplies, mats made for 1911, Glock, and Smith & Wesson M&P platforms that include tutorials and parts guides for each.
The mat itself is 19” by 16”, which is a great size for a mat that has the ambitious goal of serving most handgun types. It should be big enough for your firearm but it’s always a good idea to make sure before buying.
On the right side of this mat, you get the standout feature of Real Avid cleaning mats, a magnetized parts tray that includes compartments for those tiny, annoying pieces that’d otherwise rattle and roll around your working space.
The surface of the mat is treated to avoid liquid absorption, so it won’t drink up any water, oil, or solvent that might get dropped when cleaning your firearm.
All of that messy material will bead up upon contact with the mat’s top surface where it can be wiped away properly, so it’s a necessity when cleaning your gun.
On the back, it has gripping material that ensures the mat won’t slide around when you’re trying to work.
- A universal handgun cleaning mat that’s 19”x16”, the perfect size to accommodate all standard pistols and revolvers.
- Has a magnetized tray for safely storing small parts with no chance of losing them.
- Liquids, including oil and solvent, will bead up on this mat so it’s easy to clean up.
- Non-slip material on the back keeps it firm on your work surface.
- Available in different versions for different handgun types, complete with tutorials.
- Rolls up for convenient storage when you’re done.
- The mat is thin, so it’s not cut-resistant.
Next up we have a more specific gun cleaning mat that should get a lot of attention. Called “the most popular rifle in America,” the AR-15 is an accessible and efficient firearm that also needs some TLC.
That’s where we’d recommend the UsefulThingy AR-15 Gun Cleaning Mat, a specialized mat that comes decorated with a tutorial and parts guide diagram, along with a brief history of America’s favorite gun.
It's 36” by 12”, which is to be expected for an AR-15 and can serve other long rifles in a hurry. Where a lot of gun cleaning mats will repel liquids, this mat instead goes in the opposite direction.
It soaks up the oils and solvents that get used during gun maintenance so that they literally disappear from the mat, clearing it up so you can carry on with the cleaning.
The mat itself is pretty thick and you can tell it’s made from durable material. It still retains the softness of daintier mats, so it won’t scratch or otherwise damage the parts of your AR-15 when they’re getting moved across the workspace.
The back is also made from neoprene which is renowned for its grip. It anchors the cleaning mat to your desk so that you can clean properly without it sliding everywhere.
This is your number one choice if you’re sporting an AR-15, no doubt, and it’s also one of the more affordable guns cleaning mats on this list so you’re getting away with a good deal.
- A 36”x12” AR-15 cleaning mat with parts diagram decorations and a tutorial on how to maintain the rifle.
- Any dropped liquids will get soaked up so that they aren’t a problem for you or your firearm.
- Made from thick and durable but soft padding that won’t scratch your gun.
- Neoprene base anchors this mat to your desk.
- An affordable gun cleaning mat.
- The print on this mat is small, so it isn’t friendly for those who need reading glasses.
Having covered a more affordable gun cleaning mat, the Sage & Braker Universal Gun Cleaning Mat is the most expensive one on our list.
This is for good reason too since the mat is huge, measuring in at 69” by 16”, so we’d defy you to find a commercially available gun that can’t sit comfortably on the expanse of this mat.
It’s a lot to spend on a mat but consider it a long-term investment, this mat could be in your family for a generation or two if you keep it well.
So, what sets this cleaning mat apart from the competition? The main thing is that it has so many storage options.
It comes with many pockets that are perfect for stashing your gun cleaning gear, like your bore snakes, brushes, and picks, as well as supporting liquids.
It’s not just a gun cleaning mat, it’s a gun cleaning case too, and it’s all conveniently tied together by a leather strap.
You really see the high-end construction of this mat when you’re up close. As said, the mat includes straps made from real leather.
The interior is then made from the waxed canvas so that any liquids used won’t stain or stick to the mat.
The mat is also padded with a heavy wool quilt that provides unmatched softness and support to whatever guns you’re working on.
- A huge 69”x16” premium universal gun cleaning mat that’s sure to last a very long time.
- Comes with multiple pockets for storage of gun cleaning gear and spare parts.
- A very durable gun cleaning mat fashioned from canvas, wool, and leather.
- Doubles as a portable gun cleaning case complete with leather strap seals.
- The most expensive gun cleaning mat on our list.
Drymate is a provider of domestic and outdoors equipment that all share a key property, can you guess what that is?
They’re a US-based business that prides themselves on making waterproof items, so it makes sense that they’d stock the Drymate Premium Gun Cleaning Mat. This is as simple as mats come but we’re sure many of you will find some charm in that.
They stock this mat in a variety of colors and sizes, from 16”x20” to 16”x59”, so you’re covered whether you’re sporting a handgun or a shotgun or rifle.
We’d recommend this for those of you who have a shotgun since it can be large enough without being unnecessarily complicated.
The top face of this mat is made from a fibrous polyester that really sets it apart from other mats.
It’s soft, so your guns aren’t getting scratched, and the fibers on this mat go with UsefulThingy’s approach of soaking up each and every oil spillage.
While making a mess, the back of this mat is treated so that it won’t slide around, which is much appreciated when wrangling with a deconstructed shotgun.
Once you’ve gotten enough use out of it and the mat is saturated with chemicals and solvents, you can wash it in a washing machine and hang it outside to dry, something you can’t do with many other mats.
- A simple cleaning mat available in different colors and sizes that works well with shotguns.
- Made from a fibrous polyester that absorbs oil and solvent spillages to remove them from your working space, while a waterproof backing prevents anything from soaking through.
- Slip-resistant backing ensures that the mat doesn’t move around when you’re working.
- Is very easy to wash, whether that’s a hose-off or a cycle in the washing machine.
- Fibers can come off if tools rub up against them.
The last cleaning mat we recommend is the cheapest on our list and the most functional by far, even if that means it lacks some of the secondary features that better cleaning mats have.
It’s Lyman, who has made a name for themselves by providing gun maintenance accessories for cleaning and reloading your firearms. This time we’re talking about the Lyman Products Essential Gun Maintenance Mat.
It's a single sheet of soft polymer that’s durable yet won’t take any undue stress from your tools during a cleaning session.
An advantage of using this soft polymer is that it’s separated into recessed sections for parts management and storage.
Another is that it’s naturally resistant to chemicals and other harmful elements that might stain other materials, and easy to clean when you need to wash all that mess off.
If you go for this mat, it might arrive at your door rolled up. Despite its polymer construction, you can roll this mat up for space-efficient storage or make it easier to carry around with you in your daily life.
- A simple yet effective mat from a known firearm maintenance manufacturer.
- Made from durable yet soft polymer that resists solvent and other liquids and it cleans easily.
- Features recessed sections that keep parts separated.
- Can be rolled up for easy storage or carrying.
- May start to warp after prolonged use.
Best Gun Cleaning Mat Buying Guide
If you’re here, there’s a good chance you’re new to firearm ownership and maintenance.
Whether that’s the case with you or not, we’ve written this buyers’ guide to help everyone become more familiar with gun cleaning mats and what to expect when buying one.
Knowing what properties and features to look out for is the surest way to rule out bum products that’d waste both your time and money.
We’ve outlined those properties and features through the below subheadings, so check those out if you need some more help in deciding on a cleaning mat.
Let’s get the simple stuff out of the way first. Your gun cleaning mat should have enough room to, you know, clean your gun.
The mat should accommodate your firearm and then some since it’ll get even more spread out when deconstructed.
If you have a massive gun and the financial means for it, you can always stack multiple cleaning mats together if you need the extra space.
The material used for your mat is pretty important, it basically is the mat after all. There are a few things you’ll want to look for, from general quality to waterproof/absorbability functions that keep the working space safe when cleaning your firearm.
The material your cleaning mat is made from dictates many of its other qualities.
For example, mats made primarily from plastic will be more brittle and so prone to damage from shock trauma yet are much easier to clean, like our number five mat above. Neoprene-based mats are better for taking care of your working space
Diagrams and Guides
Alongside the material, you’ll want to decide if there are any diagrams or guides inked into your mat. Many universal gun cleaning mats have none of these since they’re designed to be used for all kinds of guns.
That’s a lot of empty space, however, which is prime real estate for diagrams, tutorials, and parts guides that make the firearm maintenance process much easier.
Getting a mat that supports your firearm platform can be a great way to learn and stay on-brand with the weaponry you have in your home. This is great for beginners, as you can imagine, though it’s best used where you plan on having one or two reliable firearms.
You don’t want to buy a new mat every time you’ve got a new gun, after all.
Storage and Parts Bins
This will vary wildly depending on the price point and brand of your cleaning mat, but you can generally find many mats that have parts bins.
By parts bins, we mean a small storage area or recess attached to the mat where you can store and sort the tiny parts that you get swamped with after deconstructing your favorite gun.
Our number one mat above comes with a magnetized bin for extra security, so that’s a cool feature to shop for if you’re the exact kind of person to lose a little screw when trying to re-assemble your gun.
As for storage, some mats like to double as not just cleaning mats but cleaning kits too. This means they roll up to provide a secure and portable travel pack, and in that pack, there’s the standard working space as well as pockets to store cleaning gear in.
A prime example of this is the high-end Sage & Braker cleaning mat above, which has four large pockets for tools and accessories to gun maintenance.