Best Gun Cleaning Solvents

Whether it’s your first buy or you need to stock back up, getting the best gun cleaning solvent is the linchpin of a successful clean.

There’s a lot to look for in a cleaning solvent nowadays, as many don’t just clean but also lubricate and protect the areas to which they’re applied, hence why they’re often called CLPs. Fortunately for you, we’re here to help you find the best CLP for you.

So, we’ve grabbed five cleaning solvents off of the market that we like and reviewed them all below. With each entry, you can see our thoughts as well as an easy-to-read pros and cons list, so we have you scan-readers out there covered.

There’s also a buyers’ guide included, where you can learn more about CLPs and what everyone should be looking for when they try buying some.

In a Hurry?

If you just want to buy some cleaning solvent and get it over with, you can find our number one solvent suggestion right here.

We liked the Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner. For those who know about the brand, that may not be surprising since they’re one of the biggest out there.

See why we liked this Hoppe’s product below:

  • Firstly, Hoppe’s is a brand that’s known wherever there’s a gun to be cleaned, so you can rest assured you’re working with a reliable premium brand. It’s the chosen brand of champion shooters, after all.
  • Having been around since 1903, Hoppe’s uses the same formula today to clean any firearm and prevent any more carbon buildup or wear and tear.
  • The cleaner is pleasant to work with, having a pleasant smell and safety features like its childproof locking lid.

OUR TOP PICK

Coming in from one of the biggest brands involved with gun cleaning, our number one cleaning solvent is the Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner.

They have a reputation for being the best and in this case, they were the best gun cleaning solvents we could find readily available. 

They’ve been around for over 100 years, so their reputation is well established, and they certainly impress a lot more people than they let down, even being sponsored and advocated for by shooting champions and ambassadors.

So, your money is well spent here. That being said, expect to spend more of that money since it’s a premium brand.

Each purchase gets you a one-quart bottle of the cleaning solution, a formula that hasn’t changed since Hoppe’s founding in 1903. It has a few advantages over market competitors, mainly how potent the solution is.

It can penetrate the materials you’re treating deeply but quickly, ensuring you’re only done in a minute or two. That means this product is best geared towards frequent, light cleaning over a heavy one.

Another cool feature of their formula is that it doesn’t smell bad, which is a plus.

It can be applied to any type of gun or rifle, there are no restrictions, so go nuts. Whether it’s a pistol or revolver, or something more substantial like a hunting rifle, the trusty No. 9 can do the job. When applied, it’ll loosen debris and protect the areas it’s been applied at for a time.

For those of you with a family in the house, it’s also worth noting the bottle has a childproof cap on it. This keeps kids and most minors out, minimizing the possibility any harm will occur.

Pros:

  • A one-quart bottle of bore cleaner from a popular and reputable brand that’s the favorite of champion shooters.
  • Contains their original 1903 cleaner formula that can clean any gun and protect from wear and tear.
  • The childproof cap keeps children and minors safe.
  • Treated with a pleasant smell.

Cons:

  • A more expensive product from a premium brand.

EDITORS CHOICE

The second spray we have here is a certified CLP, the Break-Free CLP-2 Aerosol cleaner.

Break-Free comes in a few different packages, but the aerosol one is more accurate and convenient to apply. If you’re taking testimonials, this is one of the brands that the US Army uses to clean all of their service weapons, from pistols to rifles, artillery, and even tanks.

So, what can the Break-Free CLP-2 do for you? It’ll spread across treated surfaces to ensure even coverage. There it uses corrosion inhibiting chemicals to ensure that rust doesn’t form on the body of your firearm.

It also leaves behind a protective barrier that helps to lock moisture out of your firearm, full stop.

The Break-Free CLP-2 also performs in pretty much any weather conditions. It does this by virtue of its synthetic oil formula that keeps its viscosity no matter what the environment throws at it.

This means dust, dirt, and humidity levels won’t interfere with its coverage. It’s even resistant to saltwater and salty air.

Part of this impressive resilience is also the fact that it can withstand as low as -65 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as +475 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pros:

  • A CLP spray cleaner that’s used by the US Army to clean weapons and heavy ordnance.
  • Corrosion inhibitors inside the cleaner solvent prevent rust formation.
  • This synthetic oil CLP tolerates all but the most extreme weather conditions.
  • The formula can withstand temperature from -65F to +475F.

Cons:

  • In large quantities, this CLP can be toxic, so handle with care and limit exposure when using it.

BEST VALUE

Next is the cleaner you’ll want to go with if you’re expecting heavy-duty work, the Breakthrough Clean Technologies Military-Grade Solvent.

As the name would imply, this is a precise and potent solvent that’s great for getting the job done in a covert manner. As a solvent, it’s not toxic, it doesn’t stain surfaces, it doesn’t even have a scent.

Unlike other, more thermo-sensitive solvents, the Breakthrough Clean spray has a flashpoint of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, so it won’t combust until you have other problems.

The spray is completely neutral in terms of pH, so there’s no need to worry about incompatibilities with the surfaces you’re treating.

It works on wood, all kinds of plastic and polymers, and even materials as hardy as cerakote coatings or as delicate as hydro-printed decals. If it’s part of a firearm, you can probably cover it.

Once your gun is covered, you’ll need to leave it for the solvent to do its job, as usual. However, with this spray, you’ll find that it evaporates off of the gun much faster. This makes the whole process easier and more tolerable for those of you who are impatient, we know the feeling.

Given how balanced this formula is, there’s not much surprise that it leaves behind virtually no residue.

After cleaning your gun, it’s usually time to reach for some patches to ensure any residual mess or grease from the cleaning product is swept away. In this case, there’s no need for any of that, making the process shorter for you.

Pros:

  • A military-grade solvent that’s non-toxic, doesn’t stain, doesn’t smell, and has a higher flashpoint at 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A truly pH neutral spray that’s safe on every surface you’ll find on a firearm.
  • Rapidly evaporates faster than market competitors.
  • Leaves behind no residue, so little to no after-clean cleanup needed.

Cons:

  • Weaker against stubborn carbon formations due to its neutral formula. 

RUNNER UP

Next, we have a spray-applied gun cleaning solvent, the Ballistol Multi-Purpose Lubricant Cleaner.

If the can looks old-fashioned, that’s because Ballistol was founded in 1904 after some Germans invented gun-cleaning solvent for the German war machine, where it was then used for both World War I and World War II, so you can be sure it’s a brand with a legacy in keeping guns clean and functional.

It’s a four-ounce non-aerosol can that contains a solvent that’s based on mineral oil. It’s friendly to work with, which is why it’s not just used for gun cleaning but also wood and leather.

This can make it great for stocks and other non-standard firearm handles and gripping points. The spray can even be used on plastics and metals to some effect, too.

When used, the fact it's an alkaline solution gets to work to break down and remove oils that are caused by skin contact and residual sweat.

What’s more, this spray is biodegradable and non-carcinogenic, so you can spray away without having to worry about the environment or your long term health.

Non-carcinogenic doesn’t mean non-toxic, however, so we need to warn you that this spray is toxic if ingested or swallowed, plus it’s combustible.

Don’t fool around with it, and definitely keep it out of reach of children and minors.

Pros:

  • A non-aerosol can of gun cleaning solvent with credentials dating back to German military use.
  • Contains 4-oz. of versatile mineral-oil solution that can clean guns, wood, and leather.
  • Its alkaline nature eliminates oils formed from skin and sweat.
  • Biodegradable, so it won’t harm the environment when used.

Cons:

  • The spray is still dangerous to people if ingested or swallowed.

RUNNER UP

The last gun cleaning solvent on our list is for those who prefer a finer touch. The Pro Shot 1-Ounce Zero Friction Needle Oiler does just that and is much cheaper than Hoppe’s alternatives.

The fact it’s a needle oiler means you can reach hard to reach spots on your firearms, allowing you to deposit the liquid wherever it’s needed.

This oiler is also a nice red color so you can better see where you’re applying the oil. It’s not just oil, however, as it also cleans and lubricates the area that the oil is applied to and will protect it from further grime in the future. It protects through anti-wear additives including antioxidants.

Speaking of the future, once the liquid in the needle oiler is fully depleted, you can keep the bottle and use it to store other CLPs that you’ll buy in the future.

With this purchase you’re not just buying some cleaning solvent, you’re adding a useful precision weapon to your gun cleaning arsenal.

Pros:

  • A convenient needle oiler that allows you to deposit cleaning solvent wherever you need.
  • Contains anti-wear additives that protect the treated area once applied.
  • Reddish liquid allows you to see exactly where you’re depositing it.
  • This purchase is future-proofed since you can use the bottle for other CLPs later.

Cons:

  • The oil is very thin, which may take getting used to.

Best Gun Cleaning Solvents Buying Guide

The ownership and maintenance of a firearm can be expensive, so spending hard-earned cash on subpar products is a big no-no.

Whether you’re new to all of this or you’re just a careful buyer, this here buyers’ guide should have all the information you need to pull the trigger on your purchase.

Not all solvents are made equal, and a lot of them do entirely different things from one another, so it’s important to know your stuff when you’re going into a deal.

Fortunately, we’ve got your back, and we can tell you what to look out for. We’ve divided the average solvent into a selection of features and properties and written about each, so it’s all easier to read and understand.

Compatibility

A very small note before we get into the rest of our guide, the very first thing you should be doing is confirming that the solvent is compatible with the firearm you wish to use it on.

This is usually pretty easy because the solvent is, well, solvent, there’s not much it can’t be used on. Still, it’s something to keep in mind to avoid wasting money and embarrassment.

Quantity

Next, you should figure out how much of this solvent you want. This is where you can weigh up the cost against capacity, and that way you get the most bang for your buck.

There’s also a time factor here, how long will a certain amount last you? Experienced firearm owners will already know, roughly, how long their last order of solvent lasted them.

If you expect that you’ll need more solvent than the single quart on offer, you can buy much more for less of a price markup since it’s essentially bulk.

Speed and Purpose

Having mentioned time, how long do you want to stand around waiting for your solvent to take effect?

Some are patient and prefer to let their solvent do its work over an extended period of time just to make sure, whereas others are too busy and want a fast-acting formula that’ll save them time and money.

You can probably tell which tends to be the more popular choice but be warned that fast formulas are often fast because they’re more abrasive and crueler to the sensitive parts of your gun.

Then, you should decide if you want a basic cleaner or something a little bit more. Many cleaners are multi-purpose, so you can use them for more, whether it’s more guns or other tools around the house. This saves money since you don’t need to buy multiple different solvents for essentially the same tasks.

Types of Solvents

There’s a lot of solvents that do a lot of different things, so we’re going to break them all down here so you can make an easier decision. Most of the differences are in their delivery system than the actual solvent itself, but you’d be surprised at how much that can change about the product.

Liquid solvents are what a lot of gun nuts think of when they hear the word. This is the traditional solvent that’s to be applied to brushes and patches to clean within the gun’s bore, where it clears out harsh materials like lead, carbon, and copper particulate.

Predictably, however, a liquid solvent can get messy. A lot of bottles of liquid solvent don’t even come with an easy-pour nozzle, so I hope you’ve got a steady hand. If you use too much, you’ll have a lot of oil and grease to clean up after you’ve dealt with the gun.

Aerosol solvents are probably the second most used type, and they feature heavily on our list too. Whereas solvents are easy to overdo if you lack a steady hand, it’s easier to miss with a spray can, so we hope your aim is decent.

Of course, being a gun enthusiast, you should have both. Aerosols are great at removing stubborn debris and gunk from the harder to reach parts since they have water-like consistency when they hit the firearm body and leak into the firearm itself to do its job.

Foaming solvent is less common but is great for pumping into hard to reach areas in the firearm. These solvents are great for when your firing mechanism or rail needs purging of debris, where you’ll leave the foam for several minutes to break it all down.

Many solvents also go by CLPs, since they clean, lubricate, and protect your firearm from future debris. These can be any of the above types, and they’re made specifically for gun maintenance and restoration.

It’s easy to overapply CLP since a little is all you need, and it’s not suitable for detailing your firearms. We’d recommend using CLPs as a quick fix in conjunction with a simple solvent that cleans, but you can get away with both as long as you’re following proper gun care practices.

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