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Every gun owner has his or her preferred tools and gear. I certainly have mine. Things that make my life as an gun owner a little easier or just a little more fun. Here are a few of my favorite things, stuff without which I’m not sure how I’d get by . . .

5. Hoppe’s #9
The one. The classic. This is the solvent I’ll always use. It works well and like so many others, I really rather enjoy the aroma of Hoppe’s. This is what I was taught to use to clean a gun with when I was younger and the scent will always elicit happy memories. It just smells like “gun”.  I find myself admiring the fragrance of Hoppe’s much like I admire the smell of cosmoline.

4. BoreSnake
A BoreSnake makes cleaning my AR infinitely easier. I hadn’t tried one until I randomly picked one up from Cabela’s. It’s faster and efficient. I use it with — of course — Hoppe’s #9 (see above).  I now have a BoreSnake in almost every caliber for every gun I own.

3. Laser Boresight
Another item I didn’t know I needed until I tried it. It was a gift, actually, and it is amazing. I have one for my .223 rifles and it’s quite a bit more accurate than even the package insert claims. It states that once bore-sighted, you’ll be on paper at 100 yards. I definitely achieved that … and am pretty sure it would do the trick out the 150 yards or so. It’s extremely easy to use with my green dot sight on my AR-15.

2. Belly Band

The belly band is, so far, the best way I have found as a smaller woman to conceal a  firearm.  I do have to wear a looser top, but I can carry a decent-sized weapon and do so comfortably in most clothes with my belly band underneath. It will hold a revolver or semi-automatic securely and is really easy to use. Obviously not for use while wearing a dress.



1. Tackle Box
I know this is a bit unconventional — or maybe not — but I use a large fishing tackle box to keep my tools for my guns in. I keep my speed loaders in it, rags, the boresight, BoreSnakes, and toothbrushes for cleaning. I have snap caps, wrenches, and spare screws in there. It holds my solvents, lubricants, and spare parts for things like my Streamlight flashlight on my AR.

Those are my five faves. What are yours?

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    • Allow me to welcome you to the wonderful world of Barbie Dolls for men. If you are anything like most of us AR owners, you probably won’t recognize yours in a year or two as being the same one you just bought. Stocks, optics, rails, lights, the upgrades never end. But that’s part of the fun.

  1. As a kid, I loved the smell of Hoppe’s, but as I near 70, it makes me ill. Now I use Gunzilla, and really like it.

    • the smell of #9 bugged my ex-wife, so I wound up switching to Hoppe’s Elite. Works pretty good; has a spray nozzle, no smell.

      • Hoppes #9 doesn’t attract many women, but it does attract the right kind.

        Since you switched wives, have you switched back to #9?

        • Not yet; but only because I have run out of the elite yet; once I do I’ll probably go back to #9;

          And yes, the current girlfriend is a shooter. ????

        • Hoppes #9 is a neurotoxin. It should never be smelled or touched. It’s horrible stuff that has caused serious central nervous system issues in many a gunsmith in particular. There are many modern products that are just as effective or more effective but are 100% completely safe, non-toxic, biodegradable, etc etc…

    • Gunzilla is the way to go. I think it works better than Hoppe’s and without the carcinogens.

    • That, and the 6″ version called “cotton tip applicators.” Pipe cleaners are handy for getting under extractors.

    • My wife is a dental hygienist an I have an endless supply of rubber gloves, lint free gauze, and perfect for wiping out 9mm barrels, those cylindrical cotton swabs that they pack your cheek with before extracting a tooth.

  2. Set of Allen keys. Screwdrivers with the right size tips. A tool or tackle box for cleaning and tools, another for reloading (she’ll holders, hand priming tool, etc).

    • I’ve been meaning to mix up some of this stuff. Care to do a post about it your findings, pros and cons to other generally available solvents?

  3. Cleaning jags. So much better than those other cloth pullers. A nice set of punches has also made life easier.

    • I recently bought a quality punch set and a block. Best gun cleaning related investment ever.

  4. A Gerber multi-tool (because internet wisdom says the guy who owns Leatherman is a commie pinko freak).
    A used toothbrush
    A can of old G.I. bore cleaner.
    Simonize paste wax for wooden stocks
    I carry my cleaning stuff in an old .50 cal ammo can.

    • Had a gerber multi tool given to me years ago. Has the needle nose pliers. It splits duty between my range box, a cheap walmart toolbox, and my tackle box. That needle nose is handy.

    • I’ll gladly take that title. My Leatherman Wave has served me excellently from my first year in the military to now, over a decade later. Still in great condition. I had a survival instructor break his Gerber multitool and loaned him the Wave to finish the job.

    • i love everything about the gerber except the steel in the pliers. I broke two sets trying to bang pins out of a 240g. Switched to a leatherman and it never happened again.

  5. Hoppe’s #9 is a solvent? I thought it was perfume.

    And I use tool boxes in various sizes for ammo, cleaning supplies etc. They work better than anything else.

    • My shooting buddy told me there was a disclaimer and a warning, in fine print, on the label of Hoppe’s #9, telling you not to drive for 8 hours after using their product???

    • Ralph,
      You can fit your ammo in a tackle box?
      Good grief man, you must be starved!

      • UpLula FTW. That is the one item I just automatically assumed would make the list when I first read the article title.

        Maybe she just hasn’t tried one yet?

  6. A few years back I happened upon a video made by a gun owner introducing FrogLube. He loved it, swore by it and used nothing else. I bought some for my 1911 collection and a few rifles. Gave it to my brother in law for his guns. Now it’s the only treatment we use and I recommend it to every gun owner I run into. And it meets and exceeds military specifications. Wish it had been around during 20yrs in the Army.

    • +1 for FL…

      Damn I love that smell.
      My GF nearly killed me, when she found out I hid a box in the bedroom, cause I loved the smell so much.

      “This is going too far. We need to talk.”

      No more FL in the bedroom. Foodgrade argument didn’t work as expected.

      For above: – seems to work with cold^^

      • “No more FL in the bedroom. Foodgrade argument didn’t work as expected.”

        This I found hilarious, thank you.

        • The owner of my local gun store charges a premium for cleaning or gunsmith services to anyone using or requesting Froglube. according to them, it’s a huge PitA to work with and clean.

          My favorites: Gunzilla, Rand CLP, and MilPro 7.

      • Who(or what) were you trying to lube in the bedroom? LOL Seriously I guess I’ll try it…I use CLP and Remoil. Works fine for me…or is it a European thing?

    • Mark another down for froglube. Works fine below freezing but I haven’t tried it much below 20 degrees.

    • yeah, they are pretty good. The last Remington product standing that’s worth a crap.

    • Yep, CLP is nearly a ‘universal’ remedy for anything ‘gun’. And boresnakes are braided mana from heaven. Seriously.

      I still use #9 on stubborn stuff though. 😀

  7. Frog Lube….and have never looked back!

    Getting the old crap off was half the battle. This stuff is amazing!

    Now if my wife would use it as perfume….

    • I like Froglube and it doesn’t bother my wife. If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

  8. M-pro 7 cleaner instead of hoppes. Hours just didn’t remove the copper filing like the M-pro 7 did. Bore snakes are nice for quick, thorough cleaning. I can’t attest to the belly band. And my gun maintenance stuff fits neatly in my range bag so I don’t need a toolbox. I agree with having a decent multitool on hand. And laser boresighters are always nice.

    • I had the exact opposite experience. I tried out M-Pro7 only to have to go back and re-clean with Hoppe’s. I just keep the rest of the M-Pro 7 bottle for quick range wipe-downs.

      • I guess solvents/cleaners are like ammo. Some guns like certain ones better than others. That’s probably the first time I heard someone unhappy M-Pro 7. Stick with what works best for you and to be the lesson.

      • Mpro 7 didn’t do anything for me, I threw it out. Boretech Eliminator is incredible for cleaning a bore, powder blast for the lowers and slides…lube with whatever I got at the time, shoot, repeat

  9. I have a sports bag that contains everything with the exception of ammunition and cleaning rods.

    In the bag is a wooden tray that was originally a crate of Norinco yellow box .223 Remington ammunition. In the crate is the insert of a toolbox containing assorted tools including screwdrivers, Allen key sets, sight adjustment tools for specific rifles, plastic tube to use in Mauser rifles when cleaning, pens and pencils, pins for targets, and other odds and ends. Also in the tray are a tube of Tetra gun grease, binoculars, scizzors for cutting cleaning patches, and other items.

    Also in the bag is a pouch containing a roll of 4×2 patches, brushes and jags for the cleaning rods, pre-cut patches, Sweets 7.62 solvent, and Jib gun oil. An old 4L ice cream container for my waste patches. A spray bottle of glass cleaner for chrome-lined barrels and a starter for corrosive ammo rbefore using the Sweets in the other rifles. And my shooting jackets, sun cream, and insect repellent.

    The cleaning rods are stored in the rifle case. I use different labelled ammunition cans for the various calibres, and a shooting mat is the final item.

    To load the car, I need to make two trips. The first is the range bag and the shooting mat. The second is for the rifle case and ammunition can.

    I used to use Hoppes #9, but it isn’t good for removing copper fouling. Sweets does a very good job but should be swabbed out with dry patches after no more than 5 minutes after the final wet patch. And the smell of Sweets solvent is so bad you will have to clean at the range.

  10. Right now I only have two:
    1.) UpLula: My right thumb thanks me every time I load a magazine.
    2.) BoreSnake: It lives in my range bag, in a small pouch with a spray bottle of Hoppe’s Elite gun cleaner and a bottle of Hoppe’s Elite gun oil.

  11. Ballistol, cheap plastic dental pick, Q-tips, changing pad covers (plastic on one side, fuzzy on the other, cheap enough to toss when filthy) and AMMO! LOTS OF AMMO!

  12. Boresnakes are good, just remember to pull them from the breech to the muzzle, not the other way ’round.

    #9 has been a standard for years. It works OK for cleaning both powder and light copper fouling. If you start to reload and use CFE-223 powder, you can reduce your copper fouling and now be just having to worry about powder residue in your action.

    For powder fouling, I like MPro-7 gel. I can smear it down a bore, let it sit for an hour, then come through with a nylon or brass brush on a rod, run the rod through once, then put a couple wet patched through, get the powder fouling out and run some dry patches through. Oil and store.

    For shotguns, a boresnake works really well. MPro-7 really shines here, as it also softens any plastic fouling. A stainless steel brush and chamber brush speed up the removal of plastic and power fouling on shotguns.

    For heavy copper fouling, I still like Sweets. You need to pay attention to the instructions carefully. If you just leave it in your bore, it will etch your bore. Not good, so pay attention to the instructions.

    Another product that helps with metal fouling (esp. lead fouling) is Kano Labs’ “Kroil,” which is also an excellent penetrating lube.

  13. My range bag. When I owned my first gun, I still carried the pistol in it’s original plastic case and a grocery sack for the ammo. The range bag made it so much better to carry a couple hundred rounds of ammo, multiple guns, plus extra gear like ear/eye pro, field cleaners, etc.

    I carry a couple boresnakes, but I just use them to do a quick clean after shooting. I still use patches and rods. Boresnakes just don’t scrub as good.

    I hear a lot of people using tackle boxes to sort their cleaning supplies. I just use some old .50 cal cans.

    • I run a patch with No 9, then a dry patch, then the boresnake. Seems to do a good enough job.

      Doesn’t get the barrel “drill sergeant clean”, but barrels don’t need to be that clean (for most uses).

    • “I hear a lot of people using tackle boxes to sort their cleaning supplies. I just use some old .50 cal cans.”

      I use both, old double fold out tray tackle box which is great for med. sized parts & a soft side with the translucent divided boxes for pins/screws/bolts. Albeit the .50 cal can gets used for other things nowadays (my BiL accidentally “stole” it about 4 years ago now), & a 20mm can has taken it’s place.

      Concerning my brother-in-law, he’s still active duty (Major on paper, filling a Lt. Col. billet ofc, & set to retire this year), and he’s forgetful about bringing… well, he’s just plain forgetful about minor incidentals. It’s an equitable trade though, as a fringe benefit, I don’t pay for my ever so slightly faded ACU’s. :p

  14. The bellyband is an awesome product. It really shines when you just want to wear basketball shorts or some jogging pants. I use the Desantis brand one and it can hold my Glock 23, at least 2 extra pistol mags, and it has a larger section that can fit an AR-15 mag, money, papers, knives, or whatever. It would also work well with a suit.

    Other products I couldn’t go without are:

    UpLula mag loader
    Brass cleaning jags
    Peltor electronic ear pro
    M-Pro 7

  15. 1. Weaver Advanced Gunsmith Kit- I use this kit almost daily, between the the punches and specialized screw driver bits it is no doubt #1 for working on firearms.
    2. Tipton Best Gun Vice- My wife bought this for me for Christmas so I think I’m obligated to put it on here. But I use it almost as much as my gunsmith kit.
    3. My homemade gun lube- 1qt synthetic 5w-30, 1qt synthetic automatic transmission fluid, and 1-2oz Hoppes #9. It’s cheap to make and works great.
    4. A good cleaning rod- I’ve broken the cheap screw together rods before, and that hurts. A good solid Dewey or other rod/s is well worth it.
    5. Magnetic trays- If you’ve ever completely broken down a firearm to its tiniest bits, then you’ve prob spent 20 minutes crawling around on the floor looking for the smallest piece off of it(Murphy’s law). Magnetic trays help solve that completely, except on those tiny springs that shoot across the room when you’re taking it down.

  16. #5 (Hoppes No. 9) and #4 (Boresnake) – yes, great products.

    # 3 – eh. Some laser boresight system’s diodes are not properly colimated, and therefore don’t shine the dot where the bullet will hit. I bought a few and some just plain don’t work. The military-grade lasers I use to use at work are spot-on, but expensive. The el-cheapos from Dick’s or Amazon are hit or miss.

    Here’s one that will be on everyone’s list sooner or later (unless you die young): reading glasses. After about 45, you will find reading glasses to be extremely helpful when dealing with small parts close-up.

    Here’s one that everyone can use at any age: ultra-thin swabs.

  17. Let me give a little love for the Sightmark Boresights.

    I have one each for my 9mm and .45 pistols. There is nothing better for adjusting the sight-in point on a laser sight. Put the boresighter in the chamber, turn on the laser sight, point the gun at the wall, and then adjust the little screws on the laser sight until the two red dots are right beside each other. It takes 30 seconds, is extremely accurate, and requires no expended ammo.

    If you don’t have a laser sight, a boresighter is very useful during dry fire practice. A great tool for improving your trigger pull, because any movement of your aim point during your trigger pull is easy to see.

    And they are relatively cheap, too.

    • Just make sure you get one that doubles as a snap cap, or the firing pin can destroy it pretty quickly.

  18. What about lubricating oils? For handguns, I have been using the Hoppe’s gun oil, but I find that it dries out pretty quickly, although I’ve had no problems with it. I haven’t settled on a lube for my AR either. Boresnake I need to score, just haven’t gotten around to it, just do it with jags and a rod and lots and lots of patches. all packed in a range bag with numerous pockets.

    • For oil, I use fluid film and p blaster. Grease is cheap high temp auto grease or some lucas oil’s red ‘n tacky. I use nonchlorinated brake cleaner, too.

    • Make your own lube, I make my own by the gallon. 1qt synthetic 5w-30, 1qt synthetic automatic transmission fluid, 1-2Oz Hoppe’s #9. I don’t care how much you shoot it’ll be enough for several years.

  19. Ask yourself, what did The Continental Army use? Go from there. Technology is wonderful, but when the stone age hits, best be prepared. A bore snake would be my prized tool. I have found that a firearm is that hard to clean. Make it complicated at your own risk.

    • They used boiling water and animal fat, and sometimes a drop of simple soap. A friend of mine traded me a quart jar of bear grease once, and the old stories are true. It was the best thing for metal and wood I’ve ever used. And for my flintlock, that still works great.
      But it doesn’t work on guns using modern smokeless powder at all.

  20. I freely admit to being ridiculous about cleaning my guns. I have a more than a couple guns, and I shoot them all. So it might be 6 months before I rotate though to shooting a particular gun, so it may sit for a while. Solvent bath, ultrasonic parts cleaner, and my cleaning kit is a 40 gallon plastic tote filled to the top with all the random crap I probably don’t need. But my guns are spotless inside and out, including the many that are over 100 years old.

  21. Still using Hoppes? What is this, an episode of Mad Men? I’ll take Slip2000 any day of the week, it’s non-toxic, naturally derived, and highly effective.

  22. I have everything on the list except the bore laser. Haven’t used the belly band in forever. I would add one thing to the list: Grease Monkey Nitrile Disposable Gloves from Home Depot. I wear them every time I clean my guns. Because I like Hoppes, but kerosene, ethyl alcohol, oleic acid, amyl acetate and ammonium hydroxide are not exactly hand lotion.

  23. My five:
    1. Sig Sauer pistols
    2. Primers
    3. Brass
    4. Bullets
    5. Press and scale.

    Well ok that’s six!

  24. Sara,

    If you like the belly band, you might want to check out the “Kangaroo Carry” line of “shoulder holsters”. I put “shoulder holster” in quotes, since they aren’t like the typical shoulder holsters people think about.

    I’ve used an older “Air Marshal” version for several years now, and I love it. It has all the good attributes of the belly band, but with a shoulder strap, so even with heavy guns you don’t have to worry about “holster sag”. It has extra pockets (for additional mags), and I’ve modified mine to also hold a small, flat flashlight. It’s easily washable, and adjustable for various barrel lengths/gun sizes.

  25. I agree with everything except for the Hoppes…Otis CLP any day over Hoppes.

  26. Range Bag: Not purpose built, but well-built. It was a gym bag originally.
    MPro7 Soft Kit: Augmented with more patches, MP7 bore gel, and a couple of Wilson chamber cleaning tools.
    Peltors and Surefire EP5’s: Lots of indoor shooting, neither does the job completely. Together, perfection.
    Cobra Riggers Belt: Holds spare mags, Leatherman and med kit comfortably for hours.
    Dark Angel Medical DARK kit: With an extra tourniquet. The sealed insert compresses over time, and I can get both in the front pouch.

  27. Dedicated reloading bench in dedicated reloading room. Any visitors are welcome to sleep on the floor of my living room …

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