Boresnakes can be a valuable addition to your gun cleaning kit, and they’re probably the best tool for quickly cleaning guns in the field, whether you’re on the hunt, on patrol, or just at the range for the day.
Let’s take a deeper look at boresnakes, what they are and how they work, and then we’ll dive into the best ones on the market today.
These are the ones we’ve tested, used, and abused over the past few years, and we’ve come to rely on all of them to keep our guns clean
What Are Boresnakes?
Boresnakes are an effective cleaning tool alternative to cleaning rods, or sometimes a supplement to them.
Basically, with a cleaning rod, you have a one-piece design or multiple pieces that screw together to become a solid piece. You then use that solid rod to push your brushes and your cleaning patches down the barrel of your gun.
With a boresnake, things are a little different. boresnakes are flexible and made of rope, hence the “snake” part of the name.
They work more or less just like a cleaning rod except instead of pushing it through the barrel, you pull it through. They also typically don’t require patches, but instead use the rope itself as a buffing tool.
While they may not get a gun as pristing and factory fresh as a thorough cleaning with a set of cleaning rods and patches, they are more than adequate for cleaning in the field, and a hell of a lot more convenient as well.
With a boresnake, cleaning your gun back to a more than acceptable standard takes about a minute, leaving you much more time actually shooting, than doing maintenance.
What Are The Different Types Of Boresnakes For Gun Cleaning?
Bore brushes are all more or less the same, at least as far as overall design goes. They consist of a rope with a loop on the end and either a permanently-affixed brush or a removable brush.
Some also have an initial swab that helps remove a little extra carbon fouling, and while these usually aren’t necessary, they are sometimes nice to have.
You can also find modular-ish boresnakes with detachable buffing ropes, allowing you to utilize many different ropes with one snake and brush setup.
Finally, you have the boresnakes that are just a braided cable with an end you can screw brushes or patch holders to so you can run a standard patch instead of a buffing rope down the barrel.
While these are okay, be very sure that the cable is coated if it’s made of steel, which it probably is.
Pulling an uncoated steel cable through your barrel is a fantastically efficient way to absolutely ruin your barrel, so be very careful here, and if you aren’t sure you’re getting a quality product with a good coating, pick something else.
All it takes is one gap where the coating rubs away, allowing the cable to shred your rifling, and then suddenly you’ll be wondering why your precision rifle has turned into a musket.
How Do Boresnakes Work?
Using a boresnake couldn’t be easier, and that’s why they’re so beloved by shooters.
First, apply your CLP or gun solvent to the chamber or breech and the muzzle of your gun. A few drops of Hoppe’s No.9 will do in most cases. If you want, you can spray some onto the brush itself as well.
If you’re just using a regular solvent or gun bore cleaner and not a 3-in-1 CLP with protective properties, dab a little gun oil onto the buffing rope.
Once you’ve done this, you simply thread the brass weight on the end of the rope from the chamber or breech to the muzzle. Grab the weighted end and pull through.
Boom, you’re done.
You can pull the bore snake through again, but in general you’re all finished. This easy and straightforward process is what makes boresnakes so very popular.
Coupled with maybe one deep-cleaning a year, and some touch-up work on the bolt and other areas of semi-autos that may be prone to fouling here and there and that’s all you need to do.
They’re so popular because they fold up into a small package, and don’t take up anywhere near the same amount of room as a carrying case for a full cleaning kit that uses rods.
With boresnakes you typically use less cleaning solvent, and you’re definitely going to spend less of your time cleaning. You can also get boresnakes for everything from a .17HMR all the way up to a 10 gauge shotgun, so you’ll be covered no matter what.
What Do You Look For In The Best Boresnakes?
There are a few things you should always keep in mind when choosing a boresnake.
First and foremost, make sure you’re buying from a quality manufacturer. The most expensive product on this list is well under $30, so there’s no reason to cheap out on something that’s just not going to do the job.
Worse still, a cheap, low-quality boresnake could damage your rifle, or break off inside the barrel. Now you’re really risking messing up your rifling because there’s probably not going to be a great way to get it back out.
Next, it’s best to look for something with a removable brush and a detachable rope. These two features will dramatically increase the lifespan of your boresnake.
The brushes we use to clean our guns are made out of brass or bronze so they don’t scratch up any steel parts like say, the fragile rifling grooves inside our barrel.
While this is great for the rifling grooves, it means that those brushes wear out. The bristles fall off or break, and they wear at the ends until they’re too short to effectively clean your rifle.
Now if you can’t remove your worn-out brush, you don’t have a boresnake anymore, you have a useless piece of rope. Well, to be fair you can probably make a weird-looking bracelet or a cat toy out of it, but it’s life as a boresnake is over.
A detachable, washable buffing rope is also great because it lets you run the bronze brush or brass jag through on its own so you can get a better, deeper cleaning before you run the buffing rope through.
Furthermore, it means you can wash the buffing rope separately to get all the carbon and other crap off of it.
You can even get machine washable ones that will allow you to clean off all the remaining residue from even the dirtiest of rimfire guns in just one wash.
Best Boresnakes We Reviewed
I’m a competition shooter, hobbyist gunsmith, and I test and review firearms for a living, so you can imagine how much I shoot and how much time I spend cleaning firearms.
I’ve used every kit, boresnake, cleaning rod, on the market today. So when I say I know boresnakes, holy crap do I mean it.
Amazon reviews are great, but I like personal experience better. Then again, these products all have huge numbers of positive customer reviews so I guess it doesn’t matter.
Anyway, here are the best boresnakes on the market today. If you’re looking for something that will make your bore shine, these are the ones you should have on your wishlist.
We’ve included product information as well as some special offers and rebates you can get, where applicable.
We’ve also included a variety so whether you’re looking for a centerfire, rimfire, handgun, shotgun, or rifle boresnake, there’s something on this list for everyone.
Hoppe’s Boresnake Viper (Our Top Pick)
Hoppe’s remains the number one name in gun cleaning, at least in America, and they have been since about 1910, so it’s probably no surprise to find one of their products on this list. The Viper Boresnake is their entry into the market, and as you can probably imagine, it works well.
This is basically the industry standard when it comes to boresnakes (and arguably the original boresnake, so if you’re looking for the old standby and aren’t worried about having all the bells, buzzers, and whistles, this is the one to go with.
Gloryfire is another well-known name in gun cleaning and maintenance. Their take on the boresnake is a great value for the price. It’s a few dollars cheaper than the Hoppe’s option, and most of them come with multiple swab and brush options so you have one boresnake that can cover multiple calibers.
I own the pistol version and it lives in my range bag so that I can touch up my competition guns while I’m training. I can’t recommend this enough if you’re looking for a budget option that still works well.
Multiple detachable heads
Coated steel cable won’t hurt your rifling
No pull handle, kinda rough on the hands if you’re cleaning multiple guns in a row
This is my favorite bore snake. This is the bore snake that I always have with me. If I was going to war, this is the bore snake I’d want with me. It’s over twice the price of most other options, but when I tell you that the Sage and Braker bore snake is worth every penny, I absolutely believe that with all my heart.
This is, without a doubt, the best bore snake on the market, full-stop. The construction and design are light years beyond anything else.
The head and the buffing rope are detachable, the brass head is labeled with the caliber, and it comes in a lovely little carrying bag.
If you’re willing to spend extra for a high-quality, American-made product, this is the one to get.
Real Avid likes to innovate on old ideas, and they really added their own spin to the idea of a boresnake. Their take, known as the Bore Boss, is a small device about the size of a hockey puck, making it great for tossing in a range bag.
The “puck” opens up and you pull out the snake, which unrolls from around the device. You then feed it through the bore, and clip it back into the puck, which you use as a pull handle.
Overall, this is a great option if you’re looking for something compact that you can toss into a range bag and forget about until you need it.
That’s about it for boresnakes, thanks for tuning in everyone. As always, these are the best products we could get our hands on, and they’re the ones that we use in our everyday lives. I shoot probably 500 rounds a week on average, so I spend probably a full day or so every month cleaning guns.
Without my boresnakes, that time would triple.
If you’re looking to shoot more, clean less, and still be confident your guns are as clean and well-maintained as possible, invest in one of these boresnakes.