Cleaning patches are essential for cleaning and maintaining firearms.
There’s just not another good option for bore cleaning without using a patch, and cleaning your firearms regularly is an important part of being a safe, responsible gun owner so cleaning patches are definitely something you should have on hand.
But which cleaning patches to buy?
Table Of Contents
- Our Best Gun Cleaning Patches
- What Are Gun Cleaning Patches?
- What Are The Different Types of Gun Cleaning Patches?
- How Do Gun Cleaning Patches Work?
- What Do You Look For In The Best Gun Cleaning Patches?
- Best Gun Cleaning Patches Reviewed
- Final Thoughts On Gun Cleaning Patches
Our Best Gun Cleaning Patches
- Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Cleaning Patch (Best Overall)
- Pro-Shot 100% Cotton Flannel Patches (Best Budget)
- Otis Technology All-Caliber Cleaning Patches (High End)
- Birchwood Casey 500 Count Patches
- Skyline Center Inc. Gun Cleaning Patches
I’ve used just about every cleaning patch on the market over the years and there’s definitely some that work better than others. During all of our testing, these are the ones that performed the best.
What Are Gun Cleaning Patches?
When cleaning a firearm, the procedure is basically the same, whether you’re cleaning a handgun, a rifle, or shotgun. First you’re going to run a brush with some solvent down the barrel to get all the carbon fouling, lead, and copper buildup loosened up. This can be done with a bore snake or a cleaning rod.
If you’re using a cleaning rod with a patch holder or a brass jag, now you’ll attach your cleaning patches and run them through until they come out clean.
If you’re using a bore snake you aren’t going to get as good of a clean, especially if you’re cleaning multiple guns, but you don’t actually need patches as the tail of the snake actually works in place of the patch.
What Are The Different Types of Gun Cleaning Patches?
There are three types of gun cleaning patches, divided into two main categories.
In the first category, we have homemade patches. It’s easy to make homemade patches yourself out of old t-shirts or cotton cleaning/painters rags. Just cut them up into squares and boom, you’re done.
I’m assuming you don’t have spare t-shirts you want to get rid of, or you don’t want to take the time but if you’re interested in that, you can get cleaning rags or just a roll of cotton cloth and go to town. Just don’t get anything too thick.
Now if you’re looking to just buy your patches and save time, there’s basically two main options. You have cotton patches and synthetic patches.
With cotton patches, you have a more absorbent and thicker patch that holds bore cleaner or oil a little better, and may scrub a little cleaner a little faster.
The problem is, some cheaper cotton patches, particularly ones you make at home, may have little bits of fuzz along the edges which come off and get stuck in the rifling of your gun, which makes cleaning take even longer.
Synthetic patches tend not to have this issue, but they aren’t as thick or absorbent, so you may have to run multiple solvent patches through to get everything loosened up.
They are less likely to leave lint behind though so it’s a trade off.
In practice either is fine, you just need to be aware of any potential drawbacks.
How Do Gun Cleaning Patches Work?
Gun cleaning patches are fairly simple to use, but they are essential to cleaning.
If you’re deep cleaning and using a cleaning rod or cable, you typically start with solvent on a patch going through the bore. You can use either a 3-in-1 product like a CLP or a dedicated bore solvent.
Put the patch in your patch holder or brass jag and use the cleaning rod to run the patch through the bore, after you coat it with some solvent or spray on some CLP.
This applies the solvent evenly along the inside of the bore and starts to loosen up all the carbon fouling and other crap inside your barrel.
After you’ve applied solvent, it’s time to start scrubbing out the bore.
This is usually done with copper or phosphor bronze bore brushes, which you can dab a little solvent or CLP on to help it really get in there and scrub a very dirty bore, such as on a well-used rimfire or black powder rifle.
Once you’ve scrubbed with the brush a few times, run cleaning patches through until you get one that comes out completely clean.
You should be able to see the black and gray carbon fouling on the white cleanin patch very easily, so check it over each time you run a patch through, and change to a new clean patch as needed.
If you’re using cotton cleaning patches, you may want to visually inspect your bore using a light of some kind to make sure you don’t have any bits of cotton caught in the rifling anywhere, but you should be good to go.
Finally, cleaning patches are very necessary for reloading and handloading, especially when you’re developing a custom load.
The carbon fouling in your barrel can give you inconsistent results on the chronograph or in your point of impact, so to establish a good test platform you should try to clean your gun thoroughly in between different loads.
Some high-level shooters will even clean their gun between each shot when developing a load, just to get the most consistent results possible. Can’t manage that without good cleaning patches, that’s for sure.
What Do You Look For In The Best Gun Cleaning Patches?
Just like with anything, you always want to buy quality and avoid buying no-name crap that is just going to make your life harder and waste your money.
Some things to look for are a manufacturer that specializes in gun cleaning and maintenance, and patches that are quilted cotton, or thick synthetic.
A quilted cotton or thicker synthetic patch cleans better and is less likely to fray than a single-ply cotton patch or a thin synthetic patch like the ones you get in most cheap gun cleaning kits.
A thicker patch is also going to do a much better job of soaking up your gun bore cleaner of choice, making the overall cleaning process much easier and less frustrating.
You’re also going to need to make sure that the patches are appropriately sized for your gun. This means picking something that won’t be so large that it is difficult to push through the bore, and not so small that it doesn’t adequately make contact with the surface you’re trying to clean.
Finally, we always want something that is a good value for the money that also has lots of positive Amazon reviews.
At the end of the day, I know a lot about guns, you know a lot about guns, but our experience just can’t compare with the thousands of people buying gun patches on Amazon, right?
So, with that all in mind, here are the best performing cleaning patches. These are the ones you should checkout and either add to your wish list, or just go ahead and stock up on to store with the rest of your cleaning tools.
Best Gun Cleaning Patches Reviewed
Of all the gun cleaning patches we’ve tried, the following ones are the ones that we’ve found to work the best.
Each has its own pros and cons, but there’s sure to be something for everyone here.
Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Cleaning Patches (Best Overall)
Of course we can’t have a list of gun cleaning products without an entry from Hoppe’s. In this case, it’s the Hoppe’s No. 9 Gun Cleaning Patches.
These are the best synthetic patches on the market by far, and are an excellent value.
They still aren’t as absorbent as cotton patches, but they are thick enough that you probably wouldn’t notice the difference without doing a side-by-side comparison.
As you would probably expect, they work great when used with other’s Hoppe’s products and are a good option if you’re already well-stocked on Hoppe’s No.9 bore cleaner and gun oil.
They’re also relatively affordable and because they’re synthetic, they won’t leave behind any bits of fuzz or lint.
- High-quality synthetic means no lint or fraying
- Works well with other Hoppe’s products
- Most absorbent synthetic patch on the market
- Not as absorbent as some cotton pads
- Often out of stock online
Pro-Shot 100% Cotton Flannel Patches (Best Budget)
If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, then the Pro-Shot 100% Cotton Flannel Patches may be the option for you.
These American-made patches are made of a cotton flannel material that is very absorbent and resilient. They also come in a huge bulk pack that will last a casual shooter…well, potentially a lifetime.
You also have several size options available, ensuring that there are options for everything from .22 LR to 12 gauge.
You can stock up on all the sizes you need and be good for a very long time even if you’re a frequent shooter or competitor.
- Very affordable
- Bulk pack available
- Multiple sizes for almost all common calibers
- Cheaper flannel can frizz
Otis Technology All-Caliber Cleaning Patches (High End)
Otis Technology is another well-known name in gun cleaning and maintenance, and they make several of my favorite products, one of which is their All-Caliber Cleaning Patches. These are the patches that I stock in my personal setup.
These patches are somewhat unique in that they’re perfectly round and are good to be used in almost any caliber, certainly anything smaller than a 12 gauge which covers the civilian market well.
They don’t need to be cut down, and you never have to worry about buying multiple sizes or keeping everything organized, you can just buy a ton of these and be done.
For this reason, this is my personal favorite on the list and even though they’re the most expensive, I think they’re the best option if you have the money and aren’t really looking to save.
- Can be used to clean any gun
- Very absorbent
Birchwood Casey 500 Count Patches
Another great option for budget-minded folks is this offering from Birchwood Casey.
Their big 500 pack of patches can keep you stocked for a long time, and the patches are easy to trim down so you can use them to clean most firearms with just a little work.
These patches are well-quilted and very absorbent, as well as resistant to fraying and whatnot, so you won’t be wasting your time running extra patches to apply more bore cleaner or worrying about little bits of fuzz in your bore.
- Easy to trim
- Very absorbent
- Not as absorbent as some other patches
- Needs to be trimmed for most calibers
Skyline Center Inc. Gun Cleaning Patches
Finally, we have the excellent patches from Skyline Center Inc. These are another great bulk/budget option and are sized out of the box for calibers ranging from 7mm to .357, but of course you can trim them down as needed.
These come in packs of 1000, so they’re a great choice if you’re just looking for a bulk option, or you don’t want to have to worry about buying more in a week.
Also, the patches themselves are highly absorbent and double napped to keep them from fraying or leaving fuzz behind. The cotton is high-quality as well to give you the best chance to quickly and efficiently scrub out carbon fouling.
Final Thoughts On Gun Cleaning Patches
Cleaning patches are an important, but often underrated and overlooked part of gun cleaning and maintenance. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to get a truly deep clean without them.
Fortunately, there are a number of great cleaning patches out there and you should now know everything you need to know about how to choose the best gun cleaning patches.
What gun cleaning patches do you use? Do you buy pre-cut, or make your own? Which of these is your preferred brand? Let us know in the comments!