Most shooters have a preferred method of cleaning firearms; be it taking out the standard-issue military rod and brush kit, or dousing the gun in WD-40 and wiping it down with an old rag (not an American Rifleman-approved method—just because granddad did it doesn’t mean you should). As can be expected, some practices are more effective than others.
The same holds true for the tools used in servicing firearms. For example, bore brushes are excellent for loosening up fouling from the grooves of a rifled barrel, however they are less adept at forcing debris out. Patches can be coated in solutions that effectively clean or protect the barrel, unfortunately they can easily become stuck and can leave behind threads and other remnants. As an alternative, Super Brush LLC, has introduced products to be used instead of, or in conjunction with, traditional cleaning tools. Under the Springfield, Mass.-based company’s Swab-its brand, Bore-tips and Gun-tips use modern materials and innovative designs to make firearm cleaning easier and more efficient.
For cleaning barrels, Bore-tips utilize plush foam tips to deliver and evenly coat the interior with cleaning solvents. Expanding to cover the lands and fill in the grooves, the tips ride the barrel’s rifling, pushing out any fouling or smoothly applying protectants. Molded polymer heads use a baffle-like structure to buttress the foam, and are threaded at the base to mate with standard 8-32 threaded cleaning rods. Coming in six color-coded sizes, Bore-tips are available for barrels from .22- to .45-cal.
Getting to hard-to-reach places with minimum disassembly remains a challenge—think for example of the space around an AR-15’s hammer and trigger assemblies. Popular solutions usually include cotton swabs—that can leave behind fuzz—or pipe cleaners—which lack the rigidity to really dislodge debris. Gun-tips also use foam heads, this time mounted on polymer shafts, to facilitate cleaning and lubrication. Sold in nine-piece kits, the swabs come in several configurations, ensuring their usefulness in a variety of firearm maintenance applications. Each package includes three short swabs with fine tips, two long swabs with fine tips, three long swabs with broad tips, and one long swab with an extra-wide tip.
Using both the Bore-tips and Gun-tips to clean a semi-automatic pistol and an AR-15-style rifle, I can report that, though I feared the products were an attempt to “build a better mousetrap,” both proved efficient and effective. The number of passes down the barrel, especially that of the rifle, and the overall cleaning time required were reduced. Additionally, I found the swab’s ability to remove debris without leaving anything behind to be very satisfying. Better still, packages of either Bore-tips or Gun-tips can be had for less than $6 apiece, making them an affordable option. Further value can be gleaned by cleaning and reusing the swaps with solvent or mild detergent, as recommended by the manufacturer.