The best AR-15 cleaning kit for you will be determined by how seriously you take your cleaning regimen. Some shooters will need nothing more than a bore brush; chamber brush, some solvent, patches, and a cleaning rod; others want to be able to scrape carbon or will need to restore very neglected firearms.
Some others will have many guns to service and have a large amount of knowledge about the platform – advanced armorer type kits will make a lot of sense for some of them.
It really does depend on your angle: professionals who service 10+ guns will almost always be opting for a major kit or will piece together a kit a-la-carte to get what they need. Those who maybe shoot once a year can get away with a minimalist setup (like what originally came with the guns as they were sold from the factory).
Enthusiasts of the AR platform may be best served in picking up something more hardcore than they think, as their ability to tinker with the guns will be enhanced significantly – sometimes the most expensive option makes the most sense because it adds capabilities you wouldn’t ordinarily have.
Note: it is not important to overspend to get an AR15 clean. It is also important, that you have a legitimate understanding of the firearm if you take it down past normal field stripping for cleaning.
While it is often better to do more in-depth cleaning, it must be assembled properly, and function tested for safety before you shoot it to minimize the risk associated with an improperly reassembled gun.
Top 6 Best AR15 Cleaning Kits in 2020
Otis Technology .223cal/5.56mm
- 100% cotton 2″ patches and small slotted tip
- Bronze bore brush
- 8″ and 30″ aircraft grade Memory-Flex cables for proper Breech-to-Muzzle cleaning
- Small obstruction remover knocks out mud, snow, stuck casings and doubles as a t-handle base for included t-handle
- B.O.N.E. Tool quickly and effectively scrapes carbon from bolt carrier
Hands down the best AR15 cleaning kit for most users that need a compact kit for the AR-15 for field duty. This is a very nice set from a component perspective, but it also has some high-level products generally.
The carrying case and small footprint makes it even more appealing. The only drawback is that quality costs money.
- Excellent field duty cleaning kit with everything you will need to keep your gun working well at the range
- Great brand name
- Getting pricey, even if it is convenient and very well built
Why It’s Recommended
The Otis Technology Kit is the most compact and full-featured normal duty cleaning kit you can buy that is useful as a field kit.
The Otis Elite
1 used from $97.42
- Cleans all rifles/pistols/shotguns/inline muzzleloaders with 100% cotton 2” & 3” patches, 3 slotted tips & 2 patch savers
- 16 firearm specific bronze bore brushes with size marked on brush stem (.17, .22 limited breech, .22/.223, .243-.260, .270/7mm, .30-06/.300/30-30/.308, .338-.35, .357-38cal/9mm, .40/10mm, .44/.45, .50cal, .410ga, 28ga, 20ga, 16ga, 12/10ga)
- 8”, 12” and 36” aircraft grade Memory-Flex cables and thread connector for proper Breech-to-Muzzle cleaning
- Small & large obstruction removers knock out mud, snow, stuck casings and double as a t-handle base for included t-handle; small t-handle & stud included for small caliber cleaning
- .223cal/5.56mm chamber brush, pin punch, end brush, straight pick, locking lug scraper, scraper, short AP brush, double end AP brush and male & female rod for more precise cleaning
Yes, the Otis Elite is firmly a consumer-grade kit, but for the money, it’s very good, with a nice assortment of brushes, patches, and other cleaning equipment.
This is a bit more of a novelty with some of the inclusions in the package, but it still gets the job done and it is priced well.
The build quality is not the finest, but the price is a very good entry point considering the functionality you get, even if the tools are a bit lesser quality than the professional items also available on the market.
- Simple and good for field duty
- Some good design features for the .223/5.56 based AR platform
- Not a legitimate professional duty kit like most of the kits on this list
Why It’s Recommended
The price for the offering is very good and the benefits of having a simple, easy to use the kit in the field make the Otis Elite a great buy.
- Belt Attachment: It has a belt attachment to slip your belt through it.
- Portable: The cleaning kit includes a snap on case that holds all the necessary cleaning tools included to keep your gun in tiptop shape.
- Lightweight: It’s small and lightweight design allows you to carry it your bag.
- Cleaning kit with 5 piece rods(Includes Loop), adaptor, brass brush, chamber brush,dual-ended nylon brush, empty bottle.
- NOTE: Some accessories are consumables, if there’re some problems while using, please feel free to contact us, we are willing to help you.
The Gloryfire is a generic version of the original design that used to come with factory AR15’s which was itself a generic cleaning kit based on the buttstock cleaning kit of original manufacture.
The utility is high, and while it is a spartan kit, it is still able to do most of what you would want in the field to keep your guns running during longer shooting stints.
The package is convenient, and the tools are legitimate from a long-term use perspective, but it too, is lacking for the professional user’s needs and the steel rods, while strong, can be a poor choice for those who don’t exercise caution to avoid scratching the bore of non-chrome-lined barrels.
This is best suited for the mil-spec type rifles with chrome bores, or for those who are paying good attention to what they are doing during cleaning.
- Easy to understand
- The general design is well proven over many decades
- Not meant for a professional level
Why It’s Recommended
The Gloryfire has been proven for decades to do the job, and this particular generic version is actually well built and includes the right stuff for field use.
The Otis Elite Cleaning Kit is the mid-range set that makes the most sense for most people whether they realize it or not.
By the time you piece together a kit from a-la-carte pieces, you are saving money and getting more versatility with this kit. If you were to combine this kit with a legitimate cleaning rod, you would be able to keep your guns clean very easily.
The top-quality build and the included tooling make this about as universal as you can find for a field kit. The fact that it is not a dedicated AR-15 cleaning kit, doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the best AR15 cleaning kit contenders on the market. It simply can do it all from a field use perspective.
The carrying case and the included tooling are very well thought out and make real sense when servicing guns in the field.
- A robust kit that just makes sense for so many shooters, especially those who bring multiple guns out to the range for extended shooting sessions
- Great brand names collaborating to bring it to market
- Pricier than some other dedicated field kits for the AR platform
Why It’s Recommended
Because you don’t know that you need something until you need it in the field. For field servicing cleaning kits, Otis Elite is the one.
The next step up from the field kits, this all-in cleaning kit can be used as a field-based solution, but it will be a lot to transport and probably only well suited to somewhere where you will have a bench and be shooting in a prolonged session.
This is a kit made from professional quality components by an industry leader. The utility of the kit is high and while it is fairly pricey it is also the most complete kit you can find preassembled on the market that doesn’t include specialty tools for advanced servicing.
Brownell’s has knocked it out of the park with this one, and you won’t be disappointed with the overall utility and versatility of the package, even if you don’t like the price point. The tools and components included are all top-notch and you can easily handle your guns at the range if you have space in your shooting stall.
- Very complete component-wise
- Top-quality build
- Well-appointed and able to be expanded
- No real CONS
Why It’s Recommended
Top-quality materials and build. The Brownells Cleaning Kit is the best value for this list, all things considered – IF you need pro-level capabilities.
If you are a professional-level user or a gunsmith or an armorer, or if you want to get into your guns more in-depth for cleaning, this Armorers Kit is the standard by which all tool kits for the AR15 are judged.
Yes, this is overkill if you just need a cleaning kit, so don’t consider it if the idea is super-foreign to you.
For those that have knowledge of the AR platform and need to be able to get into every nook and cranny of the guns, they are cleaning will appreciate the holistic nature of this kit and will quickly find that they are recouping the cost of the tools as they are able to do things that normally would have to be done at a gunsmith or sent to the factory.
Sure, this is not a purchase that runs itself, you must also have the background and understanding about gun safety and disassembly/reassembly for your AR’s to make sense of this kit. You will also need to be able to justify the massive expense which is over $1500 for either kit.
You do however get all the tools you would need to customize and work on the AR platform without having to wait 4-5 days every time you realize you need a new tool to add a component or get to a part that is broken.
- Perfect for preppers or gun clubs/groups or avid users of the AR platform
- A smart organizational plan for the case/tools
- Very comprehensive
- Not simply a cleaning kit, in fact very few items in the kit are directly tied to the cleaning of the AR-15
- Expensive, even if you can service your rifles and carbines with it without any extra purchases
Why It’s Recommended
Nothing even comes close to this one, for those who need to get down to every component part of their AR’s. If you can justify the price, this Armorers Kit will get you further than any other kit on the market, despite not really being a cleaning kit.
Do you need a professional-level cleaning kit?
Some will say no way! But they would be underestimating the capabilities associated with the additional tooling and associated benefits of a more robust kit like an armorer’s disassembly kit. Most will not need the full-on Armory kits, and there is a big difference between the capacity of these kits, as well as the pricing.
Note: having a full-on kit will be a huge difference for those who shoot a lot, especially when a broken gun can mean waiting for 4-5 days for a replacement part or a tool just to diagnose the issue, compared to having one available on the spot. Of course, you will have to weigh the practicality of dropping the large sum of money on such a kit too.
The following users should legitimately consider a top-level professional cleaning kit (despite very high costs associated with them):
- Professional gun cleaners
- Ranges which rent firearms, or which have membership clubs that allow AR15’s on the range
- Those who have built, or plan to build multiple AR-15’s and be able to service them
- Gunsmiths, armorer or gun club staff
- Anyone who wants to up their level of integration with their firearms and can justify the associated expense for tools
- Anyone who shoots more than a thousand rounds at a time
- Anyone who shoots more than 1 time a month and shoots more than a couple of magazine loads through their firearm at that session
Others will want to opt for a traditional cleaning kit and service guns regularly to avoid the difficulties associated with neglected firearms.
A side note: the author has been a gunsmith for many years, and despite not specifically marketing or performing cleaning work as part of services offered, still relies upon thousands of dollars in cleaning equipment, not including legitimate armory tools, to function on a daily/weekly basis servicing guns.
It is amazing how often top-quality cleaning equipment is necessary and how important it is to have the adequate cleaning equipment to keep your guns running safely and smoothly.
What should I be careful of, when cleaning an AR15?
These firearms are generally pretty tough guns and you cannot hurt them significantly while cleaning if you utilize basic common sense. Here are some basic rules of thumb:
- If you use hardened tools like picks or screwdrivers to clean carbon buildup, be careful not to scratch the surface of the metal deeply
- If it is flexing a ton, you are not supporting it well enough
- Don’t use industrial stainless steel or steel brushes to clean your firearm, they are too rough to maintain the proper surface finishes
- Don’t use grit or abrasive cleaners to clean carbon fouling
- Clean your guns often enough.
Clean your guns frequently as mentioned above in the last bullet point. This means that every 200 rounds you should be checking the bore, chamber, and magazines for fouling and run a CLP or similar soaked brush and cloth through those areas for a minute or two to free up the gunk – then wipe clean.
The magazines only need to be checked when they have seen 200+ rounds through them; every 1000 rounds you will need to do a deep cleaning including at least field stripping (generally) if you are shooting a match grade weapon, you should double the frequency.
If you follow these best practices, you will easily be able to maintain the rifle properly with a bit of experience.
Do you need tools to effectively get your AR15 clean?
Most users will never need advanced tools to keep the AR15 clean, so long as they clean it every time they go out and pay particular attention to the gas system and the bolt/carrier/chamber and magazines.
Most users will also eventually recognize the infinite utility of a carbon scaping tool for the AR-15 and they will want to learn how to service the direct impingement system or the gas flow system at the front of the forearm.
Some tools that absolutely make sense if you shoot your gun more than once a year (and still probably make sense even if you don’t):
- Carbon scraper – our favorite is the Carbon Boss Remover.
- Barrel Wrench/Multi-Wrench – our favorite is the Smith Enterprise Wrench.
- Vise Block – our favorite is the Brownells Upper Receiver Block.
- Multi-Tool – our favorite is the Real Avid Tool.
- Quality multi-Lube (solvent should be purchased separately for deep cleaning – this is field duty) – our favorite is the Break Free CLP.
From the most generic and cheapest kits on the market to the high end mostly tool-type kits, this list contains the best candidates for the title of the “Best AR15 Cleaning Kit”. The benefits of owning a couple of these choices will be obvious as you’ll have more access to servicing your favorite rifles in the field or in the workshop. That said you can buy a single kit and be done with it.
The tools listed early on in this article are also crucial pieces to the AR-15 cleaning puzzle and we recommend them highly for almost all users who want to get the most out of their guns – regardless of the cleaning kit you choose.
The Otis kits represent the best field kits. The Brownell’s kits represent the best professional-level kits. The others are bare bones.
It depends on which scenario you find yourself in more often, as to which kit you might choose. We are confident you will be able to find one that works well for you.
Check out the other safety and maintenance articles put together by the expert team here at Guns & Safety Reviews;
Best AR 15 Cleaning Kit
We have reviewed the best AR 15 cleaning kits on the market, and made it easy for you to choose the best one for your needs and situation!
- Otis Technology .223cal/5.56mm
- The Otis Elite
- Otis Elite (New Model)
- Brownells Cleaning Kit
- Brownells Armorer Kit