Best Gun Cleaner and Lube – Top CLP, Gun Solvents & Gun Oils

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This guide and review will share our experience with the best gun cleaner and lubricant products. We have included a detailed list of the best gun solvents, gun oils, and CLP, along with when and how to use each type.

We have included a mix of classic and new gun-cleaning products. After testing them, we found that Real Avid’s products were the most impressive and the best choice for most people. They have an all-in-one CLP, as well as specialized products for specific cleaning needs.

Best Gun Cleaner and Lube
Jason showing 12 different gun cleaners and lubricants that he uses
Some of the CLP, Solvents, and Oils that I use

We have used nearly every type of gun cleaner over the past 30 years. From using CLP in the military to gun solvents and oils for our competition handguns, we have hundreds of hours of experience.

When searching for a gun cleaner, it’s important to understand that different products are used for different purposes. It can be tempting to simply purchase the first gun cleaner you see, but it may only be effective for cleaning and not suitable for lubrication, or vice versa.

Keep reading to discover the differences between them and the best gun cleaner for your needs.


Quick Comparison of our Favorite CLP, Solvent & Oil

BEST OVERALL
Real Avid Tri-Max CLP

Real Avid Tri-Max CLP

Clean, Lube, Protect

Mil Spec

4 oz bottle

MSRP: $9.99

BEST CLP
Break Free CLP

Break Free CLP

Clean, Lube, Protect

Mil Spec

12 oz Spray

MSRP: $28-$32

BEST GUN PROTECTANT
Eezox Premium Synthetic Gun Care

Eezox Premium Synthetic Gun Care

Clean, Lube, Protect

Synthetic

7 oz Spray

MSRP: $18-$22

BEST GUN SOLVENT
Real Avid Bore Max

Real Avid Bore Max Solvent

Bore Cleaner

Dissolves Copper

12 oz Spray

MSRP: $15.99

BEST GUN OIL
Real Avid Gun-Max Gun Oil

Real Avid Gun-Max Gun Oil

Lubricates

Protects

4 oz Bottle

MSRP: $8.99


Best Gun Cleaner and Lube – CLP, Gun Solvent, & Gun Oil

The best gun cleaner for you depends on the purpose of your firearm and how you use it. Cleaning chemicals for guns can either clean and lubricate at the same time or focus solely on cleaning or lubrication. After reading our product reviews, make sure to check out our tips to better understand the distinctions between these types of products.

A quick summary of gun cleaners and lubrication products:

  • CLP (Clean, Lubricate, Protect) is a 3 one-gun cleaner that does everything. This is the best for most people who shoot a few hundred rounds a month.
  • Gun solvent is for deep cleaning of mainly rifle barrels. It does not offer any lubrication or rust protection.
  • Gun oil is for lubrication and rust protection. It offers very little cleaning capability.

Price was a significant factor in our decision-making process. When all products performed well, the cost ultimately determined our choice.


Best CLP

Below are the best CLP gun cleaning products we have found. Two are strict military spec CLPs, while the last two are hybrids.

Jason showing the best CLPs he has used
The CLP products that we use

Real Avid Tri-Max CLP

Real Avid Tri-Max CLP
  • Type: CLP
  • Our Clean Rating: 6/10
  • Our Lube Rating: 6/10
  • Our Protection Rating: 6/10

Real Avid Tri-Max CLP is one of the best CLP gun cleaners I have found, and usually, the price is a little better than other CLPs.

I find that it works well after I have shot around 300-500 rounds in my concealed carry handgun. It also works well after a few hundred rounds in my rifles. It breaks down the buildup in my barrels and dissolves powder residue after just a minute or two.

There isn’t any strong smell or vapor, so I can use it inside at home without any issues.

The bottle is a great solution when I need just a little bit of lubricant for precision work, or a lot to clean the bore of my firearms. Unlike sprays, it is easier to control the amount applied and it doesn’t make a mess.

Jason showing the Real Avid CLP bottle and a small pinpoint bottle
The Real Avid CLP bottle and the pinpoint needle bottle that I use

I have only encountered one problem with this CLP – figuring out the right amount to use. As a cleaner, I’ve found that a good amount is required to dissolve powder buildup and fouling. However, it does leave an oily residue, so removing the excess can be time-consuming if I use too much. Additionally, once it gets on my hands, it tends to spread everywhere.

It performs adequately as a lubricant but doesn’t require much. The bottle is not suitable for applying a very small quantity. I personally prefer to transfer some of it to a small bottle with a needle applicator or use gun oil instead. (Please refer to the guide below for the budget-friendly pin-point needle bottle I use.)

Recommended for:

Real Avid Tri-Max CLP is for anyone looking for a single product to do everything. Just be sure to get a separate bottle for pinpoint lubrication.

PROS

Convenient Bottle

Cleans Well

Good Price

CONS

Need Separate Bottle to Pinpoint Areas


BreakFree CLP

BreakFree CLP
  • Type: CLP
  • Our Clean Rating: 6/10
  • Our Lube Rating: 6/10
  • Our Protection Rating: 6/10

BreakFree CLP is the military’s standard for an all-in-one cleaner, lubricant, and protector.

It is very similar to the Real Avid CLP. I find that the price is usually a little more than Real Avid, especially when Real Avid is running a sale.

I really like the convenient spray can. I always tend to lose the straw attached to traditional spray cans, but this one stays attached, and the nozzle just folds down. This way, I can just fold it up and don’t have to search for the straw.

However, the spray can doesn’t work well for pinpoint lubrication. I find that spraying some into a smaller bottle doesn’t work so well, either.

Jason showing the break free can nozzle
I really like this nozzle with the captured straw

They sell this in smaller bottles without a spray nozzle, but they are expensive. Sometimes, a smaller bottle is the same price as a larger spray bottle. There is very little point in spending the same amount for less.

Overall, it works well. It is not the best CLP for me simply because of the price of the smaller bottles.

Go with this one if you can’t get Real Avid for some reason.

Recommended for:

Breakfree CLP is for anyone looking for a single product to do everything. It is not great for lubrication just because of the packaging.

PROS

Spray Bottle

Cleans Well

Mil-Spec

CONS

Not for Pinpoint Application

Small Bottles are Expensive


Eezox Premium Synthetic Gun Care

Eezox Premium Synthetic Gun Care
  • Type: CLP
  • Our Clean Rating: 6/10
  • Our Lube Rating: 5/10
  • Our Protection Rating: 10/10

I was introduced to Eezox Gun Care about 8 years ago by the owner of one of my favorite local gun stores.

It is a synthetic CLP tested from 95 F below zero to 450 F, perfect for cold weather hunting or firearm use.

I’ve found that this cleaner works best when the powder build-up isn’t too severe. After a standard training session of 300-500 rounds, I simply spray it inside the barrel and wait a few minutes for the residue to dissolve.

I really like how this is a dry lubricant. It doesn’t have the oily residue that CLP leaves behind.

Its real strength lies in rust prevention. Eezox has consistently achieved very high scores on various tests, and I have been using it for years to store my guns for a long period of time. I spray Eezox on a lint-free cloth and wipe them down before storage. I take it for granted, but I’ve never had any rust problems with my guns that are in long term storage.

Jason wiping down a shotgun with Eezox gun care
Eezox is the best protectant that I have found

In the past, I have faced problems with small rust spots forming due to fingerprints after handling my guns and storing them in the safe. This issue has become so common that I have developed a habit of not touching the metal parts of my guns.

I have noticed that Eezox protects against my “corrosive” fingerprints, and I no longer have that problem.

The only issue I have had is finding it in stock sometimes. Not many places carry it, and Amazon sometimes does not have it either. It is also more expensive than other standard CLPs.

I typically reserve this for guns that I am going to store and use standard CLP and gun oil on the others.

Recommended for:

Eezox Premium Synthetic Gun Care is for anyone who stores firearms long-term. This is the best rust prevention you can get.

PROS

Excellent Rust Prevention

No Oily Residue

Cleans Well

CONS

Price


Ballistol Multi-Purpose

Ballistol Multi-Purpose
  • Type: CLP
  • Our Clean Rating: 6/10
  • Our Lube Rating: 5/10
  • Our Protection Rating: 7/10

Ballistol has been around for many years, and I remember my grandfather using it.

I have found that using a spray can to dissolve powder residue from the barrels of my guns works well. I simply spray it down a dirty barrel, and it foams up. After a few minutes, I run a patch through it to clean it.

It does have a stronger smell than other cleaners, but not overly strong. Although I wouldn’t want to be in a small, enclosed area and use tons of it.

What is great about Ballistol is it works well on leather, wood, and rubber. I have used it on old frozen padlocks that I couldn’t open. It is better than WD-40 since it penetrates, cleans, and stays behind as a lubricant. WD-40 tends to evaporate and dry out.

The spray bottle has a small red straw taped to the side of the can like the old WD-40 cans. I always lose the straw since there is nowhere to store it when I put the cap back on.

The non-spray bottle is a pain as well. It just has a cap that I have to cut a hole in. It is only good for applying to a patch or rag before wiping down my gun or whatever else. I much prefer the spray bottle.

Jason showing two different bottles of Ballistol
I don’t care for either of these containers

I find that Ballistol is a little more expensive than common CLPs, but the fact that it works well for many other things is enough reason to keep some around.

It is non-toxic and all-natural, so I don’t have to worry about it irritating my skin or needing gloves.

I find that it is not the absolute best lubricant out there, but does just an OK job. If you only fire a few rounds for hunting, for example, this is a great choice.

Recommended for:

Ballistol is for anyone looking for an all-natural cleaner and lubricant that works well on more than just firearms.

PROS

Good Cleaner

Natural and Non-Toxic

Many Uses

CONS

Spray Straw


Best Gun Solvent

These gun solvents will remove any powder residue or copper/lead in your gun barrel from heavy use.

Jason showing the two best gun solvents
The two gun solvents that I use

Real Avid Bore-Max

Real Avid Bore-Max
  • Type: Solvent
  • Our Clean Rating: 10/10
  • Our Lube Rating: 0/10
  • Our Protection Rating: 0/10

Real Avid Bore-Max is the best gun solvent we have found.

Its main purpose is to remove all residue and fouling from the barrel of a firearm. Usually, I just use this on rifles, but if someone has a really dirty handgun, I will pull this out.

I really appreciate the design of the nozzle on the spray can. The straw is more of a tube and remains attached to the can, which prevents me from losing it. Moreover, it is rotatable, which allows me to keep the can upright while spraying.

When I apply it down a barrel, it expands and forms foam for a few minutes. This way, it can disintegrate all the dirt in the barrel, not just the stuff on the bottom.

Jason cleaning the bore of his AR15 with Real Avid Bore Max
I just spray Bore Max down the barrel, I like the nozzle and captured hose

This is a powerful cleaning agent specifically designed to be used in the bore of firearms. It is ideal for those who want to thoroughly clean the bore of a rifle while ensuring accuracy. It is also great for those who haven’t cleaned their firearm in a long time.

I should warn you that using this product can cause damage to wood and painted metal finishes. To avoid this, I usually place a towel under my gun when I’m using it on a surface. Additionally, it can strip the sealant off of concrete floors. I accidentally got some drips on my basement floor, and the product dissolved the sealer, causing the affected area to become sticky.

After cleaning, I run a patch with a light amount of gun oil down my barrels. Remember, this is a cleaner, and it does not offer any lubrication or rust protection.

Recommended for:

Real Avid Bore Max is for anyone who needs a powerful gun solvent. If you go a long time between cleaning or are a precision rifle shooter, this is for you.

PROS

Great Cleaner

Spray Nozzle

Foams and Expands

CONS

Only for Bore Cleaning

Harmful to Wood Finishes


Hoppe’s No. 9

Hoppe’s No. 9
  • Type: Solvent
  • Our Clean Rating: 8/10
  • Our Lube Rating: 0/10
  • Our Protection Rating: 0/10

Hoppe’s No. 9 Bore Solvent has been around it seems like forever (since 1903!). It has been the standard solvent for years because it just works.

It contains nine chemicals, with kerosene being one of the main ingredients. The scent is distinct, with some people loving it while others hate it. Personally, I find the smell to be mildly reminiscent of gas or kerosene. I can tolerate a small amount, but if I need to use a lot of it, I’ll crack open the outside door to let in some fresh air.

To clean my gun, I soak a patch and run it through the barrel a few times. Then, I repeat the process with a brush. After that, I use another soaked patch followed by a few clean patches until they come out clean. Finally, I run a patch with gun oil through the barrel to protect it.

Since this is not a spray (they do make a spray, but I have not used it), it takes a few more patches and some time to get all the gunk out of my barrels. The Real Avid bore cleaner works much faster.

I find it useful to soak small parts if they are dirty or hard to clean. This is easy to do since it’s not a spray bottle, and is a big advantage of the traditional 5-ounce bottle.

Jason showing the Hoppe's number 9 gun cleaning kit
The Hoppe’s No 9 gun cleaning bundle – Just buy the solvent instead

They also have a kit, which I am showing in this pic. I gave this a try since it was affordable, but I really don’t like the gun oil (it is essentially baby oil.) I recommend the larger 5-ounce bottle which I can usually find for around $5.

Recommended for:

Hoppe’s No. 9 Bore cleaner is the standard gun cleaner that has been around for over 100 years. The low price makes it very attractive.

PROS

Cleans Well

Affordable

Long History

CONS

Cleans Slower Than Other Solvents

The Smell?


Best Gun Oil

These gun oils are an important accompaniment if you use a solvent or need a heavy-duty lubricant.

Jason showing the Best gun oil
These are the gun oils that I use

Real Avid Gun-Max Gun Oil

Real Avid Gun-Max Gun Oil
  • Type: Oil
  • Our Clean Rating: 3/10
  • Our Lube Rating: 9/10
  • Our Protection Rating: 9/10

Real Avid Gun-Max Gun Oil is one of the best gun oils we have tried.

We use this oil on our semi-automatic handguns and rifles for competition and concealed carry. I noticed that after firing about 200 rounds, typical CLP is usually gone, but I could still see this oil on my slide and barrel.

I usually find this at a good price, with a four-ounce bottle less than $10. This amount lasts a long time since it only takes very little.

I also find this works well on anything I need to lubricate, like my reloading press.

It also works well to protect the inside of barrels after cleaning them. I apply some to a patch and run it through a few times. Some barrels have been in the safe for over 1 year and still look great.

The only negative is the bottle. It has a screw cap that works OK when I am applying it to a patch but doesn’t work well when I need to pinpoint lube, like on my handgun. If I tip the bottle sideways, oil tends to run down the side. Instead, I fill a smaller pinpoint needle lube bottle and use it instead.

Jason showing his Real Avid gun oil with the pinpoint needle bottle
Real Avid gun oil with a pinpoint needle bottle

This makes this oil very cost-effective since I can refill the small bottle four times (see the needle bottles I use below.)

Recommended for:

Real Avid Gun-Max Gun Oil is for anyone who needs a good gun oil at a good price. Just be sure to get the needle bottles as well.

PROS

Long Lasting

Excellent Lubricant

Good Value

CONS

Need Separate Bottle to Pinpoint Areas


Lucas Oil Extreme Duty Gun Oil

Lucas Oil Extreme Duty Gun Oil
  • Type: Oil
  • Our Clean Rating: 3/10
  • Our Lube Rating: 10/10
  • Our Protection Rating: 8/10

Lucas Oil Extreme Duty Gun Oil is a heavy-duty gun oil that lubricates exceptionally well.

I find that this oil stays where I put it. It is a little thicker than the Real Avid gun oil and is better for the rails on semi-auto handguns or the action on rifles. Places where you are concerned about lubrication.

As the name suggests, it is for extreme conditions, high heat, and high cycles, as you find in fully automatic firearms.

I found that it doesn’t take much, and too much will catch debris and powder residue. A small amount goes a long way for “normal” use.

Jason showing his Lucas Gun Oil
the Lucas gun oil needle bottle

I like the pinpoint needle bottle. It allows me to get just a drop right where I need it.

This is a good choice if you have a gun that you shoot a lot and don’t have time to clean often.

The only negative is the price of this oil. It is almost four times the cost of the Real Avid gun oil; unless you need a heavy-duty oil, it is not worth it.

Recommended for:

Lucas Oil Extreme Duty Gun Oil is for anyone who needs gun oil for high-cycling firearms that do not get lubricated often.

PROS

Excellent Lubricant

Long Lasting

For Heavy Duty Use

CONS

Price


Tips on How to Select the Best Gun Cleaner

When cleaning a firearm, there are three basic things that I need my gun cleaner to accomplish:

The first is obviously to clean it. Over time, residue from firing ammunition can build up and start to cause malfunctions. This could be anything from decreasing the accuracy of a rifle to the action of a concealed carry handgun not functioning properly.

The second is to lubricate the moving parts. All gun actions have moving parts, some more than others. During repeated cycles, metal-to-metal contact causes microscopic damage to the firearm.

The third is to protect the metal. Rust and corrosion can cause the metal to pit. This increases friction, which causes even more damage.

Considering these three needs, how do I pick the best? First, we need to understand the options.

Jason using gun cleaner on his shotgun
After cleaning it is important to protect the metal from corrosion, inside and out

Types of Gun Cleaners

There are two basic types of gun cleaners: all-in-one products and specialty products.

All-in-one gun cleaners are commonly called CLP (Clean, Lubricate, Protect). They perform all three functions, but they are not the best at all of them. Like most versatile products, they’re “masters of none.”

Specialty products include gun solvents and gun oils. Solvents do the cleaning, while oils do the lubricating and protecting.

Which Type of Gun Cleaner is Best

Like most answers we give, this one is also “it depends.”

For most people, a CLP product will work just fine. I have used a CLP on my concealed carry and competition handguns for years with no issues. This includes firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition per month for training and during matches.

The military uses CLP so soldiers don’t have to carry multiple products to clean and maintain their rifles. It is an all-in-one solution that works well most of the time. If you were in the military, you may be most comfortable with a CLP.

Jason using Gun Oil to lubricate his AR15
Gun Oil is the best for Lubrication

In some cases, you may want to consider a solvent or oil instead of a CLP:

  • Extreme environment (extreme temperatures, dusty, rainy)
  • High number of cycles between lubrication
  • High precision shooting
  • Low-quality ammunition (lubricated cases or dirty gunpowder)

While a CLP does an OK job dissolving carbon and copper residues, a stronger gun solvent will do much better in these extreme cases. I have tried CLP on rifles after firing over 500 rounds of dirty ammo and got frustrated pretty quickly after reapplying it a few times. A good gun solvent is a huge time saver in this case.

CLP also does an OK job at lubricating and protecting, but it will not be as good as using high-quality gun oil. Semi-automatic firearms have a lot of sliding parts that need to be lubricated periodically to keep them from wearing.

For firearms that will be in storage for a long period, wiping them down with light gun oil is better than using CLP. This is especially true if the storage location is not ideal (temperature cycles and humidity.)

I do like to keep CLP in my range bag in case I have any issues at the range or during a match (see our guide to the Best Range Bags for my favorites.)


Gun Cleaner and Lube Tips

  1. The most important thing is not the exact cleaner you use but that you actually use something. My concealed carry gun must be ready to go when I need it. This is also one of our concealed carry responsibilities. Cleaning is important to keep my handgun from malfunctioning. Lubrication and protection from corrosion are important for longevity.
  2. While you technically can’t clean a gun too much, see our guide to how often should a gun be cleaned for an overall approach.
  3. At the same time, you can lubricate a firearm too much. Excess gun oil attracts dust and debris and will eventually become a gummy mess. A drop goes a long way. See our guide on how to clean a concealed carry gun for more on the steps we recommend (coming soon.)
  4. There are some other alternatives for cleaning and lubrication. For lubrication, some people just use synthetic automotive motor oil instead of a specific gun oil. While this is fine, unless you are shooting thousands of rounds a month, the cost savings are negligible. A small bottle of gun oil will last for years, and the extra you spent on a special bottle for the motor oil likely offset the difference.
  5. If you hunt in extreme cold, pay attention to the type of CLP and gun oil you use. Natural oils will become gummy in cold temps, so it is best to use a synthetic (like Eezox.)

Gun Oil Needle Tip Bottles

For CLP and Gun oil, I like to have a pinpoint option. Some cleaners come both ways, but I also like to keep a few small needle oiler bottles handy. These are cheap and easy to get from Amazon, and I can just add the oil that I want to them:

Needle Tip Oil Bottles

Needle Tip Oil Bottles

2 Pack

1 ounce

Refillable


What is the Best Gun Cleaner?

For most people, Real Avid Tri-Max CLP or Break-Free CLP are the best choices. For semi-automatic firearms, I recommend Real Avid Gun-Max gun oil for better lubrication. For those who don’t clean as often or shoot rifles a lot, use Real Avid Bore-Max to save some time.

Don’t forget that actually cleaning your firearm is more important than the gun cleaner you use. Also check out our guide on the Best Gun Cleaning Kits for our favorites and tips on what to look for.

If you are not already, make sure to follow our Concealed Carry Guide and other Self Defense Guides and Gear Reviews. We have everything you need to know in one place, and it is easy to find.

Back to: Concealed Carry Guide

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Jason has an engineering and problem solving background. He is an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, and competitive shooter. He enjoys researching the best and most practical solutions for the problem at hand, studying stoicism, and finding innovative ways to be prepared.