Bore Snake vs Cleaning Rod: Which is Better for Your Gun?

Guns require regular cleaning, unless you want to run the risk of it misfiring or rusting until it is unusable. The question is: what is the right way to clean it? You’ll find almost much debate over bore snakes versus cleaning rods.

But in the bore snake vs cleaning rod debate: which is better? Let’s explain what each of these critical gun maintenance tools are before we discuss when each one may be the better choice for you.

What Is a Cleaning Rod?


The cleaning rod has been described as the heart of gun hygiene. It is a solid rod with attachments for holding gun cleaning cloths. The rod is pushed into the gun so that the cleaning cloths can scrub the inside of the gun.

You need to be careful not to damage the gun’s muzzle, but there are muzzle guards you can add to the cleaning rod so that that doesn’t happen.

What Is a Bore Snake?


A bore snake, also called a cleaning cord, is an alternative to a cleaning rod. It often has a brush or two integrated into the flexible cord and a brass weight on the end.

You drop the cord through the gun and use it to clean debris out of the gun bore. It may have a clip at the end for attaching a gun cleaning patch. It has several points in its favor. It will generally fit any gun.

Unlike cleaning cloths, the best bore snake is reusable, though there is woven material in the snake that will absorb and then release CLP products.

Bore Snake vs Cleaning Rod; Which One Do I Use? 


Both bore snakes and cleaning rods will get the inside of the gun clean. But which cleaning tool is the best one to use for your gun, given your priorities? Let’s analyze these issues in greater detail.

01. Familiarity

It is the solid, certain and reliable way to deep clean the gun. It is what many people were taught to use when cleaning their gun. It is even called an essential gun cleaning tool.

Fewer people know how to use a gun snake properly, and those trained in how to use a cleaning rod along with cleaning cloths may not want to make the switch.

02. Speed

Bore snakes allow you to clean the gun bore faster than if you were using a cleaning rod. It was designed speed things up because working with a cleaning rod is so slow. You just unroll the cleaning cord and make a few passes through the gun.

You might be done in a minute or two, whereas using a cleaning rod could take up to half an hour. Unfortunately, the bore snake is not going to clean the gun as thoroughly as a cleaning rod.

On the other hand, you can use the same bore snake to apply a layer of gun oil after you’ve done a field cleaning. That makes it ideal for those times when you don’t have a lot of time to thoroughly clean the gun such as cleaning it after you’ve gone shooting, especially when you’re out in the field.

In these cases, you can do a more thorough gun cleaning when you get home.

03. Thoroughness

If you want to be thorough, cleaning rods allow you to get every square inch of the bore clean, though it will take many passes. This means bore snakes are better for a quick run-through the gun to get it clean after you’ve been shooting.

Cleaning rods or a pull cable with a tight patch will get the inside really clean. With the cleaning rod, you’ll need to keep pushing until the patches come out clean.

Carbon-based debris

Only a cleaning rod will clear heavy carbon-based debris stuck on the inside of the gun bore. Only a cleaning rod will clear a jam, too. This is why many gun cleaning kits come with either a cleaning rod or a cleaning rod plus a bore snake.

04. Handling

Working with cleaning rods can be problematic. Classic bronze and stainless steel cleaning rods are heavy compared to a bore snake. It can be hard to screw together the various lengths of rod to get a cleaning rod that will work well with a long gun, too.

Some choose to make a few passes with a gun bore snake rather than jumping straight to the cleaning rod. Why? Because you could accidentally damage the gun bore if the rod makes direct contact with it. That’s especially true with the choke tube.

Buy muzzle guards

Furthermore, you can buy muzzle guards that go on the end of the cleaning rod, because it is easy to damage the muzzle as you push the cleaning rod into the gun. You can try to avoid these problems by getting an aluminum cleaning rod. It won’t damage a steel shotgun barrel.

The downside is that the aluminum cleaning rod could get dirt stuck on it and end up spreading that inside the gun even as you’re trying to clean it. Carbon fiber rods won’t do this, but they’re relatively expensive.

05. Mobility

You may hear people recommend bore snakes for a quick cleaning in the field. It isn’t necessarily because the bore snake is more thorough but because it is easier to coil up a bore snake and take it with you while camping compared to a heavy metal cleaning rod.

The popularity of bore snakes

That’s why bore snakes are more popular when you’re out in the field. Furthermore, a cleaning rod is of no use if it or its brushes are larger than the gun bore. The fact that you can clean any gun with a single bore snake makes it the ideal all-purpose gun cleaning tool.

You can use it on all of your shotguns and rifles. And if it doesn’t get everything 100 percent clean, the slight difference a little debris in the bore makes hardly matters.

Summary


Bore snakes are by far the best choice when you’re cleaning your gun in the field or doing a quick cleaning job between shooting sessions.

The cleaning rod is the better choice for thorough cleaning of the gun, especially if you’re about to put it away for the season. 

You simply need to be careful not to harm the gun and use the correctly sized rod and brush so that it is truly clean when you’re done.

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