What Tools Do I Need to Clean My AR 15?

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Cleaning your AR-15 is a regular thing to do if you want it in good condition. However, when starting, you might not know where to start. People often ask first, what tools do I need to clean my AR 15?

What Tools Do I Need to Clean My AR 15?

The tools needed to clean an AR 15 include a cleaning brush, cleaning rods, lubricants, and other tools. Most items can be found in an AR 15 cleaning kit, except for lubricants.

A man dissembles his AR 15 rifle.

You can buy each item separately if you want the best tools. However, it will cost you more. People often buy gun cleaning kits to save them time since individual cleaning tools are often hard to find.

Essential Tools for Cleaning AR 15

While there are lots of cleaning tools you can use, you don’t have to use all of them. You only need to have specific tools for cleaning. The extra tools make the job easier or more effective.

Bore Cleaning Brush

The bore cleaning brush is the most essential tool to have for cleaning AR 15s. It’s used to clean the bore of the rifle especially after shooting at the range. The bore cleaning brush effectively removes any residue or dirt inside the bore.

Bore cleaning brushes can be of different types based on the materials used. Namely:

  • Bronze bore
  • Nylon bore
  • Tornado bronze bore
  • Brass bore

Most people generally prefer using a brass bore brush. However, it’s up to you what you prefer. It also depends on your gun. Some manufacturers recommend using specific bore brush types for their guns too.

Rifle cleaning kit brush

Cleaning Rod

A cleaning rod consists of the rod and swivel handle to the rod. The rod lets you get deep into the rifle bore with ease. This makes it easy to clean out the residue and dirt inside using the cleaning rod.

Cleaning rods vary in length. Therefore, choose one that is compatible with the length of your AR 15  bore. They are commonly included in AR 15 gun cleaning kits too.


Patches are used to clean the internal sections of the bore. These gun cleaning patches are one-time use so you should dispose of them after using them on the bore. Most gun patches are made of soft materials like clothes or cork.

Cleaning Brushes

Cleaning brushes are used to clean the exterior of your AR 15. They’re almost the same as bore cleaning brushes except their design is made for exterior use. The common types of cleaning brushes are:

  • Stainless steel brush
  • Phosphor brush
  • Nylon brush


Lubricant or lubricating oil isn’t commonly included in gun cleaning kits. The lubricant helps remove rust and also provides protection against it. It also keeps the moving parts of your AR 15 functioning smoothly.

Make sure to use gun oil specifically made for AR 15’s.

Rifle cleaning kit lubricant

Related Questions

What Size of Brush Do You Use to Clean an AR 15?

It’s recommended to use military thread bore brushes with 8 to 32 brushes. This is usually the usual size for normal use. Make sure to take note of the length also.

How Often Do You Need to Clean Your AR 15?

Generally, you want to clean your AR 15 after using around 250 rounds. You may want to check for debris build-up that could lead to fouling. If your AR 15 is rarely used, clean it at least once a month.


Having the essential tools for cleaning your AR 15 is essential. Cleaning your AR 15 with some tools missing won’t be as effective when you have all the tools at your disposal.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created KeepGunsSafe.com with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.