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It’s been a long day at the range.
You and your friends have had some fun competing on who’s the best shot, comparing your different firearms, and talking about the different customizations you want to do.
Now that you’re running out of ammo and the sun is setting, it’s time for that relaxing, time-honored tradition of gun cleaning.
You each break out your cleaning kits, various cases full of cleaners, lubricants, and other tools.
As you start to assemble the trusty old cleaning rod that you’ve been using since you were a kid shooting with your dad, your friend pulls out what looks like a coiled rope.
Or maybe a rattlesnake, complete with a metal rattle-looking weight on the end.
You ask him what it is and he tells you it’s a bore snake — perfect for cleaning out long barrels and way simpler than the obsolete-looking cleaning rod you’re using, he says with a smile.
Within minutes, he’s thoroughly cleaned several of his rifles while you repeatedly scrub away at the chamber of your gun with your rod.
Despite your friend’s claims, a cleaning rod still has some benefits. Bore snakes, however, are quickly taking up the spotlight as a quicker, more compact solution.
So, which one is better – bore snake or gun cleaning rod? Let’s find out further…
1- More Compact
Maybe you are looking for a gun cleaning kit that you can use on a hunting trip or out in the field. In that case, bore snakes are the way to go.
They are by far more compact than the bulky cases that most cleaning rods come in, with their multiple sections that need to be screwed together.
Especially if you are dealing with rifles, cleaning rods can be long and cumbersome to use.
No one wants to whip out a two-foot metal rod to clean with when they’re at their camp after a long day of hunting deer or elk.
This is where bore snakes really shine. Because they are not made of a rigid material, you can coil them up and stick them just about anywhere. Most will even fit in the palm of your hand.
This makes them great for cleaning in the field or even if you just want to slim down on your gear.
2- Less Damage To Your Weapon
Probably one of the most often discussed advantages of bore snakes is that they cause less damage to your weapon than cleaning rods.
This is because metal cleaning rods often scrape up against and damage the muzzle of your weapon as you push the rod back and forth to clean out the barrel. Over time, this can affect how your weapon performs.
The solution? Bore snakes. Because they are made of flexible, soft materials, they won’t wear down your firearm as much as a cleaning rod.
Sure, you can reduce the risk of muzzle damage from a rod by using a rod guide that prevents it from scraping against your barrel, but a bore snake is a much simpler and easier solution.
You could also try using a softer material for your cleaning rod such as aluminum.
However, softer material cleaning rods have a higher chance of bending or breaking as you use them, and, once broken, the entire rod becomes mostly useless.
Meanwhile, you can bend bore snakes all you want…that’s kind of their point!
On the other hand, cleaning rods with patches are typically much cheaper to use than a bore snake.
This is mainly because they have been around much longer. Much, much longer, actually — cleaning rods have been around nearly as long as gunpowder.
You may find that some shooters keep a cheap cleaning rod in their kit as a backup just in case they need a second method of cleaning or have a friend who forgot to bring one.
You can find a cleaning rod for as cheap as ten dollars in some places.
Still, a good quality cleaning rod with all the required attachments will run you in the $20-$30 dollar range, which is about the same price as popular bore snakes like the one sold by Sage & Breaker.
So, if you are looking for the cheapest option, you will definitely find a cleaning rod patch that fits the bill.
However, if you want to buy a decent quality product, rods and snakes will cost more or less the same.
2- Clean Better But Takes Longer
Many gun owners will advocate that cleaning rods work better than bore snakes. This is because you can use the firm, metal rod to apply pressure to scrub at a specific spot.
With a bore snake, you have less control—a bore snake will apply the same amount of pressure to every part of the barrel that it touches.
You can’t “press harder” on a specific dirty spot like you can with a cleaning rod.
Bore snakes certainly do a “good enough” job of cleaning firearms in most situations. Plus, they are quicker.
However, if you have an especially filthy weapon that needs detailed attention and a deep clean, a rod will be the way to go.
3- Just As Good As Snakes At Handguns
If you own a small handgun where you can insert the rod through the chamber without scraping against the weapon (as opposed to inserting it down the muzzle), then a short cleaning rod will actually be better than a bore snake.
This is due to the fact that you get more effective cleaning without running the risk of damage.
The advantages of bore snakes really shine when you are dealing with longer barrels like a rifle.
So, if you are only dealing with small weapons with short barrels, then a cleaning rod will be your best bet.
Conclusion: Which One Is Better for Gun Cleaning?
A cleaning rod and patches will get you a deeper cleaning but at the cost of more time spent, bulkier size, and possible damage to your weapon over time.
Bore snakes can do a pretty decent cleaning for most situations, are much faster, and take up far less space than rods—especially ones that come in multiple pieces.
This makes bore snakes a pretty compelling choice and the better option for most situations. However, cleaning rods still have their benefits in certain scenarios.
If you have a short-barreled weapon or need to do a deep thorough cleaning, you will benefit more from a cleaning rod than a bore snake.
The best way to figure out what cleaning tool is right for you is to swing by your local gun shop and ask an expert.
Depending on the type of firearms you own, how often you use and clean them, and what tools you already have, they can recommend what’s best for you and your wallet.
If you want to be a really savvy and prepared shooter or gun enthusiast, carry around a bore snake when you are at the range and for regular use
But also keep that trusty old cleaning rod and patch around—maybe back in the gun safe—for those special occasions where your weapons need some extra love and care.
Either way, you can use your newfound knowledge of bore snakes and cleaning rods to impress your friends next time you find yourself at the range breaking down your weapons at the end of a good, long day.