Cleaning Kit

Bore-Tips & Gun-Tips Cleaning Swabs Review

By Ryan Michad  photo 2

Let’s start off with one pretty well-known fact: most people absolutely HATE cleaning their guns. I’m one of them. I hate having to clean up the mess of spilled cleaning solvents/oils, torn patches, stuff stuck in the bore from said patches, etc. It tends to be a very messy, smelly job but is necessary to ensure the long-life and good function of your firearm. Solving one part of the problem, the company Swab-Its offers two products; Bore-Tips and Gun-Tips.

Bore-tips are a package of small Q-tip like implements, except with the cleaner part made out of a sort of light spongy material, rather than the cotton like on a Q-tip, which can pull off and remain stuck in the barrel. The spongy material readily absorbs cleaning solvents, and offers 360-degree coverage during it’s travel down the barrel. Bore-Tips are offered in all your major cleaning jag sizes, from .22  to .45, and 12, 20 and 410 gauge shotgun sizes. They have a pre-threaded portion that allows you to screw the cleaning swab right on to your favorite 8-32 gun cleaning rod.

The Gun-Tips use the same foam material but are like long q-tip swabs. These come with 3” swabs, 5” swabs and 6” swabs in a 9 piece kit. These are great for applying lubricants and other things in areas that may be difficult to reach with larger gun cleaning patches or brushes. Since the Gun-Tips are made out of the same foam material as the Bore-Tips, they do not tear or shred anything in the bore, and are easily reusable and cleaned. The different size brushes mean you have many options at your disposal for different sized guns.

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I used both the Bore-tips and the Gun-Tips swabs to clean several firearms, including a S&W Model 66, a Ruger LCP and a Pietta 1851 Navy blackpowder reproduction. My initial concern when using these tips was that the cleaning solvents would really affect the foam material. We have all seen how some common cleaning products can melt certain types of plastic and other things, and that was my initial thought. The people at Swab-Its seem to have certainly done their homework, and the tips have not shown any sign of degradation, 1 and ½ weeks after the cleaning session. I used Remington Nitro Solvent along with some Rem-Oil for lubrication.

My other concern was the ability to clean the swabs and reuse them. Some products claim that you can do that, but oftentimes there is quite a bit of difficulty cleaning them up. Using some light dish detergent and some hot water, I was able to hand wash the swabs and get them back ALMOST to the original color when I opened the package. Swab-its does recommend using a little bit of mineral spirits to help clean the swab, but I did not use any when I cleaned them. Using a bit of the mineral spirits would probably help bring the swab to its original color.

While cleaning the guns, I did not baby the swabs, as I wanted to see just how tough they actually were. Cleaning a revolver cylinder can result in torn patches and lint all through the gun if you’re not careful. This was not the case with the Bore-Tips and Gun-Tips. I used the Bore-Tips to clean the chambers with ease and the Gun Tips to clean the face of the cylinder and the rear near & under the ejector star. The area under the ejector star is usually the place that causes problems for traditional cleaning patches; not so with the Gun-Tips. They did not hang up on any of the very sharp edges and made cleaning under the ejector star much easier with their compact design.

Using the Gun-Tips to lubricate the smaller parts of the LCP was also very convenient. Using larger swabs on a small gun can be tedious, with lubricants going into unintended areas. Using the Gun-Tips, I was able to apply a bit of Rem-Oil to the foam (which absorbed the oil and held it in place until applied) and used it to lubricate the inside of the slide and the rails. Using the tip helps to prevent over-lubrication simply because you have a finite amount of oil in the tip, and allows you to ensure those small areas are properly coated.

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The only problem I had throughout the cleaning process was when I stepped up to clean the 1851 Pietta Navy. The Pietta had quite a bit of blackpowder residue in the bore, and some of it proved to be rather hard and difficult to remove. The Bore-Tips and Gun-Tips aren’t designed to be heavy duty scrubbers, and that task is better left to a brass hard bristled brush and allowing the solvent to properly work before attempting to clean it. The Bore-Tips are much better suited to use as a replacement for the patch/jag you would use normally to ensure your bore gets a good coat of solvent and then a good coat of lubricating oil.

Overall, I was very impressed with the Bore-Tips and Gun-Tips. With most of the packs being under $10, the simple fact that they are reusable doubles the value of the product. With traditional patches, you get them dirty and you throw them away. With the Bore Tips and Gun Tips, you get several repeated uses. The swabs are very convenient and would be a great addition to any firearms enthusiasts cleaning kit.

Key Points:

-The Swabs are made out of an absorbent foam that doesn't degrade when exposed to most solvents, and holds solvents and oils securely to ensure proper coverage.

-The foam tips do not tear and leave behind debris in the barrel of your firearm. Oftentimes with cotton patches or wrapped cotton tips, you end up leaving behind strands of cotton and other materials inside the bore. With the foam material of the Bore Tips and Gun Tips, these deposits are minimized.

-The Bore-Tips thread into your favorite gun rod, allowing for easy cleanup.

-They are competitively priced, especially being a washable and reusable product. They can be purchased for under $10 for a single, reusable pack at Bore-Tips


Score: 8.0 - Great



Firing Line Review




Norton's Universal Cleaning Sticks Review

20140811_200017Norton’s Universal Cleaning Sticks (UCS) are super simple, yet super useful cleaning tools. They are a much better option than using a toothpick to reach all of the gunk in your gun. I know that I’ve broken plenty of those, but no more. Norton’s UCSs are thin, chemical resistant plastic sticks about the size of a popsicle sticks. They are designed to help you reach the little nooks and crannies of your firearms. Each end is sloped to a point. You can fold a cleaning patch over the end, and pass it along rails, under extractors, against bolt faces, and such, to get the crud out of the hard-to-reach areas. You can also use them to gently pry under the disassembly bars of Beretta and 1911 style pistols. They are also small enough to throw in a cleaning kit, and forget about them, until they’re needed. 20140811_195711

A forum member on, allstop, reported that his UCSs did not hold up to Hoppe’s No. 9 solvent. He said that it began to eat away at the sticks during his very first use. See his thread on the subject here. Seeing this, I decided to chop one up, and test it. I soaked one piece in Hoppe’s No. 9 solvent and another in Rand CLP. These were the only two things I had on hand, so it’s all I tested. I let them soak, completely covered, for about 6 hours, and there was no damage. I then took them from being completely covered and removed most of the fluid. I figured that maybe the air exposure mixed with the chemical may have a different reaction than the full submersion, but this was not the case. They sat partially covered for about a week and, still, there were no signs of deformation. Allstop did have the orange UCS, and I tested the green, so there may be a variance in material there, but I doubt it. I believe they may have changed their formula to make them more chemical resistant, since his original post dates back to October of 2007.

They are sturdy, useful and cheap. There’s not really a whole lot to say about them, except: Get some!

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame: “Used to help provide complete cleaning and assist in the disassembly of modern weapon systems.” – CountyComm website

Target Market: Firearms owners

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Thin
  • Sturdy
  • Flexible
  • Inexpensive
  • Chemical Resistant
  • Gets all the gunk out

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Norton’s UCS are available in many colors, including Neon Green, Orange, Brown, Yellow, and Green.

What others are saying?: Some users have had corrosion problems with solvent, but I have not seen this to be the case. Others seem to really like them.

“Cheap in price, but not in quality.” – cutlerylover

Price Point:

I need it now! Availability: You can get Norton's Universal Cleaning Sticks from

Our Rating:

+-Useful +-Sturdy +-Inexpensive

Score: 8.5 85