Gun Maintenance: Breakthrough Solvent

Breakthrough Solvent 2oz -

Cleaning your guns… Some people clean their guns every time they use them, others don’t know what cleaning their guns means. There is a lot of gray area in between those two extremes, but think about where you fall on the scale.

I try to clean my guns after every use; I like my guns to be clean. It’s how I was taught to take care of my guns, and it’s how I still take care of my guns. Now, that doesn’t mean I take them completely apart and bust out my tooth brush and polish every single part, but I run a swab or 3 down the barrel, wipe down the major dirty parts, get as much grime, brass and lead fouling off of the gun as possible and then lubricate all of the major friction points.

Recently, I was introduced to Breakthrough® clean, a “Military Grade” cleaning solvent.



Breakthrough clean was developed as a modern cleaning solvent, something that would be less toxic, more versatile, and just perform better than the solvents of yesteryear.

If you are like many, for a solvent, you probably use Hoppe’s or some other similar solvent… These are the solvents that my father used, probably like many of yours. So it’s also what I used. Until now…

I was sent a bottle of Breakthrough clean by the folks at Mounts Plus. You can pick up a 2oz bottle of Breakthrough clean from them for about $8.95.



From what I can tell, from a few uses, this stuff works well. It’s probably not the be-all-end-all solvent, and I surely haven’t used every solvent out there, but I’ve used more than a couple. So these are just my findings…

Usually when using a solvent to clean lead and copper fouling out of a barrel, I have to run multiple swabs, brushes, etc. down the barrel to get it really clean, and even then, there seems to be an endless supply of “crap” in the barrel… But with my first use of Breakthrough, I simply sprayed a little down the barrel and let it sit for a couple seconds, then sprayed a little on a couple swabs and ran them through the barrel. After that, I followed it up with a couple clean swabs with a little oil on them.

The oiled swabs came out MUCH cleaner than when I use normal solvents, or just a CLP type solution.

I don’t have a really scientific method for testing “cleanness”, but from the 100+ times I’ve cleaned the Glock 17 and AR-15 that I focused my testing on, the process and time to get the gun clean was reduced, especially in the cases where there was built up fouling from previous uses. I didn’t have to scrub nearly as much, and even with less scrubbing, I got a better end result.

There is still some lead fouling or discoloration visible in my Glock barrel, generally in the grooves of the rifling. So it’s not like it magically dissolves everything but the steel. But it did get most of the stuff out of the barrel. More noticeably, it took care of carbon buildup on my AR-15 and in the chamber of my Glock really well. So, lead fouling, it might take some extra scrubbing to get it to really work “perfectly.”

Also, immediately noticeable, this stuff doesn’t smell. If you take the top off of the bottle and give it a big sniff (probably not the best thing to do), sure it has a little odor, but for normal use, it has no smell. This is a big departure from many other solvents; almost all of the other solvents I’ve used you can smell from a couple blocks away.

Once you clean a firearm with a solvent like Breakthrough, you need to oil it… Breakthrough will remove all of the oil, dirt and grime. So once you have everything cleaned to your preference, make sure to run an oiled swab down the barrel, and oil all of the friction points on your weapon. I like to wipe things down with a clean and slightly oiled rag to make sure things wont rust, etc (only really need to do this on non-polymer weapons, etc.) then apply dabs of oil to the friction points.

What kind of oil do I use? Well, I tend to use Break Free CLP, or some SLiP 2000 EWL. But I’ve used things like mineral oil in the past. There are a lot of oil options, and what works best is somewhat subjective. But there are a lot of options out there, and if you’re trying to decide on one to use do a Google search and be prepared to lose months of your life reading about lubricity ratings and oil temperature ratings.


Why Breakthrough?

So why choose Breakthrough?

Well, from my testing it really does work well. It cleans as advertised, and really seems to break down the carbon, lead and copper fouling that builds up on firearms. It’s not 100% without effort, but nothing is. With some scrubbing, it gets everything off and clean.

There are other modern cleaning solutions like FIREClean that I have heard good things about, but, this is another product that is a CLP not a solvent, and CLPs definitely have a place. Before you can really start a CLP treatment, etc. or after a lot of use, a good solvent can really clean things and get it ready for the next treatment of CLP. So, personally I keep a good solvent and a good CLP around for my maintenance. I wont use a solvent on every cleaning, but every once and a while, it’s a good thing to have.

Also, if you want to follow the Breakthrough media information… it’s better because:

  • Breakthrough has no odor compared to traditional firearm cleaning products
  • Breakthrough has been granted a toxicity clearance by the Army’s Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine
  • Breakthrough has been tested by the U.S. Department of Defense
  • Breakthrough has been approved by the U.S. Department of Defense for cleaning of small arms
  • Breakthrough has no listed components or characteristics of hazardous waste per the EPA. Because of this, it is not regulated by the OSHA Z-list, that most traditional firearms cleaning products contains.
  • Breakthrough has a higher flashpoint than most cleaners at 150° F
  • Breakthrough reduces cleaning time because it is a superior cleaning solvent over standard CLP cleaners
  • Breakthrough will clean a firearm with a single application, reducing waste, and cleaning time

I don’t have a mass spectrometer, so I cant verify the chemicals that are in the solution, but I can verify that it does clean well, superior to many cleaners and CLPs that I have used. Is it the best? Well that will be very subjective, but it’s better than most that I have used.

Some other gun cleaning thoughts

Some things to think about when taking care of rifles and pistols. Proper maintenance can increase accuracy, life span and keep them functioning properly and safely.

Using a good solvent down the bore can extend the life of your barrel by removing carbon and fouling that leads to pitting and premature wear. This is something especially important in the long range bench rest community, but it also extends to the AR market and pretty much every type of firearm out there. It will extend the life of your barrel and it will improve accuracy, especially over time (hence the increased barrel life).

Bottom line, no one really likes cleaning their guns, but, CLEAN YOUR GUNS!


Ratings (Out of 5 stars)

Cleaning: * * * *
This stuff cleans and cleans well. You may have a preference one way or another, but if you pick a bottle of this up for deep cleaning your weapons, I don’t think you will be disappointed. Why 4 stars and not 5 stars? Because, I’m 100% sure there’s an industrial, I can only buy it in 55-gallon drums with HAZMAT approval, type solvent out there that melts away everything but steel… And that’s the stuff I really want.

Ease of Use: * * * * *
It doesn’t get much easier than spray on… The little spray bottle works well and gives you good coverage; and when I knock the bottle over it doesn’t spill all over my table.

Cost: * * *
This stuff isn’t super expensive, but it isn’t cheap either. At a price of about $4.48 per ounce, it is WAY more expensive than things like Hoppe’s that comes in at about $1.40 per oz but much cheaper than FIREClean that comes in at almost $10 an oz (those are based on prices I found, if you have a hookup and can get stuff cheap, you can do the math).

Overall: * * * *
Overall, I like the stuff. It works well, is less toxic (than many other products), and doesn’t have a gnarly smell. I’ll definitely be keeping it around as an option to use and if you are looking to change it up or get a solvent to clean your guns, give it a try.

This post has also been posted on The Truth About Guns. Check out their site for tons of firearms and firearm industry news and information.


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