Cleaning a firearm has always been a messy business for me, and I used to find it quite a bother to have to spread out paper towels or something similar each time I undertook the task. However, the experience led me to discover the utility of a specialized cleaning mat.
Having been in this field for a significant amount of time, I’ve found that a good mat not only keeps CLP and other potentially harmful chemicals off my workspace but also makes cleaning easier on the whole.
I know most individuals, including myself initially, loathe cleaning their firearms, so any tool that simplifies the process is definitely a victory. Based on my own trials and numerous cleaning sessions, I’ve discovered that the best pistol cleaning mat can save you a lot of time and effort. A mat is an essential item you need if you’re earnest about maintaining your firearms in top-notch condition, as it can catch grease, grime, and debris, significantly simplifying your task.
For those who haven’t used a gun cleaning mat before and want to keep their kitchen table or coffee table clean the next time they clean their firearms, I highly recommend investing in one.
The 7 Best Gun Cleaning Mats
1. Gun Cleaning Mat by Sage & Braker
As a seasoned firearm enthusiast who values cleanliness and maintenance, I have used and tested a plethora of gun cleaning mats. However, one product stands out as the pinnacle of gun-cleaning accessories: The Gun Cleaning Mat by Sage & Braker. I have found this cleaning mat to be a worthwhile investment despite its relatively high price point.
The Gun Cleaning Mat by Sage & Braker is a testament to exceptional quality and design. The materials used in this cleaning mat reflect thoughtful design and durability. The interior, crafted from waxed canvas, is resistant to oil and lubricant stains which is crucial for maintaining its aesthetic appeal over time. The exterior layers are fortified with robust wool and thick leather, ensuring that this mat can weather any cleaning session. During my extensive use, I’ve noticed that the mat remains remarkably resistant to chemical solvents and abrasives, a testament to its quality. However, I did observe that the leather edges can be susceptible to scuffing over time, particularly when frequently rolled and unrolled.
I vividly remember a particularly strenuous cleaning session where I had to deal with a rather stubborn, oil-streaked rifle. Yet, after hours of rigorous scrubbing, the mat showed no signs of wear and tear. It was also easy to clean, with the waxed canvas effortlessly shaking off the residues. The size of the mat easily accommodated my AR-15, with ample space for disassembled parts and tools. However, when cleaning smaller firearms like handguns, I found the mat to be slightly larger than necessary, making it less efficient in terms of space utilization.
The Gun Cleaning Mat by Sage & Braker brings an element of convenience by ingeniously integrating storage compartments. These compartments, located within the mat, can conveniently store brushes, bore snakes, lubricants, and other essential gun cleaning supplies. This feature effectively transforms the mat into a dual-functioning entity, serving as both a gun cleaning case and a cleaning pad. Despite its storage capacity, when fully loaded with cleaning tools, rolling the mat can be cumbersome, somewhat detracting from its otherwise compact and portable design.
The efficient design allows you to roll the mat once you’re done cleaning, securing it with two sturdy leather straps that buckle into place. While this design is ingenious for transport and storage, I found that frequent buckling and unbuckling of the leather straps can be a bit tedious, especially when you’re in a hurry.
- Spacious design accommodates large rifles with ease.
- Superior quality makes it an ideal companion for hunting trips.
- Slightly better suited for rifle cleaning than for handguns.
- More expensive than the average gun cleaning mat.
- Leather edges are prone to scuffing over time.
The Gun Cleaning Mat by Sage & Braker is a bespoke, premium quality accessory that offers incredible value for firearm owners. Despite being relatively more expensive than other mats, its high-quality materials, innovative design, and versatile functions justify the higher price point.
2. Real Avid Universal Smart Gun Mat
Today, I’d like to talk about one mat that truly stands out in terms of both size and functionality: The Real Avid Universal Smart Mat.
One of the most impressive features of the Real Avid Universal Smart Mat is undoubtedly its size. With dimensions of 43 inches in length and 16 inches in width, it outclasses most other mats on the market. During one of my maintenance sessions with a rather long hunting rifle, I was pleasantly surprised by the ample space provided by the mat, accommodating the firearm with room to spare. This generous size guarantees that virtually all firearms, save for the largest military surplus rifles, can be cleaned and serviced comfortably.
Build and Design
This gun mat combines practicality and durability with its innovative design. It features a waterproof surface and a non-slip neoprene backing. The surface’s durability impressed me; even after several cleaning sessions, it showed no signs of wear. This unique composition offers the best of both worlds: the water resistance of silicone and the cushioning effect of neoprene. In one of my maintenance sessions, an accidental spill of oil was effortlessly cleaned with a simple rag, leaving no stains or residue. However, I observed that while the mat resists oil well, it can be susceptible to certain chemical solvents, which may affect its longevity.
Adding to its practical design is a detachable parts tray. This feature significantly simplifies the cleaning process, allowing you to easily organize your springs, pins, and other small components. The tray’s magnetic feature is strong enough to hold screws securely, but I found it less effective with heavier metal parts. It eliminates the worry of misplacing these easily lost parts.
The parts tray is also magnetic, a detail I found exceptionally useful during my cleaning sessions. Metallic components effortlessly adhere to it, keeping everything in place and organized.
Comfort and Stability
In terms of texture, the Smart Mat is soft to the touch, offering a padded feel that safeguards your firearms from scratches and scuffs. However, the softness can sometimes make it challenging to roll the mat up tightly for storage. The mat’s rear surface is non-slip, providing superb traction and stability on most surfaces. I particularly appreciated this feature while cleaning on a polished wooden table, where the mat stayed firmly in place.
- Suitable for both beginners and experienced users.
- Comes equipped with a pistol cleaning kit.
- Provides a large cleaning surface.
- Durable and water-resistant surface.
- The included cleaning rod could be more robust.
- The mat lacks screen printing on its surface.
- May be susceptible to certain chemical solvents.
3. TekMat Gun Cleaning Mat
I’ve extensively used the AR-15, widely renowned for its excellent long-range capabilities. Proper maintenance of this firearm is crucial to ensure consistent performance, and that’s where the TekMat AR-15 Gun Cleaning Mat comes into play.
Purpose-built for AR-15
The TekMat AR-15 Gun Cleaning Mat stands out due to its specific design tailored for the AR-15 rifle. I found this specificity extremely helpful, especially when working with intricate parts specific to the AR-15. It eliminates the guesswork often involved in cleaning and maintenance, as it is uniquely suited to the specifics of this popular firearm.
One of the unique selling points of TekMat’s cleaning mat is its printed owner’s manual. This feature saved me multiple trips to my computer to double-check assembly instructions. The detailed schematic of the AR-15 rifle is printed on the mat, making it easy to disassemble and reassemble the firearm without referring to an external manual. However, I found the colors of the print could sometimes blend with the mat, making it less legible in low light conditions. This mat is more than just a surface to rest your gun—it’s a comprehensive guide to your AR-15.
Quality Materials and Construction
The TekMat AR-15 mat boasts a soft thermoplastic fiber surface that gently cradles your rifle, preventing scratches during cleaning and maintenance. While the surface is gentle on the firearm, I noticed that it can attract lint and dust, which requires frequent cleaning. It was during a particularly thorough cleaning session, involving all components of my AR-15, that I appreciated the size and material of this mat.
The backing is made of 3mm neoprene rubber, providing sufficient padding while protecting your work surfaces from scratches or damage. This backing also ensures the mat stays securely in place, eliminating any concerns about slippage during cleaning.
The thermoplastic fiber surface is waterproof, scratch-proof, fade-resistant, and oil-resistant—truly built to last. The resistance to oil and chemicals was tested during a session with a particularly grimy bolt carrier group, and the mat cleaned up effortlessly. Measuring 12″ x 36″, the mat comfortably fits the entire length of your AR-15.
- Highly resistant to staining.
- Lightweight and easy to transport.
- Thoughtfully designed with a non-slip rubber backing.
- The print on the mat can be small and challenging to read for some.
- Surface can attract lint and dust.
All things considered, the TekMat AR-15 Gun Cleaning Mat is an excellent choice for any AR-15 owner. It offers extensive protection for your firearm during cleaning, while the ease of cleaning off any spilled oils, lubricants, or solvents makes the maintenance process even more convenient. It not only safeguards your gun but also your worktops. Despite the print size, which might be an issue for some, the overall utility and design of this mat make it a worthwhile addition to your AR-15 cleaning kit.
4. Long Gun Cleaning Mat by Falko
I had the privilege of trying out the Falko Long Gun Cleaning Mat. Falko Tactical is renowned for crafting high-quality firearm maintenance tools, and this cleaning mat is no exception. It displays Falko’s commitment to excellence and their dedication to giving users a seamless maintenance experience without breaking the bank.
What sets the Falko Gun Cleaning Mat apart from many others in the market is its thickness – twice as thick as most alternatives. This feature became particularly evident during an intensive cleaning session of my prized rifle when I noticed how the thickness offered enhanced protection to both my bench and firearm surface from any potential scratches. However, I found that the mat’s substantial thickness, while protective, could also make it less flexible and slightly challenging to roll up and store in smaller spaces.
One of the highlights of the Falko Gun Cleaning Mat is its sheer size, making it an all-rounder for various types of firearms, including rifles, handguns, and shotguns. Whether you’re cleaning AR-15 parts or a simple pistol, this mat provides ample room for all the firearm components during disassembly and reassembly. I found this size particularly advantageous when working with longer firearms like my hunting rifle, but it could be somewhat excessive for smaller handguns, leading to unnecessary bulk.
The mat boasts an oil, solvent, and chemical-resistant surface, a feature I found useful during a cleaning session involving a considerable amount of gun oil and solvent. This resistance to chemicals was remarkable; however, the mat did tend to retain some oil stains, requiring extra effort to clean. The non-slip backing is an additional boon, ensuring that the mat stays in place throughout the cleaning process.
The inclusion of a clear exploded schematic of an AR-15 on the mat is an invaluable asset. Unlike some mats, this one features legible, easy-to-read text, enabling you to disassemble and reassemble your AR without the need for a paper manual. Still, for those not using an AR-15, this specific design might feel less relevant.
- Strong gripping surface that prevents slipping.
- Durable material ensuring longevity.
- Ample size suitable for larger firearms.
- Some might find the amount of printed text on the mat overwhelming and aesthetically unpleasing.
- May retain oil stains, requiring extra cleaning effort.
In a nutshell, the Falko Long Gun Cleaning Mat is an all-around powerhouse, capable of catering to the cleaning needs of virtually any firearm in your collection. With its high-quality materials, slip-resistant grip, and the invaluable inclusion of an AR-15 schematic, this mat stands out as a top-tier choice for both novice and seasoned gun owners. Despite the possible critique regarding the quantity of text on the mat, its utility, durability, and versatility make it a worthy investment for any firearm enthusiast.
5. Dry Mate Gun Cleaning Pad
I was eager to test out the Dry Mate Gun Cleaning Pad, given its growing popularity in the gun community. Its reputation precedes it as a highly practical and reliable gun cleaning mat. As a shotgun owner, I was particularly intrigued by its design tailored to fit larger firearms.
Ample Size and Absorbent Layers
During one of my cleaning sessions, I discovered that the Dry Mate Gun Cleaning Pad is indeed sizable enough to comfortably accommodate not only my shotgun but also various handguns and rifles. This versatility proved beneficial when I used it for my compact pistol and hunting rifle, providing ample space without feeling cumbersome. The mat’s impressive length is a distinctive attribute, allowing it to withstand even the heaviest of rifles and shotguns.
An added feature that truly won me over was its absorbent top layer coupled with a waterproof back layer. Not only did it protect my workbench from spills, but its absorbency also meant less time spent cleaning up afterwards. I experienced firsthand how efficiently it soaked up oil and cleaning solution spills, protecting my work area from potential liquid damage.
Scratch-Proof and Slip-Resistant
The soft surface of the Dry Mate Gun Cleaning Pad played a significant role in preserving the finish of my shotgun during the cleaning process. However, while the surface is gentle on firearms, I noticed it can be prone to snagging on rough metal edges or sharp corners. The slip-resistant backing is another standout feature, ensuring the mat remains stable throughout my cleaning tasks. This was particularly evident when I worked on a slick metal table, where the mat didn’t budge an inch.
- Easy to use, clean, and maintain, contributing to its longevity.
- A larger cleaning mat, accommodating a wide variety of weapons.
- Absorbs oil and spills, keeping the work area clean and dry.
- The mat’s design might seem fairly bland to some users who prefer visually appealing and colorful designs.
- Surface material may snag on rough edges of firearms.
All things considered, the Dry Mate Gun Cleaning Pad stands out as an exceptional quality gun cleaning mat. Its no-nonsense design and the absence of flashy imprints are refreshing, diverting focus on its practicality and performance. Although its aesthetics may be understated, it is precisely this simplicity that enhances its appeal. I believe it is an excellent choice for those who prioritize functionality over flashy graphics. This mat successfully brings together all the key elements required for a smooth, hassle-free firearm cleaning experience.
To learn more about the gun cleaning process have a look at my article on how to use a gun cleaning jag.
6. BOOSTEADY Gun Cleaning Mat
The BOOSTEADY Gun cleaning mat is another great choice on my list.
Size and Functional Features
The BOOSTEADY Gun Cleaning Mat boasts a sizeable dimension of 12.1 inches by 35.5 inches, which I found more than adequate to accommodate my pistol along with a comprehensive set of cleaning supplies and gear. This size also allowed me to work comfortably with larger rifles, although it felt slightly oversized when cleaning smaller handguns. This generous space gave me the freedom to arrange my tools according to my preferences, simplifying my cleaning process significantly.
One feature that I found particularly useful was the provided pouch, a handy addition to store both the cleaning tools and the mat itself when not in use. However, when the mat is rolled up with tools inside, it can become quite bulky, making storage a bit more cumbersome.
A noteworthy characteristic of this mat, which may come as a surprise to some, is its strong chemical odor upon unboxing. However, following the company’s recommendation, I left it to air for 48 hours, and true to their word, the odor completely dissipated.
Inbuilt Magnetic Tray and Material Composition
Similar to the Real Avid Smart Mat, this mat from BOOSTEADY comes with a magnetic parts tray, which was incredibly useful in managing tiny pins and springs during my cleaning sessions. The strength of the magnet was adequate for keeping small screws secure, but it struggled slightly with heavier metal parts. The mat’s thicker foam construction also provided a stable and cushioned surface, making it suitable even for my heavier firearms.
- Thick foam composition offers stability and durability.
- Non-slip neoprene backing prevents unwanted movement during cleaning.
- Competitive pricing provides good value for money.
- The mat creases easily, which can hinder the smoothness of the cleaning process.
- The mat is not resistant to oil or water, making clean-ups more challenging if liquids are spilled.
On balance, the BOOSTEADY Gun Cleaning Mat stands as a commendable choice, particularly for regular shooters. Its thoughtful design geared towards rifle-length firearms, the inclusion of a magnetic parts tray, and its thicker foam composition bring together a package that delivers functionality and practicality. While the lack of resistance against oil and water could be a drawback for some, its affordable price and other beneficial features make it a viable choice in the market of gun cleaning mats.
7. Gun Cleaning Mat by UsefulThingy
In this review, I’ll delve into my experience with this product, which is another great gun mat.
Unique Design and Material
The first thing to note about this gun cleaning mat is its tailored design for ARs. Crafted with a neoprene non-slip base, the mat ensured a stable work environment even when handling my most intricate gun cleaning tasks. The mat kept my firearm securely in place throughout my cleaning process.
What sets this mat apart from others is its absorbent property. Rather than repelling spilled CLPs and oils, the UsefulThingy mat absorbs them, something the brand has strived to incorporate intentionally. While this feature may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it was intriguing to experience a design departure from the norm. However, the absorbent nature of the mat meant that it required more frequent cleaning to prevent buildup of residues. Over time, however, it did result in the mat accruing oil and emanating a machine-shop-like smell.
Portability and Functionality
One feature I found extremely useful was the mat’s portability. It rolls up easily, making it convenient for storage and transport to the rifle range. This portability was a significant advantage during my outdoor shooting sessions where workspace was limited. Despite its somewhat thin structure, it did not compromise its ability to protect my workbench from oil and other liquids.
What makes this cleaning mat even more special is its educational value. It features a detailed depiction of the AR 15, complete with exploded parts and various systems. This visual aid was particularly helpful during disassembly and reassembly, guiding me through the process. This illustration, coupled with a brief history of the AR 15 on the mat’s cover, turned the cleaning routine into an informative session.
- Ability to absorb oils, lubricants, and solvents.
- Soft surface provides protection against damages and scratches.
- Made with durable material to ensure longevity.
- The mat is relatively thin, which might not be suitable for heavy-duty cleaning.
- Can retain oil smells over time.
UsefulThingy has indeed presented a unique product in the realm of gun cleaning mats. Especially suited for AR-15s, this mat is more than a mere tool—it’s a comprehensive guide for cleaning your AR 15. While its thickness might be a downside for some, its combination of practical design and educational value makes it an excellent choice for firearm maintenance.
Choosing the Best Gun Cleaning Mat
What is A Gun Cleaning Mat?
Through years of dealing with different firearms – rifles, pistols, or shotguns – I’ve learned that the majority of gun cleaning mats are pretty straightforward. When you have a firearm that’s been used heavily or one that’s experiencing problems, you’ll need to disassemble and clean it. From my experience, I can tell you that if you aren’t careful, you’ll end up with a pile of parts coated with oil, dirt, carbon fouling/soot, and other things that can stain and create a huge mess.
When that oil and grease gets smeared onto the exterior of your gun, trust me, you won’t enjoy wiping it off your workspace or your holsters. And that’s not even mentioning the risk of losing an essential pin or spring, which can roll off the table and seemingly vanish into thin air. As someone who has disassembled a modern rifle, I’ve felt the frustration of losing tiny bits precisely when I needed them most. This is where a gun cleaning mat can be a lifesaver.
How Does A Gun Cleaning Mat Work?
In my time using these mats, I found that a pistol cleaning mat has a liquid-resistant coating applied to it to prevent the absorption of oils and grease. This is crucial, as I’ve seen that an old towel or a sheet of drymate will merely soak up the oil and then slowly spread it around. Using paper towels might seem like a good idea, but trust me, it’s an enormous waste of resources and time, and you still risk having oil and grease soak through onto your surfaces.
The coating and exterior finish of these mats solved all these issues for me. Instead of merely absorbing oils and grease, a high-quality gun mat causes them to bead up on the surface, making them easy to wipe away with just one paper towel before rolling the mat up and stowing it back in your cleaning kit or range bag. Most of these mats, from my observations, are foam with a neoprene rubber backing, and they all stand up to the chemicals and particles that accompany cleaning a dirty firearm.
Moreover, I’ve discovered that many of these mats come with magnetic parts trays that allow me to stick my springs, pins, and other small components to the cleaning mat itself without the fear of losing them. If, like me, you’re prone to misplacing tiny parts and then spending more time searching for a lost spring than cleaning your rifle, this feature is a godsend.
Check the following article to learn how to use a gun cleaning kit.
What To Look For
I’ve come to recognize some essential features that a good gun maintenancemat should possess to make the task more convenient.
First and foremost, it should have a finish that neither absorbs nor spreads oils and won’t trap carbon fouling just to smear it everywhere else. Trust me, oil and grease will find their way into any material that’s absorbent.
Second, from my extensive use, I’ve found that the mat should be made of a relatively soft and pliable material to avoid scratching your firearms or your work surface.
If you’re like me and tend to misplace parts, opt for a mat that has a built-in part holder or tray. This feature has saved me countless times by holding all my essential pins and springs in place while I work, especially during disassembly.
Equally, if you’re cleaning a long gun, a larger mat – something I’ve often used – allows you to lay the entire firearm on a soft surface. However, even a high-quality small mat would suffice if you’re careful about arranging things.
Lastly, many of the mats I’ve tested have printed diagrams of many common guns. When you’re detail-stripping your frequently-used firearms or need a refresher on how to quickly put things back together, having a detailed and labeled view of your weapon can prove incredibly handy, as it has been for me numerous times.
For more information regarding gun cleaning please check my article on how to use gun cleaning patches.
Choosing the perfect gun cleaning mat is a critical part of maintaining your firearms. Whether you own a pistol, a rifle, or a shotgun, these mats offer a practical solution for keeping your workspace clean, protecting your firearm from scratches, and keeping tiny parts from getting lost.
Through this guide, I’ve explored the top 7 gun cleaning mats on the market, each with unique features and specific strengths. From the AR-15-specific design of the TekMat Gun Cleaning Mat and UsefulThingy’s absorbing mat to the Falko Long Gun Cleaning Mat’s durable construction and Dry Mate’s large, all-encompassing mat size, these mats cater to a wide range of firearms and user preferences.
Others, like the BOOSTEADY Gun Cleaning Mat, stand out for their portability and value for money, while some offer additional benefits like an included pouch or a magnetic parts tray. Despite their individual features and nuances, what all these mats have in common is their commitment to facilitating a hassle-free and efficient cleaning process.
However, no single product will be the best fit for everyone. Your specific requirements, type of firearm, and personal preferences play a significant role in choosing the right mat. As you select the mat that best suits your needs, consider factors like size, material, resistance to solvents, and added features.
In conclusion, owning a quality gun cleaning mat is not only a smart investment but also a significant step towards responsible firearm ownership. So, take your time, review your options, and make an informed decision that will enhance your gun cleaning experience while prolonging the life of your beloved firearms.