If you’ve ever fired a gun and had the privilege of cleaning it afterward, you’ve probably used something like Hoppes #9. It’s certainly an effective solvent, and it’s proven to be the standard by which all other gun solvents are measured. But like any cleaning product you have in your home at some point you have to ask yourself, is this stuff bad for me?
At least, that’s what I asked myself when I was cleaning my firearms the other day. See, I live in a densely populated apartment complex in a community that isn’t very gun friendly, which makes firearm maintenance fairly problematic. I used to clean them outside on my back patio, but after a few uncomfortable stares from the neighbors, I decided to take it inside. It’s not illegal for me to clean my guns outside, but I don’t like scaring the crap out of my neighbors. It’s not fair, but it is what it is.
And the thing about cleaning your guns inside is that Hoppes #9 totally reeks. Even with the window open and the fan running, it hung heavy in the air for a quite a while. After I started feeling light-headed with a sore throat, I began to wonder, what exactly is in this stuff and how toxic is it? According to the manufacturer, it contains ethanol, kerosine, oleic acid, amyl acetate, and ammonium hydroxide. It is classified as “mutagenic” and chronic prolonged exposure can lead to irreversible nervous system and brain damage.
Will that happen to you? Probably not. Maybe if you used it every day in tight quarters with insufficient ventilation, like I was dumb enough to do. Otherwise, you should be fine. Nonetheless, it’s still fairly toxic, and substances that are toxic tend to have an accumulative effect over the course of your lifetime. So I decided to do some research, and I’ve found four excellent alternatives to Hoppes #9.
These are all affordable, effective, non-toxic, and well-reviewed products that can clean your firearms just as well as Hoppes, if not better. Let’s take a look.
This is by far the oldest item on this list since it’s been around for more than a hundred years. While Ballistol contains a few of the same ingredients as Hoppes, it is nontoxic and has never shown any carcinogenic qualities. It also won’t be absorbed through skin contact. Its main ingredient is mineral oil, and it has a very base pH, which allows it to break down the acidic residues in your firearm. Aside from metals, it can also be safely used on wood, rubber, and most plastics. It’s not only an effective solvent but can prevent corrosion as well.
Gunzilla BC-10 has only been around for a few years, but its built up a stellar reputation in that time. It’s mostly made from plant-based materials and doesn’t contain any hazardous chemicals. It does an excellent job of removing all of the copper, lead, and carbon from your firearm, while simultaneously repelling sand and dust. It cleans quickly, has very little odor, and is used by multiple law enforcement agencies and military units.
This “biobased” formula doesn’t contain any corrosive compounds or hazardous materials and is non-flammable. Frog Lube largely consists of food grade ingredients that not only cut into the carbon and lead left behind by spent ammunition, but won’t hurt any plastic, rubber, or wood parts on your firearm, nor will it degrade your weapon’s finish. It also serves as an excellent lubricant that will prevent corrosion, and significantly reduce your cleaning time in the future.
M-Pro 7 is an odorless, non-toxic cleaner that cuts into gunpowder and copper residue in a very unique way. It coats the residue with a negatively charged substance that causes the molecules to repel from each other. This allows it to clean out deeply embedded gunk that other products can’t touch. It doesn’t have any severe effects on eye or skin contact, and it can double as fairly decent rust and cosmoline remover.
The one thing to remember about these products is that none of them are perfect. They all have a few pros and cons, and for many of you, Hoppes may be sufficient for your firearm maintenance needs. However, if any of these products interest you, then check out this thorough evaluation of just about every gun cleaning product on the market, and see what might work best for you.