Hoppe's Bore Snake

Hoppe’s Bore Snake.

The Hoppe’s bore snake is the fastest bore cleaner on the PLANET.  Well, that’s what Hoppe’s (pronounced hop-eeze) claims in their product literature. According to the manufacturer, just one pass with the Hoppe’s Bore Snake and your rifle, shotgun or pistol barrel will be clean enough to serve Sunday dinner off of.  Ok, they didn’t say that, but they did claim one pass would loosen large particles, scrub out the remaining residue and swab it all spotless.  Sunday dinner?  That’s optional.

So what is a Hoppe’s Bore Snake? It is a woven synthetic “rope” that integrates a bronze bore brush and a bore swab into one snakelike device attached to a lanyard that allows you to pull it through the bore of your firearm.  Pretty much everyone who has cleaned a firearm is familiar with a bronze bore brush and swabs, but this “pulls” it all together in one product.  Clever right?  Who would think of such a thing?

The back story.

Well, a gentleman by the name of Bruce Hodge was awarded a patent for this particular invention back in 1999.  An although I give him his due credit for coming up with a great product, it’s not like nobody ever thought of cleaning a barrel by pulling something through it rather than plunging a rod in from the muzzle. In fact, I expect someone was on that as soon as guns started loading from the breech instead of the muzzle. Next to Hodge’s patent picture on the right you can see such a device from way back in 1906 (on the left). A little more primitive perhaps, but they had the right idea.

Hoppe's Bore Snake: History
Hoppe's Bore Snake Patent

A few decades later some enterprising inventor came up with a barrel “rope” that was impregnated with a rust inhibitor and so was born Mable’s “Anti-Rust Rope”. Maybe not an all-in-one cleaner per se, but Marble’s was on the right track.

Hoppe's Bore Snake history. Marbles anti-rust rope.

Jump ahead into the next century and we have Hoppe’s Bore Snake. Each bore snake comes with a brass weighted lanyard that you drop down the barrel of your firearm which you then grab and tug through the bore.  Each brass weight is embossed with the caliber of the barrel it’s intended for and the snakes themselves are a variety of colors so you can tell them apart. You do want to use the correct snake for the caliber.  Too small and it will be ineffective at cleaning the bore, too large and you might have a heck of a time getting that thing back out of your gun’s barrel. FYI – Our just reviewed 9mm CZ Scorpion EVO Carbine came with one in the box!

How to use it.

I’ve used a bore snake before and also seen other folks use them as well. What you may not realize about Hoppe’s Bore Snake, as instructions are reduced to a single sentence on the package, is that it is intended to be used dry. I admit, on more than one occasion, I have hit the snake and the barrel with some CLP because it seemed like the right thing to do. It’s not.

The Bore Snake is intended to pull though dry and dislodge and pull along any residue, unburned powder and fouling without any chemical bore cleaner. If desired, a small amount of Hoppe’s gun oil or your favorite brand can be added to the snake’s loop at the end, and will coat the barrel as it pulls through. That’s it.  You’re done!

This is not intended, or at least that’s my understanding, to be the only way you will clean your gun’s barrel from now on.  Over time, a more serious cleaning would be recommended using more conventional cleaners like Hoppe’s #9 or your favorite CLP formulation, brushes and swabs.  That’s really the only way you’re going to get that hard core fouling off your barrel bore. Essentially, the Hoppe’s Bore Snake is meant to be an extremely quick and efficient way to get your barrel 95% of the way there and get back to shooting.

Hoppe's Bore Snake

The results

So on to the bottom line – Does it work? Yes, it sure does. After shooting a couple dozen rounds of 12 gauge I gave it two swipes (yes, not one) with the Hoppe’s bore snake and to the naked eye the smooth bore barrel looked great, shiny and free of debris or fouling. Apply a little quality gun oil and I would have had no problem putting that gun away until the next shoot. Unfortunately, I’m a little bit OCD about cleaning my guns so I hit it with a swab when I got back from the range. Honestly, the patches with solvent did pick up some minor residue the snake had left behind but it was pretty minimal.

The bore snake did a solid job and for a quick cleaning application, I’m satisfied. If the bore snake gets fouled with accumulated dirt over many uses, you can just wash it with soap and water. I suppose you could throw it in the washing machine but I have a feeling it would end up somewhere where it shouldn’t and you’ll need more than a bore snake to get you out of that mess. For around $10 this is a great accessory to have in your bag for the calibers you shoot a lot.

Hoppe’s Bore Snake

The world’s quickest three-step bore shine