Review: Otis Elite Gun Cleaning System

Like most gun owners, I enjoy taking firearms to the range, the woods, or even taking an occasional pot shot at a coyote in the back yard. And, like most gun owners, I’m always looking for tools to make caring for my firearms easier. Call me crazy, but sometimes I actually like cleaning my guns. It’s relaxing, it requires focus, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment when I’m done — not to mention an added sense of confidence that my carry piece is far more likely to function properly in the event it’s ever needed.

Lately, I’ve been on a quest to simplify the cleaning and lubrication routines I use on my firearms. Because my collection covers a wide range of gun types (shotguns, ARs, revolvers, rifles, semi-auto pistols) and calibers (from a Ruger 10/22 and Ruger Mark I to a HK91 and Desert Eagle .50), I amassed a wide variety of brushes, rods, solvents, patches,  small screwdrivers, lubricants, nozzle straws, and other gadgets. But this week, my standard cleaning routines got a lot easier thanks to the Otis Elite Cleaning System.

MSRP on the Otis Elite kit is $149.99, but I bought it from Amazon for $100.86. The kit is designed for all types of gun owners, from hunters to competitive shooters to collectors. The kit contains tools for cleaning and lubricating .17 to .50 cal. rifles and pistols, .410 to 12/10 ga. shotguns, and all in-line muzzleloaders. Otis’ official marketing blurb says the kit contains:

  • Over 40 firearm-specific cleaning components in a nylon case
  • Six (6) Memory-Flex Cables of varying length for effective and correct Breech-to-Muzzle cleaning
  • Twenty-three (23) bronze bore brushes remove copper deposits and other fouling
  • Obstruction removal tools for jammed cases and other blockages
  • Specialized precision tools for complete breakdown and fine cleaning of all critical and hard to reach areas of your firearm
  • Optics cleaning gear for care and maintenance of scopes, rangefinders and more
  • Otis Removable Tactical Cleaning System for convenient carrying in the field
  • Dimensions: 15 1/4″ x 8 3/4″ x 4 1/2″

Otis Elite Cleaning System

The kit comes in a black nylon dual-zipper case, which includes a tiny padlock for securing it (which I doubt I’ll ever use, so I gave the padlock to my wife because she thought it was “cute”). The case was a nice touch because even though I don’t clean my guns at the range, I do like to set up a folding table on the back patio and clean my guns outside, so having everything in a case allowed me to set up my outdoor cleaning station quickly.

Along with all the cleaning gear was some printed instructions and a DVD with short videos that apply to a wide range of specific gun types. All the video clips are also available on Otis’ YouTube channel, which is where I ended up watching them. Here’s a quick example of an Otis video (this is the one I watched before cleaning two of my Glocks with this kit):

My current cleaning procedure has a few additional steps from the Otis approach, but I have to admit that apart from the chemical products I use, everything else I needed to clean every gun I own was in the Otis kit. Their “360 degree” patch system is unique, requiring you to poke the patch loop through the patch, then pinch, thread, and pull the patch up over itself to create a wad that touches all parts of the barrel at once, as opposed to a traditional rod and patch method that Otis argues is less effective. Using the Otis patches was a bit awkward at first, but after a few “pinch and pokes” I got the hang of it, and now I actually like it — and am convinced it does work better than my old way. Otis’ approach does require the use of their proprietary patches, but I can buy a batch of 100 of them online for under $9, so that’s worth it to me.

What I really like about this kit is the Memory-Flex cables and the wide selection of bronze bore brushes that comes in the kit. They work great. The Memory-Flex cables are threaded on both ends, so you can attach patch loops and/or bore brushes to either end. The cables then feed into the barrel (always in the direction a bullet would travel) and then you pull them out from the end of the barrel. I found it easier to use than a bore-snake, and actually more effective. I used them on a number of removed barrels, but because they bend they could also be used for quick cleanings simply by locking open the slide of a pistol or bolt of a rifle and feeding the cable into the barrel through the action.

I also got a chance to use the Otis nylon brush, and a number of the scraper and detail tools. No surprises here – they worked as expected and made it easy for me to get into all the nooks and crannies of my weapons.

A silicone cloth is the finishing touch on this kit, and it’s also the last thing I use on my guns after cleaning them. After using the one in the kit, I plan on ordering a couple more just to have them handy. They work well, and don’t leave any lint behind.

For a street price of $100, this kit is a no-brainer. If you only have one gun, get it — because chances are you’ll probably own more than one gun eventually. And if you have multiple guns, get it — because it keeps everything you need organized and available in a compact, easy-to-transport unit. There was even room enough in the case for me to add the screwdrivers and other small tools I like to have handy when cleaning my guns, as well as a small bag of cotton rags.

Otis has a positive reputation among serious gun owners and professional operators, and in the case of their Elite Cleaning System, it’s well earned. I welcome your comments below, whether you use this kit or some other system.

 

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  2. I have this kit too, along with a couple of other Otis kits (the small round ones) for the field, and yep they are awesome, I agree. I still use my Bore Snakes on shot guns when I am in competition that stretches over many hours and hundreds of rounds (clays) because between it and my frog lube applicator, I can have the gun field cleaned and lubed in roughly 2 min. Could do the same with this Otis probably, but for the shotguns I have no complaints about the bore snake, in a couple of pulls my bore is a mirror, where before it was covered in carbon. Maybe not as effective as the Otis tools (although I still follow their breech first guidance with the bore snake), but effective enough for field cleaning and no assembly required :). Plus they are cheap (on Amazon anyway), so no big deal it it is lost, where my Elite kit stays home, it would drive me nuts to lose parts of it ;).

    One addition I recommend for those thorough cleanings (especially if you have a touch of OCD when cleaning like I do), try some of these: http://www.utvtactical.com/g-tip-swabs.htm, the pointy yet tightly woven sharp tip gun cleaning q-tips are AWESOME compared to normal q-tips. I use picks(plastic and brass if needed) and solvents to break up deposits that get in nooks and crannies, but then what? These are the then what, soak the tip of the G-Tip in a tiny bit of solvent, and then it will pull all of that crap right out of there and not leave any cotton strands behind like my Q-Tips used to when pulling the same duty. $10 shipped per 100, I stocked up on a few hundred which should easily last me a year or three. I use these with the kit and do a full blown several hour cleaning routine every time I get a new weapon (most of what I purchase is used). It doesn’t have to take a few hours, but given it is a new weapon, I take my time, diassemble slowly and learn how everything works mechanically as I go, put aside the parts I am gonna put in the Ultrasonic cleaner, etc. I think it is fun too, especially with a new firearm as I am exploring and learning it as I turn it from a neglected dirty piece to a smooth and shiny piece :).

    Thanks for the review, it is a fantastic kit, and IMO the most comprehensive kit I have ever seen for the price and in such a small package to boot, IMO they got everything right, no compromises! It also keeps those terrible aluminum rods that you get in the cheap cleaning kits out of your barrels :). Definitely good to get the word out there!

    • Thanks, Mike. And wow – your comment was posted before the virtual ink was dry on this post! :)

      I’ve got a buddy who swears by the Frog Lube, too. I may have to check it out. And you make a great point about taking the bore snakes with you and leaving the Otis kit at home. Yeah – I’d be ticked if I lost one of the pieces in the dirt.

      I’ll check out those swabs, too. Happy shooting!

      • I highly recommend giving Frog Lube a shot, at least Google on it. I did a lot of research before I made the switch from Pro M-7, RemOil, BreakFree CLP, etc. (tons of different cleaners I have built up over time), and Frog Lube is a completely different animal. Most other all in one solvents/lubes/CLPs are petroleum based, where Frog Lube is polymer based. The Polymer based boating stands up much better to the elements, is just as effective at cleaning, and the best part is that over time of using frog lube, it works its way into the pores of the weapons so that 1) your wear surfaces like slides become much smoother and last longer, and 2) it turns your surfaces where carbon build up is common into “Teflon”, they become so much easier to clean. Polymer is also much less hazardous and longevity on weapons is better given it doesn’t dry out and can stand up to full immersion in salt water, etc.

        I did a lot of research given I didn’t want to do to a “completely different animal” on my very expensive gun collection without being sure I was doing the right thing, and what stood out for me is after hours and hours of Googling or reading, I did not find ONE SINGLE post in any forum, review site (Amazon, etc.), or ANYWHERE with anything bad to say about Frog Lube, NOT ONE (except for the price :)). That is a first considering talking gun cleaning products is up there with talking politics or religion :).

        Anyway, don’t take my word for it, do some Googling, read the story of by whom and why it was invented, read others’s experiences with it on forums, etc. I can tell you my experiences have been nothing but positive. Amazon has decent deals on Frog Lube kits as well. As part of the switch to get the full benefit of the lube you need to completely remove the petroleum based products from your firearms so that can be a bit tedious, but IMO it was worth it, I am still converting as I have quite a few pieces and I only started using it a few months ago.

          • When it comes to cleaning I have 2 solutions actually, one is just for brass to reload, and the ultrasonic is for more fragile brass (like 5.7×28 where there is a poly coating that must NOT be cleaned off, therefore requires an Ultrasonic cleaner instead) as well as gun parts, jewelry, etc. I specifically shopped for one big enough to be able to fit *most* full sized slides, frames, etc. without breaking the bank. Here is the kit I got for media based cleaning that works really well and was cheap, but effective(and media is super cheap if you get walnut shell media at the pet store instead of the exact same thing at 10x the price from gun cleaning supply places, it is in the reptile section), and this place usually has the cheapest for pretty much ANYTHING that they carry:

            http://www.fedtacticaldirect.com/Frankford-Arsenal-Quick-n-EZ-Case-Tumbler-Kit-645-880_p_24761.html

            Here is the Ultrasonic cleaner I got, you can actually get it cheaper on Amazon under other brand names for the exact same thing, but I had a great coupon for this at optics planet, and with Lyman stamped on it the warranty/support is a lot better than I would get from the basically noname versions of the same thing. I also got samples of the cleaning solutions, AND most of the cheaper ones do not come with the basket for some stupid reason, it is an optional:

            http://www.opticsplanet.com/lyman-turbo-sonic-cleaner-promo-pack.html

            They have a bigger one, but out of my budget for now, but after seeing how useful it is (for all kinds of household cleaning, not just for my gear), a larger cleaner is on my list, given it would make things even faster. I am also not sure how much longer I will be using a tumbler :)

            http://www.opticsplanet.com/turbo-sonic-6000-ultrasonic-case-cleaners.html

            The difference between the interior dimensions between the two (since the smaller one doesn’t say anywhere on the websites i looked at):

            Small: 9.84″ x 5.90″ x 3.15″
            Large: 12.7” x 8.0” x 3.9”

            The small one fits most of what I need, but the large one has 1) strong transducers, so shoudl be better cleaner I think, 2) a drain (man I wish the small one has a drain!!), and 3) a feature to some how eliminate any air pockets in what you are cleaning to ensure that the solution has contact with 100% of the surfaces to be cleaned, in addition to being bigger if you want to clean an 8″ revolver for example :).

          • I don’t do any reloading (yet?) so I’m just looking for cleaning solution recommendations. I’ve already got the cleaner, which is a Crest 1100HT:

            http://www.crest-ultrasonics.com/powersonic-benchtop-cleaners.html

            Retail is $1,100 but I paid less than half that for a new one on eBay. :)

            I was leaning toward either a gallon of the the MPro 7 cleaning solution (not the oil):

            http://www.midwayusa.com/product/822547/m-pro-7-rust-preventative-and-bore-cleaning-solvent-1-gallon-liquid

            or maybe some UniqueTek solution from UV Tactical (who is a distributor for FrogLube):

            http://www.utvtactical.com/degreaser.htm

            I spoke with Mike Beck at Froglube on the phone earlier today, and asked him what he’d recommend for prepping a gun for its first Froglube treatment. He answered “30 days from now, I’ll say our new Froglube Solvent! But for now, just used denatured alcohol.” But I’m not sure if denatured alcohol is a good idea in a sonic cleaner, and he didn’t want to confirm that either.

            So I called Pantheon Enterprises (makers of MPro 7) and talked to Amy in their Gun Care Dept. She confirmed that MPro7 is an “awesome” ultrasonic gun cleaning solution, and that it would be a great prep solution for a full Froglube treatment. MPro7 has a great reputation (while UniqueTek has no reputation that I know of), so I’m gonna go with the MPro7. Amy wants me to email her my review of the ultrasonic MPro 7 + Froglube method when I post it, so that’s what I plan on doing!

          • Oh my bad, I misread (read to fast) and substituted “in” with “for” in my head. I don’t know if I would put alcohol in a heated cleaner, at least not without a fire extinguisher near by. I am pretty sure that the flashpoint is quite low, and with your awesome cleaner, it amy heat enough to cause flammable vapor and a lot of it… I dunno, I have never tried it myself. I use M Pro 7 and clean the old fashioned way, then follow up with alcohol (it’s cheap, so I can be liberal :)), by drenching paper towels (shop paper towels, i.e. the blue ones that are much less prone to ripping/dissolving) and wiping the disassembled weaon’s parts, using those qtips I referenced for nooks, etc.

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