Intro: Making a Pocket Gun Cleaning Kit
This tutorial will tell you how to make a very compact cleaning kit that will handle basic cleaning for most firearms, as well as many airguns. The primary characteristic that makes this kit compact is the use of a string to pull patches through the bore, rather than a rigid rod. This does limit things, because the kit cannot be used on anything with limited access to the breach, such as some airguns. Firearms shouldn't be an issue, as long as you can slip the string down the barrel and pull it out at the other end.
Step 1: Find a Suitable Container and Gather Contents
The kit is not intended to handle heavy fouling, so there are no bore brushes, just patches. One or more small containers will hold your favorite oil or grease for lubrication and protection, and you could add some solvent as well (as long as it doesn't dissolve the container). This is all you really need for a basic cleaning; while it won't remove lead or copper fouling, but those are best dealt with using time and an appropriate solvent, because aggressive brushing risks damaging the bore.
My kit does include a few extras. A nylon bristle brush (in this case, a used, cut down toothbrush), cotton swabs, and toothpicks to handle cleaning the internals. I chose to use a small Mentos gum container to hold my kit, because it happened to be handy.and about the right size. An Altoids tin would work as well, and provide a bit more space. You could probably condense the kit down to the size of a TicTac container, though you'll be better off with a container that opens along an entire side, otherwise you'll have trouble getting the contents out.
Step 2: Making the Bore Cleaner
The first step is to make the bore cleaner. I chose to use a nylon twine for this, because it is strong and the slick fibers won't collect and hang on to grit like a natural fiber. The problem with slippery synthetics is that they don't hold knot well, but I have a solution to that.
Start out by measuring a generous length of twine. For a 5.5 inch barreled pistol, I used about a foot of twine. Into one end, you'll tie a bowline to pull the patch through the bore. For the .22 caliber bore, I made the loop a bit over half an inch in diameter, which is plenty to hold the small patches that will fit in the .22 caliber bore. For a larger bore, such as a 12 gauge, you'd probably want a loop an inch or so in diameter, to hold the thick patches needed to fill the large bore.
Before we go any further, we want to fix the knot so that it will not come loose. To do this, take a hot glue gun, and cover the knot with a thin layer of hot glue, making sure to get the glue pressed into the fibers of the twine as it cools. The sticky hot glue will keep the fibers from slipping along each other, and make sure that the knot doesn't come untied. Once this is done, you can cut off the excess, and use a lighter to fuse the ends of the fibers together.
The opposite end of the twine needs to be fused as well. Go slowly, and melt the fibers until they form a ball. This will make sure that the twin will not fray at the end, and will provide a smooth, slick surface so that the tip will slide down the bore easily.
For cases where a pull-through cleaner won't work, such as an airsoft gun or air pistol, consider using the plastic cable for a string trimmer (weed-eater). Heat up one end of the plastic, and cut a slit in it to hold the patch. This should be rigid enough to slip down the barrel.
Step 3: Making the Bore Patches
I typically use patches are made from discarded clothing. A cotton or cotton blend works well, and knit fabric works better than woven, since it unravels less and is more compressible. The patches will need to be tailored to your application. A small bore, .22 or smaller, will need small patches of thin material. For larger bores, larger patches are used, up to a couple of inches square. For big bores, such as shotguns, a thicker material will be needed, such as that from an old athletic sock. You will use the patches by rolling them into a tube (just fold them in half if they are too small to roll) and sipping them into the hole in the twine so that an equal length sticks out on both sides. The patch should squeeze down and form a snug fit inside the bore, and require noticeable force to pull through the bore, but not so much force that it hurts your fingers. A patch that is too loose not only will fail to clean the bore, but could slip out of the loop and get caught in the bore.
Step 4: Making the Oiler
The oiler is a small container used to store oil or grease. If it stores oil, it should be able to dispense the oil a drop at a time, while grease would need to be applied to a cotton swab, which can then be applied to the gun. If you happen to have an M1 carbine oiler handy, that would be an ideal choice, if a bit on the heavy side. If you don't have a carbine oiler handy, it's pretty easy to make a plastic container that will serve the same basic purpose.
You'll need two plastic drinking straws, one slightly larger in diameter, such that the smaller straw fits easily inside the larger. Heat one end of the smaller straw with a lighter, spinning it slowly so that it heats evenly, until the edge has rolled back to form a bead of semi-molten plastic. Quickly use a pair of pliers to squeeze the end of the straw flat, fuzing the melted plastic together to form an air-tight seal. Now clip the straw down to about a third of an inch more than the desired length of the oiler. Cut a half inch or longer section from the larger straw. Fold over the last quarter inch of the smaller straw, then slip the larger straw over the folded end. This will keep the folded end shut tightly, and keep the oil from leaking out. If you're using this oiler to store grease, then you're done, and can fill the straw about 3/4 of the way with your desired grease and seal it up.
If you're going to put oil in the oiler, then you'll need some way to easily dispense it a drop at a time. To do this, take a small piece of the material you used for making patches, about a half inch wide and 3/4 the length of the oiler, and slide it into the straw. Now, when you add the oil, the fabric will soak up the oil and hold it in place. To dispense a drop, just squeeze the oiler, and the oil will be pressed out of the fabric, and drip out the open end. Alternately, you can dip in a toothpick to get a drop, and then place it where you need it. Remember that all you need is a thin film of oil on the moving parts; anything more will just splash off and collect dirt.
Step 5: Add Other Cleaning Tools
A cut down nylon brush, either a cleaning brush or an old toothbrush, is a good thing to have. It can be used to clean down on hard to reach corners, and is ideal for cleaning textured areas, such as checkering or stippling.
A few toothpicks, either wooden or plastic, are good for loosening up dirt that's too stubborn for a brush to get, such as powder residue in extractor cut-outs. They can also be used to precisely place drops of oil where they are needed for lubrication.
Cotton swabs are good for picking up the dirt you loosened up with the toothpick, as well as cleaning and oiling tight spots, such as firing pin channels and slide rails. Make a cover out of a straw, so you can store and re-use oil or grease soaked swabs.
A piece of melamine foam sponge (sold under the brand "Magic Eraser" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melamine_foam) is good for polishing stainless steel or removing light surface rust from bluing. Use sparingly, though, as the melamine foam is actually a fine abrasive, consisting of tiny fibers of polymer that are as hard as glass.
Step 6: Pack Everything Together
Since this is a compact kit, packing things efficiently will be important. I roll all my patches together, put them alongside the toothbrush head, and then wrap the toothbrush in the rag. The bore cleaner string is wrapped around this, to keep it all together and keep the string from becoming tangled. This slips into the container, with the oiler, cotton swabs, and toothpicks along side.
Step 7: Optional: Cover
Since I wanted a nicer looking kit than just a plastic container, I cut a piece of garment leather into shape to cover the case. The bottom and sides are then sewn together, and the top glued down with contact cement, with a strip of leather lace added to cover the edge of the lid.