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A Guide to Selecting Cotton Patches

Posted by Greg Cohen, General Manager on 17th Feb 2015

Tetra® Gun care’s ProSmith™ line of Cotton Patches is available in many sizes and quantities for all firearms, encompassing the full range of calibers and gauges. When selecting Cotton Patches to clean and lubricate your valued firearm, keep in mind that the best performance can be achieved by matching the caliber/gauge and size of the patches to the bore diameter. Patches that are too large for the firearm you are cleaning can be difficult to pass through the bore, and can even jam. Patches that are too small may not provide enough contact with the bore.


Following is a brief discussion of the Cotton Patches offered by Tetra® Gun care, and a guide to matching firearms calibers/gauges to the appropriate patches.

The smallest Cotton Patch available is the 3/4" x 3/4” size, which is used for .17 - .22 caliber barrels. Small calibers are most commonly used for target practice and varmint hunting.

One inch square patches can work well for calibers between .22 and .270, including the popular .223 Remington size. The .22 is by far the most popular rifle caliber, as it is efficient and economical.

Though not common, the 6mm barrel perfectly accommodates 1 ½” x 1 ½” patches, as do the more popular .30 or .308 caliber rifle rounds. Hunters have relied on these sizes for generations.

The 1 ¾” x 1 ¾” Cotton Patch size is used in firearms with a 7mm bore, as well as measurements between .27 through .38 calibers. The .38 Special is still one of the most famous revolver-style pistols on the market.

The 2.25”x2.25” patches are typically the best fit for the popular 9mm, .38 caliber and .357 caliber bores, as well as .40 and .45 calibers. However, the 2.5” x 2.5” patch is commonly used in .45 caliber barrels. Most pistols fall under this size range.

Shotgunners typically use a 3”x3” size patch. And although 12 gauge is by far the most popular shotgun, the 3” square patch should serve 20, 28 and 410 gauge shotguns nicely as well. However, some shotgunners with 410 and 20 gauges sometime prefer sizes down to 2 ¼” square. As long as you can get the patch through the bore without breaking the rod while still maintaining surface tension, you are in good shape.

For muzzle loaders, which use mostly .50 caliber and sometimes even .54 caliber rounds, use the 3” patch as well.

Choosing between a Patch Holder and a Brass Jag comes down to personal preference. Some shooters prefer the precision fit of the Brass Jag, since it is designed for the specific caliber/gauge of the firearm you are cleaning. Other shooters prefer the convenience of the Patch Holder, and the fact that it can be used in different calibers/gauges.

No matter what you use, effectively cleaning and lubricating barrels should always end with the last patch coming out clean and white.