I purchased the Hornady Hot Tub Sonic Cleaner as a birthday gift for my husband with no intention of reviewing it. I just thought it would be an excellent gift. My husband watched a bunch of videos, read reviews and kept saying he didn’t think he wanted one. I’m glad I didn’t listen. And so is he! So I figured instead of sharing my thoughts on this incredible gadget, I’d let him tell you in his own words.

How did you first hear about the Hornady Hot Tub Sonic Firearms Cleaner?

During a class I attended a few years ago, I overheard one of the students talking about a machine they used at the pawn shop where he worked to clean guns — making them like new with hardly any effort. My interest was more than piqued, so I asked him what in the world could accomplish such a task. He said it was a sonic cleaner and that it was the best way to clean guns. He told me all you do is “chuck” the guns in, let it run for 20 to 30 minutes, dry them off and lube them … and you’re done. “No way man,” I said, “That’s not possible.” 

There was no way in my mind to clean guns without the tedious, labor-intensive process of getting covered in gun crud and endlessly scraping, spraying, scrubbing and cursing. And then realizing it’s been an hour … and there are five more guns to clean!

How does the Hornady Hot Tub gun cleaner work?

Basically, this device uses super-hot cleaning liquid and sound waves to dissolve the stuff that isn’t supposed to be on your gun. I like to think of it as the little scrubbing bubbles from the commercials. The tub is large enough to fit an AR upper, but it also comes with a small-parts insert in case you don’t need to utilize the entire container, which reduces the amount of cleaning solution you need. It also has an adjustable-temperature heating element to heat the cleaning solution to help dissolve the gun crud. And the de-gassing setting removes air bubbles from the solution to improve cleaning.

I’ll give you the steps and some additional tips I’ve learned.

Step 1.  Fill the tank with water and cleaning solution (I use Hornady’s cleaning solution) and turn on the heater. (Sean Tip: The manual says to use distilled water to avoid leaving spots after the gun is dry. I use tap water. You’re going to wipe all the parts down anyway, so I don’t have any issues with spots. Maybe areas with really hard water would be a problem.)

Step 2.  “Chuck” the field-stripped firearm into the solution, select your time, hit the de-gas button and listen to the sweet buzzing sound of your device effortlessly removing the crud from your gun. (Sean Tip: Halfway through the cleaning time, I’ll pull the parts out of the solution and scrub them a little with a toothbrush. It’s not necessary, but I like to do it to help the process. I’ll also run a bore brush through the barrel to help loosen and remove the fouling.)

Step 3.  After the cleaner is done, it’s time to dry. (Sean Tip: I use a rubber-tipped set of kitchen tongs to retrieve the parts. I then use my air compressor to blow off all the liquid. If you don’t own an air compressor, I’m sure you could use a towel.)

Step 4. Take a deep breath. Don’t freak out. Your gun is fine! The first time I ran a firearm through the cleaner and got the parts clean and dry, I was left with a super-clean gun, devoid of all remnants of dirt and the necessary protective oils used to treat the metal. I have to admit: I looked at my pale, oil- and dirt-free gun that used to be a beautiful black melonite coat and thought I had just melted off the finish and ruined it. But no! The finish is fine; it just needs that protective oil put back on. Now that you’re calm, reapply your firearm protectant. I have tried Rem-Oil, aerosol CLP and a few other spray-on lubes, but my favorite is Hornady One Shot gun cleaner and lube. It leaves a thin film of oil behind that’s just enough to bring the normal color back to the gun, but not enough to attract dirt and grime. (Sean Tip: I spray all the clean parts with One Shot, and I wipe them down to remove excess lube. After I’m done putting the life back into the finish, I’ll lube the gun as I usually would with regular gun oil and gun grease.)

Step 5.  Pat yourself on the back and enjoy cycling the silky smooth, perfectly clean action of your super-clean gun! 

So … is this machine “the One?”

Well … after making the switch to a sonic cleaner, I’ll never go back to the traditional “cleaner-less” method of gun cleaning. Although the machine works wonders, it isn’t without flaws. In order to get the most out of the “scrubbing bubbles,” parts are cleaned much better when pulled out of their respective homes. For example, crud that accumulates under parts such as extractors, striker safety blocks, or inside parts like a striker channel or in a bolt carrier group won’t get as clean as parts that are directly exposed to the sonic cleaning vibrations. So, the machine does have limits. These parts will occasionally need to be removed and cleaned, just like you would have to do when using traditional cleaning methods. (Sean Tip: When I clean an AR bolt or our pistols, I take the bolt apart and remove the strikers/firing pins. I throw everything into the cleaner to get those channels and parts clean. If you’re not comfortable doing that, it’s no problem. You might need to occasionally take the firearm to a gunsmith for them to take it apart and clean it.)

It sounds like this gun gift is a time saver … and a marriage saver!

Ha-ha! It definitely gives me more time with you, if that’s what you mean. Using the Hot Tub is still work, and it’ll require time and effort to make the switch to sonic cleaning worthwhile. But I was able to field-strip and clean five pistols in about 30 minutes (not including the time it took to heat the cleaning solution) using our Hot Tub. So, if you want to invest in a gun cleaner that has impressive results, I highly recommend the Hornady Hot Tub Sonic Cleaner. You may spend the money up front on this purchase, but you won’t have to spend so much time or energy cleaning from then on!

Last question. Does Hornady have a sonic cleaner big enough to clean our whole house?

I wish…


Hornady: Hornady.com