5 Dollar Preps – Sewing and Gun Cleaning

Sewing Kit Gun Cleaning

The 5 Dollar Preps series is to show people that even if you don’t have a lot of extra cash you can still do a lot to get prepared. Last week we got some first aid supplies and a basic fishing kit. This week Zack got some things for gun cleaning, and I put together a small sewing kit for my Bug Out Bag.


Sewing KitI started with a little travel sewing kit for $1.37. It came with a tiny pair of scissors which is always useful, and a thimble. It also came with several small spools of thread, which is much better for light packing than a full sized spool you will probably never need.

NeedlesHeavy Duty NeedlesI beefed up this little kit with two packs of needles. One variety pack of standard needles for a whopping $0.67 cents, and a pack of heavy duty needles for bigger jobs like canvas for $1.67.

Nylon PatchesFinally, I found some really cool stuff called Bondex Outdoor Restore, that is basically peel and stick nylon. For $1.77 I can cut a square of this stuff and patch a tent, backpack, or jacket that would not be at all possible to sew. Not that it really matters much, but they sell it in several colors.


Cotton PatchesZack got the essentials for gun cleaning that will get used up the fastest; cotton patches and cleaning solvent. Gun cleaning supplies will get used up just like anything else but aren’t something you hear people mention often in their survival gear.

The cotton patches are just a bulk pack of Winchester cotton patches that you have to cut up yourself, but for $2.97, not a bad deal.

Hoppe's No 9The cleaning solvent is of course, Hoppe’s No. 9. Zack got a 4 oz bottle at the store for $2.97, but I come home to find out they actually sell it by the quart online. Or if you you don’t want to keep a giant quart bottle of this rather potent stuff all in once place, Amazon has a 10 pack of 4 oz bottles for $9.79.

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve March 4, 2010 at 5:03 am

Hey Lucas – good sewing kit idea. Another item to add that adds zero weight – a couple of yards of monofilament fishing line. Great for tarp, poncho, or backpack emergency repairs. With the new flexible lines that are out, you can easily use 20lb test and have an excellent repair "thread".


Lucas_SurvCache March 4, 2010 at 7:50 pm


Good tip. I actually have some 15lb pound line in my basic fishing kit that I talked about in 5 dollar preps last week but I hadn't thought about using it for sewing. I can see how it would work well for things that are move heavy duty.

Thanks for the good idea


caine30 July 31, 2010 at 6:12 am

another thing to think of with that line is stiches it works but it is not the best thing to use a line of the dental floss works better non mint.


abigdiesel March 12, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Mono filament is good, but braided Dacron fishing line is better. 50 lb rated Dacron line is the diameter equivalent of 8 lb mono line. It cost a little more, but it lasts FOREVER, and is easier to sew with if needed. Some brands of the Dacron I like and use are spider-wire and gorilla-braid, both available at sporting goods stores.


Lucas_SurvCache March 13, 2010 at 11:42 pm


The Dacron sounds good, 5 times the strength in the same size line. I might have to pick some up next time I am at sportsman's warehouse.

How much more expensive are we talking?


Lucas_SurvCache May 5, 2010 at 9:41 am


I am with your on the .22 for all of the cases you mentioned. For me a Ruger 10/22 really is one of the best survival guns.

However, I still think I will stick with a more powerful handgun for protection.


Jack Vermicelli May 5, 2010 at 10:47 am

You said that 9mm is 40-50% cheaper than .45, which is 40-50% more expensive than 9mm. I'm pretty sure that that price relationship is pretty impossible.

Let's say (for convenience) that a .45 round costs 100 bottle caps or shells or goats or what have you. At 40-50% of that, a 9mm round should cost 40-50 units. And then at 40-50% more, a .45 round (which we already said cost 100) should then cost 56-75, right?


KarlRove July 31, 2010 at 4:00 am

I stopped using Hoppes and use only Break-Free now on my guns..not one rust spot and the bores are as clean as new…maybe better. It cuts down on keeping oil, cleaner and such when you take it all in one bottle. I even found it works well with 22 lead-head bullets…cleans the lead out just like brass.


Samurai64 September 17, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Look for a product called Dr. Bronners Magic Soap. Many uses from washing to brushing teeth. Pepermint is my favorite is very refreshing when you just towel wash in camp when hunting or camping when a full shower is not an option.


don November 10, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Break-free is a cleaner, lubricant and preservative in a bottle or spray…then i use a bore snake(kept in a sock to protect the brass splines and protect everything else from the boresnake. Quality thread can also be used for stiches, so, I keep some in my med kit next to some really good med sissors and a thimble. [By the way thread prices have really gone up]


thurmanator4 February 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I picked up four sewing kits from cheaper than dirt for 15 bucks the have heavy duty thread and everything else one would need to repair clothes and packs sold the two extras for four bucks apiece came out pretty good.


dave February 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Another cheap add for your bag is a stanley mini multi screwdriver with two phillips tips and two flats wieght is less than an ounce resembles an ink pen $1.27 at walmart. Tucks nicely into leatherman sheath also coleman nine hour candles three pack $3.98


alltradesman April 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm

speaking of sewing "gear"==the "speedy stitcher" is a very handy item to have around , comes with some very good waxed thread ,2 very heavy needles , and is a self contained unit..speedy actually makes 2 kits , the larger of the 2 also includes smaller needle and finer thread , which is nicer for thinner type material repairs..and its money well spent because i have found things around the house to "mend" which helps justify the cost { about 20 buks
]..i got mine from -the ""kittery trading post""-. the store is on the east coast…they have online sales ,i,ve dealt with them and they seem to be good people. also , if your order is over 50 bucks ===they ship free….and they have lots of good stuff for the great outdoors—————————good luck friends–and "IF ITS HAPPENIN INDOORS>>>YOU CAN COUNT ME OUT >> !!!


don in dallas June 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm

super glue(for cuts and anything), vasiline applied to one end of cotton patch a kindling for starting fire, asperin/ibprofin, lots of tp…also good fire material(not preused), breakfree is great but special greese is best for rails of Glocks or sigs, LED headlight at walma for $10, wire saw at Harborfreight.com for $2.99 or $7, [Swat pants at LAGear with knee reinforce],so much stuff, so little time.


paulbainjr September 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Harberfreight also sells a wrist rocket slingshot for five bucks, Worth having also.


SFCcrush July 1, 2011 at 10:32 am

What size container are folks putting either their sewing or cleaning kits in? Lucas launched a good topic and the thread that follows point to adding more stuff. I simply can not fit everything in the sewing container/box that I got from Wal-Mart. Any thoughts and pics would be greatly appreciated


Jordan in TX July 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm

i have an old cotton shirt that i've cut up into small shreds to clean my guns. reusable and just wash with water and hang dry. Cotton (especially from a gun manufacturer) becomes pricey for cleaning a gun. More efficient in my opinion.


ungowa April 5, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Good call. I've got more ratty-ass old t-shirts than I know what to do with. Have been cutting them up for years for gun cleaning.


Lau November 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Don’t bother with a cheap sewing kit scissors are cheap and dull, thread is weak. get one spool of very strong thread or forever be repairing. Get pack of needles.cut thread with knife.


JunktownJerky December 17, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Hoppe's BoreSnake, best gun cleaning tool to come out in years.
A BOB must for firearm carriers.


Cheryl February 25, 2012 at 5:07 am

I found a commando stove at Army Surplus for $4.95.


Jesse July 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm

You can only carry so much weight, so forget the gun cleaner and bring WD-40. It will clean guns and do so much more. In an emergency, I'll always trade a tool that's great at one thing for something that's pretty good at 10,000 things. It's good enough at gun cleaning that the makers recommend it for the purpose, which is a very hearty endorsement in this world where people are so eager to sue for false claims.


Thom January 24, 2013 at 8:59 am

Do NOT rely on WD-40. It is a poor lubricant for firearms and almost no gunmanufacturere recommends it. Stick with US Marine Corps CLP BreakFree as noted above. It does all three – clean, lube and preserve, WD40 does none well.


charlesspiller January 9, 2014 at 9:05 pm

You Betcha. With WD40, you can do a bunch of other things too. You can enhance fishing bait by spraying it on your worms and you can make a pretty good blowtorch with a lighter in front. It is magic in a can. Petty good self defense with a lighter in front too. I heard you can make a soup base from it, but I never tried. It removes crayon and masking tape stains too, but you are not likely to need that in a survival sitch.


Brad O Cobb September 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Would get some of this for our next shooting range. I just have to secure all of this as my wife disapproves so much on my hobby. I already got a secure storage perth where I can place my gun cleaning materials and the gun itself too of course.


bhclark200 January 18, 2013 at 6:41 pm

i also packed in some dental floss, it a easy carry, cheap and can be used for emergency sutures or regular sewing and because of its unbelievabl strength and wax coating its water proof ..


Brianna Steel February 19, 2013 at 8:45 am

This is what I need to bring for our summer camp. I already have my first aid kit but I am still looking for a storage box where I can put those two kits.


Larry St. George April 22, 2013 at 7:33 pm

It definitely pays to be as prepared as possible, especially when you're camped out in the middle of nowhere. I doubt anyone would enjoy having to travel a long way just to find a convenience store.


Burtgummer6x6 May 6, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Guys, I have used Hoppes for more years then I care to admit. It was all we had for many years and since we shot a lot of surplus in those days it worked great as it is the same formula as GI bore cleaner. Recently I have been using a product called Ballistol. It cleans, protects and lubes. It also is great for semi auto actions because it migrates quite nicely into the nooks and crannies. It also lasts longer then most gun oils. It can be used on everything from muzzle loaders to modern firearms. It works great. Available in aerosol or in a large bottle with a pump applicator. No I am not a paid spokesman for the product but it works great.


Sara June 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm

A piece of beeswax is good to have. just run the threaded needle & thread through it. It makes for a stronger thread. If you have enough, you can make your own candles. True bees wax will not smoke or drip. If you’re bored or whatever, you can chew on it. Just a few things I learned as a beekeeper’s daughter.


Ernest August 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Super Glue liquid and gel.


gun cleaning kit September 19, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I completely agree with JunktownJerky about Hoppe's Boresnake. I just got tired of using patches, and decided to try one day and loved it. I always make sure to have the best gun cleaning kit around.


Hboom September 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm

WD40 (Water Displacement Recipe #40) is a penetrating oil and NOT a great protective oil. You want to rust your gun, use only WD40. Rem Oil, Break Free or any petroleum based lube will work much better. I like Break Free as it cleans, lubes and protects against oxidation. I'm sure you could find many other uses for this very slick lube on other equipment, as well. Also, save your cotton patches, rags, washcloths or whatever media you use to clean your firearms for use as fire starter tinder when they are too soiled to use for guns.


Hboom September 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Oh yeah, a couple of Altoid breath lozenges metal tins are great for organizing small things such as sewing kits, fisking supplies, etc… A magic marker identifies contents and they are packable in size. Not to mention kissable mouth due to fresh breath…Remember the ladies…LOL


best iwb holster November 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Gun cleaning supplies will get used up just like anything else but aren’t something you hear people mention often in their survival gear


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charles spiller January 9, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Yah, for gun cleaning those other lubes are better, but all in all, WD-40 is da best.


charles Spiller January 9, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Now that I think of it, WD-40 destroyed the original pearlite grips on my mother's Star .25 auto pistol. Not that she shot it much.


Roger January 23, 2014 at 12:14 am

Another vote for Break-Free, I keep a 2/3 oz bottle in my survival/72-hour vest, a 4oz bottle in my car kit, a 16 oz bottle at home (for refilling small bottles) and also several 2/3 oz bottles as trade items. Cotton patches can be cut from any cotton cloth (handkerchief, T-shirt, etc.), so availability is not an issue. In stead of a bore snake, just try 550 cord to the threaded end of your gun cleaning brush and pull it through the barrel, repeat as needed! Needle and thread, lots of both, great trade item, try buying/using waxed thread and/or artificial sinew, both very strong. (Tandy Leather Co. sells both, often on sale,on large spools) Scissors: get small pruning shears (6 inches long) as they can cut thread, cloth, small limbs, animal hide and even your finger if you're not careful! Final suggestion: keep 1-2 needles pre-threaded in kit so quick mending is easier especially if Murphy's Law occurs and you lose/break your glasses, injure your fingers, or need to sew a bad wound quickly! (Remember the finger!)


Robert Redbeard February 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I find that of all things dental floss is a great repair thread for things you want the repair to last on.

I have used this as a thread for years. Even had a pack that the only thing that was not worn out on it was the Dental Floss repairs that I had done over the years. Good stuff to have around.


christina June 1, 2012 at 10:27 am

i agree completly. my mother in law always buys those dollar first aid kits for us, which really are just pricy band aids however the containers have been great to use for other things in my pack. theyre light. but nice plastic that isnt going to break easily. and dont just open if bumbed wrong. we put our small sewing kit in one of these. and you should be able to fit a small set of moustache trimmers in in for scissors.


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