Hoppes 9: An Amazing History

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The Hoppe’s name carries an unmistakable ring of credibility and longstanding tradition in the annals of firearm maintenance and preservation. Since its inception in 1903, Hoppe’s has become a cornerstone in the industry, evolving its offerings from the iconic Hoppes 9 solvent to a comprehensive range of cleaning kits, lubricants, and accessories. This article delves into the rich history of Hoppe’s, its captivating journey through the 20th and 21st centuries, and the legacy that continues to impact enthusiasts and professionals alike. 

Who Is Frank Hoppe?

a historic photo of Frank August Hoppe
Frank August Hoppe, creator of the Hoppes 9 bore cleaning formula.

Frank August Hoppe, a son of German immigrants, was born in Philadelphia on May 15, 1869. After gaining experience under William Waterall, a pioneer in the paint and varnish industry, Hoppe took charge of the paint department at Achenbach & Miller, where he worked for two decades. 

Parallel to his career in the paint business, Hoppe also served in the Pennsylvania National Guard. Starting as a private, he eventually rose to captain over 30 years. During the Spanish-American War, Hoppe was stationed at Montchanin, Delaware, to protect the smokeless powder works of E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. 

Known for his impressive marksmanship, Hoppe captained a team during state competitions for the prestigious Hershman and Bowman trophies in 1908. In 1911, he ranked among the top 19 competitors at the First Regiment Tournament. Combining his expertise in chemicals and rifle skills, Hoppe revolutionized the gun-cleaning industry with his innovative creations. What set Frank Hoppe apart was his commitment to quality and effectiveness. He didn’t just create a product; he made a brand that reflected his passion for firearms and their preservation.

Regrettably, Frank A. Hoppe’s life ended before he could witness his company’s tremendous success. He suffered a stroke and passed away at only 51 years old on January 16, 1921. However, his legacy lived on through his son, Frank Chestin Hoppe, who assumed the role of president. Following his father’s footsteps, Frank Jr. excelled in national rifle tournaments throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

History Of Hoppe’s

Hoppe’s history began when the Army introduced the new bolt-action M1903 Springfield rifle and encountered a major setback. Despite its efficiency, the firearm suffered from a significant flaw: its barrel quickly rusted due to the corrosive nature of smokeless powder. Because of this, the soldiers had to clean the barrel after every use to prevent rusting.

To address this issue, the Ordnance Department recommended a complex cleaning routine that involved pulverizing, measuring, stirring, and letting the solution remain in the barrel for at least two hours. The process was tedious and time-consuming.

However, Frank Hoppe devised a game-changing solution. He developed a solvent called “Nitro Power Solvent No. 9,” which was comprised of nine chemicals. He registered a trademark for his liquid composition in 1907. It was a straightforward solution, since soldiers only had to uncork a bottle and start cleaning. It removed smokeless or black powder residue and eliminated lead and metal fouling without the need for brass brushes or wire gauze. Most importantly, it protected the barrel from rust without causing any harm.

Today, Hoppe’s product line includes a gun-cleaning apparatus called the Boresnake Viper, lubricants, various cleaners, and tools. However, Hoppe’s No. 9 is a testament to Frank’s vision and innovation. Trusted by generations of shooters for its unique blend of effectiveness and reliability, Hoppe’s No. 9 has indeed become an industry standard.

The Story Of Hoppes 9 Solvent

Hoppes 9 story began in 1903 when Frank Hoppe was a young man and well-trained officer in the Pennsylvania National Guard. The budding inventor was deeply interested in firearms and their maintenance, particularly in finding practical solutions for cleaning gun barrels. This quest led him to develop a reliable and efficient cleaning solution, which he later called Hoppes 9.

Packed with nine powerful solvents and corrosion inhibitors, Hoppes 9 was not just a product but a revolutionary approach to gun care. It could remove powder, lead, metal fouling, and rust while protecting the gun’s bore from future damage. Hoppe’s No. 9 prolonged the life of firearms, a critical benefit that quickly made it a favorite among gun owners and enthusiasts.

Today, over a century since its inception, Hoppe’s has maintained a pioneering position in the gun cleaning industry. Hoppe’s initial product, the renowned No. 9 Gun Bore Cleaner, was formulated to clean and preserve firearms safely. The need for such a product was particularly urgent when corrosive ammunition remained standard. 

The formula quickly gained popularity, setting a benchmark for the industry. Over the years, Hoppe’s has remained at the forefront, innovating and expanding its product line to offer comprehensive cleaning and maintenance solutions for firearms. From cleaning kits and solvents to lubricants and accessories, Hoppe’s unwavering commitment to quality, effectiveness, and gun safety has solidified its reputation as a leader in the field.

Does It Work?

The traditional solvent formula is an excellent cleaner. In our testing patches coated with the traditional version removed all visible residue from a dirty gun barrel after four passes. It also works well as a lubricant and as an anti-rust coating on a variety of different gun finishes. It’s an affordable option, a 16oz bottle will last most gun owners a couple of years. If we had any critique, it’s that you do have to be careful with what surfaces you apply the traditional solvent to, and, it tends to evaporate quickly. 

Be aware, there is a traditional and a synthetic version of Hoppes 9 available. What’s the difference? The synthetic version was created to be safe for use with (polymer) materials used in the manufacture of modern firearms. The synthetic version is also biodegradable, and non-flammable. It looks the same, it smells almost the same, and arguably is a better option for your health.

From our testing, the patches coated with the synthetic version picked up as much visible residue from the dirty gun barrels as the traditional formula. Hoppes claims the new formula is thicker, and has better cleaning penetration than the original. We’d agree with those statements and add that it doesn’t evaporate. We also noticed that it was easier to wash the synthetic formula and scent off of our hands when compared to the traditional option. 

Hoppe’s Gun Cleaning Kits

A photo of hoppes 9 air freshener
Can’t get enough of Hoppes No. 9? Pick up an air freshener for your next road trip.

Today, Hoppe’s offers gun cleaning kits ranging in price from around $32 to almost $75. Let’s start with their best sellers:

This is not an exhaustive list. Hoppe’s offers several other cleaning kits for shotguns and air rifles.

Hoppes 9: Frank’s Legacy

a photo of a man cleaning a handgun slide
Hoppe’s No. 9 changed the culture of routine firearm maintenance in the industry.

Frank Hoppe was not just an inventor but a pioneer who significantly contributed to the culture of firearm maintenance. You’d be hard-pressed to find a gun owner who hasn’t tried at least one of Hoppe’s products while doing firearm maintenance. With Hoppe’s No. 9, Frank created a legacy that continues to thrive, serving countless gun enthusiasts across the globe. 

For 120 years, his revolutionary formulas have set the standard for firearm maintenance, ensuring that guns perform optimally and safely. His contribution to gun care isn’t limited to his time — it transcends generations, providing solutions for gun enthusiasts and professionals. Hoppe’s remains synonymous with impeccable gun cleaning, echoing a legacy of excellence and dedication.

My overall rating of the Hoppe’s No. 9: 5/5 5 out of 5 stars