I won't use a steel rod unless it's coated and a bore guide is used with the rod. Back in the '70s we could still buy Outers brass take down cleaning rods. I still use those.
That said, spending the $40 may be worth it if you've got a precision rifle barrel. You still have to use a bore guide or muzzle protector if it's a Garand type action.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!