AR-15 Maintenance: Things to keep your AR rifle running

AR-15 Maintenance: Things to keep your AR rifle running

The AR-15 is a precision device like your car engine or similar machine. Thus, it requires regular maintenance and adequate attention, more especially if you use it daily. Besides running a brush over your rifle, some basic cleaning your rifle needs each time after shooting. A full stripped cleaning is necessary. After shooting about 1000 rounds or more, take your rifle apart for thorough cleaning. In this article, you’ll find out how cleaning your rifle can prolong its lifespan.

The importance of cleaning your rifle after shooting cannot be overemphasized. Your AR-15 rifle needs proper lubrication and proper rifle scope, and it should not have any accumulation of carbon or debris in it to function well. Each rifle is peculiar, with different setups, parts and ammunition, and some factors contribute to your rifle’s fouling. Before you embark on cleaning your rifle, ensure you have a clean workspace. You should provide a clear work table or bench, so you have adequate space. However, ensure your table and rifle as well are protected from scratches or oils. You need to get a cleaning kit if you don’t have one already. 

Prepare your cleaning workspace

Make it a practice to examine your chamber and bolt carrier after shooting. Check for carbon buildup or any form of dirt or dust that may linger in the ejection port and get rid of them by wiping them off with cleaning oil and a clean rag. Get a good cleaning oil for everyday maintenance to keep your AR rifle lubricated. Try out a little oil with a set of brushes or bore snakes or use cleaning patches for the barrel. Ensure there’s no excess leftover oil when you finish cleaning to prevent carbon fouling. You can pass the cleaning oil through the barrel two or three times, and that should do. Don’t forget to clean your barrel using the same thing your bullet travels through. 

Dissemble your bolt carrier groups (BCG) and clean them

Bring out your BCG and disintegrate it by removing the firing pin, bolt head, bolt can pin, and the firing pin retaining pin. Use a rag to clean the firing pin, so there’s no carbon accumulation and ensure the pin tip is rounded and smooth for good primer strikes—access the BCG body for signs of a potential breakdown. Check the bolt’s head’s gas rings and the lugs for Chips or any indication of wear. Use a carbon scraper to remove carbon buildup, if there’s any. 

Use a 20 gauge cleaning scrub for your BCG interior

Clean the middle of your bolt head using a pipe cleaner and wipe it down properly. Then, check your gas Key’s screws, so there are no signs of loosening. Use a cleaning patch or barrel brush with a cleaning solution to wipe off dirt or carbon from inside the carrier. Then clean through the center channel if the firing pin yo the bolt head and the gas key using a pipe cleaner or cotton swab. Remove excesses from your BCG using a bolt scraper or blade. Reassemble your BCG and recheck it to make sure you didn’t miss anything. 

Clean the interior of the AR-15 upper receiver

Your chamber areas and upper receiver can become dirty. There’s a lot of dirt, debris, gas particles and moving parts in it, and this isn’t good for your rifle. Check inside your upper for carbon buildup, and make sure you scrape it off. Clean using an old toothbrush or rag with a cleaning compound to gunk out fouling. Wipe out the interiors using an oily rag. You can take out the gas tube, so the inside is clean or use a gas tube pipe cleaner for this. If you want to clean your gas tube, do it cautiously, so you don’t lose any piece of your tool as it is difficult to retrieve. 

Blow out the inside of your AR-15 lower receiver using compressed air

Your lower receiver’s interior doesn’t get in touch with grime, dirt or carbon fouling. If you use suppressed ammunition often, your lower interiors may need cleaning often. Generally, if anything is jamming your trigger group, takedown pins or safety selector, it’s easy to get rid of it using a cotton swab or compressed air. Pay attention also to your hammer and trigger occasionally. It is important to keep your disconnector surfaces clean and your hammer’s seer, so your rifle is reliable. 

Keep things smooth using trigger grease on your disconnector

A little quantity of trigger grease is good to keep your rifle running. Friction is your rifle’s enemy. If your takedown pins or safety collector don’t function properly, inspect to see what could be the cause. It may just need more lubricant, or it is dirty. However, with basic lubricant, you’re good to go. Be very careful if you want to take down small parts like your takedown pins and pivots, as you can easily misplace these parts. Take them out one by one, not simultaneously; clean it and reassemble before you go to the other. 

Make it a habit to apply some lubrication to the safety selector

It is often effortless to neglect the buffer system, but it’s also a component of your rifle, so be mindful of it as well. If your buffer’s rear rubber pad or the face is damaged after slamming many rounds back and forth, you should get a new one.  It can occur if you’re using a carbine length gas system or you’re running your rifle hard.

Check your buffer spring for dirt. If it is dirty, wipe off the outside using a rag, then use a cleaning rod or screwdriver to push the center’s rag. Clean the buffer tube using the same method. Access the buffer retaining pin to see if there are signs of damage and change it if necessary. 

How to clean your AR-15 buffer system

Check the remaining hardware periodically to ensure they are tight and won’t lose after shooting a few rounds. Check your scope for ar-15, muzzle device, pistol grip screw and stock assembly often as you shoot. If you use a suppressor, clean around the threads, so there’s no excess buildup of carbon. 

Do a routine check on the tightness of your pistol grip screw

Cross-check your pistol grip screw to make sure it’s tight enough. 

Check your muzzle device for tightness using your hand

Inspect your magazine often. Don’t leave out your feed ramps in your barrel extension to ensure you have a smooth ride from your round to the chamber. Your magazine spring can get dirty or dusty. So, make it a habit to disintegrate your magazine and clean yearly, especially if you shoot around desert areas often. 

Remove the floor plate of the AR-15 magazine and clean it by oiling. Lubricate the salient areas like the rails of your BCG and put your rifle together. Check if it’s working well, and access your extractor and magazines once more. 

Takeaway

No matter how often you use your rifle and where a maintenance routine is essential. Clean, lubricate and assemble your AR-15 as often as possible to keep your rifle running for years. 

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