AR Cleaning and Maintenance

With anything you use, it is going to eventually need to be cleaned and properly maintained. There is no exception for your AR. If you’re a veteran, you definitely remember how often you cleaned your firearm. Properly cleaning and keeping excellent maintenance for your AR is vital in order for your AR to perform at its peak performance. Cleaning your AR, especially for the first time, can be extremely overwhelming and intimidating. This is a guide to get you through all of that. Before we get started, it is important to realize that everybody cleans their AR differently, but this is just a general guide to help you get through the process. Additionally, we are also assuming that you have all the tools to clean your rifle with.

1st Step: Preparation

The first thing you’re going to do is get all of the ammo that you have and get it out of the way. This is very important because we don’t want any unnecessary accidents.

The next steps go as follows:

  • Make sure your AR is placed on safe
  • Point the rifle away from yourself in a safe direction
  • Remove the magazine if you haven’t already

These steps may seem like common sense, but it is imperative that these are done before anything else.

2nd Step: Separate the Upper and Lower Receiver

Next, you are going to take out the takedown pins. The takedown pins can be a little hard to disconnect, so just be gentle when you are tapping them out. After you do this, disconnecting the upper and lower receiver comes naturally. Take a look at our Bootleg Enhanced AR-15 Upper Reciever!

3rd Step: Separate the Bolt Carrier Group and Charging Handle

The bolt carrier group and charging handle should just slide right out from the body of the upper receiver. Make sure you check out our own 5.56 charging handles!

Next, you are going to disassemble your bolt carrier group. If you don’t use your AR a lot, then disassembling your carrier is not really necessary. Although, this is usually the part that gets the dirtiest, so we recommend cleaning it anyway. So, the first thing you will do is push the bolt back and remove the firing pin retainer. It should just fall out on its own. Then, rotate the cam pin 90-degrees and take it out. The bolt should easily slide out.

After this, if you’re deep cleaning, it’s time to disassemble the bolt. For this, detach the extractor pin, remove the extractor, and set it aside. We also have a high-quality Bootleg Carrier Completion Kit for your bolt carrier that is easy to maintain.

Keep in mind during this whole process, you should be using some type of gun cleaner and wiping off any muck, residue, and carbon. After cleaning and drying any parts, make sure you lightly lubricate them. As we mentioned before, bolt carrier groups tend to be the dirtiest, so we recommend soaking them while everything else is getting wiped down.

4th Step: Abstract the Buffer and Buffer Spring

For this next part, press down on the buffer retainer and remove the buffer and spring from the tube. One thing to keep in mind that is important is that the retainer is under pressure. This means that you should not push down too far once the pieces are out. This will prevent you from losing the spring or any of the other pieces. Once you’ve done this, clean away any gunk you see.

5th Step: Clean the Chamber and the Barrel

There are multiple ways you can clean the chamber and the barrel, but there is one thing about this step that is crucial; clean from rear to front. Another way to put this is to start where the bullet starts and end where the bullet ends. It is important that carbon and any other debris go out the front of the barrel. We are highlighting this because cleaning it like this helps keep the rifling intact.

6th Step: Clean the Bolt Carrier Group

Remember when we said to soak the bolt carrier group on step 3? Well, now it’s time to clean it. If you already cleaned it, no worries, just review this step to make sure you cleaned your carrier group sufficiently.

The first thing you’re going to do is give everything a good brush. Like cleaning the rest of your AR, look for any carbon and go after it. For the carrier group, make sure you pay special attention to the rear of the firing pin. You should also pay close attention when you clean the extractor as well. Proceeding with the cleaning, put the carrier group back together in the reverse order you took it apart. Make sure the bolt is all the way to the front.

7th Step: Clean the Buffer Assembly

For this one, simply wipe it down with a rag that has a little lube on it.

If you have a collapsible stock, it won’t do you any harm to extract it and clean the outside of the buffer.

8th Step: Take a Look at the Lower Receiver Along With the Fire Control Group

This step is also easy, depending on how dirty your weapon is. These parts generally don’t get too dirty, but you should check and see if the fire control group has any cracks on the hammer. You should also check the lower receiver for any cracks or carbon.

9th Step: Reassembling your AR

Work backward from taking it apart. Although, like a car, disassembling something is a lot easier than putting it back together. This is another reason why regular cleaning and maintenance is important because after a little while, it’ll become second nature.
Next, make sure your rifle is well lubricated. All the pieces of your bolt carrier group should receive a light coat of lube. Other parts that should receive a light coat of lube include:
Fire control group
Magazine release button
Safety selector
Bolt catch button

In short, anything that moves should receive lube.

Final Step: The Function Check

Because you put away all your ammo in the beginning (you did put all your ammo away right?), you should be able to perform a function/safety check. To perform a function check you need to:

Point your rifle away from you in a safe direction
Pull the bolt back and release it forward
The rifle should be on safe, but if it’s not, do that. Next, squeeze the trigger. If the hammer didn’t drop, you can move on
Turn the safety off, turn the rifle on fire, and pull the trigger. If the hammer does fall, you’re good to go.

Before we wrap this post up, there are few things we should mention.

Magazine Maintenance

The first is you should also clean your magazine. This is not necessary all the time, but if you’re on the range and throwing your magazines on the ground, you should probably clean them up and make sure there isn’t any dirt in the mag.

General Maintenance

Every rifle has its own maintenance, so in general, you should consult the manufacturer for more information. But, a rule of thumb that goes around is that you should do a check-up every 1,000 rounds. Also, the more you use your rifle, the more you should check-up on it. The most common malfunctions happen within the springs. The extractor spring and the O-rings on the bolt carrier group specifically.

Maintaining a clean rifle is the best way to keep a long life for your AR. Keeping it well lubricated and clean will reduce the risk of failure. Remember to check all parts of your AR for cracks or anything that will shorten the life of your rifle. Make sure you check out our products for easy cleaning and maintenance along with our YouTube channel for more information!

2 thoughts on “AR Cleaning and Maintenance”

  1. Personally, I use a mix of Mobil 1 synthetic oil/ Mobil 1 synthetic grease to lube everything on my AR. Stays fluid and stays on the moving parts.
    Also, the rifle pictured at the beginning of this post appears to be a Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22, a 22LR facsimile of an AR-15, and one of the best ones out there. Not a true AR-15, but one of the only facsimiles that operate exactly as an AR-15 does. The only other 22LR AR-15 type rifle that might be more true to the actual AR platform is manufactured by Tippman.

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