When you first started learning about firearms — any firearm, not just the AR 15 — what were the first lessons you learned? We’re betting it wasn’t how to take aim and fire. In just about every class, the first step is to introduce everyone to or review how to handle a firearm safely and properly. And, if you’re new to the firearms community, you might not have realized yet: a big part of proper gun safety happens after you’ve left the range. So, the big question is, do you clean your AR enough?
Why Cleaning Means Safer Firearm Use
This should be pretty self-explanatory to any experienced firearm owner, but regularly and thoroughly cleaning your AR 15 is one of the most important things you can do. Not only does cleaning help your firearm function more smoothly, which means better safety, it also helps your various upper assembly components last longer. In essence, cleaning your AR can help you save money as well as keep you safer. If you need more reasons to clean your AR often, try these four reasons:
- Longevity – Guns last longer when they’re well cared for. With proper cleaning and care, you can help your firearm last decades or generations, not just a few years.
- Safety – A properly cleaned gun drastically reduces the potential for a jam or misfire, which will help keep you and anyone nearby safer.
- Education – Each time you take your AR apart to clean it, you’ll get even more familiar with all of the various components. Seeing how your BCM KMR handguard fits with your barrel, or how your gas block and tube connects into the bolt carrier group, can help you have a better understanding of your AR 15’s function as a whole.
- Better Lubrication – Keeping your gun lubricated is important to help it function better, but there is such a thing as too much when it comes to lubrication. If you’re taking your AR apart and cleaning it, you’ll get a better sense of how much lubricant to use based on things like dirt build up.
So, if you want to be safer, know more, and generally have a better experience, cleaning is an integral part of AR ownership. As an added bonus, you can save your firearm funds for the best AR accessories and parts rather than replacing components because they’ve worn out.
How Often Is Enough?
So, here’s the thing: you can’t clean a firearm too often or too much. Generally, the frequency with which you should clean your firearm depends on how much you use it. There is also some variance in frequency between different firearm types, but again, it will go back to use and debris accumulation in the end. If you’re unsure, err on the side of more often rather than less because, as we said, you can’t over-clean your AR.
Figuring out the right cleaning frequency will take some attention and time. A good general starting point is to clean your AR after every 250 rounds or so. You don’t necessarily need to clean your AR after every firing, but you can if you want to. Keep in mind that 250 rounds is a general guideline, however. When you take your firearm apart for cleaning, take note of how much gunk has accumulated in the nooks and crannies. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for rust formation. These can both be signs that you aren’t cleaning your firearm frequently enough, so you may need to bump up how often you clear everything out. Cleaning is also a good time to check for any signs of wear so you can keep your AR in excellent condition.
Once you’re done cleaning everything, of course you’ll reassemble your AR. It’s hard to head to the range and go through a few rounds when your firearm is in pieces. But, once you’ve put everything back together, it’s important to do a run-through and make sure everything is working together seamlessly before you add ammo to the mix. It could cause some problems if your BCM KMR handguard or some other part of your upper assembly hasn’t fully clicked into place. That’s how misfires happen. Yes, nine times out of ten, you can assemble everything in your sleep (practically, anyway) and it will function just fine — but it’s that tenth time that can leave you replacing parts because of a misfire. So, once you’re done cleaning and reassembling your AR, it’s important that you check the function. Without loading any rounds, or loading a few dummy rounds, cycle through firing as you would if you were at the range preparing to take a shot. You can check out our past blogs on dry firing for the basics as well as a few drills you may want to run to keep yourself in practice when you can’t make it to the range.
If you’ve noticed wear during a cleaning, odds are good you’ll want to replace that part sooner rather than later. Firing with worn parts will generally wear faster, since the wear is caused by components not aligning properly or dirt/debris abrading that area. Ultimately, shooting with worn-down parts increases your risk of a misfire or jam. If you’re looking for new upper assembly components, start with Bootleg, Inc. We have durable, lightweight custom AR parts to help you keep your firearm in great condition. Explore our custom pieces online today!