Maintaining your weapon properly is extremely important when it comes to operational safety of said weapon. Military, law enforcement and paramilitary professionals know this well, since a badly maintained weapon can spell the difference between success and failure in a life and death situation.
A clean and well maintained weapon is a reliable weapon. For the AR-15 cleaning there are four basic steps to follow.
- You need to clear the weapon properly.
- The weapon needs to be disassembled.
- The various parts need to be meticulously cleaned.
- Assemble the clean parts into a well maintained weapon.
Let’s take each of those steps and have a closer look on what need to be done.
Clearing your AR-15
This is the most basic and important part of the whole maintenance procedure. It is not advised to start cleaning a weapon that has not been cleared as it can both be dangerous and cause damage to the weapon as well. Place the safety selector switch into the safe position when you are doing routine maintenance. Remove the magazine if it is still in place, to do so press the magazine release button. Pull back on the charging handle and lock the bolt in place. You can return the charging handle to its full position as soon as the bolt catch is engaged. Be certain that the safety selector switch is on safe.
Inspect the upper receiver and the chamber for any ammunition. Remove any ammunition if found in those places. Press the bolt release button. After the bolt moves forward, place the trigger selector to semi and press the trigger. This way you know that there is nothing in the chamber. Pull the charging handle and release. Place the selector switch on safe and make sure the ejection port is closed.
Disassembling your AR-15
To disassemble your weapon without damaging it you should get yourself a proper set of AR-15 tools. If you have followed the clearing procedure correctly, you are now ready to start disassembling the weapon into various parts. Take out the rear takedown pin by using a small tool or object, like a screw. This might be a bit difficult, but quite doable. If your weapon is regularly maintained, this procedure will be significantly easier, because the weapon will have accumulated less dirt. After removing the takedown pin it is best to continue by removing the charging handle and bolt carrier group. If you aren’t in the field you can remove the forward retaining pin. Inspect the bolt carrier group until you are sure that there is no damage. If you find damage you should report it to your superior as soon as possible. To clean your AR-15 properly you should disassembly the bolt carrier group. Remove the cotter pin and afterwards remove the bolt and firing pin. This concludes the disassembly and takes us to the AR-15 cleaning.
Cleaning the AR-15
You need specialized AR-15 tools to be able to clean it and its various AR-15 accessories properly, as well as some more mundane household tools. Here is a comprehensive list of all the AR-15 tools you’ll need to clean it properly:
- A pipe cleaner
- A chamber brush, stiff thistle brush, smooth bristle brush and a bore brush
- Cotton swabs
- Lubrication and cleaning solutions
- Smalls square rags
Removing the dirt on the surface of the various parts of your AR-15 is the first and most important step. This reveals the harder grime and dirt underneath, so that you can clean that too. Use the cotton swabs mentioned in our list to get into tiny cracks and nooks and get the dirt out of everywhere. Using the rod and the rags you should clean the bore of the AR-15 until the rags come out clean. This might take quite some time, but you have to muster the patience for it. Now you can clean the bolt carrier group, which has to be meticulously wiped and brushed. Make sure your best effort goes into cleaning the bolt carrier group and lubricate it well afterwards.
After you have removed the obvious dirt, use a combination of cleaning solutions. A good combination of protecting and lubricating solutions is the best way to go. Make sure that you also clean your various AR-15 accessories now, because dirty accessories not only break earlier, but they can deteriorate the whole weapon’s condition as well.
Assembly of the AR-15
This is just like the disassembly of the weapon, but in reverse. Make sure your weapon is perfectly assembled after you are done.
Remember to clean your AR-15 tools as well after you are done with the whole maintenance procedure, because you will need them again soon. Maintaining your weapon properly can be a life saving matter, since well cleaned AR-15 rifles do not jam as often in firefights. Any veteran and law enforcement officer will let you know that maintaining your rifle is extremely important.