How To Clean An AR 15

The art of regular gun cleaning is vital in maintaining your firearm in its factory purchase state. Knowing how to clean and maintain your AR 15 rifle is one of the best things you can do for your firearm. As a responsible gun owner, you are expected to purchase all the supplies you will need for cleaning your AR 15 gun. This is because the more you shoot, the dirtier it gets. Guns malfunction with time and lose their accuracy due to the accumulation of debris and dirt.

The best time to also find out if your gun is damaged is usually during cleaning. Cleaning an AR 15 is not as complex or complicated as you may think. All you need to do is scrub off carbon and dirt on key components using a brush and wipe off the residue with a piece of cloth. However, this may seem easier said than done to new AR owners who are often searching for guides on how to clean an AR 15. For this reason, we shall strive to discuss the cleaning gears you will need, the disassembly process, the lubrication of key parts, and maintenance tips for an AR 15. Therefore, if you are a new Ar 15 owner, read on as this guide is specifically provided for you. 


 How to Clean an AR 15

There are several techniques that you can follow when cleaning your gun. However, you need to understand the two main reasons why gun cleaning is essential before you commence the whole process. One of these reasons is safety, and dirty guns can result in incomplete discharges. This means that your round can get stuck in the gun barrel due to residue buildup. Therefore, if you attempt to fire your gun while in this state, it may explode. The other reason is an inaccuracy that results from the dirt buildup.

As a shooter, it is vital to have your gun in a precise position at all times if you are to swiftly take down your target. Before you start the gun cleaning process, you will need some cleaning supplies such as a cleaning kit and cleaning solutions. You will also need to identify a designated workspace where all the cleaning will take place. Find a location that is well lit and has a large flat surface enough to place the cleaning supplies and the gun components. Therefore, let us look at the exact steps on how to clean a AR 15 while at home or in the field.

Step 1: Assemble the tools needed.

The first step is to assemble the tools needed for the completion of the job. Besides a gun cleaning kit, you will also need a bore brush that is compatible with a AR 15. These brushes are quite affordable as you can get them for less than five dollars. You will also need a punch pin, slotted patch tip, and a rifle mop, depending on the kind of supplies you already have. To make the job easier, you can get a prep-prepared cleaning kit for a AR 15.

These kits come at a double-digit price tag and are very useful for gun owners who frequently use their guns. You can't go wrong with some kits, such as the Real Avid, Otis, and the DAC Winchester Super Deluxe. Real Avid and Otis are quality budget options, while DAC Winchester Super Deluxe is great if you have more money to spare. No matter what you purchase, you will want to ensure that it matches with the weapon.

Step 2: Prepare the cleaning area and Gun

Clean out your workstation and lay a cleaning mat flat on this surface. You can use a table cloth if you do not have a cleaning mat. Wear your gloves and proceed to prep your gun by removing all ammunition from it. Wearing gloves will protect your hands from getting dirty during the cleaning process. You need to point the gun away from you when handling it if you do not want to get hurt in case of any accidental discharge. Remove the firearm's magazine, lock its rear bolt and inspect the gun’s chamber to ensure no ammo is inside. Proceed to remove any ammo that may be inside the magazine and then release the bolt.

Step 3: Disassemble the Gun

In this step, you should start by taking apart both the lower and upper receiver. You can achieve this by pushing the take-down pins out of the way and then pull the two pieces away from each other.  When cleaning, if you want to achieve the best results, it is advisable to use a nylon punch to avoid damaging your gun's finish. You should then proceed and remove the gun’s charging handle and bolt carrier group. 

Step 4: Remove the Firing pin, Cam pin and Buffer Tube

You can begin with removing the firing pin, retaining it using a pin kit. Rotate the cam pin to ninety degrees and then take it out and set it aside together with a cotter pin.  Use a mallet to remove the extractor pin/ cam pin, and disassemble the bolt. Also, remove the buffer spring and the buffer using a punch. These are found in a buffer tube, and you need to be careful when using your punch.  Proceed to take out the gun extractor and set it aside. While doing all this, ensure that you keep all the gun pieces in designated places to easily keep track of them during the cleaning process.

Step 5:  Start cleaning the chamber

Now that you have disassembled your AR 15, you can proceed to clean the gun’s chamber and barrel by removing the buffer and the buffer spring. While the cleaning methods vary, there are certain fundamental rules that you ought to follow to ensure the job is well done. The most important thing to do is ensure that you do not clean your weapon from the muzzle to the chamber. Each gun should be cleaned from the back to the front and not vice versa. The method of cleaning ensures that all debris is removed from the barrel. Therefore, no matter what you choose to do, never clean your AR 15 from muzzle to chamber.

Step 6: Remove the Carbon Buildup

When firing your weapon, there is a tendency of carbon building up inside the extractor and the bolt carrier group. With this knowledge, you need to examine these two pieces closely to ensure that isn't the case with your firearm. If you spot any carbon deposits, this will be the perfect time to add the Bore cleaner to your gun. You should do this for both the extractor and the bolt carrier.  

Step 7: Clean the Buffer Assembly

It is quite simple to clean the buffer assembly. All you need to do is apply lube on a clean rag and not the one you used to clean your bolt carrier group. Wipe the entire buffer assembly. This means cleaning both the spring and the buffer to ensure no residue build-up remains.

Step 8: Clean the upper receiver and charging handle

In this step, you need to clean your charging handle and upper receiver. Use a cleaned, lightly oiled rag to clean these parts. Ensure to have at least five rags during cleaning to avoid running back and forth to wash debris and lightly oil off the rag in-between cleaning steps. Once the upper receiver and charging handle are clean, the charging handle will easily move within the gun’s upper receiver.

Step 9: Clean the lower receiver

You have to clean the fire control group (FCG) and the lower receiver in this step. You can remove the FCG with a punch and a hammer. Start by punching on the hammer pin and removing the pin. Push down the disconnector to remove the trigger assembly and prep your lower receiver for cleaning. Wipe all the pieces with a rag until they are clean. Check the hammer and the lower pins to ensure they are not damaged. If they are damaged, you should replace them immediately before using your firearm.

Step 10: Reassembling your firearm.

Once all the gun components have been cleaned, you can begin assembling them. Work backward, starting from the last step. You can check out the gun manual or use these guides if you are not sure how to go about the reassembling process. 

Step 11: Lubricate your AR 15

Proceed to lubricate the gun once it is properly reassembled. Oiling your gun protects it from dangerous elements and gives your gun a shiny finish. Ensure to use a light oil coating accompanied with small drops of lube. Everything from your bolt group to your charging handle should be gleaming from the oil coating. Avoid using excess oil as it can seep into some parts that should not be covered in oil. The lucas gun oil  can come in handy too if you are not sure of which gun oil to use. The bolt catch button, fire control group, safety selector, and rifle’s mag-lock release should receive one or two drops of lube.

Step 12: Functionality check

Before you call it a day, you should check the gun's functionality. Look around and ensure that no ammunition is lying around. Just as you did in the beginning, pick up your gun and have it pointed in a safe direction. Proceed to pull the bolt to the rear and then release it.  Put the safety on as you squeeze on the trigger. If the gun’s hammer drops, then know you are in trouble. If it doesn't drop, then you are safe. 

Step 13: Maintenance 

You need to consult with your manufacturer when it comes to matters concerning maintenance. The manufacturer will provide you with a comprehensive maintenance schedule that you will keep for your AR 15 firearm, as all guns have different ar 15 disassembly maintenance techniques. The most common failure that occurs to most rifles is the compromising of the O-ring.

Ensure to always work on the problems that may arise with your bolt carrier group or any other gun component. Also you should ensure that the gas tube, gas block, and gas key is fixed well and no screws are falling off.  It is dangerous if your gas tube loosens up as it can lead to serious damages. Always have your gun lubricated with a light coat of oil, as it is key to gun maintenance.

The Best AR Cleaning Kit

Cleaning tools form part of the backbone of gun cleaning and maintenance. There are several cleaning kits that you can choose from. The best AR Cleaning Kit comes with all the tools you will need for the cleaning process. All you need to do is pick up a good bore brush suitable for your specific caliber, as it is the only key tool that should never miss in your cleaning kit. You can get a chamber brush for your AR 15 from Brownells, which can also be used to clean your M16. If you do not have any cleaning tools, it is advisable to shop or put together your own cleaning kit. 

Tac Shield is one AR 15 cleaning kit with 17 tools, including all the aforementioned bore brushes, a punch pin, slotted patch tip, and a rifle mop. This kit generally retails for less than 30 bucks. Buying a gun cleaning kit or assembling one for yourself boils down to an individual's preference. If you wish to frequently clean your gun, a pre-made cleaning kit will be ideal for you. High-volume shooters, on the other hand, often go for a comprehensive kit. It is important to note that there are cons and pros to purchasing a pre-made cleaning kit. One of its cons is that most aren't in-depth as the one you would put together for yourself. 

When choosing from the existing viable options of cleaning kits, you should ensure that they have the right size of a bore snake, bore brushes, cleaning rod and all tools that your gun will require. You should also match your caliber size to that of the gun cleaning kit tools. If you opt to build your cleaning kit, you can get a sizeable tackle box enough to house your cleaning tools. One of the best tackle boxes in the market that you can buy is a Plano 3-Tray sizable tackle box with dual top access.

It has several compartments for various tool sizes and is super affordable as it costs just under fifteen bucks. Some of the best cleaning kits in the market today include The Otis Modern Sporting Rifle, Gunmaster 223/5.56 and Champs Universal Handgun, Shotgun Cleaning Kit. You need to also get a gun cleaning mat. They are affordable, but you can opt for a white sheet or table cloth if you feel frugal. You will also have to purchase bore snakes and cleaning rod brushes if you wish to make your basic kit. 

Most gun owners often opt to build their gun cleaning kit. This sometimes can be a challenge to some, especially when choosing the right size bore brushes for their firearm. As you build your own kit, ensure that it has punches, brushes, bore snakes, lube, solvents, clean patches, sundry, and all other items you will need for cleaning your firearm. You can follow several guides, including tutorials on youtube, in case you have a challenge using your bore snake or any other cleaning tool.

If you wish to be great in gunsmithing, you can acquire a more in-depth punch set. The best ones in the market are Grace USA’S Ultimate punch set and the Ultimate Arms roll pin punch set. For those searching for the best AR 15 cleaning kits, you should also consider the M-Pro 7 cleaning kit. This kit is designed mainly for military shooters and those who take part in competitions. It is a great kit for even beginners.

 AR-15 disassembly 

If you are to clean your firearms regularly, it means you will need to always disassemble them. How often you disassemble your gun will depend on whether you shoot corrosive ammo with it or you are just a normal high-volume shooter. Therefore, you will need to field strip when you cleaning your AR. The simple way to carry out an AR-15 disassembly is by checking the gun's safety while facing it in a safe direction. You can proceed to remove the magazine and all the ammo in it. 

The diamond grip Microflex gloves can come in handy as you disassemble the gun. Pull to the rear of your charging handle and keep the bolt open. You can pull the serrated paddle part of your bolt and prevent it from closing back onto the receiver. Ease this bolt forward and then release pressure on it as you press the charging handle until it locks into place. Once you verify that the chamber is empty, proceed and close the bolt. Press the firing pin downwards, then pull it until its full movement stops.

The upper receiver will move away from the lower receiver. While at it, watch out for the upper receiver lest it swings and strikes you on the face. Once you separate upper and lower receivers, place your weapon safely on the cleaning area. Carbon buildup is vital to be removed during shotgun cleaning; therefore, do not get tired of the disassembly process but rather embrace it as the first thing you need to do for your rifle maintenance. 

AR 15 Lubrication

If you wish to have your rifle performing optimally, you will need to lubricate it regularly. Understanding the different AR 15 lubrication products is vital as there are lubes which are made specifically for an AR 15 firearm. Some rifle owners tend to use weird lubes such as pig fat on their AR firearms and then claim that they work. We will not advise anyone to do so as there are several commercial lube options for your AR 15 rifle in the market today. Some of the best cleaning chemicals and lubes include the Remington Rem Gun Oil, Birchwood Casey Hoppe’s NO. 9 Gun bore cleaner. 

When you want to remove grime and moisture, which causes corrosion and rust, it will be best to use Rem Gun Oil. This Teflon-based formula reduces friction and metal to metal wear that may arise as you store your AR 15 with other rifles. To improve accuracy and eliminate gun jamming, you can use a Birchwood Casey gun scrubber. The best part about this product is you can use it with any other firearm. The Ballistol Aerosol lubricant, on the other hand, dissolves copper traces, brass, lead, and black powder residue, thus protecting your gun from all these harmful elements. This product can also be used around the house as it is good for general household maintenance.

Reasons for your Ar 15 Maintenance

Gun cleaning practices vary as every shooter has their preferences and needs. This has made people come up with different ideas as to how guns should be cleaned and how often this process should be carried out. Some gun owners prefer cleaning their weapons when the hunting season begins and at the end of it. At the same time, others do so after every use, mostly when used during range shooting.

One fact is constant, and that is eventually, you must have your gun cleaned. There are several benefits of owning a clean gun and reasons as to why you should regularly clean your gun. One major reason for maintaining your gun is to be able to get familiar with your firearm. You may not be mechanically savvy, but you won't fail to at least get familiar with how to disassemble your AR 15 and reassemble it again.

This process will enlighten you on the different components of your firearm and its functionality. The more you have an idea of how your weapon operates, the easier it will be to detect when something is damaged and thus replace it on time.  AR 15 maintenance will help prevent malfunctions of your weapon. Firearms are often built to last for a long time, and most safety features are put in place so as to prevent accidental discharges. This means if you constantly use your gun, carbon will build up faster, thus increasing the chances of something wrong happening. 

In recent years we have seen gun owners opting to abandon a particular line of rifles stating that they have malfunctions that are due to errors caused by manufacturers. This isn't true, as most of these malfunctions arise due to the shooter's negligence and user errors. If you wish to minimize these problems, it is advisable to uphold gun safety and regularly clean your firearm. Malfunctions can lead to either incomplete discharge or failure to eject. Incomplete discharge refers to a situation whereby you fire a bullet, but it gets stuck inside the barrel of your firearm.

This can be due to internal damage to the barrel or as a result of residue buildup from the shooting of previous rounds. This is a very dangerous situation as it can cause your firearm to explode if you try to pull the trigger once again while a bullet is stuck in the barrel. On the other hand, failure to eject is when the gun mechanism fails to extract and eject a cartridge. This means the piled-up debris will force the live round to get stuck at the base of the cartridge, potentially leading to a gun explosion.


You can use these cleaning tips as regularly as possible, depending on the usage of your gun. AR 15 firearm is a great weapon as you can easily detach its parts and disassemble it for easy cleaning. If you, later on, upgrade your rifle, you can still apply the same tips during the gun cleaning process. Also, by following the above steps, you certainly will have a long-lasting relationship and a positive one, for that matter, with your AR 15. Ensure to take time when cleaning and pay keen attention to all the components of your firearm.

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