Archive for the ‘Rifles’ Category

By Tommy Harper

So you ask “why do we need a blog about how to clean an AR-15 style rifle?” Well, my answer is that due to the panic buying that began before the last national election and continued up until recently many of these rifles have found their way into the hands of people who have little or no experience with them. More than a few of these rifles are in safes for “just in case” and have not been shot. Some rifles have been shot and may be waiting on some advice on the proper way to clean them. While the instruction manual that comes with all firearms these days goes a long way toward explaining how to clean and maintain our firearms I think a picture is worth a thousand words!


imageTo begin, you will of course need the proper equipment and cleaning supplies. A ten-dollar rifle cleaning kit is all that is really needed to complete the task but there are a few extra items that will make the task much easier. The first is the hinge pin link that will hold the separated halves open and keep them from closing while you clean the rifle. Next is a bore guide that will allow you to add solvent to a cloth patch and guide your cleaning rod from the chamber end of the rifle. The chamber is the preferred end to clean from so as not to nick the crown of the rifle muzzle. Next is a specialized chamber brush. This brush is only used to clean the chamber area of the rifle. It helps to use the chamber brush on a pistol rod instead of a long rifle rod. The last special item is a gas tube pipe cleaner. These are extra long pipe cleaners made for AR15 rifles and can be found at most gun and gear web sites or at local gun shows. You can also find them in the craft section at Wal-Mart.

CLEANING THE RIFLE (see below for pictures)

Now to get started. First thing is make sure that your rifle is unloaded!

Then locate the rear hinge pin(1) and push it out from the left side of the rifle and open the halves. Then if you have a hinge pin link(2) add this to hold open the rifle.

Pull back on the charging handle and remove the bolt carrier and handle(3). Lay aside for cleaning(4). Insert the bore guide in place of the bolt carrier and handle and clean the bore using solvent, patches, and bronze bore brush until clean(5).

Now you need to disassemble, clean, lubricate, and reassemble the bolt and bolt carrier assembly. Pull out the cotter pin on the side of the bolt carrier(6&7). That will allow the firing pin to be removed from the back of the bolt carrier(8&9). With your finger push the bolt back into the carrier(10&11)). Then turn the rectangular bolt retaining pin so that it aligns with the carrier(12). You may now pull this pin out, which will allow you to pull the bolt forward and out of the carrier(13,14,15). Following that, you must clean all carbon build-up from all the parts. Once clean, a small dot of a good lubricant on all parts is needed. Before reassembly, note that the rear of the bolt has three silver metal rings that serve as gas seals(16). These rings are not solid but have a gap so they can be replaced. You must make sure that the gaps are not aligned with each other to prevent gas loss. Leaving the gaps aligned will cause malfunctions. Take a pointed tool and space the gaps apart by rotating them around the bolt. To prevent you from putting the bolt back in the wrong way, the hole in the bolt that the rectangular retaining pin goes through is larger on one side than the other. After getting the correct side toward you reassemble the bolt and carrier by simply reversing the disassembly process. Before you can replace the bolt carrier back into the rifle you must extend the bolt out to the front by pulling on it until it stops.

hinge pin pulled out to open halves

(1) hinge pin pulled out to open halves


At this point, I recommend that you remove the link and bore guide and push out the forward hinge pin and separate the upper from the lower. This will allow you to clean the trigger group inside the lower much easier. Clean it with solvent and a brush. Remove any solvent with a dry rag and lubricate the trigger group. Now depress the buffer spring retaining pin and remove the buffer and spring from the buffer tube(17,18,19).

After that, clean inside the buffer tube and wipe dry with a rag. Wipe down the spring and buffer and lightly oil with a rag. Replace the assembly back into the buffer tube. At this point, you should be finished with the lower. Wipe out the mag well area and dry. Lube the mag release button and the bolt locking lever.

Now turn your attention back to the upper. Clean inside and around the chamber, gas tube, and upper where the bolt carrier rides. Here is where you want to use the gas tube pipe cleaners. Place a small amount of solvent on a pipe cleaner and insert it into the gas tube. Needle nose pliers are a great help! Push all the way in and out a few times to remove all carbon build up inside the tube and run a dry one in and out to remove any solvent(20).

clean inside upper and inside gas tube

(20) clean inside upper and inside gas tube

Finish Up..

Now all that remains is to put the halves back together using the forward hinge pin. Reinstall the charging handle and bolt carrier. Close the two halves and push the rear hinge pin back into place to lock the halves together.

Always do a function check at this point! Charge the rifle by pulling back on the handle and let go. Place the rifle safety on. With the rifle pointed in a safe direction try pressing the trigger. It should not release the hammer. Now take the safety off. Again in a safe direction press the trigger. It should allow the hammer to release. Check to make sure a magazine will insert into the mag well and that it locks up and releases. If all is good, then you can wipe down the rifle’s outside with a rag and store away. You are finished!

I hope this helps! Know that this my way and not the only way do accomplish this task. It works for me and has for many years. If I have missed a step I am sure that those of you out there who are accomplished at this will add to this basic instruction to aid the beginners! Thanks in advance!