Properly Cleaning Your Investment
As a former Marine with 4 ½ years at Parris Island S.C. as a Primary Marksmanship Instructor, with many platoons under my belt, and more recently as a civilian contractor in both Iraq and Afghanistan, this is my take of cleaning the AR15.
I think everyone here knows that the AR-15 has two main Half’s, the Upper Receiver and Lower Receiver. This is true but as we taught our recruits at Parris Island there are Three main Groups to consider when Cleaning.
Upper Receiver Group: The upper receiver or Barrel group consist of the Hand guards, the barrel, gas tube, slip rings, front and rear sights, bolt carrier, charging handle and carrying handle. When cleaning this group it is pretty much straight forward. Disassemble the two half’s by popping out the retainer pins and separate the two half’s. Unlatch the charging handle from the upper receiver and remove the bolt carrier and charging handle and lay them aside on a clean surface (maybe a towel).
Remove the hand guards first and using a soft bristled brush ( a tooth brush will do) gently go over the metal shields on the insides of both guards using a light oil such as Hoppe’s M-Pro 7 LPX Gun Oil (the use of WD40 as a cleaner will cause the parts to gum or stick if all the WD40 isn’t completely removed before reassemble). Using a clean cotton cloth or swab, wipe down the hand guards until no residue remains. You can use denatured alcohol in a spray bottle to completely rinse the guards, then wipe them dry and apply a light coat of Hoppe’s to both guards and lay them aside on a clean cloth.
Clean your brush frequently and go over the rest of the upper receiver completely, inside and out. Using a Q-Tip clean the rear sight and any places that are hard to reach with the brush. Again using your spray bottle of denatured alcohol, rinse off any residue. Using your cleaning rod and the chamber brush that came with the gun cleaning kit, put a few drops of Hoppe’s in the chamber and twist the rod in one direction a few good times then in the opposite direction a few times. Change the brush to the bore brush and add a few drops of hoppe’s. Run the rod all the way through the bore. Pull the rod back through the bore and out of the chamber. One of a few times I will mention using WD40 is now. The only way to clean the Gas Tube is to use a solvent such as WD40 to spray the solvent into the gas tube using a pressurized can of solvent (WD40). After using WD40, always rinse the inside of the Gas Tube with denatured alcohol.
Most spray bottles have an adjustable spray nozzle so you can stream the fluid into holes such as a gas tube. Clean the brush and rod and reapply a few drops of oil. Repeat this procedure as necessary until the carbon has been loosened. Use your denatured alcohol bottle and thoroughly rinse the chamber and bore. Using a clean patch, change the tip on the cleaning rod to the patch tip and run the patch through the bore. Remove the patch at the flash suppressor end replace with a clean one. Pull the rod back through the bore and remove the patch. Do this until the patch shows now dirt, carbon or looks clean. Now apply Hoppe’s to a patch and repeat this to lubricate the bore. Put a few drops of Hoppe’s in the chamber and using the Q-Tip, coat the chamber and inside of the upper receiver. Change Q-Tips often!
Disassemble the Bolt Carrier Group and lay the parts in order on a clean piece of cloth.
Using your tooth brush lightly coated with Hoppe’s, scrub all parts thoroughly. Using a Q-Tip clean the hole in the bolt and the firing pin chamber in the bolt. Now this is one of a few times I would recommend WD40 for cleaning. Spray WD40 using the plastic nozzle that comes with a can of WD40 into the bolt firing pin chamber ensuring that you push the nozzle into the hole as far as it will go. Now do the same for the face of the bolt, were the tip of the firing pin protrudes through the bolt. Rinse thoroughly with your spray bottle of denatured alcohol (twice if necessary) to remove any trace of the WD40. Wipe all parts down with a clean dry cloth and apply Hoppe’s to all parts. Use a Q-Tip with Hoppe’s to lubricate the Firing Pin Chamber in the bolt and face of the bolt. When cleaning the Bolt make sure to keep the split in the wiper ringers 180 degrees apart, if not it will affect the range of your shots. Clean and lubricate the charging handle.
Put the Bolt Carrier back together, inspecting each part as you do so. Re-clean any part that may have carbon or dirt on it. Lay the aside and replace the Hand Guards on the Upper Receiver. Partly insert the charging handle into the receiver and place the Bolt Carrier Group on the charging handle and side both forward until the lock in place. Lay the Upper Receiver aside as it is done.
Unless you are an experienced armor I would not recommend disassembling the Lower receiver Trigger mechanism. Cleaning the Lower Receiver is started by removing the Buffer Spring and Buffer from the Stock and wiping them with a cloth and Hoppe’s. Inspect the Spring for any compression of the individual coils and if necessary measure the free length according to the specifications for your particular model. If your not sure of the length contact Lincoln Tactical and they can assist you in determining what those should be.
Using Q-Tips and Hoppe’s clean the Trigger Group, place the weapon on fire and place your palm over the hammer to stop the hammer from slamming against the frame and pull the trigger. Clean and rinse the trigger well and outside of the lower receiver. Clean the inside of the pistol grip, if necessary you can remove the pistol grip but this is rare. Do Not use any WD40 on any lower receiver parts as this should not be that hard to remove the carbon or dirt from the receiver. If your stock has a cleaning kit storage space in it, open the latch and clean the inside of it. Personally I would Completely Rinse the whole lower receiver with my spray bottle of denatured alcohol and then lubricate all parts inside and out with hoppe’s. Make sure to clean around the magazine release button and lubricate it. Reinstall the spring onto the buffer and slide it into the spring buffer well in the stock. Close the trigger hammer and place the weapon back on safe.
Place the two half’s together and close the pins. With the weapon on safe, pull the charging handle to the rear, it should lock to the rear, if not inspect for a bad catch. Release the bolt and let it go home. Aim the weapon into a safe test firing barrel or in a safe position where it can not fire blindly and place the weapon on fire. Pull the trigger. You should hear the hammer go home, pull the charging handle again to the rear and place the weapon back on safe. Using a clean cloth with a few drops of Hoppe’s, complete the cleaning by wiping down the rifle again before placing back into your gun cabinet or case.
There are times when a complete cleaning might not be possible, say if your in a firefight! Remember, this is my weapon, this is my gun, this one is for shooting and this one is for FUN! SAFETY FIRST AND ALWAYS.