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August 10th, 2021

How to Clean Your AR15 — Black Rifle Maintenance Videos

AR15 AR AR-15 MSR black rifle cleaning maintenance bolt lubrication
Scottsdale Gun Club offers an AR-15 Cleaning Clinic on 10/22/21.

AR-platform rifles can be maintenance-intensive beasts. They need regular inspection, cleaning, and lubrication. But some AR owners make the situation worse by not regularly cleaning important small parts, or by using too MUCH oily/greasy lubricants in the wrong places. A properly maintained and lubricated AR15 can shoot hundreds of rounds (between cleanings) without a problem. If you learn where (and where not) to apply lubricant, you’ll find that your AR will run more reliably and the task of cleaning the bolt, bolt carrier, and upper receiver internals will be less of a burden.

Here we showcase videos that show how to field-strip an AR-15, inspect the key parts, clean components, and lubricate internal parts as needed. Along with these videos, we recommend you read a comprehensive AR-15 Gun Cleaning Clinic article on the Brownells website. This explains in detail important procedures that the videos might only cover in a few seconds.

If you want to keep your black rifle running smoothly and reliably, you must clean it regularly and follow the correct maintenance procedures. Here are five videos that explain how to properly disassemble and clean AR-platform rifles.

AR15 AR-15 AR bolt carrier cleaning videos

1. How To Clean Your AR-15 | Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

This is a quick 90-second starter video that may help new AR owners. Ricky Lehnhardt of OTIS Technology demonstrates the basics of cleaning and maintaining your AR-15. Lehnhardt does a good job identifying the points that need cleaning on the inside of ARs. However he works very quickly in the video. You may want to pause the video at some points. Also, Lehnhardt employs a cable for pulling patches and brushes through the barrel. Yes this is fast and easy. However, for match AR rifles, we recommend that you instead use a cleaning ROD with fitted bore guide.

2. Take-Down and Full Cleaning of AR-15 by Jerry Miculek

Here ace shooter Jerry Miculek takes down and cleans an AR-platform rifle belonging to his daughter Lena. This is a good video because Lena’s rifle was “run hard and packed up dirty” so you can see where carbon and grease build up. This 35-minute video is very thorough. Jerry is one of the nation’s top action carbine shooters, so listen carefully to his advice on cleaning and lubrication.

3. AR-15 Maintenance: Field-strip, Clean and Lubricate an AR-15

Gunsite Academy instructor and gunsmith Cory Trapp demonstrates the proper way to field-strip, clean, and lubricate an AR-15 carbine. In this 30-minute video, Trapp offers several important technical tips and hints. For example, at 11:05 Trap demonstrates how to determine if your bolt needs new gas rings. Along with cleaning procedures, this video explains how to inspect key components and how to function-test your AR before each shooting session.

4. AR-15 Dissassembly and Cleaning Guide

This video does a good job, with close-ups, showing how to remove the bolt carrier and clean the inside of the upper receiver. Then you can see how to work with various tools to clean the bolt, bolt carrier, and inside of chamber. We also recommend that you inspect the ejector recess and extractor recess. When we’ve inspected ARs that failed to cycle properly, we have often found nasty gunk (mixture of carbon, greasy lube, and brass particles) in these areas.

5. Basic AR-15 Quick and Easy Field Maintenance

In this NSSF-sponsored video, pro shooter Ryan Muller demonstrates basic, quick field maintenance of his AR-15. This would be for a quick cleaning and lubrication of the reciprocating parts. This covers rapid maintenance in the field. For full field-stripping and thorough cleaning, watch the previous videos.



Handy Mat for Cleaning AR Rifles

When working on an AR-15, it’s smart to have a pad that can absorb solvents and cushion your upper and lower. The $24.99 Real Avid Smart Mat is a good choice. This features printed take-down instructions and it has a handy parts tray on the right side. The mat rolls up for convenient storage. Click HERE to learn more.

AR15 AR AR-15 MSR black rifle cleaning maintenance bolt lubrication

Vital Inspections You Should Do After Disassembly

Last but not least, here are recommended inspections you should do every time you do a full field-strip and cleaning of your black rifle:

AR 15 maintenance and inspection

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August 6th, 2021

TECH TIP: How to Take-Down and Maintain Your AR Bolt

AR15 Bolt Disassembly

Accurate, modular, and supremely versatile, the AR15 is America’s favorite semi-auto rifle. But let’s face it, the AR is a maintenance hog. The AR’s gas tube blows carbon and soot right into the middle of the bolt assembly where it cakes on to the metal. The AR bolt also has many tiny parts, and small recesses, which must be cleaned regularly. This author has seen numerous ARs fail simply because there was gunk (dried lube, carbon, brass shavings) in the ejector slot or extractor spring recess.

A Clean AR is a Happy AR — Whether You Run ‘Wet’ or ‘Dry’
There are various schools of thought when it comes to maintaining an AR. Some folks prefer to run their AR “dry” with minimal lube on the lugs and friction surfaces. Other shooters prefer to run their ARs “wet”, with lots of lube. But whatever your preference, you need to clean your AR regularly. And nothing is more important than the AR’s bolt/carrier assembly. Because it is involved in feeding, firing, and extracting, the AR-15 bolt/carrier assembly can be considered the most critical portion of the AR-15 from a maintenance standpoint.

Bolt Take-Down Guide on Top Quark Blog
The editor of the Top Quark Blog has created an excellent illustrated AR15 Bolt Take-Down Guide that shows how to disassemble an AR15 bolt and carrier for regular cleaning. Even if you’re an experienced AR15 shooter, you can learn something from this page (sample at right), and you may want to bookmark it for future reference. The photos are large and clear and there are helpful hints for each step of the process.

The author knows his stuff and offers some important insights. For example, he notes that “Extractor springs in most AR15 bolt assemblies are fairly weak, and this can lead to various extraction-related failures. One of the few high points about Colt assemblies is their usage of higher-strength extractor springs. You can tell the difference by looking at the inner plastic insert. ‘Normal’ springs feature a blue plastic insert, Colt strong springs have a black insert.”

There is one notable oversight on this page — the author doesn’t cover disassembly and cleaning of the ejector assembly. This is actually quite important. A few small brass shavings, combined with carbon and lube in the ejector slot, WILL cause malfunctions. In fact, when this editor is called to diagnose problem ARs, the first things I look at (after swapping magazines) are the ejector recess and the slot for the extractor. Clogged ejectors are responsible for fail-to-ejects and other jams. It is essential that you keep the ejector hole clean. Old, gooey lube residues mixed with carbon and tiny brass shavings in the ejector recess will create all sorts of problems. As shown in the diagram below, it is simple to remove the ejector (#6) and ejector spring (#5), by drifting the ejector retaining pin (#4).

AR15 Bolt Assembly Diagram


NOTE: The original Quark Blog Article appears to be offline (See Quark LINK.) However, this excellent article has been preserved via the WayBack Machine Internet Archives. CLICK HERE to access the Full Quark Blog Article via WayBack Machine Archive.

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October 21st, 2020

How to Clean and Maintain Your AR-Platform Rifles

Barrel cleaning AR15 bolt carrier carbon Jerry Miculek gas key direct impingement

AR-platform rifles can be maintenance-intensive beasts. But some AR owners make the situation worse by not regularly cleaning important small parts, or by using too much oily/greasy lubricants in the wrong places. A properly maintained and lubricated AR15 can shoot hundreds of rounds (between cleanings) without a problem. If you learn where (and where not) to apply lubricant, you’ll find that your AR will run more reliably and the task of cleaning the bolt and bolt carrier will be less of a burden.

Here is a good video that explains AR-15 Cleaning and Maintenance. In this 30-minute NSSF video, Gunsite Academy instructor and gunsmith Cory Trapp discusses the proper way to clean and maintain the AR-15 carbine. Very knowledgeable, Trapp provides rock-solid advice for AR owners. Along with cleaning procedures, this video explains how to inspect key components and how to function-test your AR before each shooting session.

AR-Platform Rifle Maintenance — Inspection, Cleaning, Function-Testing

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

If you want to keep your black rifle running smoothly and reliably, you must clean it regularly and follow the correct maintenance procedures. Here’s another good video that explains how to properly disassemble and clean AR-platform rifles.

Take-Down and Full Cleaning of AR15 by Jerry Miculek

Here ace shooter Jerry Miculek takes down and cleans an AR-platform rifle belonging to his daughter Lena. This is a good video because Lena’s rifle was “run hard and packed up dirty” so you can see where carbon and grease build up. This 35-minute video is very thorough. Jerry is one of the nation’s top action carbine shooters, so listen carefully to his advice on cleaning and lubrication.

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

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January 21st, 2018

The Clean AR-15 — How to Maintain Your Modern Sporting Rifle

Barrel cleaning AR15 bolt carrier carbon Jerry Miculek gas key direct impingement

Let’s face it, AR-platform rifles run dirty, at least compared to typical bolt-action rifles. The AR15 works by piping gas from the barrel back into the bolt carrier, causing the bolt to unlock and the carrier to move the bolt backward. The “exhaust gas” from the barrel contains soot and carbon. The carbon will form hard deposits on the bolt. In addition, the carbon can combine with lube on the bolt carrier to make a nasty, paste-like sludge. This can be particularly problematic when the black paste pollutes the ejector and extractor recess.

This Editor has inspected dozens of ARs over the years. Other than mag-related malfunctions, the most common cause of AR cycling problems I found was oily gunk in the extractor and ejector areas. Many AR owners overlook these critical areas. Look at an AR that hasn’t been cleaned properly and you’ll probably find black gunk (and small brass shavings) in the ejector and extractor recesses.

If you want to keep your black rifle running smoothly and reliably, you must clean it regularly and follow the correct maintenance procedures. Here are three videos that explain how to properly disassemble and clean AR-platform rifles.

Take-Down and Full Cleaning of AR15 by Jerry Miculek

Here ace shooter Jerry Miculek takes down and cleans an AR-platform rifle belonging to his daughter Lena. This is a good video because Lena’s rifle was “run hard and packed up dirty” so you can see where carbon and grease build up. This 35-minute video is very thorough. Jerry is one of the nation’s top action carbine shooters, so listen carefully to his advice on cleaning and lubrication.

How to Clean Your AR-Platform Rifle

This is a good basic video that shows the take-down and cleaning procedure for a typical AR15. It uses some fast-motion sequences to speed up the story. Check out this video if you don’t have the time to sit through the Miculek video above.

Cleaning and Lubricating AR15 Bolt Carrier Group

This video offers very specific advice on the bolt carrier group, which receives the dirty gas directly from the barrel. Be sure to check the extractor and ejector recesses. That’s where old lube, brass shavings, and carbon accumulate. Follow the directions in this video for lubrication, and don’t over-lubricate the bolt carrier — that will only capture more carbon.

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