AR-15 Cleaning And Maintenance

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 2 weeks ago

Shooting Illustrated:

I clean my AR-15 gas systems approximately every 1,000 rounds. Direct-impingement gas tubes are easily maintained by inserting a long [purpose-made] pipe cleaner wet with solvent into the tube, then following it up with a fresh pipe cleaner. The portion that extends through the upper receiver is easily cleaned with a couple cotton swabs. Carbon build-up on the inner surface of adjustable gas-block screws can be cleaned off with a wire brush after removing the screw(s). Operating-rod systems with removable gas regulators also benefit from occasional removal of carbon deposits. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions for cleaning them, as they tend to be unique. If your AR-15 has an operating rod that moves through a bushing in the upper receiver, a bit of lubrication on the rod where it passes through the bushing helps to prevent binding.

I guess I haven’t thought much about cleaning the gas system of my guns.  I guess I need to.


Comments

  1. On August 6, 2018 at 6:50 am, wynn said:

    on the AR 15 no need to clean out the inside of the gas tube. The hot gas from firing keeps it clean. Clean the bolt and Bolt Carrier Group and lube them.
    Clean the bolt raceway and chamber. And of course clean the barrel.

  2. On August 6, 2018 at 7:19 am, Old Bill said:

    I concur with WYNN. The gas system just doesn’t require much attention. Perhaps if a gas management problem is detected, otherwise forget it.

  3. On August 6, 2018 at 7:31 am, Fred said:

    I’m not so sure about this. What is the potential downside?

    This guy says the Stoner system doesn’t need modification and don’t clean clean the gas tube. I tend to agree.

    “Many complaints about the gas system concern the reputed tendency of the gas tube to clog, which I don’t doubt has occasionally happened. The way to avoid that is to never clean the gas tube!
    Lots of shooters will put bore cleaner down the gas tube and swab with one of the gas tube brushes available. This is the start of the problem, as you can never completely swab out the cleaner. As soon as hot gases are introduced during the firing cycle the remaining petroleum turns to carbon and adheres to the walls of the gas tube. Repeated cleanings simply add to the deposits.” – Grant Cunningham

    Here:
    http://www.grantcunningham.com/2013/12/keeping-the-ar-15-and-m4-carbine-gas-system-running/

  4. On August 6, 2018 at 9:13 am, Houston said:

    Fred,
    Grant Cunningham also said, in the same post, to run a tube cleaner with acetone through the pipe to clean out any oils there and once that is done never touch the tube again.

    So far in my experience he has been correct. Never an issue with my gas tube. Never send any chemical down it.

    He also has some very good advice on lubrication of the system. I have followed his advice and continue to have good results.

    Houston

  5. On August 6, 2018 at 1:08 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    There is an exception to the “never clean the gas tube” rule, which is when an AR owner has been shooting large quantities of cast-lead bullets or soft-point leaded hunting bullets, both of which are capable of fouling the gas system with residual lead deposits. Don’t be that guy. If you shoot a lot of lead-tipped ammo through your AR, learn how to clean the deposits out or have a gunsmith do it for you.

    Got a question, though: Chamber stars are great for cleaning the recesses for the locking lugs; just add a few drops of cleaning solvent to a chamber star attached to the end of a cleaning rod, and you are good-to-go. Gets the recesses clean and the same method can be used to lubricate the area if desired. Here’s the question – what is the preferred method for cleaning/lubricating this area if a disposable chamber star isn’t available?

    A tip from an old gunsmith buddy of mine, a retired Green Beret scout-sniper and master gunsmith. Dry lube is great for use in ARs being operated in dry, dusty environments. In such environments, it is to be preferred to wet forms of lubrication, since dust and grit adhere to oil and grease and form an abrasive paste which can quickly gum up your action.

    Another expert, Sergeant Major Kyle Lamb, (USA, ret.), formerly of Delta Force (SOF-D), now of Viking Tactics, keeps his carbine running in the field with a very simply, condensed cleaning regimen.

    When a lull provides a few minutes, he unpins and opens the upper, extracting the charging handle and bolt-bolt carrier. He quickly wipes off the bolt-BC group with a cloth and applies a fresh coat of lubricant, and also quickly checks that the bolt face, firing pin, extractor and ejector are clear of debris. Once this is done, he uses a bore snake (.223/5.56) and a few drops of Break-Free or other solvent/lubricant to make a couple of cleaning passes of the bore.

    The whole process takes five minutes or less from start to finish, and will keep your carbine running even well into a high round count training session or the like. A more-thorough detail strip with cleaning and lubrication can be done once you are done in the field and back wherever you hang your hat.

    All of the cleaning supplies can be fit into a small plastic bag in a pouch on your LBE, or in a pocket.

    A lot of the top-tier guys over in the sandbox took to having a compact segmented cleaning rod suitable for use in a .223/5.56 weapon, as part of their kit – in case it is needed to free a stuck case, bolt-override, or similar failure.

  6. On August 6, 2018 at 5:45 pm, DAN III said:

    Mr. Smith,

    Welcome home.

    Mr. Smith & ALCON….do a search for Pat Rogers (RIP Pat) and “Filthy 14”. There are numerous links to Filthy 14. Some several years old. The latest I saw was dated in 2017 over at AR15.com. However, you may care to read several of the links. Too many links to post here using my tablet. Anyhow….”Filthy 14″ was a test by Pat Rogers and the effects of not cleaning one’s direct impingment, AR-malite platform.

    “Filthy 14” dispels a myth or two about having to clean constantly, the AR-malite platform. You may be quite surprised re: the Filthy 14 story. In short, it is all about lubrication.

  7. On August 6, 2018 at 6:14 pm, DAN III said:

    ALCON,

    See US Army Common Tasks, SMCT, Skill Level 1, Task 071-100-0004 (SL1), Maintain an M4 or M4A1 Carbine. Section 3a, Upper Receiver Group (4): Use CLP and bore brush to clean barrel locking lugs and gas tube.

    Folks….the ONLY portion of the gas tube one ever has to clean is that 1 1/4″ of exposed gas tube at the receiver end of the barrel. By “cleaning” the gas tube it is meant to clean the crud and carbon (courtesy direct impingement design) from the exposed, EXTERIOR of the chromed/stainless gas tube. Not the inside of the tube.

    Not once in my many years did I or any of my troops clean the inside of the gas tube. There is no need to insert anything into the gas tube. Doing so can and will lead to operating issues.

  8. On August 6, 2018 at 6:32 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ Dan III

    Re: ““Filthy 14” dispels a myth or two about having to clean constantly, the AR-malite platform. You may be quite surprised re: the Filthy 14 story. In short, it is all about lubrication.”

    Saw a story some years back – maybe three or four years ago – about our special ops people in Afghanistan running around with small spray bottles of Break-Free CLP and periodically, throughout engagements with the enemy, spraying a shot or two of it into the actions of their M4 carbines to keep them running properly. Sorry, can’t recall the source.

    Kyle Lamb basically debunks the myth of ARs as unreliable in one of his instructional videos for Viking Tactics. The condensed cleaning/lubrication routine outlined in my previous post was all he used to keep his carbine running, sometimes continuously for many hours at a time, when he was still in Delta.

    Mike Pannone’s work on ruggedizing your AR and making it run more-reliably was posted at this website not many months ago, and the info in it remains as timely as ever.

  9. On August 8, 2018 at 7:24 pm, Ben338 said:

    I had always understood that you should avoid putting any cleaning solution in the gas tube. Instead, I have been under the impression that you should run a dry pipe cleaner through it from time to time.

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You are currently reading "AR-15 Cleaning And Maintenance", entry #19784 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) AR-15s,Firearms,Guns and was published August 5th, 2018 by Herschel Smith.

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