How to Maintain Your AR-15


If you are new to the world of the AR 15 rifle or if you are a seasoned marksman, it is important that you know how to properly care for and maintain the different parts of your rifle. From the ammunition to the upper receiver, there is maintenance to be done and care that should be taken. For the weapon to fire properly, it must be clean and have parts that are not rusted or worn.

Carefully take apart your rifle regularly, cleaning it, and finding what parts need to be replaced (if any) on a regular basis will ensure that you are ready to go either in self-defense or in competition shooting. Here are some tips to help you get on the right track.


Buy the Correct Cleaning Supplies

What is the point of cleaning the rifle if you are using the wrong tools? Having the proper tools for your needs and for your specific rifle will ensure that you are fully cleaning every crevice. It is possible to either buy a premade cleaning kit or to create your own.

Either way, you will want to be sure you have the correct size bore snakes and brushes. These go into the barrel and other areas. Proper sizing allows you to sweep through and clear out and debris. If the snake or brush is too small or too large, then residue can easily be left behind, leaving the weapon dirty. If this residue remains for too long or is built upon with other dirt and debris, then it could cause your weapon to rust or simply to not operate properly.


Clean After Each Use

Avid marksman will always advise you to clean your AR-15 all the way through after each use. This goes into the same reasoning as to why you need the correct cleaning supplies: if you do not clean it often and properly, then it will not operate the way it should.

Many times, a new gun owner will not clean the rifle after each use and when things begin to wear down or not work as expected, the shooter blames the rifle or thinks they need to purchase a new one. This is not so. Proper care and cleanliness will extend the life of the rifle and the parts. Always be sure to clean your rifle after each use!


You Get What You Pay For

When purchasing cleaning solvents and firearm lubricants, you get what you pay for. In other words, if you go the cheap route to save money, the quality will not be as good as if you had spent the extra few dollars.

After you clean your rifle, you will want to put some lubricant on each piece that moves. This both improves the operation of the rifle and extends its life, saving you money overall. All pieces of the bolt carrier group need to be lubricated after each cleaning.

This includes the bolt, firing pin, and cam pin. Other items that need proper lubrication include the fire control group, the mag release button, the bolt catch button, and the safety selector. All should receive a drop or two of lubricant and it should be fiddled with to work the lubricant into each area of the rifle.


Always Perform a Function Check

Any time you disassemble and reassemble a firearm, you will want to perform a function check to confirm that everything is back where it should be. This is a safety measure that cannot go unchecked. As always, first, perform a safety check and be sure there is not a round of ammunition in the chamber. Then, perform the following steps to complete the function check:

  • Point the weapon in a safe direction, remove the magazine, and make sure the chamber is clear
  • Pull the bolt to the rear, then release it forward
  • Place the rifle on safe then squeeze the trigger. If the hammer does not fall, you know the safety is working properly and you can move on to the next step.
  • Place the rifle on fire then squeeze the trigger. If the hammer falls, then you have properly put the weapon back together and your function check is complete.


Give Your Rifle a Thorough Inspection Every Thousand Rounds

As a rule of thumb, you will want to thoroughly inspect your AR-15 every thousand rounds you fire. When inspecting it, you want to pay close attention to the O-rings on the bolt carrier group, and the extractor spring.

All springs should be checked, but most failures begin in the aforementioned areas. It is a promising idea to keep some extra O-rings and springs on hand in your cleaning kit or in your rifle bag. This will cut down on time when you find that you need to do some replacing. These items can be purchased at most any firearms store in your area.


Do not Forget Your Magazine

One of the most used items and yet one of the easiest to forget to maintain: your magazine. If it is difficult to load, you hear some rattling noises, or it seems to bind up, then it is time to clean your magazine and inspect it.

These tend to last for a while, but it is imperative that you do not overlook it is care. Magazines are simple to disassemble, and all you must do is wipe them down. The cleaning process is not overly complicated.

Maintaining your AR-15 is not the trickiest thing to do, but it can seem time consuming if you do not plan for it. Knowing what is involved and having the extra items you may need will cut down on the inconvenience.

Cleaning each part of your rifle, inspecting the O-rings and springs, and paying attention to the magazine will help you to properly care for your rifle and will help you to become the best marksman you can be. If you want to master your craft, you must take care of your equipment!

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