This post may have affiliate links to products that may earn us commissions at no added cost to you.
Cleaning your AR-15 rifle after shooting corrosive ammo doesn’t have to be difficult.
If you know your AR-15 gun needs cleaning but are new to the whole shebang, it’s time to use this guide to learn how to clean your gun after shooting.
Doing so can help you make sure your AR 15 is clean at all times for better precision and safer shooting.
In this guide, we’ll go over why cleaning your AR 15 is paramount and discuss step-by-step how to do it so that you get your gun clean safely the first time.
Keep reading to find out how you can get your rifle clean in no time!
Why Clean Your AR 15?
Before we jump into what you need to do to get your rifle clean and ready for use, let’s first examine why you should clean your rifle in the first place.
If you own AR 15, it’s critical that you keep the weapon clean at all times for two main reasons. They are:
Safety: If you regularly use your gun, it will inevitably get dirty. This can result in a number of issues, including incomplete discharge.
This term refers to a round getting stuck in the barrel of your gun, mainly as a result of residue buildup.
If an individual attempts to fire his gun in this situation, it can cause the weapon to explode.
A dirty gun can also explode in the result of ejection failure, which happens when cartridges cannot be ejected due to rust or other residue buildups.
In this situation, a live round can be shot through the stuck cartridge and cause an explosion.
Obviously, you don’t want this to happen. For this reason, it’s critical that you know how to clean your AR 15.
Accuracy: Even if your gun doesn’t explode, keep in mind that a dirty barrel can cause your AR 15 to be less accurate.
If you are a hunter, especially, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your weapon as precise as possible.
As such, make sure to keep reading so that you know how to clean your gun and keep your weapon on target.
How to Clean and Lube Your AR 15 Rifle?
With all this being said, let’s take a look at what you should do to get your weapon clean.
Make sure to follow these steps so that you don’t have any hiccups during your own cleaning. This can lead to greater gun functionality and increased safety on your part.
Cleaning your gun can be a bit tricky at first, but if you follow these steps, you’ll find you can do it with no issues.
Specifically, in order to clean your AR 15 rifle, you’ll want to:
1- Assemble Your Tools
Start by assembling all the tools you’ll need to get the job done.
In addition to a standard gun cleaning kit, you’ll also want to pick up a bore brush compatible with your caliber of AR 15.
These brushes can be picked up for five dollars or less, making them highly affordable.
Depending on what you’ve got available already, you’ll also want to pick up a rifle mop, a punch pin, and a slotted patch tip.
You may find it easier to simply purchase a prep-prepared AR 15 cleaning kit.
These kits generally carry double-digit price tags and are highly useful for individuals who frequently use their firearms.
If you’re looking for a quality budget option, you can’t go wrong with the Real Avid AR 15 Cleaning Kit or an Otis Kit.
I usually prefer Real Avid since this stellar kit can get the job done for almost no cost to you.
If you’ve got a bit of money to spare, it’s worth checking out the DAC Winchester Super Deluxe Soft-sided Gun Care Case.
A bit more expensive, this kit has everything you need in more to truly get the job done.
Of course, no matter what you buy, you’ll want to make sure that the caliber you purchase matches your specific weapon.
This will help ensure that you can safely and thoroughly clean your AR 15.
2- Prepare Your Area
Once you’ve got everything you need, the next step is to clean your area.
You’ll want to clear out a clean space where you can disassemble and sanitize your gun without issue.
If you’ve got a cleaning mat, lay it flat on your surface. If you do not have one, a simple tablecloth will do.
Following this, make sure to put on a pair of gloves so that you don’t get your hands too dirty.
While cleaning your gun, you will be working with oil, so it’s best that you take precautions so as not to create an even bigger mess.
In addition to this, you’ll want to prep your firearm. This means clearing it of any ammo.
During this step, make sure that both the chamber and magazine are empty. You can also remove your magazine if you like. Make sure that your rifle is pointing away from you as you do this.
Specifically, you’ll want to remove the magazine, lock the rear bolt, examine the chamber for any ammo, remove the ammo, release the bolt, and put the firearm back into the cleaning position.
3- Disassemble Your Gun
Next, you’ll want to start disassembling your gun. Start by taking apart the upper and lower receivers.
You can do this by removing the take-down pins and pulling the two pieces away from each other. For best results, be sure to use a nylon punch so as not to damage the outside of your gun.
After this, you’ll want to remove your charging handle. Doing so can be tricky, so make sure to reference this guide.
You’ll also want to remove the bolt carrier group at this time. Pushing the rear bolt, remove the firing pin to disassemble the bolt carrier group.
Rotate the camp in 90 degrees and remove. Once you have done this, your bolt should slide out.
Disassemble the bolt with a punch, then remove the extractor pin with a mallet. Still using your punch, remove the buffer and buffer spring.
These are located in the pressure-filled buffer tube; for this reason, make sure to do so carefully.
As you do all this, make sure to set all gun pieces aside in a safe place so that you can easily keep track of them while cleaning your weapon.
4- Begin Cleaning Your Chamber
Now that your AR 15 is disassembled, it’s time to start cleaning your chamber and your barrel.
While methods vary, there are some fundamental rules that you should follow in order to ensure a job well done.
Perhaps most importantly, you want to make sure that you are not cleaning the weapon from muzzle to chamber.
In other words, never clean your chamber from front to back.
Instead, you want to work from back to front so that you are clearing out all the residue that’s built up in the gun.
During this step, you may add some of whatever gun cleaner you have to your weapon.
5- Remove Carbon Buildup
When you fire your weapon, carbon can build up in the bolt carrier group and the extractor.
Knowing this, you’ll want to examine these pieces closely to make sure that’s not the case with your AR 15.
If you encounter any carbon deposits, make sure to wipe them thoroughly with your cleaner.
Do this for both the bolt carrier group and the extractor, until you are sure that both are clean.
6- Clean Your Buffer Assembly
Cleaning the buffer assembly is simple. To start, simply apply lube to a clean rag (not the same rag you used to clean the bolt carrier group and extractor) and wipe the entirety of the buffer assembly.
This means that you should clean both the buffer and the spring, making sure to remove any residue that may have been built upon them.
7- Clean Your Upper Receiver
For the next step, you’ll want to clean your upper receiver and charging handle.
At this juncture, it’s important that you use an oiled rag to get the job done.
For best results, make sure that the gun rag you use is clean; then apply light amounts of oil to prep for use.
Wipe down both the upper receiver and the charging handle.
Doing so thoroughly will allow the handle to move in the upper receiver without any issues.
8- Clean Your Lower Receiver
In the same way, you’ll also want to clean the lower receiver and fire control group (commonly referred to as FCG).
In order to do this, you’ll need to remove the FCG with a hammer and a punch (1/8 punches are ideal for AR 15s).
Start by tapping the hammer pin with the punch. Remove the pin by pushing the punch forward, being sure to hold the hammer while doing so.
Then, pushing down on the disconnector, push the punch through the lower pin and set the piece next to your hammer pin.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to remove the trigger easily.
With your lower receiver prepped for cleaning, simply wipe down the pieces with your rag until they are thoroughly clean.
At the same time, be sure to make sure that there is no damage to either the hammer or lower pins (this could mean you need to get them replaced).
9- Reassemble Your AR15 Gun
After you’ve cleaned this, you’ll be ready to go. Working backward, begin assembling your gun back to its starting position.
If you have any questions on how to do this, make sure to refer to these steps and other guides so that you can get your gun put together safely and without issue.
Once your gun is properly reassembled, it’s time to lubricate it with oil.
This will help your gun shine and stay better protected against the elements.
Make sure that you use only a light coating of oil, with small drops of lube also applied to the safety selector, mag release, FCG, and bolt catch button.
10- Check Functionality
Last but not least, you’ll want to make sure you check your weapon’s functionality before you call it a day.
Start by pointing your AR 15 in a safe direction and pull the bolt to the rear to release it.
Then, with the safety on, squeeze the trigger firmly. In this case, it’s important that the hammer doesn’t drop.
If it does, it means that you haven’t assembled the gun properly and need to start over.
Next, with the safety off, pull the trigger at a safe target. Watch to make sure the hammer falls.
If it doesn’t, you’ll need to disassemble and solve the problem. If it does, you are good to go.
Which is the best AR 15 cleaning kit?
Although there are variety of different kits available for cleaning AR 15, I use my Real Avid kit due to its reliability, performance and best value. You can also consider using Otis kit for AR 15 and hopefully it will work fine.
Which mat should I use for AR 15 cleaning?
TekMat AR-15 cleaning mat is one of the best options out there as it comes with complete diagram. This makes very easy to field strip and assemble your rifle.
Can I clean my AR 15 with a brake cleaner?
Yes, brake cleaner fluid can work perfectly fine and is one of the fastest ways to clean AR 15. I have used it for my AR 15 many times without any issues. Make sure if you are using this stuff it should be a non chlorniated fluid.
Can I clean my AR 15 with soap and hot water?
Hot soapy water can work fine for cleaning guns and can be used without any issues. Make sure you do not rinse it completely in water. Just use a soft cloth or a patch for cleaning. Also, its essential to dry the gun and ensure that no water is left behind on the gun surface.
How Often Should You Perform AR 15 Maintenance?
Now that you know how to clean your gun, it’s time to learn how often you should clean your firearm in order to maintain proper maintenance.
Keeping your gun well-lubricated is a key part of safe and precise usage.
For this reason, you’ll want to consult your manufacturer about a good maintenance schedule for your particular model.
Keep in mind that you will have to clean your gun more if you use it more, as continued use leads to more residue buildup in your gun.
The Bottom Line
By following the right steps, you can clean your AR 15 with little to no hassle.
This guide details a step-by-step method for cleaning your weapon so that you can get back to safe shooting in no time.
If it’s your first time cleaning AR 15, be sure to read these steps carefully.
Doing so will help to ensure that the process goes smoothly and you are able to complete your gun cleaning in a way that facilitates better shooting down the road.
In this guide, we also covered some of the materials you’ll need to clean your AR 15 and addressed the reasons why doing so is so critical.
Of course, if you’re having trouble following the information here, make sure you consult with an expert who can help you through the process so that you stay safe and get the job done right.
So, don’t wait! It’s time to get to work!