Why should I clean my firearm?
Shooting firearms is challenging and requires skill, patience, and the right tools for the job. Shooting can also be extremely satisfying – you strategically plan your trip, spend time working on the range, and accrue experience to provide security for your home. All AR shooters should know how to clean an AR rifle properly, and if not, Firefield is here to help.
All true shooters know the joy of a successful shoot, and many never forget where they were or the firearm they used. When you’re finished, there are suddenly a million things to do: Take pictures, enjoy a bit of whiskey and admire your tattered paper-target. In all this excitement and nostalgia, one crucial task is all-too-often ignored: Cleaning your firearm.
Firearms are hard, metal tools – but they are not indestructible. A thousand tiny contaminants can ruin a perfectly functioning firearm: Powder residue in the barrel, grime in the action, grease in the bolt mechanism, dirt on the plating.
These tiny impurities build up in a firearm after repeated firings, and over time, can cause the firearm to malfunction and become unreliable, unpredictable. Not only can neglecting to clean your firearm cost you thousands of dollars – it’s exceedingly dangerous.
Preparing to clean your AR rifle
First and foremost, clean your AR rifle in a well-lit, well-ventilated, controlled location. Clean your rifle on a sturdy table, but not on a surface where people eat – you don’t want chemical solvents or gun oil copper ruining your nice dinner table! Also, you shouldn’t eat or drink while cleaning your rifle, because Dijon Mustard, while delicious on a sandwich, is less desirable in your rifle sights.
Now it’s time to clean. For all .223 and .308 AR platform rifles, the Firefield AR Cleaning Kit has the tools you need to keep your rifle firing clean and crisp:
- Compact Carrying Case
- Bore brush and chamber brush
- Bore Mop
- 20 cleaning patches
- Brass rods
- 33-inch cable for easy-reach cleaning
- Lubrication applicator bottle (solvent not included)
- Small and large brush for the exterior
With this all-inclusive gun cleaning system, cleansing your firearm should be a smooth, stress-free operation.
How to disassemble your AR rifle
To thoroughly clean your AR, you first need to disassemble the firearm. If you already know how to do this, you can skip down to the next section. If not, follow these steps before proceeding.
- 1) Slide the bolt forward on your AR
- 2) Pop out the takedown pins
- 3) Separate the upper and lower receivers
- 4) Now, pull the charging handle and bolt carrier from the upper receiver
- 5) On the lower receiver, compress the buffer retaining pin by pressing it firmly against the stock, and maintain that force to free the buffer spring
- 6) Separate the buffer pin from the spring
- 7) Take the bolt carrier group and pull out the firing pin’s retaining pin
- 8) Drop the firing pin out of the bolt carrier
- 9) Rotate the cam pin 90 degrees to free it, then pull it out
For experienced users, you can further disassemble the bolt carrier group. Take the firing pin and press it on the extractor retaining pin, and after the pin is out, you can pull the extractor apart. This step is optional.
How to Clean your AR rifle
Now that your AR rifle is in more separate pieces than a processed deer, let’s get cleaning! Take the orange handle from the tactical rifle cleaning kit and thread the pushrod into the handle. Now, choose the correct bore brush, either .223 or .308.
- 1) Apply your favorite solvent to the bore brush (We recommend Hoppes 9)
- 2) Gently insert the bore brush into the star chamber, then pull it out
- 3) Attach the bore brush to the bore snake (33-inch cable), and apply solvent
- 4) Push the bore brush up through the chamber (in the same direction that the bullet travels) and push the snake all the way through
- 5) Attach a slotted tip to the bore snake, then thread a folded pad through the slot
- 6) Apply solvent to the pad, then repeat step 4
- 7) Discard the dirty pad, and, using dry pads, repeat step 4
- 8) Take the large exterior brush, apply solvent
- 9) Take the lower receiver, release the safety and trigger, and scrub all around the hammer
- Dry off everything you scrubbed (on the lower receiver) with a clean cloth
- Using the brush from step 8, with a bit of solvent, clean the spring, buffer and charging handle, then dry them off
- Take the extractor (from the bolt carrier group), and holding onto the tiny O-ring and spring, squirt a small amount of solvent and clean the extractor with the small exterior brush
- Repeat step 12 for the cam pin and firing pin’s retaining pin and bolt
- Clean the bolt carrier group with solvent – use the larger brush for larger surfaces and the smaller brush for tighter spots
- Wipe down anything that has residual solvent
- Reassemble your AR rifle. If you cannot remember how, simply reverse the disassembly steps above. If you are still having issues, DownRangeVideos.Com has an excellent tutorial video on stripping and rebuilding AR rifles
- Perform a function check
What else should I do?
You’ve done it! With the help of the Firefield Rifle Cleaning Kit, you’ve managed to fend off that nasty carbon sludge that builds up in all firearms. However, there are a few key points that are worth mentioning.
First, the frequency of cleaning depends on how often you shoot your firearm. If you only shoot once a month, you should clean your rifle after every session. However, if you shoot daily, a biweekly cleaning should be sufficient to keep your AR in healthy, working condition. The idea to remember is that carbon sludge, and grime and grease, should not be allowed to loiter on your firearm. Either use the firearm again very soon…or clean it! If you are shooting in rain, snow or otherwise wet, caustic conditions, you should clean your gun as soon as you’re able.
Second, do not neglect your magazines. Carbon builds up in magazines also, though not as much, and this can cause your ammo to jam. Simply take a clean cloth, apply solvent, and give your magazines a thorough rub-down. Remember, you do not want to soak the magazines, just give them a gentle once-over.
Also, if you fire corrosive ammunition, you should clean your firearm after every shooting session. Many nations have outlawed corrosive ammunition, but the United States has not, and corrosive ammunition is generally much cheaper to purchase.
The problem is that corrosive ammunition leaves a heavy salt residue that attracts moisture and can ruin your gun. Again, there is nothing wrong with corrosive ammunition, but if you use it, you must clean your firearm after every use. There are different cleaning steps if you fire corrosive ammunition –PewPewTactical.com has an excellent article on the subject.
Next, only use approved gun cleaning solvents on your firearm. All oils are not identical – products like WD40, olive oil and motor oil are not appropriate, and will likely damage your firearm. Soap and water are not recommended – while this may remove some of the carbon and powder, it will not perform adequately for copper and lead firearms and will likely lead to rust and further damage.
Finally, take your time when cleaning your rifle. There is no ticking clock, and if you’re unsure about a step, pause and seek out further guidance. It’s far cheaper to spend a few minutes searching the Internet or consulting with a professional rifle technician than plowing ahead and possibly permanently disabling your firearm.
Cleaning is all about extending the life of your rifle and maintaining high-performance. Shooting an AR rifle, whether it’s on the range or out on a hunt, is much like the cleaning process: Be thorough, accurate, and don’t leave a mess!
Click here to view the official Youtube Firefield AR Cleaning Kit video