The Essentials of AR-15 Maintenance


Do you want to learn how to maintain an AR-15?

Being one of the most popular firearms in the country, the AR-15 style rifle has quite an interesting history behind it. Firearm enthusiasts prefer these guns because of their versatility. AR-15s are great for hunting, target practice, and sports shooting competitions.

Because of their popularity, though, they need regular cleaning more than any other type of gun. AR-15 maintenance can be quite a chore if you’re unsure of how you should go about it. Without proper maintenance and cleaning, you shouldn’t expect your AR-15 to last that long. The cost of 40 s&w ammo varies based on the ammo manufacturer and the number of rounds you purchase. At Natchez Shooters Supply, you can purchase your .40 cal ammunition in bulk and save with our discount prices.

To help you extend the lifespan of your AR-15, we’ve put together a guide below. Learn how to service an AR-15 to make sure your gun lasts as long as it can. Keep your AR-15 in peak condition now!

Essential Tools for Cleaning

First, you’ll need to prepare your cleaning tools. Getting them out first speeds up the process as you won’t need to look for the brushes you need later on. If you already own other guns, their cleaning kits will have everything you need to clean your AR-15.

If you don’t have a cleaning kit, there are two ways to go about getting your own. You can buy a pre-made one in your local gun store. Another option would be to build your cleaning kits from scratch.

Buying Pre-Made Cleaning Kits

Pre-made cleaning kits are a good option if you don’t have the time or energy to invest in building your own. These kits have all the necessities one may need in dismantling and cleaning a gun. The only downside is the tools they provide may not be for the specific gun that you own.

Some AR-15 style rifles need specific brushes for you to clean them well. Bore snakes provided by pre-made kits may also be too small for certain calibers. These will cause you to put more effort into cleaning the different parts of your AR-15.

You won’t need to worry about that if you’re more into casual shooting. Firing the gun less means there’s not much to clean. It’s also an excellent choice if you’re only new to shooting since you won’t know much about what tools your gun needs.

Making Your Own AR Cleaning Kit

It’s better that you build your own kit if you’re familiar with your AR-15. You’ll know the right brushes to use, the snake bores that will fit, and what lubricants are best for your firearm. It’s also perfect if you plan to shoot your AR-15 frequently, as custom kits will clean it up faster.

You’ll first want to put brushes into your gun. You’ll need these to get rid of the residue from the muzzle and receiver. Doing this is important to eliminate any lead dust leftover from your time in the firing range.

Bore snakes are the next tools you’ll want to fill your kit with. These make sure nothing obstructs the chamber of your AR-15. You’ll also want to get a punch tool to help with disassembly for cleaning.

The last basic necessity you’ll need is a lubricant. Always have a tube ready in your kit for finishing checks. You’ll also need to lubricate your gun before stowing them away to prevent corrosion.

Prep the Gun and the Cleaning Area

Once you have your cleaning tools ready, prepare your gun. Do this by removing any of the custom attachments you mounted the gun with. Before anything, though, remove the magazine and make sure the chamber is empty.

Make sure you clean the area, too. This is important, so no dust clings onto your AR-15 as you’re cleaning the other components. Some parts of the AR-15 are extremely sensitive, and dust can cause it to malfunction.

A gun mat will help you keep your components clean as you disassemble your gun. You can also place your ammunition here for safekeeping as you service your AR.

You may also want to use an AR-15 vise to secure your gun. These hold your gun via the mag well for easier disassembly. You should use a proper AR vise as it won’t scratch the gun or its interior.

Dismantling the Gun

Once secure, start disassembling your AR-15. Wear gloves to prevent any toxic residue from coming in contact with your skin.

You can also take this moment to examine if you need to replace any AR 15 parts that look to be in poor condition. If you’re unfamiliar with the proper way to dismantle an AR-15, here’s how.

Separating the Receivers

The receivers are the first parts you should work on. Taking them off will make it easier for you to access and dismantle the other parts. You do this by removing the pins that hold the upper and lower components together.

You can use your fingers to take out the larger pins. Take care not to scratch the chassis, though. It’s best to use a punch tool to take care of these pins to avoid damaging the body.

Handling the Bolt Carrier Group

Once you’ve separated the receivers, you’ll see the bolt carrier group. You’ll find it together with the gun’s charging handle. Removing it means sliding it back into the upper receiver and out the other direction.

After removing the charging handle, you can deal with the bolt carrier group. Disassembling this can often be a pain since it has a lot of tiny parts.

Start by removing the bolt from the group. Push it to the rear of the group and remove the firing pin. Rotate the pin, and it should slide out without issue.

Once removed, disassemble the bolt to give its interior and the extractor a thorough cleaning. Use a punch since these parts are too small to remove by hand.

Place the extractor pin in a safe location. Given its size and shape, it’s liable to roll off the workspace, making it impossible to find.

Emptying the Buffer Tube

The buffer tube contains the last obstacles you need to remove. It will contain the buffer spring and the buffer itself. You can remove this with your hands if you’re skilled enough, but a punch tool works fine, too.

All you need to do is apply pressure to the buffer retainer to remove the buffer and the spring. You’ll need the right amount of pressure to avoid having the buffer pop out and scatter all over the place.

Cleaning the Gun

With the buffer and the spring removed, it’s time to service your firearm. How to service an AR-15? The best way to do so is by starting with the chamber.

Grab your bore snake and clean the chamber and barrel. Start from the rear, going to the front of the gun. Do this with all the brushes that go inside the chamber, too.

Scrubbing from rear to front keeps the barrel’s rifling intact. Repeat running brushes and bores through the barrel until they come out clean.

Move onto the bolt carrier group next. All you need to do here is scrub everything clean of carbon deposits. Keep rinsing brushes until they don’t stain when used on the bolt carrier group.

The buffer assembly and upper receiver get the same treatment. A rag dipped in oil is all you need to clean up these components. For the lower receiver, though, you’ll need the same materials plus some brushes.

Use the brush to reach into the lower receiver’s smaller spaces. While it doesn’t get too dirty, carbon deposits can accumulate in the area.


After cleaning and drying your components, lubricate them. Most people think it’s preventing the gun from overheating, but the AR-15 works well even when it’s not as lubricated as it should be.

The main point of lubrication is to keep the moving parts from wearing down. A drop of lubricant or two to any moving part will keep it in good condition for a longer time. This will inadvertently help you avoid paying high AR-15 repair costs from professionals.

Reassembling the Rifle

Make sure you reattach every component of the bolt carrier group before slipping it back into the upper receiver. Reattach it to the lower receiver by pushing the pins back into place.

Also, reattach any extra AR-15 parts that you have on your gun before maintenance. You’ll need to put them back for familiarity later on during the performance checks. Its customizability is one reason people love the AR-15, after all.

Performance Checks

Now, test if everything is in order before finishing up. The first thing to do is pull the bolt as you would when charging the rifle. Next, perform some trigger squeezes in safe and fire mode.

If everything works as intended, then you’re done! You’ve successfully serviced your AR-15!

Learn the Essentials of AR-15 Maintenance Today

AR-15 maintenance need not be such a chore. With the help of the guide above, you’ll know what you’ll need to do to make sure your gun is on top of its game. Learn how to clean your gun and watch it perform well today!

There’s more to guns and the AR-15 than you think there is. Check out more of our posts and articles to see what else you can learn about firearms today!

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