You Don’t Know AR Rifle Maintenance…

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…unless you follow these proven MSR cleaning procedures

by the Shooting Daily staff

How to clean an AR-platform rifle is not something you have to explain to serious MSR owners. For starters, they understand that the AR’s somewhat complex internal workings and the sometimes delicate gas impingement system demands a lot more attention to cleaning protocols than, say, AK-platform rifles. Furthermore, experienced shooters know that no firearm lives by a shoot-and-forget it philosophy. Reliability, accuracy, and longevity depend on basic cleaning maintenance.

Unfortunately, many AR owners fail to appreciate the cleaning and lubrication requirements of their rifles. For those who haven’t bothered to read the instruction manual, or have purchased their first AR second-hand and don’t have a guide book, we’re going to show you the breakdown of the basic AR field-cleaning process.

But before you can get started cleaning your AR, you need a few essential items. Since we’re all about convenient, one-stop shopping, we turn our attention to Otis Technology. Known as the go-to source for military, law enforcement, and civilian hunting and shooting firearms cleaning solutions, Otis makes a turn-key cleaning kit specifically for the 5.56 AR.

Otis Technology’s all-in-one 5.56 AR cleaning kit
Otis Technology’s all-in-one 5.56 AR cleaning kit.

The Otis MSR/AR Cleaning system includes everything you need to give your rifle a comprehensive cleaning, all in a lightweight carry pouch. To see how it works, and how to give your AR a deep-cleaning, check out their video.

For a slow-mo overview of the basic, down-and-dirty field cleaning process, read on…

SAFETY FIRST!

Ensure the safety selector is on SAFE. Point the muzzle in a safe direction and remove the magazine (if inserted). Pull back the charging handle and inspect the chamber – visually and manually – to ensure there is no cartridge present.

PRIMARY COMPONENT DISASSEMBLY

Push in on the receiver takedown and pivot pins, then pull the pins outward to separate the upper and lower receiver assemblies.
Push in on the receiver takedown and pivot pins, then pull the pins outward to separate the upper and lower receiver assemblies.
Remove the charging handle and bolt carrier assembly from the receiver.
Remove the charging handle and bolt carrier group from the receiver.

 

UPPER RECEIVER CLEANING

Using a lightly lubricated bore snake or the Otis Memory-Flex bore cleaning cable, insert the end through the chamber, down the bore, and pull out. A couple of swipes are usually sufficient for a quick field cleaning.
Using a lightly lubricated bore snake or the Otis Memory-Flex bore cleaning cable and lubricated patch, insert the end through the chamber, down the bore, and pull out. A couple of swipes are usually sufficient for a quick field cleaning.
Use a nylon brush or the Otis chamber brush to remove carbon buildup and debris from the chamber area and bolt lugs.
Use a nylon brush or the Otis chamber brush to remove any carbon buildup and debris from the chamber area and lug recesses.

 

BOLT CARRIER GROUP DISASSEMBLY

Push in on the firing pin retainer and remove the pin from the carrier.
Push in on the firing pin retainer and remove the firing pin from the bolt carrier.
With the bolt seated full in the carrier as shown, rotate the bolt cam pin 90 degrees and remove it from the carrier. Remove the bolt from the carrier.
With the bolt seated fully in the bolt carrier as shown, rotate the bolt cam pin 90 degrees and remove it from the bolt carrier. Remove the bolt from the bolt carrier.

BOLT CARRIER GROUP CLEANING

7) Use a CLP-lubricated nylon brush or cloth to remove carbon and fouling residue from the bolt carrier. Use a bore brush or clean pipe cleaner to LIGHTLY clean the bolt carrier gas key with CLP. 8) Clean the lugs and bolt face to remove fouling and brass particles. Thoroughly clean the carbon from the bolt, particularly the area behind the bolt rings.
Use a CLP-lubricated nylon brush or cloth to remove carbon and fouling residue from the bolt carrier. Use a worn bore brush or clean pipe cleaner to LIGHTLY clean the bolt carrier gas key with CLP.
Clean the lugs and bolt face to remove fouling and brass particles. Thoroughly clean the carbon from the bolt, particularly the area behind the bolt rings.
Clean the locking lugs and bolt face to remove fouling and brass particles. Thoroughly clean the carbon from the bolt, particularly the area behind the bolt rings.

 

LOWER RECEIVER ASSEMBLY CLEANING

Use a nylon brush only (not wire brushes, which can damage the aluminum receiver) to remove debris from the lower receiver. Pay special attention to removing any sand or grit from the trigger assembly area.
Use a nylon brush only (not wire brushes, which can damage the aluminum receiver) to remove debris from the lower receiver. Pay special attention to removing any sand or grit from the trigger assembly area.

NOTE: You will occasionally want to remove the buffer and buffer spring from the buffer tube (which the buttstock is mounted to). A dirty, dry buffer and buffer spring can create cycling issues. Simply depress the buffer retaining pin and remove the buffer and spring assembly. Wipe clean and lightly lubricate.

 

BOLT CARRIER GROUP LUBRICATION

Apply a light coating of lubricant to the carrier, and then apply a little extra lubricant to the carrier slide contact (shown) and the cam pin area.
Apply a light coating of lubricant to the bolt carrier, and then apply a little extra lubricant to the bolt carrier slide contact “rails”(shown) and the cam pin area.
Lightly lubricate the bolt, bolt cam pin, firing pin, and firing pin retaining pin. Insert the bolt into the bolt carrier, followed by the bolt cam pin, in the reverse manner in which they were disassembled. The bolt cam pin can only fit into the bolt in one direction (the chamfered hole in the bolt), so there is no need to worry about getting the orientation right. Once installed, rotate the cam pin 90 degrees. Next, reinstall the firing pin in the bolt and secure with the firing pin retaining pin.
Lightly lubricate the bolt, bolt cam pin, firing pin, and firing pin retaining pin. Insert the bolt into the bolt carrier, followed by the bolt cam pin, in the reverse manner in which they were disassembled. The bolt cam pin can only fit into the bolt in one direction (the chamfered hole in the bolt), so there is no need to worry about getting the orientation right. Once installed, rotate the cam pin 90 degrees. Next, reinstall the firing pin in the bolt and secure with the firing pin retaining pin.

 

PRIMARY COMPONENT ASSEMBLY

Partially install the charging handle into the slide groove in the receiver, then install bolt carrier group into the receiver with the gas key in the charging handle groove. As an assembly, slide the charging handle and bolt carrier group into the receiver. Note that the bolt must be fully extended in the carrier in order for it to be inserted into the upper receiver. Lastly, fit the upper and lower receiver assemblies together and secure with the takedown and pivot pins.
Partially install the charging handle into the slide groove in the receiver, then install the bolt carrier group into the receiver with the gas key in the charging handle groove. As an assembly, slide the charging handle and bolt carrier group into the receiver. Note that the bolt must be fully extended in the bolt carrier in order for it to be inserted into the upper receiver. Lastly, fit the upper and lower receiver assemblies together and secure with the takedown and pivot pins.

 

FUNCTION CHECK

Perform a function check of your firearm before storing it or heading to the range. Do it now so you’ll be certain your rifle is ready for action. This video from Brownells fully explains the function-check process. Brownells is also an excellent source for Otis cleaning products.

 

 

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