Sunday, November 22, 2009

AR15 Maintenance Tip, keep it well lubed!

How long can an AR15 run without being cleaned? How long should it take you to clean your AR15?

I remember my first carbine class I attended. I had a great time on the first day, but when I got home later that day I was exhausted. We had shot something like 700 rounds that day. I was so tired I just couldn't get up the motivation to clean my weapon.

The next day was upon me seemingly pretty fast and I decided to take another AR15 with me as well as the one I used the day before just in case I needed it. I didn't want to use that rifle if I didn't have to though. I gave my primary AR15 a good shot of oil and crossed my fingers thinking that I would be lucky if it ran well all day. Not because I had experienced anything in the past that would suggest it wouldn't work, but because I had always heard that an AR15 will start to choke if it is not cleaned very well every 1000 rounds or so.

Well, I finished off the carbine class with about another 700 rounds and to my surprise, no failures.

Just for the sake of it, I decided to let it go a little longer without cleaning just to see how long it would go, only oiling it to keep it going. I got it close to 2500 rounds before finally getting bored of the "test" and decided to clean it.

Since then, I have pushed many of my other AR15's to similar degrees and read of countless other accounts online where people have pushed just as hard or harder. I have also slacked off on my AR15 cleanings in recent years.

I hadn't stripped down my BCG's on any of my older AR15's in a few years, but just a couple weeks ago I decided to go through all of them and give them a good thorough cleaning.

I had never let them go for this long, and some of them have seen thousands of rounds in this time. Most cleanings took me about 5 minutes and consisted mostly of a wipe down of the BCG, a boresnake run through the barrel, and re-lubing. I like CLP and have never had a problem with it in my AR15's.

The bolts were filthy, as were the firing pins, etc... and some of the carbon was caked on pretty good. I hadn't been experiencing any failures. I simply decided it was "time" to clean them good.

It doesn't take 30 minutes to clean your AR15 and if you do not have time to clean your AR15, shoot some oil in there and it should run great. When I do a complete thorough cleaning, it takes me 10-15 minutes.

I am not advocating that you should not clean your AR15. I believe a clean weapon works better than a dirty one. However, for as much flack as the AR15 gets for not being able to run "dirty", I don't buy it. Particularly the idea that carbon fouling is an issue. They will run dirty, they just need to be properly well lubed.

I find that keeping the weapon properly well lubed particularly throughout it's early usage is critical as well.


Drew Rinella said...

This is great information; thank you for sharing your experience. It seems to me the accounts of the AR platform not being able to run dirty come mostly from soldiers finding more failures with their M4's in sand. Could this be where that school of thought is coming from?

Marshall Wirig said...

To an extent, yes. However, the AR15 got a reputation for being problematic with carbon fouling (primarily due to the Vietnam conflict I believe). It was a problem at one time, due to a combination of powder that was used, lack of cleaning, and with the lack of chrome lining. This stigma has remained, even years later after the problem has been addressed.

As far as dirt goes. I have never gotten my AR15's as dirty from sand and dust storms that a seasoned US troop in Iraq would have. However, I have been shooting in the desert for short periods of time, with dust/dirt blowing around and getting in the weapon. It has never been a problem for me, but I always keep my weapons well lubed.

Eric and Libby said...

I never had a problem with my M-4 in Iraq, and I actually kept the lube lighter than it probably should have been. I focused on lubing the Bolt carrier and bolt and never had any issues. Cleaning only consisted of wiping the dust out every few days and re-lubing. Of course this was low intensity conflict with low round counts. The guys in Afghanistan likely run their guns a lot harder.

Eric and Libby said...

Drew, I have found that in general soldiers keep their weapons under-lubed because they are paranoid about attracting sand and dust, thus making cleaning more difficult. This is a dangerous misnomer that needs to be corrected with better instruction on what components need to remain heavily lubed (the BCG).

Travis said...

What kind of weather conditions were you shooting in?

When I was qualing with my "new" M-4 before I went to Afghanistan it was raining strongly and I probably only put about 500ish rounds through it I started to have malfunctions, mainly FTFs.

I did clean it and lube it the night before we went out there. That's been my only experience with any sort of failure.