View Full Version : How often to clean an AR?

October 8, 2012, 09:29 AM
How often do you guys clean your rifles with production target ammo like Federal ball or what not? Another way to put this is how many rounds do they typically run before malfunctions begin due to maintenance or lack thereof. Thanks.

October 8, 2012, 09:53 AM
As an experiment, I once fired 600 rounds (over several months) without cleaning my rifle and had no issues. It's made by Olympic Arms.

Nonetheless, I clean it after I use it. Habit.

October 8, 2012, 09:57 AM
If I'm going to be shooting it regularly for a few weeks I don't clean it. And I shoot cheap and dirty eastern block steel. Never one issue, several thousands of rounds all in all through the gun. If I shoot and know it'll be a few weeks till I go out again ill clean it.

October 8, 2012, 10:17 AM
I occasionally run a bore snake down the barrel and wipe the NiB BCG off with a paper towel. No nook and cranny scrubbing like when I was in the service. As a matter of fact I put her away wet and dirty simply because I know it would pi$$ off MSgt Murray. ;)

Metal god
October 8, 2012, 10:59 AM
All my guns get clean with in 48 hrs of using them . Not cus 48 hrs means anything other then to me . 2 reasons for this . 1) I love cleaning and or just working on my guns . 2) If I don't clean them with in that time I'll forget and never clean them .

As for my ARs I'm not sure how long it takes me per rifle . If I were to put a # on it i'd say 30 min per rifle . I like to take my time that way I make sure I get in to every nook and crany . When I'm done they are pristine ,lubed up with grease or slip 2000 EWL 30 . I like to use the thick stuff so there is less evaporation and run off While sitting in the safe for long periods of time .

By doing that I know I can at any moment grab one and know it's ready to go that 600 rounds others have talked about . You never know when you may have to go that distance and to already have 5 or 6 hundred rounds worth of dirty in it does not sit well with me .

That pretty much goes for all my guns . All though I have skipped cleaning when I was going to be shooting my 22lr in the next day or so . I'm not as picky about my 22lr but when they get cleaned thay get the same treatment as all my guns .

October 8, 2012, 12:17 PM
That's always been my motto. Now how thoroughly I clean and lube varies with the amount and type of ammo I've been shooting. Remember that part of cleaning is inspecting for problems and fixing them as necessary. This ensures the gun will continue to operate.

An AR should go many thousands of rounds without cleaning or lubing. But why do it? The only time such a situation should occur is when a band of bad guys is chasing you around in some hellhole. Remember that dirt mixed with oil and grease becomes, over time, nothing more than lapping paste that will in fact wear away the surfaces.

October 8, 2012, 12:56 PM
If you are going to be shooting it all the time then its up to you to decide when to clean it. If you are using cheap or known corosive ammo (Tul; Brown Bear, etc) then its best to clean after each use.

I have been shooting my rifle every week as of late; I do a minor strip after each firing and run the bore snake. otherwise i only do a detail strip and clean every month or so.

October 8, 2012, 01:42 PM
The reason I ask is I cleaned it before i ever shot it, then after the first five, then again after 25 more I think. Then ran about 200 rounds through it. It stove piped only once the other day at the end of that 200 rounds so I was wondering if it was due to needing it. This is my first AR and my ex marine corp buddy said it happens, don't worry about it. I thought it a little odd so I figured I would ask.

Metal god
October 8, 2012, 01:55 PM
Yep it happens . The other day I had 2 failers to fire and 3 feed jams in one 10 round mag . It was the first mag of the day . I did nothing to the gun just loaded the next mag and all was good .Put another 200 rounds through it that day with out one problem . Boy I'll tell you what . Those first ten shots had me thinking there was something very wrong with my gun . I never realy found out what the problem was . I think it was the mag . I've been having problems with the two older 20 round PMAGS I have . I did not use either one again that day .

October 8, 2012, 02:39 PM
Now that I think about it I was using a used mag someone gave me that day. Can't remember which one I was using that day. More will be revealed!

October 8, 2012, 04:49 PM
Some of them... I only clean them when they stop working.

The one I keep for home defense... I will up keep that a little more often.. they don't need to be as clean as you think... I run BCM uppers and BCG's on mine, they seem to keep on ticking no matter what I do to them.

When I DO decided to clean them.. I bring them into the parts washer at work for an other night bath... let them dry.. air hose them off.. then generally cover them with EEZOX. Seems to work great.:D

October 8, 2012, 05:19 PM
I dont clean them that often. about every 3rd or 4th time out. And I typically fire 200-300 rounds per outting. Cleaning that 22 cal barrel is a pain. So I get lazy with my ARs. I always carry a 22 boresnake with my ARs for fouling but ive never had to use it in the middle of a session

October 8, 2012, 08:05 PM
"A lot gun bores have been ruined by too much cleaning."
I wonder if it's true that you can scrub the bore too much. It's probably like everything, the middle ground is probably the safe way. It also helps to use good technique when cleaning.

October 8, 2012, 08:16 PM
I clean my rifle after each time I shoot it. I love cleaning them though. :)

p loader
October 8, 2012, 08:57 PM
Typically I'll clean no more than a day or two after shooting. If I shoot during the week and know I'll be shooting on the weekend I'll just toss some CLP on the bolt and wait until after the weekend to clean it.

My largest infraction was waiting a week to clean it after I shot almost 2k rounds one weekend.

It still works.

October 8, 2012, 09:12 PM
I clean my rifle after each time I shoot it. I love cleaning them though.

Ditto. It's not always a white glove cleaning but I always at least run a patch down the barrel, wipe off/re-lube BCG, and clean the chamber. Every 500 rounds or so I white-glove it.

October 9, 2012, 06:04 AM
I dont think ive EVER white gloved mine. Im lazy

October 9, 2012, 07:06 AM
I try and clean my AR every time I use it, but I've spent a week out in the bush with my AR, kayaking there and back, covered in mud, dirt in the workings and I didn't clean it until I got home. Swam with it through a river and 3 days camping and didn't clean it until I got home. Overnight in -10 weather sitting on ice and snow and didn't worry about cleaning it until I got home... During all those trips I used the rifle and it never once failed to work. HOWEVER... When it got all muddy the first couple shots I had to manually charge the rifle.

Now I know I'm just saying more about reliability, but I didn't have to clean it and it was fine. If you keep it well oiled you don't have to clean it as often, but after long storage clean it and make sure you oil the hell out of it, after heavy use, and if you can after every shoot. Not required for it to still work usually. My gun shoots best when it's not got a lot of oil in it so if you oil the hell out of the gun make sure you clean the hell out of the gun.

October 9, 2012, 07:09 AM
Interesting opinions here and good info -- I can chime in with those that do it because of habit & training. JIMBO

October 9, 2012, 12:22 PM
More AR failures can probably be attributed to mag problems than anything else. If a mag acts up, ditch it. Mags also require some cleaning occasionally.

October 9, 2012, 01:27 PM
I'm with SFW and Plouffedaddy...I enjoy cleaning so I clean every time after shooting.

Coltman 77
October 9, 2012, 03:32 PM
You can run em dirty and wet but not dirty and dry.

Having said that, I usually clean them after every range trip. ;)

October 9, 2012, 03:49 PM
Google "Filthy 14." It basically shows that you don't ever need to clean it as long as you keep it well lubed. Having said that, I'll clean mine after every time I shoot it.

p loader
October 9, 2012, 05:20 PM
I dont think ive EVER white gloved mine. Im lazy

Or just practical. Do you tear down your motor and rebuild it every time you change the oil in your car?


October 9, 2012, 05:40 PM
Just run a bore snake through the barrel for a hundred rounds or so. Clean the bolt with a brush and rag and relube. Maybe a major cleaning every six months or so.

October 10, 2012, 07:11 AM
Can any servicemen here tell us what the military recommends for AR/M4 cleaning?

Metal god
October 10, 2012, 07:17 AM
Sorry Im not in the military but its my understanding they clean them every chance they get . Seeing how there lives really do depend on them and we all just act like ours do .

October 10, 2012, 12:29 PM
Can any servicemen here tell us what the military recommends for AR/M4 cleaning?

Sure. Warning: this process will likely make you shake your head a lot...

In both the USAF and US Army units I've been in we clean the rifle for at least 2 days prior to turn in (or every time after firing). This is in a garrison/training environment. Your supervisor will go over the weapon at some point in the process and say something like 'you missed here..., focus on the star chamber, ect....' Then once it's clean we completely strip the rifle of any CLP :eek:. The reason for this is that the CLP will continue to break down any carbon residue it encounters and when you go to turn it in to the arms room or weapons pool (unit depenant) it will appear to be 'dirty' from the CLP further doing what its' designed to do---i.e. clean the carbon residue. Then they're stored until used again.

When deployed most guys break down the rifle every day and wipe out any dirt/sand that got in there and re-lubricate.

October 10, 2012, 06:35 PM
Can any servicemen here tell us what the military recommends for AR/M4 cleaning?
I don't know what they teach now, but I'm pretty sure it hasn't changed. When I went through Basic training we had to clean the M16 immediately upon return to the barracks, before we could turn them in to the arms room. The only exception was night firing, then we had to do it after PT and breakfast.

With family and all, I'm not as compulsive as I used to be. I've been known to let a firearm wait as long as 2 days before I clean it.

You have to understand that my first gun was an M-16 and I was 17 in the summer of '72 when going through Basic. I enjoyed shooting the breeze with the other guys after a day at the range talking sh**t and wondering what 'Nam was going to be like. Fortunately, I went to Germany.

Now that I'm 58, when I sit down to clean pistol/rifles the smell of the solvent and the feel of metal brings back memories of those days. So for me cleaning guns is a fun and a trip down memory lane.

October 10, 2012, 06:50 PM
It depends on how often you shoot your AR and how many rounds per session. I've gone as long as 2months without cleaning (haven't cleaned my Spikes M4 in that long), I just keep it well lubed and it runs fine.

then again I also have multiple rifles so not one AR gets used too much...

Strafer Gott
October 10, 2012, 07:11 PM
LSA, IIRC smelled like Ballistol that'd gone south. Anyway, that's what I'm using. It seems to give the "dry look" we go for better than LSA ever did,which always left an organic fat molecule that would emerge under high intensity inspection. You'll laugh, but we would take them in the showers to steam them. That's some serious chickenstuff, and that all went away at Oakland, praise Jesus!

October 11, 2012, 01:03 AM
I did an urban assault course in the army and over the course of the range week put about 3000rds through my M4. We were instructed specifically to not clean, just apply the issue breakfree CLP 1-2x per day. Supposed to build confidence in your weapon. I never had a stoppage and can't recall anyone else complaining either.

October 11, 2012, 12:51 PM
I had a similar experience with two of the Army's Asymetric Warfare Group classes I went to. We used a 50m zero and never cleaned the guns. You should have seen the crusty old guys go nuts! :eek:

October 11, 2012, 06:20 PM
With ARs I run a bore snake thru them after a range trip. Then if I'm shooting on a regular basis, every month or so, I'll generally clean them after every couple of range trips. I usually fire 200 to 400 rds per outing for 223 and 40 to 100 rds of 308 per trip. I used to be one of the "clean it every time you shoot it" guys. But with today's metals and coatings they really don't need to be cleaned every trip out, unless your using corrosive ammo. I do take out the BCG and oil them up before each shooting.

With my 1911s I do usually do a light cleaning after every trip as these are my EDC and home defense go to guns. After a couple of range trips, I break out the spray cleaners, Hoppe's, patches, all the cleaning gear, and give them a full cleaning. But I only field strip them, I don't do a complete strip down to the frame. With spray cleaners there's no reason to do a complete tear down, IMO. You can do more damage than good tearing them down all the time. YMMV:D