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AR-15 Maintenance: A Beginner’s Guide

Maintaining your AR-15 is crucial for ensuring its longevity, reliability, and safety. Here’s a straightforward guide for beginners, distilled from expert gunsmithing manuals.

Cleaning and Inspection

1. Safety First: Always ensure your rifle is unloaded before starting any maintenance procedure. Remove the magazine and check the chamber.

2. Disassembly: Field strip your AR-15. This usually involves separating the upper and lower receivers, removing the bolt carrier group, and taking out the charging handle.

3. Cleaning the Barrel: Use a bore brush and cleaning rod to scrub the inside of the barrel. Apply a solvent, let it sit for a few minutes, then run a clean patch through the barrel until it comes out clean.

4. Bolt Carrier Group (BCG) Maintenance: Clean the BCG thoroughly. Pay attention to the bolt, firing pin, and cam pin. Look for signs of wear or damage.

NSSF—The Firearm Industry Trade Association

5. Lubrication: After cleaning, lubricate the moving parts of your rifle, including the BCG, charging handle, and the rails of the lower receiver. Use a quality gun oil or lubricant.

Regular Checks and Replacements

6. Inspect the Gas Rings: Make sure the gas rings on the bolt are not broken or excessively worn. A simple test is to extend the bolt, stand the BCG on end, and see if it collapses under its weight. If it does, replace the gas rings.

7. Check Springs: Inspect the springs in your magazine, buffer, and extractor for signs of wear or fatigue. Replace them if they seem weak or damaged.

8. Examine the Barrel and Gas Block: Look for signs of erosion or obstruction in the barrel. Ensure the gas block is properly aligned and secured.

Final Steps

9. Reassemble and Function Check: After cleaning and inspecting, reassemble your AR-15. Perform a function check to ensure everything is working correctly.

10. Storage: Store your AR-15 in a dry and secure place. Consider using a dehumidifier in your safe or storage area to prevent rust.


Regular maintenance not only extends the life of your AR-15 but also keeps it reliable and safe to use. If you’re ever in doubt about a procedure or encounter a problem, consult a professional gunsmith. Safety should always be your top priority!

For more detailed information and expert advice, check out this comprehensive guide on AR-15 maintenance.

Rell is a network engineer with over 10 years of experience in IT management and network optimization. He has a passion for firearms and previously worked with the US military in California, where he gained knowledge and experience in the gun world. Rell is a firearm instructor and range safety officer who runs a website for gun enthusiasts, where he provides information on gun culture, safety, and maintenance.

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