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Ultimate Guide: Cleaning and Disassembling AR-15 Platform Firearms

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about cleaning and disassembling AR-15 platform firearms. We will provide you with step-by-step instructions and a video demonstration on how to properly take apart and clean these firearms. Additionally, we will give you some historical context about the AR-15 platform, including its various manufacturers and models. By the end of this guide, you will have a comprehensive understanding of how to maintain and care for your AR-15 platform firearms.

Ultimate Guide: Cleaning and Disassembling AR-15 Platform Firearms

Introduction to AR-15 Platform Firearms

The AR-15 platform is a highly versatile and popular firearm used by many enthusiasts and professionals. This platform has gained immense popularity due to its modularity and adaptability. The AR-15 is available in various manufacturers and models, with each offering unique features and capabilities. In this ultimate guide, we will delve into the importance of cleaning and disassembling AR-15 platform firearms, providing step-by-step instructions and valuable tips for maintenance.

Importance of Cleaning and Disassembling AR-15 Platform Firearms

Cleaning and disassembling AR-15 platform firearms regularly is crucial for several reasons. Let’s explore the importance of these maintenance practices in detail:

Enhances Firearm Performance

Cleaning your AR-15 platform firearm improves its performance by removing dirt, debris, and residue that may hinder its functionality. A clean firearm ensures smooth operation, reliability, and accuracy, allowing you to shoot with confidence.

Extends Lifespan

Proper cleaning and disassembly of your AR-15 platform firearm helps to extend its lifespan. Regular maintenance prevents the accumulation of rust and corrosion, which can cause irreversible damage to critical components. By taking care of your firearm, you ensure that it remains functional and operational for a long time.

Ensures Safety

Safety is paramount when it comes to firearms. Regular cleaning and disassembly of the AR-15 platform firearm allow you to inspect and identify potential issues or wear on essential parts. By addressing these concerns promptly, you mitigate the risk of malfunctions, misfires, or accidents, thereby ensuring the safety of yourself and those around you.

Prevents Malfunctions

AR-15 platform firearms can experience malfunctions if not properly maintained. Failing to clean and disassemble your firearm can lead to the build-up of carbon fouling, which can hinder the proper cycling of the action. This can result in failures to eject or feed ammunition, negatively impacting the reliability of your firearm. Regular cleaning prevents such malfunctions and keeps your AR-15 platform firearm in optimal working condition.

Ultimate Guide: Cleaning and Disassembling AR-15 Platform Firearms

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Tools and Materials Required

Before diving into the cleaning and disassembly process, it’s essential to gather the necessary tools and materials. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

Cleaning Kit

A firearm-specific cleaning kit is vital for thorough cleaning. Look for a kit that includes brushes, rods, patches, and other tools specifically designed for AR-15 platform firearms.

Gun Oil

Gun oil is essential for lubricating and protecting the various components of your AR-15 platform firearm. It helps reduce friction, prevents rust, and ensures smooth operation.


Different brushes, such as a toothbrush or nylon brush, are required to clean specific parts of the firearm, including the barrel, chamber, and bolt carrier group.


Lint-free cloths or patches are necessary for wiping down components and ensuring a clean surface.

Safety Equipment

Don’t forget to wear safety glasses and gloves to protect yourself from solvents, debris, and any potential accidents during the cleaning and disassembly process.

Now that you have the necessary tools and materials, let’s move on to the step-by-step guide to disassembling and cleaning your AR-15 platform firearm.

Step-by-step Guide: Disassembling AR-15 Platform Firearms

Before starting with the disassembly process, always ensure that your firearm is unloaded. Safety is of utmost importance.

Unload the Firearm

Remove the magazine and visually inspect the chamber to ensure that there is no ammunition present.

Remove Rear Takedown Pin

Depress the rear takedown pin on your AR-15 platform firearm and pull it out to release the upper and lower receivers.

Separate Upper and Lower Receivers

Gently separate the upper and lower receivers. Be sure to hold the firearm securely during this step to avoid any accidental drops or damage.

Remove Bolt Carrier Group

Push the takedown pin located near the front of the firearm to pivot the upper receiver upwards. Slide the bolt carrier group and charging handle out of the upper receiver.

Detach Charging Handle

Pull the charging handle backwards until it disengages from the upper receiver. Carefully remove it from the firearm.

Disassemble Bolt Carrier Group

Disassemble the bolt carrier group by removing the cam pin, firing pin, and bolt. This will allow you to clean the individual components thoroughly.

Clean and Lubricate Individual Components

Using cleaning brushes, remove any carbon fouling or debris from the bolt carrier group components, including the bolt, firing pin, and cam pin. Apply gun oil to lubricate these parts before reassembly.

Now that you’ve successfully disassembled your AR-15 platform firearm, let’s proceed to the cleaning process.

Ultimate Guide: Cleaning and Disassembling AR-15 Platform Firearms

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Step-by-step Guide: Cleaning AR-15 Platform Firearms

Cleaning your AR-15 platform firearm requires attention to detail. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure a thorough cleaning:

Clean Barrel and Chamber

Attach a cleaning rod to a bore brush and insert it into the chamber. Push the brush through the barrel, ensuring that it passes through completely. Repeat this process several times, then follow up with cleaning patches until they come out clean.

Clean Upper and Lower Receivers

Use a brush and solvent to clean the upper and lower receivers thoroughly. Pay close attention to areas where carbon fouling may accumulate, such as the bolt catch and charging handle slot.

Clean Bolt Carrier Group

Using a brush or cleaning tool, remove any carbon build-up from the bolt carrier group components, including the bolt itself, firing pin, and cam pin. Wipe all surfaces clean with a cloth or cleaning patches.

Inspect and Clean Other Components

Inspect the trigger group, stock, and handguard for any debris or fouling. Use a brush or cloth to clean these components as necessary.

Apply Lubrication

After cleaning, apply a thin coat of gun oil or lubricant to all moving parts of the AR-15 platform firearm. This ensures proper functioning and protects against rust and corrosion.

Reassembling AR-15 Platform Firearms

Now that your AR-15 platform firearm is clean, it’s time to reassemble it. Follow these steps:

Attach Charging Handle

Insert the charging handle into the upper receiver and slide it forward until it engages properly.

Assemble Bolt Carrier Group

Place the bolt, cam pin, and firing pin back into the bolt carrier group and ensure they are properly aligned. Insert the bolt carrier group and charging handle back into the upper receiver.

Reassemble Upper and Lower Receivers

Align the upper and lower receivers and push them together until the rear takedown pin locks in place.

Insert Rear Takedown Pin

With the upper and lower receivers properly aligned, insert the rear takedown pin to secure them together.

Perform Function Checks

After reassembly, perform function checks to ensure proper operation. Check the safety selector, trigger pull, and bolt carrier movement. If everything functions correctly, you have successfully reassembled your AR-15 platform firearm.

Ultimate Guide: Cleaning and Disassembling AR-15 Platform Firearms

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Safety Precautions

While cleaning and disassembling your AR-15 platform firearm, it is essential to observe the following safety precautions:

Always Treat Firearms as Loaded

Even when you are certain that your firearm is unloaded, adhere to the fundamental rule of treating all firearms as if they are loaded. This mindset helps maintain safety and prevents accidents.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

Cleaning solvents emit fumes that can be harmful when inhaled. Always ensure proper ventilation by working in a well-ventilated area or using an exhaust fan.

Wear Protective Equipment

Wear safety glasses and gloves to protect your eyes and hands from cleaning solvents and debris. Safety should always be a priority.

Keep Ammunition Separated

Keep ammunition in a separate area from where you are cleaning and disassembling your firearm. This helps avoid any accidental chambering or discharge.

Tips and Tricks for Effective Cleaning

To maximize the effectiveness of your cleaning routine, consider the following tips:

Use the Right Cleaning Products

Invest in high-quality cleaning products specifically designed for AR-15 platform firearms. Using the correct solvents, lubricants, and brushes ensures optimal cleaning and protection of your firearm.

Follow Manufacturer Guidelines

Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly. Each AR-15 platform firearm may have specific requirements, and following these guidelines will ensure proper maintenance and functionality.

Regular Maintenance Schedule

Create a regular maintenance schedule for your AR-15 platform firearm. Set aside dedicated time intervals to clean and disassemble your firearm, based on usage and environmental factors.

Avoid Over-lubrication

While lubrication is essential, excessive oil or grease can attract dust, dirt, and debris, potentially causing malfunctions. Apply lubrication sparingly, ensuring that all moving parts are adequately coated.

Ultimate Guide: Cleaning and Disassembling AR-15 Platform Firearms

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Common Mistakes to Avoid

To avoid potential issues and ensure a successful cleaning and disassembly process, watch out for the following common mistakes:

Disregarding Safety Measures

Always prioritize safety and adhere to safety precautions. Ignoring safety measures can lead to accidents or injuries.

Using Incorrect Cleaning Techniques

Educate yourself on proper cleaning techniques and use the recommended tools and solvents. Incorrect cleaning methods can damage the firearm or decrease its reliability.

Incomplete Disassembly

Ensure you fully disassemble your AR-15 platform firearm according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Incomplete disassembly may hinder your ability to clean critical parts thoroughly.

Improper Lubrication

Applying too much or too little lubrication can affect the performance and reliability of your firearm. Achieve the right balance by following the manufacturer’s guidelines.


Regular cleaning and disassembly of AR-15 platform firearms are vital for maintaining optimal performance, extending their lifespan, ensuring safety, and preventing malfunctions. By following the step-by-step guide and incorporating the tips and tricks provided, you can confidently clean and disassemble your AR-15 platform firearm. Remember to prioritize safety and adhere to manufacturer guidelines to keep your firearm in top-notch condition. With proper maintenance, your AR-15 platform firearm will continue to serve you reliably and efficiently.

Ultimate Guide: Cleaning and Disassembling AR-15 Platform Firearms

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