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If you’re a proud owner of a Colt AR-15, you know that proper maintenance is key to ensure its longevity and optimal performance. In this article, I’ll guide you through the steps of cleaning your Colt AR-15.

Cleaning a firearm might seem daunting if you’re not familiar with the process. But don’t worry, I’ll break it down into manageable steps. From disassembling to reassembling the rifle, we’ll cover it all.

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Cleaning Materials

Before embarking on your Colt AR-15 cleaning mission, you’ll need to equip yourself with the right cleaning materials. It’s as crucial as the cleaning process itself, because the correct materials provide more efficient and effective results.

First, you’ll require a gun-cleaning solvent. Avoid using petroleum-based solvents as they could damage your rifle’s components. Instead, consider solvents specifically designed for guns, they do an excellent job of removing powder residue and grime.

Secondly, you’ll need high-quality gun oil. This is used after the solvent, helping to lubricate, protect, and prevent rusting of your rifle’s parts. A good rule to remember is that solvents clean, while oils protect. So don’t mix them!

Cleaning Tools

You’ll also require specific tools to clean your Colt AR-15:

  • Gun Cleaning Rods: These are used to clean the firearm’s barrel. Ensure to invest in a high-quality set that won’t damage the barrel’s interior.
  • Brushes & Patches: These will help you scrub off and pick up dirt and residue. Make sure to have brushes with both nylon and bronze bristles.
  • Gun Cleaning Mat: This aids you in keeping everything organized while you’re working, protects your work surface, and prevents small parts from getting lost.

The list could go on to include additional items depending on your cleaning routine. However, the mentioned essentials cover the base. You can find most of these materials in a gun cleaning kit, which may be a smart and convenient purchase if you’re just starting out.

Being well-prepared not only ensures a smooth cleaning process but also guarantees the longevity of your weapon. Now, with your cleaning materials in place, you’re all set to move to the next step of disassembling your Colt AR-15. Stay tuned to our next section, where we’ll cover the disassembly process in detail.

Step 2: Inspect the Firearm for any Obstructions or Damage

Before you even think about cleaning your Colt AR-15, it’s pertinent to first inspect the firearm thoroughly. You’re looking for any signs of obstruction, damage, or wear that could interfere with your cleaning or, worse, affect the gun’s functionality.

Start by examining the exterior of the gun. Do you see any noticeable damage, corrosion, or anything out of the ordinary? This visual scan provides a birds-eye view of the overall condition of the firearm.

Next, focus on the barrels. Are there any obstructions? Sometimes, debris or even small items can lodge themselves into the barrel, creating a potentially dangerous situation if not removed. A flashlight could come in handy at this point, providing adequate illumination to spot any foreign items that could obstruct bullet travel.

It’s also vital to check for cracks or signs of wear, especially around the areas of high pressure such as the bolt and chamber. These often go unnoticed but can significantly affect the firearm’s performance, and in some cases, they may even pose safety risks.

If you discover any damage, it’s recommended to consult with a professional gunsmith immediately. While some minor issues may be within your capacity to repair, complex problems often require professional attention. Understanding the limitations of your expertise and knowing when to seek help can help you avoid causing further harm to your Colt AR-15.

Having covered all the surface checks, let’s move to the interior. This isn’t a full disassembly – that comes later. But a quick peek inside can reveal if you’re dealing with excessive dirt, grime, or residue.

Remember, thorough inspection is key to not only effective cleaning but also ensuring the longevity of your firearm. A well-maintained weapon goes hand in hand with consistent performance, so take your time during this step. The next step will discuss the disassembly process, diving deeper into the cleaning process.

Step 3: Disassemble the AR-15

With your Colt AR-15 thoroughly inspected and free of obstructions, it’s time to move on to the third critical stage; disassembling the firearm. For a comprehensive clean, I’ll guide you through this process step by step. There’s plenty of care required as incorrect disassembly can result in the loss of small components or damage to your firearm.

Start with Safety. When disassembling a firearm, the first thing you’ll want to do is ensure it’s in Safe Mode. This might seem like an apparent step, but it’s an integral part of the disassembly protocol that’s sometimes overlooked.

Quick Detach. The AR-15 rifle is built for quick and easy disassembly. Utilize this to your advantage by separating the upper and lower receivers. Apply pressure to the takedown and pivot pins to unfasten and remove the upper part.

From this point, tailoring disassembly to suit specific cleaning needs comes in handy. You may need to go as far as dismantling the bolt carrier group or simply separating the lower receiver from the upper.

For detailed cleaning, do not hesitate to pull apart the upper receiver. Unravel the bolt carrier group, carefully removing each piece in the order it’s fastened. These components are crucial to the overall function of the AR-15 rifle hence requiring special attention.

Finally, your Colt AR-15 is now disassembled and ready for the next phase. But, I’ve got to emphasize – during this entire procedure – the key is patience and being observant. Keep track of all the parts, know where each piece goes, and avoid rushing. With these in mind, you’re set for a successful cleaning and maintenance session.

Moving onto the next stage prepares us for an in-depth cleaning process. You’ll learn how to cleanse each part and re-assemble your firearm, ensuring it’s in top-notch condition. Thereafter, you’ll find that maintaining a Colt AR-15 isn’t a daunting task that’ll steer you away.

Step 4: Clean the Barrel and Chamber

Now that we’ve disassembled our Colt AR-15, let’s move on to the fun part – giving the barrel and chamber a good deep clean. This part of the rifle often gets the most residue build-up and therefore needs meticulous care. The key to successful cleaning is a systematic and detailed approach.

The first component to tackle is the barrel. I’ll start by using a bore brush that’s correctly sized for this particular firearm – a .22 caliber brush for the Colt AR-15. I’ll attach this brush to a cleaning rod and then apply bore cleaner. Note that high-quality bore cleaners are capable of effectively melting away stubborn gunpowder residue. I’ll then run the brush throughout the length of the barrel to break down the built-up grime.

Next, it’s time to focus on the chamber area. For this, I prefer using a specialized chamber brush. Using a chamber brush enables me to reach into the nooks and crannies and effectively clean out the stubborn deposits that may disrupt the firearm’s function. A good scrub with a chamber brush can significantly enhance the Colt AR-15’s performance.

You’re probably thinking we’re done with cleaning, but we’re not. After the first round of cleaning with the bore and chamber brushes, I’ll pull out my trusty cleaning patches. I’ll soak these patches in a bit of the bore cleaner, attach them to the cleaning rod, and thread them through the barrel and chamber. These patches will further help in removing any residual grime on the surface.

So there you have it – a squeaky-clean barrel and chamber waiting to reassemble. Now, bear in mind that regular maintenance, including frequent bore brushing and use of cleaning patches, helps ensure the longevity and proper functioning of your Colt AR-15. Sure, it might sound a tad bit tedious, but then again, aren’t we all here because we care about our firearms?

Stay tuned, as we’ll delve into the reassembly process in the next steps.

Step 5: Clean the Bolt Carrier Group

Continuing along with our cleaning process, it’s time to turn our attention to the bolt carrier group. This component of your Colt AR-15 is key to the proper functioning of the firearm. Failure to clean this group could result in the malfunctioning of your weapon. Let’s delve into the step-by-step process on how to maintain it properly.

Firstly, you’ll need a good quality cleaning solution. Apply some of it on the bolt carrier and let it sit for a while. This allows the solution to penetrate any residue or grime and break it apart. Don’t be too aggressive while scrubbing; a gentle approach will do the job just fine. Always remember, patience is a virtue when it comes to firearms maintenance.

Next, pick a high-quality nylon brush – it’s your best ally for this process. Use it to scrub off the grime from the bolt carrier group. Make sure to pay attention to spaces near the gas key and behind the bolt cam pin, as these areas are prone to dirt accumulation.

A key insight to note here is that cleaning the bolt carrier group isn’t a job you do once and forget. Regular maintenance is critical to the longevity of your Colt AR-15. Just like with the barrel and chamber, frequent cleaning ensures optimal performance.

Every piece of your AR-15 has a distinct role to play and their proper maintenance holds the key to a functional firearm. Let’s move on to the final cleaning step in our guide, which is cleaning the charging handle.

Step 6: Clean the Lower Receiver and Other Components

After meticulously cleaning the bolt carrier group, it’s time to turn our attention to the lower receiver and other components. Remember, thorough cleaning of these parts is crucial to keep your Colt AR-15 in optimal working condition.

The lower receiver tends to accumulate a significant amount of grime and powder residue after each use. Therefore, using a high-quality solvent can be beneficial in breaking down this residue for easy removal. Start by applying a bit of solvent to a soft nylon brush and gently scrub the areas with accumulated grime. Next, with a clean cloth, wipe off the solvent and loosened grime.

The same approach applies to the trigger group, the buffer assembly, and the magazine well. It’s essential to pay extra attention to these parts, as they’re notorious for accumulating dirt and residue. Using a nylon brush and a quality solvent can significantly improve the cleaning process.

The lower receiver extension, commonly known as the buffer tube, may also need some cleaning attention. However, a standard check for unnecessary debris should suffice for this component.

Yet another important piece to clean is the charging handle. It’s often overlooked during the cleaning process, but its maintenance is just as essential. Apply the same cleaning routine — use the nylon brush and the solvent to remove any grime, then wipe it off with a clean cloth. Always remember that regular cleaning is your Colt AR-15’s best friend.

Next, let’s dive into the procedure of reassembling the parts. Putting your Colt AR-15 back together requires careful handling and patience to ensure the firearm works flawlessly.

Step 7: Lubricate the AR-15

Now that we’ve achieved a clean Colt AR-15, our next crucial step is to lubricate it properly. This step isn’t just optional. It’s key to the functionality and longevity of your firearm. Paying careful attention to the lubrication process pays off by keeping your weapon operating smoothly and reliably.

The first thing we’ll need is a high-quality gun oil that’s specifically designed to withstand the stresses associated with firearms. In my experience, synthetic oils perform exceptionally well. It’s important that the oil won’t evaporate easily and can withstand high temperatures. Look for those that promise anti-wear and rust protection benefits.

Let’s begin with properly lubricating our bolt carrier group. You’ll want to apply a thin coat of oil to the entire outer surface of the bolt. Don’t neglect the bolt cam pin and the firing pin. While you shouldn’t overdo it here, it isn’t wrong to be slightly liberal with the application on these key components.

Moving on to the charging handle, a light coat of oil on the latch and spring assemblies will ensure effortless operation. Apply a few drops into the bolt carrier key as well and cycle the bolt a few times to distribute the oil evenly.

Lastly, the lower receiver and trigger group also merit our attention. Again, don’t douse it, but a carefully applied light coat of oil over the lower receiver components works wonders.

Continuing to Step 8, it’ll be focusing on a vital yet often overlooked part within our Colt AR-15 cleaning process. Stay tuned as we delve beyond surface-level cleaning, entering in-depth into each part’s anatomy to ensure your firearm remains reliable, durable, and accurate.

Step 8: Reassemble the AR-15

Congratulations! The most labor-intensive part of the work is done but we can’t rest just yet, we’ve got to put all the pieces back together. This might look daunting, especially if this is your first time, but don’t be intimidated. Trust me, reassembling a Colt AR-15 is less complicated than it first appears and with practice, it’ll become second nature.

Where do we start? The best place is with the parts of the firearm that received the most attention in the earlier steps.

  • Begin with the bolt carrier group. Make sure the bolt is extended before inserting it carefully into the upper receiver.
  • Next up is the charging handle. Slide that into the upper receiver, making sure it’s seated properly.
  • Once those two are in place, attach the upper receiver to the lower receiver.

It’s very rewarding to see the pieces fit back together like a well-designed puzzle! Remember, this isn’t a race. Take your time and ensure everything is in its proper place.

That completes this part of the work, but the process is far from finished. Consistent routines and preventative maintenance can make your Colt AR-15 perform like new for years to come. Now that we’ve learned the basic process of cleaning a Colt AR-15, we can delve into these additional topics that extend the lifetime and reliability of your firearm.

Next, we’ll look at some additional steps that are not part of the regular cleaning routine but also important for maintaining your firearm. In an upcoming part of the guide, I’ll share tips on how to store your weapon properly, advice for preventing common issues, and what to look out for in terms of potential wear and tear. Remember, every firearm is unique and discovering and understanding these details is a vital aspect of firearm ownership.

Stay tuned for what’s coming next! It’s no conclusion, but it’s a promise for more useful and detailed knowledge.

Step 9: Perform a Function Check

Now that your AR-15 is reassembled, it’s time to test its goodness. Is it fully operational? Can the gun hold up under the pressures of use? That’s what we’re looking into in step nine — performing a function check. But remember, safety always comes first. Make sure the firearm is fully unloaded before you begin.

Initially, double-check to ensure the firearm is unloaded. This involves removing the magazine and pulling back the charging handle to visually inspect the chamber. If there’s any doubt, err on the side of caution and recheck.

Next comes the three-step safety function check which mainly revolves around the trigger’s functionality.

  1. With the safety selector switch in the “SAFE” position, pull the trigger. You should not be able to pull it back.
  2. Now shift the safety selector switch to “FIRE”, and pull the trigger once. Hear that click? That’s what you want.
  3. Keeping the trigger depressed, cycle the charging handle. Release the trigger — it should reset with a click.

Are you hearing the right sounds? Is your firearm responding as it should? Great, that’s exactly what you’re looking for. If anything seems off, revist the reassembly section, and ensure everything is placed correctly.

To really ensure your gun’s fit and finish, take this function check out to the range. There, you’ll get to see how your freshly cleaned Colt AR-15 performs under more realistic conditions. It’s wise to run through a couple of magazines to make sure everything is functioning properly.

Yes, it adds more dirt and gunk to your firearm, but remember, you’re now an expert in cleaning your Colt AR-15. You can handle it.

Your hard work will pay off when you can trust your firearm to function correctly. That faithfulness, reliability, and longevity are in large part due to the preventative maintenance you’ve now mastered. As we move forward, I’ll explain how proper storage can enhance the lifespan of your gun.


So, there you have it. You’ve now got the know-how to clean your Colt AR-15 effectively and perform a function check to ensure it’s working properly. Remember, it’s crucial to trust that your firearm will respond as expected, especially when you need it most. Don’t forget to take your function check to the range for a real-world test. This isn’t just about cleanliness, it’s about safety and reliability too. Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll delve into proper storage practices to prolong your gun’s lifespan. Armed with this knowledge, you’re well on your way to becoming a Colt AR-15 maintenance pro.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the purpose of a function check after cleaning a Colt AR-15?

A: A function check ensures that the firearm is functioning correctly after reassembly, verifying that all components are in the proper working order.

Q: How can I perform a function check on my Colt AR-15?

A: To perform a function check, ensure the firearm is unloaded and follow a three-step process: 1) Verify the safety selector is working properly, 2) Check the trigger action for proper reset and reset function, 3) Test the bolt catch and release.

Q: Why is it important to take the function check to the range?

A: Taking the function check to the range allows for a more realistic test of the firearm’s performance and ensures that it functions correctly in a variety of shooting scenarios.

Q: Why should I trust my Colt AR-15 to function correctly?

A: Trusting your firearm to function correctly is crucial for safety and reliability during use. A proper function check and regular maintenance will help ensure that your Colt AR-15 performs as expected.

Q: What will be covered in the upcoming topics on proper storage?

A: The upcoming topics on proper storage will provide guidance on how to store your Colt AR-15 to enhance its lifespan, including tips on temperature control, humidity management, and securing the firearm. Stay tuned for more valuable information.