Basic Rifle Marksmanship (BRM) Series- Last Step Before and After Hitting the Range

Basic Rifle Marksmanship (BRM) Series- Last Step Before and After Hitting The Range

MAN! Just let me shoot already!

Okay, but before you head out just do me this one solid. Have you ever done someone a solid? Either way… Just field strip your AR15 and clean away the packing grease/oil.

You’d be amazed at how many times this specific question comes up on gun forums by first time gun owners.

“I got this new gun. What do I do first”

Or my favorite.

New gun owner: “My new gun jammed, why?”

Old gun owner: “Did you clean it first and lube it up?”

New gun owner: “No, I don’t know how…”

So lets avoid that right from the get go and a word to the wise. Don’t over think your supplies.

What do you need?


– Cleaning rod made of plastic or brass that’s long enough to clean your barrel even if you have to go through the receiver. You’ll see way later.
– Bore brush for that caliber (an AR15 is a 22 cal brush)
– A cleaner of some kind (Personally I use Rem Oil and Breakfree CLP)
– A lead and copper remover (I use Butch’s Bore Shine but not very often)
– A crap load of patches some rags and more Q-Tips then you’d ever imagine
– A lube to finish it off (Personally I use Breakfree CLP on rifles- TW25b grease on pistols)
– Nitrile gloves (optional), I didn’t used to use them, I do now though.

You may find early on in your life with guns that you will want only the best for your prize possession. Is that Froglube, FireClean, Weapons Shield, Otis, Slip 2000, Slip 2000 EWL, Lucas, Wilson Combat Ultima LubeII, M-Pro 7 LPX, Hoppe’s, Butch’s gun Oil, Mil Com, Shooter’s Choice FP-10, Militech-1, Tetra Grease, Lubriplate, SEAL-1 CLP, Fire Clean, Breakfree CLP, Rem Oil CLP, WD-40, Mobile 1 (yes, motor oil) or any number of other cleaners and oils.

Here is the truth. People make a lot of money based on nothing more than your feelings and loyalty. That’s cool, I got nothing against that, capitalism rocks but understand this when it comes to parting with your hard earned cash. None of them are magic. Just pick one and use it. That’s it. Don’t over think it. Just pick one. I use the ones I use because I got tired of trying to over think it with no perceivable benefit to any particular brand. Breakfree CLP is cheap and works. Rem Oil I like for cleaning, it’s cheap and it works. I am not trying to break my bank on the next flavor of the month. My bottle of Butch’s Bore Shine is about 8 years old and will last another 8… I only use it if my accuracy begins to degrade.

After you’ve picked one, understand the following. Your gun doesn’t need to be cleaned as often as you think, especially your AR15. Against popular belief, your AR15 is extremely reliable, almost boringly so. Ever heard of the Filthy 14?

And now I am going to contradict myself. If you are new to firearms and the AR15, field strip it and clean it before your first range trip and after every time you shoot. Why if I said that they don’t need to be cleaned that often?

Familiarization. If you are new to this, the more hands on you can be the more familiar you will be with your firearm. The more familiar you are with your firearm the more confidence you will have with it. The better you will be able to handle it if you have a malfunction of some kind. More on this later.

The AR15 is easy so lets start.

Make sure it’s empty, clear and safe like always.

Charge it. You need the hammer cocked to remove the upper receiver.

Place on safe.

Rear take down pin. Push it. Not all the way yet.

Front take down pin. Push it. Pull it all the way out until it locks.

Now go back and pull the rear take down pin all the way out until it locks.

With one hand on the upper receiver and one hand on the lower receiver, pull them apart. It may have a springy feeling to it. That’s fine; it’s the buffer and action spring pressing against the Bolt Carrier Group (BCG). It won’t go anywhere.

Now that it’s apart put the upper to the side.

Take the lower and your favorite cleaner/CLP. Now don’t over think this. Spray the inside of the lower receiver, the Fire Control Group (FCG) specifically. Just get it wet. Don’t worry about how much. Just wet it down and wipe it off. Once you have wiped off whatever was there take your favorite lube and give it a nice coat.

Hit the springs around the hammer and the disconnector. There is a tiny little spring in there. You can feel it if you press down on it.

Now that it is nicely oiled put it off to the side and grab your upper receiver.

Pull the Charging handle out and out comes the BCG. Put those to the side for a minute and we will wipe off the inside of the upper receiver. Just spray it and wipe it out. Done.

Now for the chamber and barrel. THAT IS NOT A STAR CHAMBER, it is a Barrel Extension.

Those cutouts that give it the “Star” name are where the lugs of the bolt fit through when it is in battery. This area can drive you crazy trying to get spotless. Just stop, you wont, don’t worry about it. Just take your chamber brush and shove it in there and spin it around. Pull it out and bend some Q-Tips and wipe away what you can. Don’t fret over it.


Now for the barrel, replace that chamber brush with a bore brush and spray it or the barrel with your cleaner/CLP of choice. This next step is crucial. Always work from the breech to the muzzle. Avoid pulling the brush back through (though I do…). This is to protect the crown of the muzzle. If you ding or damage the crown you have put an imperfection in your barrel at the last place your bullet will touch as it leaves the barrel. This has the potential to cause major accuracy issues. Avoid it. Breech to muzzle.

Hit it a few times with a bare brush then swap it out to one with a small piece of cloth on it, soak it in your CLP and push it through a few times. Replace with a dry patch and give it a once through. Done. If leaving stored for an extended period of time, leave it wet with your oil of choice.

Next up and to finish this off is the Bolt Carrier Group (BCG) where you can spend a lot of time on after you shoot due to carbon build up. Good news is that this build up is self-limiting and doesn’t hinder the operation of the AR15.

I start by, you guessed it, spraying it down and then wiping it off. Then I pop the cotter pin, drop the firing pin, rotate and remove the cam and then pull the bolt out. Easy right? Now spray it all down again especially the inside of the carrier. This area will get pretty dirty after shooting. Spray it and wipe it clean. Re oil it.

The bolt face and lugs are fairly easy; it’s the tail of the bolt that collects the carbon build up. After you shoot, you’ll see it. Just spray it and SCRAPE it off, I use a knife, but that’s just me. They actually make multiple tools you can buy to scrape it clean… Clean? Good, now re oil it.

Now that everything is clean of the packing grease/oil and you now have a little knowledge of where grime builds up while shooting, re oil it all and put it back together.

You are now ready to get out and shoot and when you are done, you will know how to field strip your AR15 and clean it up nice.

I promised a funny story once you finished this up. Here it is.

A few weeks ago I get a phone call from my brother asking me if I could help him put his Mossberg 835 12ga Shotgun back together. Sure. But the catch is, he is out hunting. He somehow managed to spin a shell completely around while trying to shoot some Quail. The only way to clear it was to take his shotgun apart. So he sends me these two pictures.

I call him back to walk him through it. No luck. The 835 (500 action) can be kind of tricky to get back together. So my brother lost his hunt and his morning because he couldn’t put his shotgun back together.

The kicker here is that for the last few years he had been asking to come over to have me teach him how to field strip that 835… Well, he came over that day and we put his shotgun back together. I won’t even tell you what his job in the Navy was…

Moral of that story? I think you know.

Don’t lose your hunt, your day at the range or your life because you don’t know how you fix your gun when it counts.

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