A quick clean takes care of the essentials, which maintains the system between deep cleans. For now, we are foregoing a full teardown and just making sure the bolt carrier group, or BCG, is good and the internals are free of dirt and debris. A quick clean can be done right at the range and shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. This is a good, simple habit that will ensure your rifle stays well maintained and ready for more use.
First things first: make sure there is no ammunition in the cleaning area and the firearm is unloaded.
1. Pop out the rear takedown pin so that the upper and lower split. It will hinge open to give you access to the BCG.
2. Pull out the BCG and the charging handle.
3. The BCG is the heart of the AR, so make sure it is well maintained. Wipe it down until all the carbon buildup has been removed. To get a little deeper, pull out the cam pin and remove the bolt assembly. Wipe off carbon buildup and inspect the gas rings for wear. While you have access to the gas rings, check to make sure they are in proper alignment. The gaps should not be lined up.
4. Pull the retaining pin to release the firing pin and clean it.
5. Reassemble the BCG and lightly oil it.
6. Wipe down all the surfaces inside the lower receiver and upper receiver to remove dirt and debris. If there is a decent carbon buildup, a brush will break it up.
7. To get a little deeper, take a chamber brush and work over the star chamber. This does not need to be done for every quick clean.
8. Pay attention to the Fire Control Group, or FCG. It might need a brushing to remove debris. Make sure there are no cracks in the hammer.
9. Lube the bolt guide rails in the lower receiver.
10. Drop the BCG and charging handle into the upper.
11. Push the rear takedown pin back into place.
12. Wipe down the exterior with a lightly oiled cloth to prevent any rust and remove debris.
13. Function test your rifle by racking the bolt and making sure the trigger functions.
Now you’re good to go!
Quick cleans are great because it’s an easy habit to get into to ensure your AR is maintained and gets regular wear inspections. Get into the habit of quick cleans, and you’ll have a reliable AR. For your once or twice a year deep cleans, consider an ultrasonic bath.