Easiest to clean/maintain 5.56 ( .223) semi-auto rifle?


October 13, 2005, 04:42 PM
OK, I’m not trying to start another “which is best” thread. But based on your own experience, which reliable semi-automatic rifle(s) on the market today, available in 5.56mm NATO (Remington .223) is easy to clean and maintain? By easy to clean I mean can be cleaned quickly with few or no tools, and does not have to be cleaned spotless to work reliably. Also, only has to be cleaned after it is shot; does not have to be periodically cleaned if it is just sitting on the rack, in order to fire correctly when you do shoot it.

(If you are thinking I’m lazy you are right. I want to spend time shooting not cleaning.)

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October 13, 2005, 04:52 PM
Sounds like a Mini-14 to me.

October 13, 2005, 04:54 PM

Mine is almost never spotless. It is pretty easy to clean, as everything breaks down and opens up easily. The only "hard" part are the lugs and the lug recesses (right term?), and that's not very hard at all.

It runs fine, even if dirty.

I know, you're about to have 1,000 people chime in that the AR must be spotless and is a PITA to clean, but I think the opposite is true. I must have one of those magic ones.

Another would be the SAR-# in .223 ... It certainly will run filthy, and AKs are pretty easy to clean.


October 13, 2005, 05:56 PM
The AK pattern rifle is available in 5.56 yaknow?

October 13, 2005, 06:33 PM
Well, my Saiga .223 is dead reliable, surprisingly accurate, and requires no tools to breakdown and clean. For that matter, you can be as lazy as you want about cleaning it and it will still work just fine.

I imagine that you'd get the same results from a 5.56/.223 Vepr.

October 13, 2005, 07:19 PM
Kel-Tec SU16, no direct gas impingement (similar to the AK's). I've never cleaned an AK so can't really compare. My SU16 however is a breeze.

October 13, 2005, 07:30 PM
My AK-101 is easy to clean but doesn't seem to care to much if it is cleaned or not. I use mostly Wolf ammo.

October 13, 2005, 07:37 PM
I agree with browningguy. 1,100 rounds of factory ammo thru my Su-16CA so far. I only clean the barrel after each range session.

October 13, 2005, 08:54 PM
I have to agree with Coronach. While I do believe the bolt needs to be cleaned on an AR and do it every time I shoot it, the rifle is super easy to clean (especially the models with chrome lined barrels), requires no tools to field strip and easily breaks in half with just the push of a pin. I often clean mine with nothing more than a small bottle of CLP, a boresnake, a rag and a toothbrush, all which fits in the buttstock compartment. I actually love cleaning my ARs.

The only rifle I like cleaning at much is my Imbel FAL, but I hate cleaning the gas tube.

Personally, I think AKs are annoying to clean. The bolts and the top cover are a pain to get back together.

October 13, 2005, 09:02 PM
Armalite AR-180.

October 13, 2005, 09:06 PM
The AR-180 is extremely clean.

October 13, 2005, 10:04 PM
Well, I'm usually saying Mini-14's better than AR-15, but in the case of cleaning, I think each has strengths and weaknesses inherent in their designs.

Mini-14 strips/reassembles a lot like a Garand or M-14. Easy to clean and lube.

AR-15 strips and reassembles easily enough. One thing I remember for sure though is if an AR is stored for a long period, the steel and aluminum can weld itself together so you have a brick. This is assuming it's not lubed with the right type product prior to storage.

That said, I'll stick with my Mini-14.

October 13, 2005, 10:37 PM
H&k Sl8

October 14, 2005, 06:12 PM
The AR-180 is extremely clean.And extremely easy to clean when it finally does get dirty.

October 14, 2005, 06:27 PM
The AR-15 is very easy to clean as long as you don't shoot crazy russian ammo with primer sealant wax. What a mess.

October 14, 2005, 07:09 PM
Can the Mini-14's barrel be cleaned with a rod from the breach? That's the only real flaw I see in the M14/M1A (and Garand) receiver design.

October 14, 2005, 08:23 PM
Regarding not being able to clean from the breach, check out Otis cleaning kits.


The Otis system is a stiff cable flexible enough to get rod-like performance from the breach end of a Garand-type action.

Dave Markowitz
October 14, 2005, 08:58 PM
Of the 5.56mm rifles I've owned, I'd rank them in this order:

1. Mini-14
2. AR-180B
3. AR-15

The Mini-14 action is very simple and easy to field strip and has few sub-assemblies. It also has no small, easy-to-lose parts like the cotter pin holding in an AR-15's firing pin. Like an M1, you cannot clean a Mini-14 from the breech with a rigid cleaning rod, but you can do so with an Otis kit.

The AR-180B is extremely clean shooting. I was amazed at how little gunk made it back into the reciever, virtually nothing. There was surprisingly little carbon under the handguard where the gas was vented. However, if junk (e.g. mud) were to get inside the receiver it would be harder to clean out than a Mini-14, especially if it got into the locking lug recesses.

Field stripping the AR-15 requires removal of a couple of small parts, e.g., the aforementioned cotter pin and the bolt cam (forget exact nomenclature). THAT SAID, cleaning an AR-15 is NOT the horrific exercise that many make it out to be, and my current SHTF rifle is a box-stock Colt AR-15A3 Tactical Carbine.

However, a high-end Kalashnikov in 5.56mm, like one from Arsenal, Inc., would be the ultimate TEOTWAWKI-I-may-not-be-able-to-clean-it rifle, IMO. AKs are extremely easy to field strip, have no easy to lose small parts, and run well even if neglected.

October 14, 2005, 09:38 PM
I love to clean weapons and i love to break them down armorer style I personally like cleaning weapons almost as much as I like to shoot them. It is kinda like fore-play and after play and you can't beat that:evil:
I would say if you are hardly ever gonna clean it than the ak is the way to go, and if you want to clean a little more than hardly ever than the ar-15 is the way to go. Neither takes tools and is easy as pie. If every solider in the army can do it and all the iraqi's can take apart ak's and the like you will have no problem. So for reliability ak, accuracy ar-15. I have no experience cleaning mini-14's!

Bartholomew Roberts
October 15, 2005, 12:13 PM
The AR15 fits all of the requirements you listed (it is a military-derived weapon after all). I've cleaned and maintained an AR for over 5,000 rounds with nothing more than a t-shirt, bore snake and CLP.

However, if the AR series isn't to your liking there are also gas piston variants of the AR, the 5.56mm AK, and the AR-180. All of these are easier to maintain than an AR; but come with their own tradeoffs.

October 15, 2005, 02:12 PM
If it fits the thread then HK G36 (and SL-8 with same action), very clean action, only things that gets dirty are barrel and inside of forearm as the gas is vented there. The bastard is ment to be going many THOUSANDS of rounds without cleaning. And dead reliable. HK says that they have a G36K that has been fired 25 000 times without cleaning and NO failures. How much tougher can one go?

Can't praise the damned thing enough.

November 1, 2007, 03:47 AM
I saw something on the HK 416 that uses a piston to prevent what typical gas-operated weapons do, as one person had put it, "****ting where it eats." Pretty much the only thing that needs to get cleaned is that piston. If this is true and this feature is also on the SL8, it's looking more attractive to me.

November 1, 2007, 03:48 AM
Haha, pardon my French.

November 1, 2007, 04:01 AM
AR180 is the easiest to clean .223 there is, IMHO....but I still prefer the AR15 for a whole myriad of reasons. Easy to maintain, doesn't need to be either.

November 1, 2007, 08:11 AM
If I weren't so lazy,I'd go upstairs and take pictures of how much/little fouling there is in my SL8 after ~ 300 rounds on Sunday.You'd probably guess that it might have fired a magazine at most.
Of course,I think that reliability and cleanliness is one of the most over-worked topics on gun boards.Most gunny type people are anal about cleaning their centerfires and never give them the chance to truly get grungy,just look at any " how often do you clean your guns?" thread.None of the guns mentioned are in any way difficult to care for and outside of outright neglect,any military derived rifle is going to work fairly well under 99% of conditions a civilian shooter is going to use it.

November 1, 2007, 08:18 AM
Daewoo DR-200.


I've never messed with an AR-180 but it should be about the same.

November 1, 2007, 08:33 AM
The Vector V93 is quite easy to clean, and doesn't need cleaning often. No gas system. If you get the brushes from E&L, a chamber brush, and use Mpro7 solvent/cleaner, it is quite easy to clean. I can clean mine in less than 20 minutes. Bolt and carrier simply wipe clean with a damp cloth.

November 1, 2007, 09:28 AM
My personal AR's cleaning has consisted of applying more CLP to the bolt/BCG before firing and wiping down the still-assembled bolt and bolt carrier with a sock after every few firing sessions. Runs fine.

November 1, 2007, 09:34 AM
XCR because all you really need to clean is the barrel. Since the barrel comes out via a single allen bolt, cleaning it is ridiculously easy.

November 1, 2007, 09:42 AM
Any good AR-15...also had a AR-180...easy to clean....AR was more reliable though. Neither one had any more failures than my AK's have from crappy ammo...if I really think about it I'd say fewer (better ammo fed through them though...no cheap commie stuff). Dunno what they do in a desert fully of talkum powder like sand...but in Alabama they run fine a case of ammo at a time bet5ween cleanings if need be. Nobody was more surprised than me...I used to be an "AK guy" ....until I simply found a better moustrap. AK's work good to...just crappier ergonomics triggers and poor accuracy. They can probably function with far more crap in them...they have to...they shoot really crappy ammo.:D I just got to the point that AK's are fun toys...they just seem silly after you get used to a better weapon though....just my opinion....YMMV

-There is still something inherently fun about bump-firing a SAR-1 empty no AR can truly capture though...the fun factor makes both a must have for anyone that loves guns.

November 1, 2007, 10:15 AM

-There is still something inherently fun about bump-firing a SAR-1 empty no AR can truly capture though...the fun factor makes both a must have for anyone that loves guns.
However, the AR makes up for that by being capable of actually hitting stuff past 100 yards. :neener:

November 1, 2007, 10:43 AM
AK just doesn't get that dirty and is easy to clean. The tools (rod, brush) are stored on the rifle.

That illiterate 3rd world peasants can run one for years, lubricating it with chicken fat, speaks for itself. BSW

November 1, 2007, 10:48 AM
Mini 14's are stupid easy to clean unless you take the bolt out. That's when you separate the experienced Mini 14 owners from the newbies. :)

Deer Hunter
November 1, 2007, 10:59 AM
My vote goes for any AK in 5.56.

November 1, 2007, 11:10 AM
the otis kits make cleaning any gun easy. however, dont expect to get it sparkling clean. with otis, you get it down to a certain point and then just pack it up. that is because the otis just doesn't have as much friction rub as rods do with good jags.

then again, i personally own quite a few guns who were way too zealously overcleaned during their time in service and have their accuracy suffer as a result.

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