Do you have tips to keep the AR-15 reliable?


July 2, 2006, 10:28 PM
Cleaned up my AR and took it out the other day - no misfires, no misfeeds. It does choke up after it gets dirty. A friend (Gulf Wars vet) suggested I rub the firing pin with 000 steel wool lightly to smooth it out. Do any of you have tricks like this to keep the gun cycling efficiently?

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Quintin Likely
July 2, 2006, 10:38 PM
Don't shoot junk or oddball ammo through it. Use good magazines. A friend and I ran about 600 rounds or so through my Bushmaster in an afternoon, as fast as we could load magazines without nary a hitch. It was dirty and very hot, but it functioned fine.

Bartholomew Roberts
July 2, 2006, 10:55 PM
Rubbing the firing pin with steel wool will do nothing to increase reliability. The keys to reliability are proper lube, good ammo and good magazines. An AR that works fine clean will keep running dirty as long as you keep adding CLP.

July 2, 2006, 11:03 PM
Get good magazines, with Magpul followers and good springs. Every single failure I have had with my AR (and even here it's only been a couple) have been directly related to magaznines.

I had an SA80 steel magazine that sucked so bad you couldn't even LOAD the darn thing without the follower tilting and jamming. I tried to shoot it and it jammed after two shots ... when I dropped the magazine several loose rounds fell out of the gun. :eek:

I replaced the followers on the SA80's and now they work fine.

July 2, 2006, 11:37 PM
quality mags and proper cleaning. the ONLY malfunctions i ever had in the service and as a private individual using the ar system were these issues.

Dave Rishar
July 2, 2006, 11:50 PM
Great advice above. Check the mags first; when I was tasked with troubleshooting a problematic M16, step one was to try it with a brand new magazine. That solved the problem over 90% of the time. I've heard that the mags were actually designed to be disposable one-use items; whether this is true or not, they're very fragile and they don't work right when damaged. Make sure that yours are good. This is probably the single most important factor to ensuring adequate reliability.

Read the manual. The manufacturers have a pretty good idea of how these things tick and they're the ones that write the manuals. Listen to their advice. Every manual advocates using as little lube as possible but they really mean it with the M16/AR15. Most of the weapon should be nearly dry. Most shooters (myself included) are notorious for overlubricating weapons. Too much is actually worse than too little.

As has already been mentioned, steel wooling the firing pin won't do much. If it's chromed (as it ought to be) it's harder than the wool anyway.

Speaking of which, you know all that carbon that builds up on the back of the firing pin and also the bolt? Get it off. Scrape it off if you have to; a stripper clip works well for this and isn't hard enough to damage anything. It takes a long time to get it to the point where it causes a problem but why wait? Take care of it early. It only gets worse.

When I encounter a malfunctioning AR today, it's normally operating outside of design parameters or was abused during cleaning. Don't put stuff in the gas tube. (It'll clean itself just fine, trust me.) Don't replace the buffer with something weird. Don't play with the gas port. Check that the gas tube is engaging the key on the bolt carrier properly. Make sure that the gas rings are spaced. Keep the operating system as close to what Stoner envisioned as possible; he knew what he was doing. (Imagine that.)

An M16 or AR15, with halfway decent ammunition (and Wolf is halfway decent) and a good magazine, clean and not full of sand, should be able to hit 600 rounds or so without any issues. If yours doesn't, it was built incorrectly or it's being maintained incorrectly. (Or it's full of sand.) This is coming from some guy on the internet who claims to be a former armorer. Make what you will of that.

Jay Kominek
July 2, 2006, 11:57 PM
I guess you could clean your AR if it'll make you feel better. I mostly try to stay out of the guts of mine. It is sort of disgusting in there. But it still works, thousands of rounds later.
Get good magazines, with Magpul followers and good springs. Yup. Only problems I've ever had have been directly caused by lame magazines.

Steve in PA
July 3, 2006, 12:19 AM
Rub the firing pin with steel wool? Just exactly what did this "Gulf War vet" do while in the service?

July 3, 2006, 12:29 AM

Good lube and good mags.

A little trick for cleaning carbon off all the crevices in the bolt group is dental picks. Ask your dentist, they usually have a box full where one end is boken and the other is fine. Even the ones that had a really fine point usually break where it's still thin and useful on a firearm. I asked my civillian dentist, before enlisting a few years ago, and she handed me four or five and told me her husband used them on his guns. Be careful with them and they can be very useful tools on all your guns.

July 3, 2006, 12:32 AM
AR15's were designed to be full auto weapons and should be able to handle a LOT of semi-auto shots before having a cycling problem. If you're not getting great reliability from it, call the manufacturer and see if it needs repair.

Chris Rhines
July 3, 2006, 07:41 AM
Steel wool is a great method for cleaning carbon fouling off the firing pin and bolt carrier. I don't do this myself, because every zillion rounds or so I toss the firing pin and install a fresh one, along with gas rings and extractor and ejector springs. They're cheap.

Tips to keep the AR running? High-quality parts and proper assembly, to start with. High-quality magazines with Magpul followers. Plenty of grease (not oil) on the bolt and bolt carrier. Use extra-power extractor springs from Wolff.

That's about it.

- Chris

July 3, 2006, 07:50 AM
Steve in PA - Infantry. He said that the effect was to polish the firing pin, making it more fluid in its movement. I can tell you that the rest of his gun "smarts" are right up there. I know bolt action rifles pretty well but dabble in everything else (gun wise)

Thin Black Line
July 3, 2006, 08:59 AM
A little trick for cleaning carbon off all the crevices in the bolt group is dental picks.

+1. Special emphasis on the interior of the bolt carrier.

Keep gaps on gas rings from over-lapping each other. The dental picks
are a great tool for repositioning these.

Disassemble and clean extractor/bolt face.

Clean out head-space area between chamber and lugs on barrel.

And, like everyone else said, use good aluminum GI mags.

Gary G23
July 3, 2006, 09:02 AM
The people that have reliability problems with AR's are the same ones that post threads on the internet like "What is the cheapest AR I can buy?" or "How can I build my AR the cheapest?".

First start with a good rifle. All my AR's have:
4150 barrel steel
M4 feed ramps
Nato chambers
Chrome lined barrel and chamber
M16 bolt carriers
MP tested bolts
Wolff extractor springs
Heavy buffers

Next use good magazines.
The only magazines I use are NHMTG/Okay and C Products LLC.
They all have MagPul Gen II followers.

Don't forget to use good ammo.
I only use Federal XM193 and Winchester Q3131.

Of course use proper maintenance techniques. Get a chamber brush and some chamber mops. A dirty chamber will make your reliability go downhill in a hurry.

My AR's are 100% reliable all the time.

July 3, 2006, 09:39 AM
Can't disagree with the comments. The problems I have had with my Armalite are due to crappy ammo, magazine hang ups, and cleaning.

I had trouble a year or two ago with some cheap bagged ammo I bought at a gun show. The primer casing came out of two rounds and a sliver of brass got caught in the bolt carrier causing lots of problems until I found it.

I have tried to get the best magazines, but I still occasionally have problems here. I haven't tried the C Prioducts mags yet. That is next.

After 400 or 500 rounds I had some pretty thick carbon build up around the bolt and bolt carrier. A serious cleaning session to remove all that and my rifle is as smooth as ever. Brass brushes come in real handy.

I do agree that over lubrication is bad. It won't help the rifle and only serves to help it get dirty faster. I have never before heard of using grease in the rifle.

July 3, 2006, 10:06 AM
much better (and easier!) way to get rid of carbon is to use slip 2000 carbon killer. My firing pin looks brand new after soaking in it for 20 minutes.

Phil Ca
July 3, 2006, 10:27 AM
Good magazines and lube. The dental pick idea is also good and works on just about every firearm.

July 3, 2006, 10:37 AM
The keys to reliability are proper lube, good ammo and good magazines. An AR that works fine clean will keep running dirty as long as you keep adding CLP.My rich uncle taught me this, many many years ago. I've never found a reason to doubt this advice. Keep the bolt lubed with CLP, keep the inside of the magazines relatively clean, and don't use junk ammo. Do these things, and as long as your rifle is in spec you'll likely get joy from it. No magic incantations needed.

Bartholomew Roberts
July 3, 2006, 11:04 AM
As you have noticed, some of the advice seems a bit contradictory. Just based on my limited experience in Texas, here are some things that can explain why people are getting different results with different advice:

1. You can't use just any grease on them. I've seen grease like TW25B work well. On the other hand, Tetra grease will turn into a baked on mess when the gun gets hot.

2. Running the AR wet (lots of CLP) will cause it to accumulate more gunk than running it dry. The flipside of that is with lots of CLP, it is much easier for the gunk to migrate away from critical areas of operation. There are cases of ARs going up to 7,000 rounds with no cleaning; but just adding additional lube.

A dry AR may clean up easier afterwards and have less crud in it; but it will stop running sooner in my experience. What I usually do is lube my ARs a little on the light side (to keep cleaning from being a mess) and if cycling starts to slow down during a class, I will add more lube through the ejection port to keep it running.

3. Some of the greases are great; but many suffer from the same problem mentioned above - they aren't viscous enough to allow debris to migrate away from the critical areas.

4. I never bothered to clean the carbon accumulation on the firing pin or the tail of the bolt. I can tell you it will take more than 10,000 rounds before carbon accumulation there begins to present an issue. Wiping down the tail of the bolt and firing pin in CLP will generally keep the carbon build-up self limiting.

July 3, 2006, 12:01 PM
Stay away from dirty ammo, why if your not playing in mud, is rifle getting dirty? Because of what your feeding it. Wolf and Barnaul is some of the dirtiest ammo going. Buy quality surplus, also I did not see anyone else post, clean your gastube, thats where most dirt is getting back int the guts of your rifle. Alot of people overlook this, and complain I've cleaned the bolt and the chamber and still having problems, If the gastube is clogged even partially it will tend to malfunction. I've put many a round down my AR's and never a hiccup. Buy quality parts and use quality ammo, you get what you pay for . On another forum bunch of people jumping up and down over Russian steel cased ammo from SG at $99/1000Back ordered and SG now charging $175/1000 are you crazy .175 a rd for that crap.Not me I got Surplus South American for .17 a rd delivered SG was without delivery. My point is Don't feed your AR crap thats what problem was when first AR's were introduced, change in powder gummed up works so learn from the past.

July 3, 2006, 12:03 PM

Some times nothing works. I have seen more than one thrown under a tracked veh.


July 3, 2006, 12:08 PM
"Most of the weapon should be nearly dry. Most shooters (myself included) are notorious for overlubricating weapons. Too much is actually worse than too little."

Sorry after almost 4 DECADES of using the dratted things I have come to totally disagree with that. In 1968 we were taught to use a shaving brush and dri slide everything for that resistance to the red VN dust. this only works for a couple mags of ammo IMHO. In the 70s we started greaseing them with LSA, I believe, which is not a bad grease, but after a couple hundred quick ones....:uhoh:
When CLP came out we started drenching and shaking off excess and things got about twice as good.

BUT the reports I get from real time operators AND my experience with top trainers the last few years is drenching every few hundred rounds with atf (and tooth brush/crevice tool work) is the heat! EVEN IN THE SAND BOX!
Personally I like Marvel mystery oil as most of it drains away and it really slushes dirt and removes carbon (and smells nice too!:D ) I have made many a believer by using my poly lab squirt bottle full of Marvel mystery oil on a removed bolt during a 1000 round class - and the balkiness goes away on a proper gun!:neener:

Still 2 Many Choices!?
July 3, 2006, 12:22 PM
Depending on where you stay, the climate will dictate the amount and type of lube. Here in Texas, I think we run our AR's almost dry with no problems...
650 rounds or so of Wolf laquered ammo, with IIRC, only two failures to fire.
A wet AR- can make a ,"self lubing grease", with the fouling as long as it doesn't get hot enough to burn off too much of it's lube...YMMV:) .

Like everyone said before me, good mags, ammo, and normal maintanence(not surgical cleaning though:rolleyes: ), and your AR 15 will run a helluva lot more rounds than you could comfortably carry in loaded magazines....
The only real,"trick" I know is whenever you do clean, clean your chamber back down to the chrome or steel.

Still 2 Many Choices!?

Steve in PA
July 3, 2006, 12:24 PM
The M16/AR15/M4 rifles use a free floating firing pin. You more likely to damage the firing pin than anything else. I have never, ever seen a firing pin issue in one of these rifles, outside maybe a broken tip.

Bartholomew Roberts
July 3, 2006, 01:20 PM
also I did not see anyone else post, clean your gastube, thats where most dirt is getting back int the guts of your rifle.

Generally my experience is the opposite. The pressure at the gas port is around 15,000psi in a rifle and almost 30,000psi in a carbine. I have found that blasting 15,000psi of hot gas through the tube with every shot will pretty well clean out anything that doesn't belong in there quite nicely. I've also wondered what people could possibly do or stick into a gas tube that is going to clean something out that 15,000psi of hot gas didn't get. On the other hand, I have seen rifles disabled with pipe cleaners, bore brushes, and other assorted items stuck into the gas tube to clean them.

Now the gas key is a different story, it is more open to getting debris in it and running a pipe cleaner through it and putting a drop of CLP in the key is taught as part of maintenance in the military. The gas tube itself though? I've left it alone on all of my rifles and been pleased with the results so far.

Alot of people overlook this, and complain I've cleaned the bolt and the chamber and still having problems, If the gastube is clogged even partially it will tend to malfunction.

The only instances I've seen of clogged gas tubes that didn't involve someone sticking a foreign object into them to "clean" them involved shooting a lot of low-grade surplus ammo through an AR15. Once the percentage of calcium carbonate in the powder goes past a certain number (IIIRC 1.2%) you can see calcium buildup in the gas tube that will lead to eventual clogging of the tube after several thousand rounds. If you replace the gas tube when you replace the barrel and use good ammo, or at least surplus designed for the AR15 (M193, M855), you shouldn't see that problem.

July 3, 2006, 04:38 PM
Do you have tips to keep the AR-15 reliable?
Get a Colt. Then send it to Specialized Armament Warehouse ( for their reliability package.

Our company receives constant inquiries on the precise modifications (mod’s) which create this unique upgrade. The “Reliability Package:” (RP) is a PROPRIETARY package developed at Specialized Armament (S/A) and tested around the world from 1995 to present.

The Improvements listed:

4-6 Barrel mods
3 Gas system mods
2 Bolt group mods
Upgraded buffer assy

These mods give all late model COLT (.223/5.56mm) carbines greater reliability and better overall function in a combat proven weapons system which is already world-class. Each modification is small on its own, but when grouped together, these upgrades positively affect the weapon’s performance under all conditions. No further S/A Technical Data will be released concerning this COLT Reliability Package.


1. The RP will work on all Colt Carbines (1992-present) regardless of fire contol system (Auto, Burst, 4-Way, Semi).
2. Older Colt Carbines (1960’s-1991) can also be upgraded, but require further modification before the RP work.
3. No, the RP will not work on NON-COLT “AR’s.” They are substantially different. Yes, we’ve tried it—results were #$%^#@.
4. This is not an RP for Colt Rifles. The full-size weapons require a slightly different set of mods.
5. This RP will not work on Colt 9mm SMG’s and Carbines. These blow-back operated weapons are a completely different design with their own special requirements.
6. No, The S/A Reliability Package for Colts is not available from any other source—no matter what is claimed!
7. We have installed the RP on countless Colt Carbines over the past 10 yrs and these weapons virtually never malfunction (unless the ammo is absolute garbage or the magazine fails). It’s pretty impressive. Ask around.

Lock-N-Load (Ken)

Btw, they mostly work on Colts.

We do not normally work on AR’s other than Colt for reasons concerning quality & liability. (Many of these so-called “Colt clones” will simply never function reliability.) Therefore, we cannot provide guaranteed work that meets our shop standards.
”In a nutshell” – people want to bring/ship in the most sub-standard (cheap), unbelievable, “it’s-just-as-good-as-a-Colt”, problematic black rifles with parts of unknown origin, material, design and specification – and want us to make these firearms work like highly tuned Colts. This is just not possible! We do not want to take your money to “fix” something that you/we will never be satisfied with.
Having said this – we will work on all Colt AR-15/M16 series weapons; all (real) U.S. Mil-spec M16’s (FN, Hydramatic, H & R); or any AR-type firearms that we have built, upgraded, or sold – (although there are inherent pitfalls here too if the firearm has been modified from its original configuration or was purchased as a receiver – we will try to help as best we can).
As a courtesy to Law Enforcement Agencies we will look at some “aftermarket” AR-type weapons on a very limited basis to determine reliability and/or possible repair costs. These situations need to be discussed on a case by case basis before any weapons should be shipped to us.
On a positive note – even though nearly 90% of Specialized Armament’s business is to our many discerning Law Enforcement and Government customers, we will always provide OEM quality parts, accessories, and services to private citizens who are committed to owning high quality, military grade firearms. (Ken)

AR15 deficiencies (;f=56;t=000497#000000)

Which AR (

July 3, 2006, 06:01 PM
The people that have reliability problems with AR's are the same ones that post threads on the internet like "What is the cheapest AR I can buy?" or "How can I build my AR the cheapest?".

Ah, Grasshopper, if it were only so. I have a like-new Colt Competition HBAR, that I bought in the summer of 1994 just before the AWB went into effect. It's been a royal pain in the backside, having gone back to Colt already for a canted barrel/front sight assembly. If one knows anything about those pre-ban Colts, they weren't the cheapest AR on the market, more like the premium model of the day, with 1"+ heavy barrel under the handguards, 1-9" twist, and removable carry handle. The rifle will only function well when meticulously clean and generously lubed with CLP or LSA. Even then, it will often choke after 200-300 rounds, whether it's fed milsurp, my match handloads, or commercial white box. I refuse to run steel Russian crap in any of my guns, so it's not an option.

I only kept the darned thing so I could practice between M16 qualifications each year and maintain Expert on my weapons card. The funny thing is, my issued FN-made M16A2 worked a heck of a lot more reliably than my personal Colt, save for the icky burst trigger group's effect on the trigger pull.

Stay tuned, I may put the POS up for sale here real soon. :fire:

July 3, 2006, 06:19 PM
AR's seem like 1911's. Unless you really like them, theres just to much hassel. Seeing as every stoner varient I ever fired jammed on me at least once (OK, so I've only fired 4 of them, but still), my reliablilty advice is to get a different gun, and say good luck if you just love AR's.

Dave Rishar
July 3, 2006, 07:48 PM
The comments on lubrication are interesting. We went with little to no lubrication (what the manual states, basically) and it worked for us. When overenthusiastic students drenched them in CLP, problems arose fairly quickly. The CLP cooked off before the first string of fire would be done and the inside would turn into a coked up mess. This was with newer A3's in the PNW. (Cool and wet.) Rates of fire varied from slow to cyclic. The results were pretty much the same, although automatic fire was (understandably) worse. I've also had oil spurt out of the rear of the action in heavily lubricated weapons; while the gas spurts are annoying enough, CLP in the eyes stings.

Perhaps we were not adding enough, quickly enough. We often used quick shots of CLP on malfunctioning Berettas and (especially) M60's with good results. I suppose that it can work here -- it just didn't work for us.

The grease deserves mention as well. I never used it on one of Uncle Sam's M16's but I did use it on my AR for a few years. It worked fine and the buffer spring stopped SPROINGING. I stopped cleaning the action because it really couldn't be fully cleaned; I simply wiped out the excess grease with a rag and slathered a new coat on. I switched back to oil merely because the sight of all that garbage in my rifle was bothering me. The grease was Slick 50 bearing grease: ~$3 at Walmart IIRC. It worked better than Tetra.

That's the M16 for you -- everyone's got the answer and every answer is different. :) I will offer this general purpose answer: if in doubt, do what the manual says.

Chris Rhines
July 3, 2006, 08:36 PM
The CLP cooked off before the first string of fire would be done and the inside would turn into a coked up mess. This is what I have found as well, and is my reason for recommending grease over oil.

I've never used Tetra anything, but I've had good results on multiple ARs with Brian Enos' Slide-Glide #1 and Miltec.

- Chris

July 3, 2006, 09:26 PM
I've never had a jam in my AR and I've probably put about 2k rounds through it... from WWB to Black Hills to Wolf and both .223 and 5.56.

I only use CLP and clean it after each trip to the range, regardless of rds fired. Personally, I like to keep the bolt itself as well as the bottom of the actual bolt assembly well lubed. I always use the chamber brush liberally.

I'm surprised the AR supposedly jams so often... I heard the same thing about my Kimber and have yet to experience it.:confused: It's a bushmaster btw.

Bartholomew Roberts
July 3, 2006, 09:38 PM
The CLP cooked off before the first string of fire would be done and the inside would turn into a coked up mess.

The longest I've run without adding more lube is just under 800 rounds in one day during the course of a class. There was pretty bad baked-on carbon build-up on the rifle but it was still running well even though quite hot (white barrel from cooked off CLP residue).

I now use the SLIP 2000 Gun Lubricant (a CLP-type product). It needs a heavier application than CLP and doesn't run as long (about 450 rounds if I apply it like CLP); but the cleanup is much, much easier. I usually just wipe off the carbon with a t-shirt.

July 4, 2006, 01:17 AM
WOW ! I'd use some different words, but not here... There's some crazy's in here, Every Gun is Differnet, but don't go over board, It was designed to operate all over the world with a guy useing it operateing on an 8th grade reading level, and the mechanical skills of a monkey.

#1 Keep your dental tools away from the AR-15, yes it is an assult rifle, but it's still a precision weapon. If you can't scrup it off with an AP Brush or a rag, then get some cleaning solovent and scrub it with the brush again.

#2 Oil the bolt, CLP, grafite, ect, just the bolt, not the bolt carrier, tranny fluid works, so does 10W-40. The Bolt is the only part that really "moves" the Carrier just slides back and forth.

I've never really "cleaned" my Rock River Arms M4-gery, I use Rem-oil on the bolt, I pull a Bore-Snake down the Chamber, wipe the excess oil off the bolt carrier and put it away. I either shoot WWB 5.56mm or Mil-Surplus Green Tip, which I don't shoot that much green tip. Give it a quick spray on just the bolt before fireing. 100% performance, never a hic'up. I once had a Failure to feed, first round of the mag, on a mag that had been dropped.

July 4, 2006, 01:46 AM
26000 rounds NO JAMS OR MIFIRES. YES 26000. CLP in moderation. Not soaked. Keep the Key clean and use a McFarland Gas Ring from Sinclair Intl. Do not allow carbon and junk to build up on the backside of the bolt behind the gas ring or inside the carrier where the bolt rides or around the cam pin. Complete disassembly and cleaning of the bolt and carrier after every range session. And don't forget the Lug recess.

July 4, 2006, 07:12 AM
So, no one asked what exactly "choke up" means? FTE? FTF?

Me, I usually run mine kinda wet (TX and not much dust) with Honda motorcycle HP4 motor oil or CLP if I have to. My two bushmasters will really go on whatever ammo. The only problem I have is that one will not work with a one piece gas ring. It get's so hot that it starts to bind in the carrier. Replaced it with the stock gas rings and all is well. I can use the 1-piece if I CLP the rings periodically, but I think it's more of a case of cooling than lubrication.

July 4, 2006, 07:58 AM
Don't stick things in your gas tube. It will take care of itself. If it doesn't take care of itself, you did something bad to it and it may need replaced.

My first AR had horrible cycling issues. After troubleshooting, I traced the cause to a weak buffer spring. I replaced the buffer spring with something of known excellent quality, and my problems went away.

I have two magazines that occasionally give me trouble. I keep them mixed in with my other range mags to keep me on my toes. :D

July 4, 2006, 08:04 AM
Every one has different Ideas and some of that is where we are shooting and what we are shooting. I suppose some has to do with what has worked for each of us in the past. I am in the bunch that wants wet on my bolt,lugs and bottom of carrier.Whenever I take the bolt and firing pin out of the carrier (not every time I shoot but about every 500 or 600 rounds) I brush at the carbon with a toothbrush or a brass brush but don't go crazy with scrapers and the like.Then again I rarely heat my gun up with multible mag dumps ect. This has worked for me.
Reading the manuals I allways stop to wonder about the "drop of oil in the gas key". What the heck is this supposed to do? Seems to me anything downstream of the gas key that needs oil should have oil on it to start with and putting oil in the key itself is just asking for carbon build up when the super hot gas hits it.
I have rarely had a problem with any of my ARs but thinking back at guys I have been shooting with or bumped into at my club range There has not been anything that wasn't fixed with replaceing a bad mag,proper lube,proper ammo. OK- One guy who had a Bushmaster that the gas key loosened up after a couple thousand rounds and started short-stroking with off brand ammo.
Then there was the day I bumped into the kid spitting out all kinds of bad words about his Bushmaster that would not run well. He had a brand new gun that he had put about 2K worth of "stuff" hanging off the top and sides of it.He had a red dot,rails,flashlight,BUIS,fancy stock,pouches,sling and bipod.He actually had a big rubbermaid bin with at least 40 loaded and stacked mags.He had the time and money to do all this but had not bothered ever putting a drop of oil on the gun,he just took it out of the factory box and bolted all this stuff on it and went to the range. When I popped the rear takedown pin (after he asked for help) he asked what I was doing!

July 4, 2006, 08:14 AM
One guy who had a Bushmaster that the gas key loosened up after a couple thousand rounds and started short-stroking with off brand ammo.

I've seen the same. A friend of the family brought me a Bushmaster HBAR for repairs. He'd bought it cheap from some guy at a gunshow, knowing it needed "minor work."

The gas key was loose enough to flop around on the carrier. It was also MISSING the rear takedown pin, spring, and detent.

I checked the fit of the gas key to the carrier, reattached it with new screws, and staked them. Replaced the missing parts. Charged the guy parts but not labor. Rifle works fine now and it was safe to remove the duct tape the original owner was using in lieu of the rear takedown pin.

Thin Black Line
July 4, 2006, 09:24 AM
Shooters Choice oil seems to work as fine as militec --even with the crappy
Russian stuff that most everyone here refuses to shoot (mushrooms vs
truffles, I guess). I've *never* had a cycling problem due to lubrication
issues. I have a very dirty bolt that can still be easily wiped off with a
paper towel and has no more caked on carbon that requires any more work
than any other lube I've ever used in any environment.

Over the years I've had 2 stuck cases of the Russian stuff that required
tap outs out of over 10K+ rds fired. I had one thin Winchester brass
case (factory cartridge) crush inside my mag under spring pressure which
caused a FTF. I had one major malfunction with an SB SS109 when a
bolt cracked --returned and replaced by the factory as a metallurgical
defect. Anything else was mag-related and were not GI mags to begin
with which I've since dumped. I've put K's of rds thru a combination of
100% Bushmaster and Bushmaster lower/Model1 parts guns.

***BTW, pre-check your ammo for poorly seated primer, bad case shoulders,
and cracked necks. I find far more LC and Win made ammo that gets
tossed out for these reasons than the Russian stuff ever has ;) I can
only imagine what's happening when the latest Army "seconds" batch
from Sportsmansguide is run through your rifles without this precheck
when I've had a personal rejection rate of 5% from their batches I've
bought. Hopefully, there are some lightbulbs going on above some heads
right now.

If some of you are still having problems despite proper lube, ammo, mags
and a decent firearms mfg A,B,C,D, M1, etc. you might want to consider
buffer/spring like Beren already noted above. If you're still having problems,
fire less than 1K rds in an hour's time I's kind of like driving a
Ferarri across the country at 150mph and then wondering why one of the
tires blew. S* happens when it's pushed beyond its limits. :)

July 5, 2006, 04:09 AM
Some very good, and very horrible advice in this thread, and wonderful contributions like "buy something else" (thanks MJ for doing so, and posting a pic of yet another expensive gun you own....give yourself a pat on the back).

AR's run like a top if you have good parts, know how it works, and feed it what it likes through good magazines. Not rocket science. Go to, read the guides, and shoot alot.

I have 7 AR's of all stripes and makes, from a Colt M16 to a lowly cobbled together mix-master. All run like tops, always have. My secret? Know how it works, feed it what it likes through good magazines, maintain properly. Duh.

July 5, 2006, 06:33 PM
I've never had any issues with any of my Milteced AR's or M16's. I'm talking either tens of thousands of rounds or desert sand, my Miltec treated rifles have had no issues, aside from bad magazines.

July 5, 2006, 07:02 PM
Obviously, the mags (as many have said). I hear HK makes good one, but they're more expensive than the surplus ones. :)

Years ago I found my issue was with the extractor. I've got a civie version now and it's done fine these first few hundred rounds, but I am thinking about upgrading this component. (but something tells me dont fix it if it aint broke.)

July 5, 2006, 07:33 PM
rino451 - FTF, usually a round stuck 3/4ways in the breech. Last outing it was 100% after a thorough cleaning, but I don't trust it yet!

July 5, 2006, 10:36 PM
I did not say I didn't know how to use it.

I said I had no used for it.
If I can't trust it I don't need it.

On the plus side how offten do you have a 600 round contact?


July 6, 2006, 02:05 AM
I did not say I didn't know how to use it.

I said I had no used for it.
If I can't trust it I don't need it.

On the plus side how offten do you have a 600 round contact?


You don't trust an M16 to work, but think the HK is a better arm? In what way? It's heavier, clunkier, gets VERY dirty (worse than an AR, IMHO), isn't modular or adaptable. You can keep it, if that's your choice. Bleh.

I've shot tens of thousands of round through AR's and M16's, and find them to be incredibly reliable. No problems trusting one for serious work.

July 6, 2006, 03:30 AM
Well gee. I am thoroughly confused. I am new to the AR-15 world. A couple of weeks ago, I got an opportunity to buy a virtually new Bushmaster carbine for a very attractive price. Now I wasn't planning to enter this arena, but the price was just too good. I just built an AK, and love it for what it is. I am working on an FAL build. But I have to say the AR is one of the most fun to shoot weapons I have ever shouldered.

This thread has had posts that say to run it dry, run it wet, clean it, don't clean it, etc. etc.

My father was a machinist turned watchmaker. I spent a good portion of my life working in the watch / clock repair business. I have had it drummed into me like you can't believe that the biggest secret to having a machine operate properly is to have it meticulously clean, and properly and SPARINGLY lubricated.

Two of my buddies are big AR guys. They both run their weapons very wet. They slosh Breakfree on the things at the slightlest provocation. They also keep them meticulously clean. One of them breaks the thing down and completely cleans it before he leaves the range.

So, here I am with a huge question mark over my head. For now I am going to follow the keep it clean, lightly lubricated ( I am using the TW25B for now ) route. If that fails to keep it running, then I guess I will join the "sloshers"??

July 6, 2006, 10:01 AM
Not arguing here. You have not seen what I have seen and it left an impression on me. As for today I think any rifle you spend a grand plus on and then have to spend another grand to make it work leaves me cool on it. Sure it may always work at the range when clean but at Oh-dark :30 in the mud and the blood with issue ammo you can't trust I was glad to have that .45 Colt when the trip wires go off.

Just my first hand observation and the impression it left on me. Just give me a .30 any .30.


July 6, 2006, 10:08 AM
Do you mind telling us the model, condition, and price?

The only two knocks I know of on Bushmaster is that their default twist rate is 1/9, and they have a reputation for carrier keys coming loose.

July 6, 2006, 10:57 AM
Clean it.

Clean it some missed a spot.

Get good magazines. I get colt magazines with the green follower. There may be better ones but I get them for $10 and have no problems. If I must upgrade a magazine then I'm not paying more than $10 for it and the upgrade. :p

Don't get British made magazines, ever. They seem to be clueless about well made guns and gun parts. :cuss:

Use good ammo. Though I do use Wolf without problems some people seem to have a bad time with it. :neener:

If you still have problems then come back here. :)

July 6, 2006, 11:14 AM
Advice on how to keep an AR-15 reliable? Clean it, leave it dirty but lube it, run it dry, add special ingredients from premium aftermarket parts manufacturers... sacrafice a chicken maybe?

I hear you, MJ. I much prefer a weapon that doesn't need a lot of babying or excuse making. AR-15's are good guns for the range, maintain them and they'll shoot tight groups in paper all day long. Tactical classes are still range scenarios. You don't have to be killing people to be under field conditions but you do need to have mud or sand in your action and magazine. If your weapon doesn't work right with handfuls of mud or sand in the magazine and action I'm not saying it won't do the job but it is far from optimal.

The ergonomics on the AR/M series aren't that amazing, but this thread isn't about the virtues of the platform or the platform vs other weapons, it's about reliability. There are two chief causes of reliability issues in these guns, they are the stupid action design and stupid magazine design. If I was dead set on running an AR-15 the first thing I'd do is replace my upper reciever with a real gas piston system. Then I'd either run the old 20rd straight body mags with the new whizbang followers or try one of those hideously expensive HK high reliability jobs. Then I'd try the mud and sand test and see where I'm at if it were to be my HDR, or otherwise just enjoy it on the range.

July 6, 2006, 01:32 PM
I tried to turn it back in for my M-14 three times. Then it had a little accident and I got an M3A1 for a time then my M14 again. They charged me $85 for the M16 loss. I did bring back most of the barreled receiver. I also never said the HK was better, it's just another .223 but less trouble. I had a sweet Galil ARM but there again it was a .223 so I traded it for a truck. I know today the M-16 is little like the one I had but still it left a wanting impression on me.

Give me a .30, when you put a target down it stayed down.;)

Kontum/Dak To

Thin Black Line
July 6, 2006, 02:14 PM
The only two knocks I know of on Bushmaster is that their default twist rate is 1/9, and they have a reputation for carrier keys coming loose.

Haven't had a problem that twist other than the Russian 55s being a little
more sloppy while plinking. SS109 runs great. I've never heard of the
B has a "rep" for keys coming loose. Could this have been a single gun
you ran into that had a B lower and a mixed bag-o-parts (used) upper?
Saw a couple FFLs trying to pass those muts off as purebreds at some

July 6, 2006, 03:18 PM
Do like my armorer does, throw all the magazines loosely into a big footlocker. It really helps break in the feed lips.:rolleyes:

Don't shoot dirty ammo, get a gas piston upper, keep it clean, use dry lube, use good, clean mags.

When I carried an M16 I sparingly oiled only the parts of the bolt/carrier that were shiny or showed wear. worked well for me. Now I carry a 249 so I hose it down pretty good.

July 6, 2006, 03:18 PM
Could this have been a single gun you ran into that had a B lower

It's based on feedback from and reputable trainers, though there was one gun I saw and fixed with this problem. It was a stock Bushmaster. If you start to have cycling troubles, it's one possible cause among many.

1/9 will have trouble with some of the longer bullets.

George Hill
July 6, 2006, 04:14 PM
unscrew the front sight post and put a different rifle under it.

Bartholomew Roberts
July 6, 2006, 05:27 PM
I've never heard of the B has a "rep" for keys coming loose. Could this have been a single gun you ran into that had a B lower and a mixed bag-o-parts (used) upper?

Over on, the Bushmaster rep acknowledged that the staking machine had been run out of spec for an unspecified number of guns and that those guns were subject to having the carrier keys come loose. There have also been complaints from several law enforcement agencies that use the rifles on that issue.

In this case, I would say the rep is probably well-deserved but only applies to guns from late 2004 on. Bushmaster has supposedly corrected the problem; but I've heard rumors of a half-dozen Bushmasters from one agency going down at a recent rifle training course. The problem was fixed in all rifles by swapping the bolt carriers. That tends to make me think Bushmaster still hasn't fixed the problem.

Edited to add: Just read on another board that the issue was apparently weak extractors, not loose gas key.

Thin Black Line
July 6, 2006, 05:51 PM
Has Bushmaster already been sold by the owners?

July 6, 2006, 08:18 PM
Why is a 1-9" twist a problem? First I heard of that. :confused:

Jeff White
July 6, 2006, 09:15 PM
1-9 twist is a problem in that it's not fast enough for the longer 75 and 77 grain bullets that are becoming popular. It's a barrel by barrel tossup if your 1-9 will handle the longer bullets. Some do and some don't.


July 6, 2006, 09:50 PM
I don't see a 1-9 as a weakness. It's more versatile. You can shoot 45 grain varmint bullets (winchester value pack) up to 68-69 grain match bullets with confidence. For deer hunting, the 64gr win. powerpoint has a good reputation. Also, a 1-9 twist is slow enough to use a 22 conversion kit effectively.

Sure, a 1-7 can shoot the heavy, long bullets effectively, but you're giving up some versatility IMO. I have barrels in both twists, so I'm covered either way :evil:

Thin Black Line
July 7, 2006, 07:20 AM
Won't that short twist rip off the jackets on the lighter bullets as well?

Bartholomew Roberts
July 7, 2006, 08:44 AM
Won't that short twist rip off the jackets on the lighter bullets as well?

A 1-7 can rip the jackets off of very thin-jacketed lightweight varmint bullets. In my experience though, I have never seen it firsthand. Just read about it... the Winchester 45gr JHPs seem to work just fine from a 1/7 barrel.

July 8, 2006, 09:49 PM
I stopped at 68-69 grains for that rate of twist. In my High Power matches, I've watched those guys running the heavyweight rounds that are too long to be fed from the magazine, so it's single-shot time with a fixed mag follower. Not an optimal way to run a gas-operated autoloader, IMHO.

Won't that short twist rip off the jackets on the lighter bullets as well?

I can't speak for the 1-7" twist barrels, but my particular 1-9" Colt actually prefers the 52gr and 55gr Sierra MatchKings over any other bullet weight and style. I don't know if it's the way they cut the chamber and throat, or the bore dimensions, but I'd have figured the rifle would group 63-69gr bullets as well as the lighter ones. To date, I've been wrong.

July 9, 2006, 02:27 AM
Do you gentlemen have an opinion of getting a rifle with 1 in 8 twist? I was considering the Bushmaster Predator w/ a YHM foreend.

Chris Rhines
July 9, 2006, 09:25 AM
The gas piston uppers, in actual use, are notably less reliable than the standard direct-impingement system. Glen Zediker opined that upgrading an AR with a gas piston was like "...upgrading an F/A-18 with a propeller."

Fancy aftermarket chi-chis aren't necessary to keep you AR running. Proper construction, high-quality parts, and good magazines are.

- Chris

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