Cleaning AR15 gas port and tube


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Nando Aqui
August 13, 2003, 06:31 PM
I asked the following at the AR15.com site:

"REF: AR15 - Isn't it necessary to clean the gas port (hole on the barrel where gas goes through) and the gas tube once in a while? How? (I can't reach the port; and for the gas tube, I don't have a pipe cleaner that's long enough. As far as using spaghetti, as a news report suggested months ago that some soldiers were doing in Iraq well... it is funny, but that's it.)"

And received four answers:
- Two said to leave it alone, don't clean it; and don't try to use an extra long pipe cleaner! (Referring to the gas tube, I guess)
- The other two said that it wasn't necessary to clean it, but that a blast of carburetor cleaner (from the receiver end) may help in the long run.

What do you think?

Alex

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gun-fucious
August 13, 2003, 06:36 PM
its pretty self cleaning for crud build up

i think more ARs have gone offline with pipe cleaners
lodged in the tube than from gas tube plaque

telewinz
August 14, 2003, 09:42 PM
I haven't cleaned the gas tube in my SP1 since I got it (25years!) and I only cleaned off the carbon build-up twice. It works just fine.:)

4v50 Gary
August 14, 2003, 10:25 PM
Leave it alone. It doesn't need it. About the best you can do is ultrasonic cleaning and there's not really an affordable home model yet.

Nando Aqui
August 14, 2003, 10:58 PM
Best, and easiest to follow and to agree with advice: I'll gladly leave it alone!

Thanks-

Alex

uglygun
August 14, 2003, 11:44 PM
only remote situation I could think of where the gas tube could use a cleaning is if you had a 22lr. conversion bolt group in the rifle and shot A LOT of 22lr. Possibly having a bit of lead fouling get up into the gas port and gas tube of the rifle.


Probably nothing a couple 55k PSI of pressure from a 223Rem couldn't dislodge though.


Cleaning the gas tube ain't neccesary. Sadly, I remember the poor chap from TFL who went through the trouble of removing the front sight housing for cleaning after 1k rounds, whooie was that not neccesary.... And on a Knights SR15 no less....

geekWithA.45
August 15, 2003, 11:51 AM
If it's really a problem, just blast some Gun Scrubber down the tube from the receiver end.

BTW, Gun Scrubber is miraculous! Just a few blasts removes crud and grease, and returns you to a "just metal" state in a few seconds!

BDM
August 15, 2003, 01:06 PM
at 30,000 psi what ever is in the tube gets blown out as it was designed,some times malfunctions in a rifle can be traced to cleaning habits or procedures that are not needed,this is one,had a buddy insane about always cleaning the gas tube until one day he did have a problem with it,he got the pipe cleaner stuck in the tube,use a soft brush to scrub the part that projects into the upper and use 1 to 2 inches of pipe cleaner just to dry any solvents that get in thats all thats needed.dont force a pipe cleaner the whole length thtas an accident waiting to happen even if it dosent stick you can leave material in the tube.

Badger Arms
August 15, 2003, 01:26 PM
IIRC, the gas, once it begins to enter the tube, is at around 16,000 PSI. When it gets to the bolt carrier and starts the carrier moving, the pressure at that point is way down although I don't know that figure. Still, his amount of pressure is tremendous. When combined with the heat, there really isn't any carbon build-up. A gas tube that is not corroded should lalst through several barrels. Gene Stoner argued that it didn't even need to be stainless steel and that EROSION was the main culprit. He was wrong about Stainless Steel, but right about carbon build-up.

While qualifying with .22lr's in sub-caliber adapters one year, I noted a few malfunctioning guns. Each time, the range officer would pull out a magazine loaded with .223's, swap the bolt, rock the selector to full-auto, and touch off a burst. Happened twice with 20 positions. It was HOT that day too so I'd imagine the little rimfires were fouling the system up something nasty. Before anybody says it, Air Force .22 conversions utilized gas to assist the action, they were not pure blow-back.

BDM
August 15, 2003, 01:29 PM
pressure is higher in 14.5 barrel carbines wich is what I have and use the hotter israeli ammo I suppose a longer barrel and different ammo would effect that #

geekWithA.45
August 15, 2003, 01:37 PM
Each time, the range officer would pull out a magazine loaded with .223's, swap the bolt, rock the selector to full-auto, and touch off a burst. :what:

Isn't bolt swapping a bad idea? I've never seen a rifle that didn't come with stern warnings about swapping the bolt.

OTOH, perhaps the writer intended another meaning....

cslinger
August 15, 2003, 01:41 PM
Now I am no expert but.....

I was under the assumptiont that AR-15s/M16/AR-10s etc. headspace at the barrel which is why this isn't as big of an issue.

They are also talking about swapping the .22 conversion bolt out for the original .223 bolt the gun most likely came with.

Chris

BDM
August 15, 2003, 01:41 PM
We are not talking bolt swapping,we are talking gas tube but on your comment I wouldnt swap a bolt unles ther was very little wear wich to me is anything under 500 rounds for a new because the components break in diferently,I used an extra bolt I had in a used upper but the bolt was 150 rounds and still very new it worked fine.

Edward429451
August 15, 2003, 01:44 PM
He was talking about taking out the 22LR bolt and swapping it with the original 223 bolt for the rifle.

22LR conversions come with a new bolt & mag.

geekWithA.45
August 15, 2003, 02:53 PM
doh. my bad.

Badger Arms
August 15, 2003, 03:55 PM
Well, no, the range officer had a single bolt carrier assembly in his pocket that he'd put in whatever gun was malfunctioning and shoot a few rounds of standard ball ammo full-auto with that bolt. This would blow out any lube, lead, carbon, or other crap in the tube and allow the gas system to work better.

Bolts on M-16's are supposed to be interchangeable, but in practice I don't think that interchanging gets done very often. Any rifle that is in spec should show safe headspace with any bolt that's within spec. This isn't an M-1 Garand or an M1903 rifle here. I seriously doubt that a burst or two from an M-16 with whatever serviceable bolt would create any safety hazard whatsoever.

Edward429451
August 16, 2003, 12:09 AM
Doh! I stand corrected. Sounded like!

Midnight
August 16, 2003, 02:05 AM
I think 50,000 psi every time the rifle goes off does a fine job of keeping it clear.

lavalle
July 28, 2006, 06:40 PM
Hi,

The other day my AR15 stopped "Running" correctly. The bolt would only move back about 1/2" each shot. Turned out that a primer had blown out of a case and was firmly loged inside the bolt carrier gas port. Took a bit of time to find it. I only found it after reading the other post in this thread.
Thanks for the help guy's
I appreciate it.
:)

Remember Real Gun control is hitting what you are aiming at.

P-32
July 29, 2006, 02:21 PM
I have the long pipe cleaners whih you can get from Brownells. I used two of them. So far it looks like I was wasting my time.

KC&97TA
July 29, 2006, 04:21 PM
...some times malfunctions in a rifle can be traced to cleaning habits or procedures that are not needed...

Gun Scrubber, like stated before... cleaning the gas system on an AR / M16 isn't like a semi-auto shotgun. I've sprayed out my gas tube for giggles once and don't ever remember a problem on a M16 that was related to a "dirty gas tube". I can tell you all kinds of problems, but never a "dirty gas tube".

The issue with the bolts, I can answer. Since all the M16's are made by Colt to a service standard +/- what ever it is for military specs, the bolt carrier groups can be changed out, if need be, it's not actually the carrier, but the bolt it self and the wear patterns on the lugs. It is better to keep them matched. Anyone ever seen boot camp weapons disassembled and put into piles for cleaning?

Don't switch the bolts in you're personal AR's, unless you are replaceing them. It's not considered a "good practice", I wouldn't switch mine in my AR. Remember the M16's cost about $250 and most of them are A2's that were brought into service around 1984, alot of them are old and have been rebuilt, the newer A4's, M4's and M41's cost a bit more but they're under the same specs, just have 'gear queer assistace' that makes live alot easier.

Grunt
July 29, 2006, 04:38 PM
Well, we never tell our students in class to try to clean out the inside of the gas tube and I can't say I ever seen an M-16 or M-4 come back into the armory that had a gas tube plugged with carbon. If I should ever see the day that happens, we drive out the pin, pull out the gas tube, chuck it in the trash parts pile for DRMO and put in a new one. Cleaning problem solved.

MisterPX
July 29, 2006, 05:53 PM
The gas tube is probably the only thing that's "self cleaning" on the rifle.;) If it'll make you feel better, you can shoot some brakleen through it here and there.

gyrfalcon16
May 11, 2007, 04:02 AM
Carbon will build up in any gas system... The AR-15 is not immune. I would recommend using bore solvent and AR-15 Gas Tube Pipe Cleaners (http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ARR022-3307-1968.html) and then follow that with brake cleaner and a clean pipe-cleaner.

I'm sure this will upset:fire: a few AR-15 fans, but I believe it to be true:

The real story behind the AR-15 Gas System (http://www.madogre.com/Interviews/Hate_the_AR15.htm)

I've been an AK guy quite a while, and after getting into highpower...I couldn't agree with this guy more about the AR-15.

Zeke Menuar
May 11, 2007, 05:59 AM
Um...guys

It's not like gas tubes are made of gold or platinum.

I bought a couple of spares in the unlikely event I need to replace one(probably never) or I'm too lazy to clean mine(much more likely)

ZM

possum
May 11, 2007, 07:05 AM
from my time in the military and the ar's i have owned i have never cleaned that area, of the ar. i'e never had any problems!

vanfunk
May 11, 2007, 07:12 AM
Whoa! A blast from the past. As others have stated, don't clean the gas tube. Just don't. It really, really, really doesn't need cleaning, ever. :banghead:

Well, I'm glad that's over.

vanfunk

Joe Demko
May 11, 2007, 09:26 AM
I've been an AK guy quite a while, and after getting into highpower...I couldn't agree with this guy more about the AR-15.

How does your experience with the AK generalize to cleaning procedures necessary on the AR platform? Do you have personal experience with any guns sidelined by clogged gas tubes?

I 've personally owned 4 AR's (2 Colt, 2 Bushamster) and Uncle was kind enough to let me use an M-16A1 for a time. The only problems I ever had were from the use of blanks in Uncle's rifle. I never touched the gas tube in any of them. Messing around with the gas tube, other than the use of an aerosol solvent if you must do something, is very bad juju.

gyrfalcon16
May 13, 2007, 01:18 AM
Do you have personal experience with any guns sidelined by clogged gas tubes?

Not by clogged tubes, but by failed gas systems. The AR does blow fowling and powder gases back into the receiver and that can cause a host of other problems though.

My personal prerogative is that I would rather have something clean than dirty. After reading some of the opinions here, that seems to be out of favor. So be it...

SlamFire1
May 13, 2007, 06:30 AM
On occasion I will use Carburetor Cleaner. Use the little plastic tube that comes with a spray can of carburetor cleaner, blow that down the tube. Follow up with compressed air. The wipe out the barrel.

Does it do anything? Heck if I know. I do remember seeing pictures of Xrays of gas tubes from the book "Black Rifle" . The pictures were from the 60's and you could see calcium carbonate fouling from the ball powders of the era.

taliv
May 13, 2007, 10:14 AM
i heard it runs better if you stuff peanut butter in the gas tube. plus, it puts a nice, even coat of peanut butter on the inside of your receiver after you shoot it.

Badger Arms
May 13, 2007, 11:26 AM
Cleaning gas tubes is BAD BAD BAD!!!! You're more likely to introduce foreign matter that will clog it or damage your rifle. Solvents, etc can and will eat away at the liner of your tube before the gas will. Change your tube every time you change your barrel and you'll be happy. They're cheap.

Constriction of the gas tube from bad powder was real, but only documented prior to the 1967 switch to a stainless steel tube and .25% limit on calcium carbonate in powder (down from 1%).

Those X-rays of gas tubes form the Black Rifle book are of tests with specific lots of known BAD propellant ammo. Cleaning your gas tube is statistically more likely to cause a malfunction than leaving it alone. PERIOD!!!

Bartholomew Roberts
May 13, 2007, 09:04 PM
Carbon will build up in any gas system... The AR-15 is not immune. I would recommend using bore solvent and AR-15 Gas Tube Pipe Cleaners and then follow that with brake cleaner and a clean pipe-cleaner.

Is there some reason you revived a four year old thread? You mention using bore solvent and a long pipe cleaner. What is that long pipe cleaner going to remove that isn't being removed by 15,000PSI of hot gas blasting through the tube with every shot?

Not by clogged tubes, but by failed gas systems.

Failed gas systems? The AR is a direct impingement rifle. What type of failed gas systems did you see in that rifle?

The AR does blow fowling and powder gases back into the receiver and that can cause a host of other problems though.

An AR fowling the receiver would certainly cause problems; but I think the problems from fouling are a grossly overstated myth perpertuated by people whose trigger time with the system comes mostly from Counterstrike.

Constriction of the gas tube from bad powder was real, but only documented prior to the 1967 switch to a stainless steel tube and .25% limit on calcium carbonate in powder (down from 1%).Those X-rays of gas tubes form the Black Rifle book are of tests with specific lots of known BAD propellant ammo.

Good info from Badger Arms! The issue of gas tubes clogging usually revolves around ammo that uses too much calcium carbonate. In modern use, the problem is near-extinct (thoughonce in a blue moon it still happens in well-used guns where a mixed bag of ammo has been shot).

If the potential of a clogged gas tube really bothers you, you'd be better off (both time and money-wise) buying a spare gas tube and a punch set and just replacing the tube in the off chance you win the freakish occurence lottery and manage to clog your gas tube shooting 10,000 rounds of Byzantian 5.56 surplus from 1973. Otherwise, replace the gas tube when you replace the barrel (though I've actually reused old gas tubes and still haven't managed to clog one yet).

One of these days I'll have to split an old gas tube where I've logged the rounds on the barrel and take a picture of it so people can see how minimal the buildup is in most rifles.

Glockfan.45
May 13, 2007, 09:19 PM
I have to agree with Bartholomew on what he said. I have shot thousands of rounds of dirty Wolf through a mix master AR never fouling the gas tube, or action. I have never cleaned the gas tube on any rifle I have ever owned, and that pactice has yet to cause any issues.

taliv
May 13, 2007, 09:43 PM
i also agree with bart, but i really don't understand it. i mean, the logic of
What is that long pipe cleaner going to remove that isn't being removed by 15,000PSI of hot gas blasting through the tube with every shot?

seems like it would also apply to the powder fouling that happens in the bore itself. clearly, after the bullet passes, there's 40-65k psi of hot gas blowing through there that by that logic would also be cleaning the bore, but as we all know, it does leave powder residue that builds up over time.

i really don't understand it

R.W.Dale
May 13, 2007, 10:30 PM
seems like it would also apply to the powder fouling that happens in the bore itself. clearly, after the bullet passes, there's 40-65k psi of hot gas blowing through there that by that logic would also be cleaning the bore, but as we all know, it does leave powder residue that builds up over time.

I've never had powder residue build up in a bore enough to cause any issues whatsoever. Copper and lead or black powder certianlly but smokless powder NO, not even with large quantities of unburnt IMR5010 left behind from low pressure loadings.

Where are some of you guys buying your ammo? The always save brand from Safeway possibly:D

SlamFire1
May 13, 2007, 10:33 PM
An AR fowling the receiver would certainly cause problems; but I think the problems from fouling are a grossly overstated myth perpertuated by people whose trigger time with the system comes mostly from Counterstrike.


Mr. Roberts: This is a topic that should have its own thread, but I have never liked having burnt propellant blown into the AR action, and I have always felt that it is a design weakness.

Because I only shoot 88 rounds per match, and I do a very through job of cleaning out the bolt carrier, and all associated parts, I doubt I will have the same problems encountered by a "Private Jessica" type. The poor lady had never fired her rifle in theater, and when she needed to, she did not know enough about the rifle to clear a jam. Those are the people that need a very robust, dirt tolerant, and non self fouling mechanism. Like an AK 47

Respectfully, SlamFire

taliv
May 13, 2007, 10:36 PM
krochus, i didn't imply it had ever caused a real problem.

R.W.Dale
May 13, 2007, 10:46 PM
Those are the people that need a very robust, dirt tolerant, and non self fouling mechanism. Like an AK 47


I disagree: Those are the people who have no business whatsoever being in the US military

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