AR-15 critical points to clean


November 16, 2009, 10:07 AM

I attended last weekend an Appleseed (BTW, I strongly recommend this event to everyone) and used my RRA AR-15. It was shot from a shooting mat with concrete under. It was a very clean shooting area. No worries about sand, dirt, etc... I was shooting reloads CCI 400, 55 grains hornady and 25.1 grains of Ramshot TAC.

The first day everything went fine and I got no malfunction at all. I shot around 300 rounds that day. It was the first time I was shooting so many rounds before cleaning. Usually, I was shooting 30-90 rounds and then my shooting session was done and I was back home to clean the gun.

The second day, In the middle of the day, after about 250 rounds, I began to have light strikes on the primer. In fact, I am not sure if the strike was light or if the dent I was seeing was done when the round chamber...

Anyway, After the first day, I cleaned my gun as usual:
- Clean the chamber and barrel with Hopes bore cleaner, brush then use Hopes to remove the copper fouling with a few patches then lightly oil the barrel with a patch with 4-5 drops of gun oil on it.
- Clean the upper and lower insides until there is no more black on the paper towel.
- Clean the VERY messy bolt carrier: wipe clean all the parts, remove the crud from the back of the bolt, remove the extractor and clean under it, clean the firing pin and firing pin channel and clean the place where the bolt slide in the bolt carrier and especially the bottom of it where there was a lot of crud. Finally, I make all my bolt carrier inside outside wet with gun oil as usual.

So, my question: Did I do something wrong with the cleaning or was it just unlucky with this malfunction at the second day? Did I forget something?

Thank you

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November 16, 2009, 10:19 AM
Did you pull the trigger and it only went "click" or did you eject the round and note a small dimple on the primer?

November 16, 2009, 10:58 AM
300 rounds and then problems? Were you shooting especially dirty ammo? Stoner rifles are clean queens but that sounds low even for an ar15. Was it one round or several?

November 16, 2009, 10:59 AM

I pulled the trigger and heard click. I ejected the round (It happened 3 times almost in a row- Maybe 5-6 shots total) and noticed a very tiny dimple. I can't say if it is the same tiny dimple that is happening when chambering a round or if it has been done by the firing pin.

I forgot to mention after those incidents I cleaned the bolt carrier thoroughly and it went fine all the remaining of the day.

Thank you

November 16, 2009, 11:06 AM
Hmmm. It may be that there was crud in the carrier where the firing pin is housed, and when you cleaned the firing pin channel out your removed that gunk. Just a thought, I'm not sure though.

November 16, 2009, 11:08 AM
My first guesses would be firing pin channel, a missed coating of crud on one of the ledges inside the bolt carrier, or a weak trigger spring. What did you use to clean the firing pin channel inside the bolt?

ETA: Also, is there a chance that some of the primers were hard or defective?

November 16, 2009, 11:09 AM

When I was at the range, because of unforeseen circumstances, I just have paper towel and Hopes #9. It worked.

Thank you

November 16, 2009, 11:31 AM
Something is wrong. I've shot way more than that between cleanings, as do many AR shooters that I know, so there is something more than "my rifle just got dirty". ARs are only "clean queens" when there is a lot of talc-like sand blowing around, which isn't most places in the USA and certainly not at your local Appleseed.

How many malfunctions did you have? I note that you're shooting reloads, if you just had one or two, it may well be ammo-related. I would also inspect the bolt to make sure you didn't dislodge some crud in cleaning that is partially obstructing the channel. Also, did you reassemble everything correctly?


November 16, 2009, 11:47 AM

The reloads shot all well. The failed ones shot right after. I checked the hammer spring and it still looks strong. After I disassembled and cleaned the bolt carrier I did not get any more failure. And before the failure, I shot plenty in the morning and day before. My wife was shooting the same reloads with her own RRA AR-15 and she got no malfunction with her gun or the same reloads. I think mine became dirty. Maybe I did not clean right after the first day.

Ramshot TAC burns pretty clean. Of course, there was an accumulation of crud on the back of the bolt and in bottom of the bolt carrier where the bolt insert. The firing pin was "blackish", but not "gritty" of powder and still pretty oily.

Thank you

November 16, 2009, 11:49 AM
Kestak, I agree that Hoppe's a and a paper towel can make for a sufficient field cleaning when there isn't time or resources for something more thorough.

I mean only to suggest that perhaps a spot was missed over several cleanings. That spot was likely in the firing pin channel, or as suggested before the ledge that the firing pin strikes against inside the bolt carrier. I know everyone has their own method, and that YMMV, but what's worked for me is cleaning the ledges inside the bolt carrier with a scraper tool, and using a dental pick on the firing pin channel where I can reach before running a pipe cleaner through. If you use this last method, make sure to inspect the channel with a bright flashlight to ensure that no fuzzies are left behind by the cleaner.

As for the Appleseed shoot, I'm really looking forward to getting in on one of these when I get home. Regardless of how much I think I know about shooting, the two most important lessons I've learned over and over again is that there's plenty more knowledge out there to be garnered. And that shooting is fun.

November 16, 2009, 12:06 PM

Oh!!!!!!!! I just realized something! I cleaned the side of the bolt carrier where the bolt gets in. But I was not cleaning the other side. If some crud accumulated there, I did not catch up the day before for sure... But when I got my malfunction, I cleaned this side....

About Appleseed: I was able to shoot benchrest 1 MOA all the time at 100 yards. I learned that I could not shoot crap with no benchesting. Nos, I can shoot pretty good prone, sitting and standing up. Not enough good to make it for the rifleman patch, but I can get my man at 300 yards for sure now....:evil:

I plan to train 2-3 times per week at the range. Next Appleseed, I will get my patch. Feeling a cub scout all over again... :D

I strongly to any shooter/hunter to attend this class. The 75$ for 2 days is a bargain and I am sure almost everyone will learn something. We had a bunch of people, veterans, younglings, and normal guys like me and only one made it to rifleman in 2 days. I thought some guys were good and they did not make it. So, maybe you think you are good, but you are maybe not good enough to get the patch too... :D

Thank you

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