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

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Hokkmike, Jul 2, 2006.

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  1. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Member

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    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?
     
  2. Quintin Likely

    Quintin Likely Member

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    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.
     
  3. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    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.
     
  4. mmike87

    mmike87 Member

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    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.
     
  5. fisi

    fisi Member

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    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.
     
  6. Dave Rishar

    Dave Rishar Member

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    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.
     
  7. Jay Kominek

    Jay Kominek Member

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    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.
    Yup. Only problems I've ever had have been directly caused by lame magazines.
     
  8. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    Rub the firing pin with steel wool? Just exactly what did this "Gulf War vet" do while in the service?
     
  9. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    Hokkmike,

    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.
     
  10. RNB65

    RNB65 Member

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    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.
     
  11. Chris Rhines

    Chris Rhines Member

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    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
     
  12. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Member

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    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)
     
  13. Thin Black Line

    Thin Black Line Member

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    +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.
     
  14. Gary G23

    Gary G23 Member

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    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.
     
  15. MechAg94

    MechAg94 Member

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    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.
     
  16. The-Fly

    The-Fly Member

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    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.
     
  17. Phil Ca

    Phil Ca Member

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    Good magazines and lube. The dental pick idea is also good and works on just about every firearm.
     
  18. rbernie
    • Contributing Member

    rbernie Member

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    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.
     
  19. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    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.
     
  20. Scottso

    Scottso Member

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    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.
     
  21. MJ

    MJ Member

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    Buy something else.

    81b796b0.gif










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

    :cuss:
    MJ
    67'/68'
     
  22. Gordon

    Gordon Member

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    "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:
     
  23. Still 2 Many Choices!?

    Still 2 Many Choices!? Member

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    Bartholomew, and Gordon are both right...

    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!?
     
  24. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    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.
     
  25. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    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.

    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.
     
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