Typically, all novice AR-15 carbine enthusiasts start their journey the same way. It might be picking the right upper receiver already built from the factory or building one, or choosing a sleek, fully assembled rifle off the rack.
Most times, it’s loading the magazines, heading off to the range, and testing the rifle’s capabilities in a live-fire situation. All is right in your shooting world until someone asks you how many rounds you fire before breaking the AR15 down and cleaning it.
Hadn’t thought about that had you?
Necessary tools needed to clean and maintain your rifle are commonly the last thing an AR15 owner thinks about or purchases, even though they’re just as important as having a proper carrying case for your AR-15 rifle.
Buy a Kit
Purchasing a cleaning kit for your AR15 isn’t a challenging enterprise. For every type of firearm, there’s a cleaning kit available on the market. If you’re not a high-volume shooter, then a basic cleaning kit off the shelf will work, but you’ll need to make sure the kit comes with a few things before buying.
One thing about purchasing a kit is that most of them provide universal application, meaning you will probably get a few bore brushes and snakes you’ll never use. As most of the universal kits come in at a price range of fifty dollars or less, this probably won’t bother the average need.
Champs offers an excellent rifle, handgun, and shotgun universal cleaning kit in a durable carry case that manages over ten different calibers and snakes. Cleaning kits from The Allen Company and DAC Winchester offer more extensive kits in the forty-to-fifty-dollar range to perfectly meet the average need.
One thing all these kits have in common is their noticeable lack of cleaning solvents and lubrication, which make up fifty percent of your AR15 cleaning routine. Think of these kits as getting all the hardware you need to do the job but lacking the software.
Don’t Ruin Your Towels Get a Mat
Laundry day shouldn’t end up coming on the heels of you cleaning your AR15. You won’t be the first AR15 owner who used a kitchen or bathroom towel during a cleaning session. If you intend to do significant shooting and cleaning, purchasing a cleaning mat is the only way to go.
Most cleaning mats on the market today provide specific part lists of your AR15 molded directly on the mat. A quality cleaning mat is a huge plus for beginners as it helps first-time AR15 owners keep track of everything during the breakdown, cleaning, and reassembly.
Special Tools You Won’t Find in Most Kits
Of course, purchasing a complete cleaning kit for your AR15 is necessary, but there’s a couple of additional tools you’ll want to get to add to it.
Especially if the whole takedown and cleaning kit is a new adventure for you, consider including the Ultimate Arms Roll Pins Punch set for around thirty dollars. The kit comes with brass and nylon punches and a hammer, allowing you to easily remove any pins if you are replacing broken parts or upgrading.
Another thing to think about if you have a bench dedicated to your cleaning activities is an AR15 vice block for approximately fifty dollars. The AR15 vice block fits securely in the magazine well and can attach to a bench-vice to ensure your rifle’s finish remains intact.
While the vice block is a nice-to-have, make sure you have your cleaning mat rolled out on the bench instead if you choose not to use it.
Solvents And Lubrication
When it comes to solvents and lubrication, there are so many types on the market it can get a little frustration as to which one will work best for you.
To take the guesswork out of your decision-making process, consider Hoppe’s No. 9 cleaner and lubrication. Together, you’ll probably not go over fifteen dollars, and you’ll have some of the best gun lubrication and cleaner in the business.
Another set of lubrication and solvent to consider is CLP’s oil, solvent, and lubrication combination. Yes, it’s a little bit pricey at around thirty dollars, but it will most assuredly fit all your cleaning needs.
Additionally, if you’re looking for a lubricant and cleaning solvent that provides an aerosol application to ensure you’ve covered every nook and cranny of your AR15, one of the best on the market is Breakthrough Clean CLP costing around ten bucks.
For about fifty to sixty dollars, you can get everything you’ll need to clean your AR15 effectively.
Make Your Kit
Very few first-time AR15 owners think about building a cleaning kit of their own. Typically, the realization that proper maintenance is going to be a thing, and the subsequent logical and quick resolution is purchasing a cleaning kit off the shelf.
For those who want what’s necessary without all the extras, you can make your cleaning kit and probably save a few dollars doing it. You can go the cheap route and store all the cleaning tools, solvents and lubrication in a cardboard box and keep it in the garage. Or, for less than fifteen dollars, you can get a three-tray tackle box such as the one Plano offers.
One of the advantages of building your cleaning kit is, of course, you can tailor the bore brushes, snakes, lubrication, and solvents, and patches specifically to the cleaning requirements of your rifle and save money by not purchasing some things you’ll never use.
If owning and firing an AR15 is a new adventure for you and you’re not into competition yet, then a cleaning kit off the shelf is probably going to work for you.
However, at the very least, spare yourself some frustration by adding quality solvents and lubrication, and fork over a few dollars more for a cleaning mat, a pin punch set, and maybe that bench vice.
Cleaning and proper maintenance are all part of owning an AR15, but it doesn’t mean it must be a tedious and frustrating chore.