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  #1  
Old 05-06-2012, 11:29 AM
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Default New to AR's? Here are some tools I use to clean.

We have a bunch of new members who are new to the AR platform. While we have fun adding furniture and accessories, one aspect of AR ownership that gets overlooked is cleaning.

I don't intend for this thread to devolve into cleaning arguments similar to those I have seen on other forums. For this thread, I think we can all agree on the basics of cleaning.
  • Clean barrel/bore
  • Clean chamber
  • Clean bolt carrier group

This can be accomplished using very basic tools: rods, brushes, patches. There are several YouTube videos that illustrate the basic cleaning process.

There are tools beyond basic tools that can help make the cleaning process easier. I'm going to show some tools I own and tried out. I emphasize that none of these tools are necessary, but the make the job faster & easier.

The subject of lube choice & cleaning solvent choice is for a different thread.

Otis flexible rod cleaning kit:



It replaces a one piece rod in favor of a polymer coated cable. This makes it easy to clean from breech to muzzle without worrying about dinging up the chamber or rifling. It uses brushes and patches just like we're used to.
Gunslick AR-15 Bore Guide:




If you use a one piece rod, then a bore guide makes the process easier with less worries about dinging up the chamber or rifling. The bore guide fits snugly into place. Push the rod through the bore guide. The bore guide has a port that matches to the ejection port of the AR. It is through this port that you can add solvents/lube to the patches, or spray cleaner down the barrel.
Hoppes Bore Snake




The bore snake is a pull through string that has bronze cleaning bristles integrated into it. Put some cleaning solvent on the section before the bristles, & pull through breech to muzzle.

In one pass it applies solvent, brushes, and swabs out the barrel. I usually pull the bore snake through three times. The bore snake can be washed and reused many times.
Talon Tactical Lug Scraping Tool






I use this tool when the lugs are seriously carbon fouled. The tool can clean the sides of the lugs. Gentle pressure and a twisting/pull motion is all that is necessary.



It also cleans the face of the lugs that we can't easily see.



When contacting the face of the lug, light pressure and a twist scrapes off carbon deposits.

The Talon Tactical Lug Scraper also accepts any standard cleaning attachment on it's tip. It can be used as a cleaning device as illustrated in the next section.
Chamber Brushes
The chamber is bigger than the bore. I use one of two different tools to clean out the chamber. Both set ups are shown attached to the Talon Tactical lug scraper.

.40 Cal brush





I wet the brush with solvent, and scrub out the chamber. I then wrap a clean patch around the brush to swab out the chamber.

AR-15 Chamber Brush





Cleans the chamber & brushes the lugs.
CAT M4 BCG Cleaning Tool
By far the most useful cleaning tool I use.



It scrapes carbon deposits from the bolt tail with a quick and easy twisting motion.



It scrapes carbon from the BCG. Affix a patch to swab out the fouling.





It also can be used to scrape carbon deposits from the firing pin.

Dental Pick


The good old dental pick. Works like a charm every time. Gets into hard to reach areas to scrape off carbon deposits. Just be careful using it. Use just enough pressure to remove carbon, but not ding up the metal.
There are also some other tools I find useful to have on hand.

Ejector Spring Installation/Removal Jig


In order to remove/replace the ejector spring on the bolt, the ejector must be compressed. Then a small retaining roll pin must be driven out. The jig makes this job quick and simple.

Stock Wrench


If you ever have to install/remove the stock castle nut, you'll need a stock wrench. I prefer to use the top castle nut wrench with the red handle. It provides a longer handle for leverage and grip. It also has three contact points for a more secure purchase onto the castle nut.

The spanner wrench on the bottom works, but it's more of a pain to use. The shorter handle provides less leverage. It only has a single contact point. If you're not careful, the spanner wrench will slip off the castle nut and you could end up scratching your AR.
Front Sight Tool



Makes adjusting the front sight easier. Just put it over the front sight, gently push down and twist.

If anyone else has other tools they use to maintain their AR's, post them up for other member's reference.

-John
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:34 AM
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JaPes...you covered it very well and showed some tools that I dont have but after this posting I will get, cleaning the locking lugs has been one of the hardest things I have to do and without the right tool it is a bear. Also the bore guide looks pretty handy. Thank You Sir.
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:45 AM
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A 12 gauge brush and bore mop work well for the chamber too.
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Old 05-06-2012, 12:15 PM
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Nice post JaPes! You have shown me some tools I have never seen before.
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Old 05-06-2012, 02:55 PM
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I will have to get some of the tools you have listed, especially thelug cleaning and BCG scraper.

I have been using the old school M16 cleaning kit. Guess I need to get with modern times
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Old 05-06-2012, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Elevenbravo87 View Post
I have been using the old school M16 cleaning kit. Guess I need to get with modern times
I have an old school cleaning kit too. Use it right and it works fine. IMO, just as learning to shoot with iron sights is a valuable skill, learning to clean with a standard kit is a valuable skill too.

I like to try out tools that purport to save time. The CAT M4 definitely saves time.

Here's a video of the CAT M4 and Talon Lug Tool.

CAT-M4 & Talon - YouTube

I said I wouldn't mention solvents, but there is one carbon cleaning solvent that I know works every time.



SeaFoam motor treatment. Any of you who own a vehicle with a carburetor should already be familiar with SeaFoam. I disassemble the BCG & bolt, and let the parts soak in some SeaFoam to start to dissolve & loosen carbon deposits.

For the new guys who have AR's with delta rings and want to change out hand guards, getting an AR hand guard tool makes the job much easier.

I used to change hand guards by compressing the delta ring by hand. Changing hand guards by hand, by myself, was time consuming, frustrating, and frustrating. I broke down and bought a $10 hand guard tool.

I shot a video:

AR Delta Ring Compression Tool - YouTube

Also for the new guys, a video on how to swap out a butt stock. I shot this to help out a friend who just couldn't get it.

M4 Stock Removal. Install Magpul MOE. - YouTube
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Old 05-06-2012, 06:08 PM
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JaPes,
Great post. You just made my shopping list a little longer.
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Old 05-06-2012, 07:59 PM
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I'm adding that BCG tool to the cleaning kit
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Old 05-06-2012, 08:39 PM
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JaPes,
Great post. You just made my shopping list a little longer.
Its my goal to be the enabler for my fellow firearms enthusiasts.
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:20 AM
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Default Talon Lug Scraper

What is that lug scraper made out of?

Is it aluminum or steel? If it is steel don't you have to be mighty careful with it?

Just asking.
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:26 AM
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How much for the complete kit in your arsenal of cleaners? I'd prolly be interested.............
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Sprefix View Post
How much for the complete kit in your arsenal of cleaners? I'd prolly be interested.............
  • I picked up a multi-caliber Otis kit on sale for $40.
  • The CAT M4 tool cost me about $30.
  • The Gunslick bore guide was $25.
  • The Talon Lug Tool was $32.
  • The .22cal Boresnake was $12.
  • The AR Chamber brush was $5.50.
  • The ejector install/removal jig was $35.
  • The 3-prong AR wrench was $8.
  • The front sight tool was $9.
  • The dental pick was a couple bucks at a gun show.

I wish I never totaled it up just now. It seems a bit nuts, but the tools were accumulated over time.

I keep everything I need to work on a firearm in my re-purposed fishing tackle box. I have a bottle of Hoppes No.9, Slip2000 degreaser, and lubricants in there.

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Old 05-07-2012, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by smithman 10 View Post
What is that lug scraper made out of?

Is it aluminum or steel? If it is steel don't you have to be mighty careful with it?

Just asking.
"The tool head is made of 400 series stainless steel. The choice of material was made to insure that the talons would be brittle. If the tool head gets damaged it is designed to break instead of bending. Because, a bent tool could get hung up in the chamber. But, if one of the talons should break-off, there are still seven more to do the job. "
Source: Buy Talon, AR-15, Gun, Cleaning Tool, Gun Cleaning Tool, AR-15 Cleaning Kit
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:37 PM
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Nice!!! Make me up a kit like that and I'll gladly pay you Tuesday. Looks like you've got it covered. Hand Salute!

Hobie
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:39 PM
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thank you for this informative thread.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Hobie1 View Post
Nice!!! Make me up a kit like that and I'll gladly pay you Tuesday. Looks like you've got it covered. Hand Salute!

Hobie
LOL! Thanks!

I don't think you want to see my re-supply drawer... or the Brownells small parts mailing boxes with spare firearms parts in it. I like to keep common wear & tear parts on hand.

For my AR's I keep the following spare parts on hand:
  1. Firing pin.
  2. The little extractor "O" ring and spring.
  3. Safety detent & detent spring. (Can you guess why? LOL)
  4. Rear take down pin detent & detent spring.
  5. A Carbine buffer.
  6. Trigger springs.

Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a part to arrive in the mail when you need it right now.
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:45 PM
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Default Talon - I'm getting me one

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaPes View Post
"The tool head is made of 400 series stainless steel. The choice of material was made to insure that the talons would be brittle. If the tool head gets damaged it is designed to break instead of bending. Because, a bent tool could get hung up in the chamber. But, if one of the talons should break-off, there are still seven more to do the job. "
Source: Buy Talon, AR-15, Gun, Cleaning Tool, Gun Cleaning Tool, AR-15 Cleaning Kit
Thanks for the link and the info. Sounds like a real good piece of gear to have.
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by smithman 10 View Post
Thanks for the link and the info. Sounds like a real good piece of gear to have.
You're welcome.

I'm still on the fence about the Talon lug scraping tool. It works fine, but I think I can do just as well by swabbing the chamber & lugs with some SeaFoam, let it sit for a little, then use the AR chamber brush.

$32 v.s. $5.50

The one tools I enthusiastically endorse is the CAT M4 bolt cleaning tool. The .22 cal rifle boresnake is #2.
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:04 AM
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An AR-15 with a direct impingement gas operated system routes a portion of the hot combustion gasses to cycle the action. The hot gasses are dirty & foul, and get blown into the action. The carbon fouling cakes onto portions of the BCG. It also builds up on the chamber lugs.

You'll see some AR BCG's with exotic applied finishes (ex: nickel boron, fail zero, etc..) which increase the lubricity of the bolt with claims of needing very little to no lube, and being resistant to carbon fouling because it doesn't stick to it.
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:54 AM
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AXC products on Ebay has the chamber brushes for $2 and they work very well.
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:50 PM
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Excellent and informative post......just ordered a Talon field cleaning duo. Been looking all over for just the right tool to clean out the lugs and BCG innards, and this looks like it! Thanks......
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Old 05-11-2012, 05:13 AM
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Wow! This is one of the most useful threads for the newbie (me!) that I've seen. Thanks to all that have posted. I salute you!
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Old 05-12-2012, 08:49 PM
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In the next couple weeks, I plan to take my on-again/off-again cleaning OCD to the next level.



2.5L Ultrasonic Cleaner!

I'm hoping to quickly clean a ...

Disassembled AR bolt, Ruger MKIII bolt, 15-22 Bolt, Ruger 10/22 bolt, small parts, maybe even a stripped 1911 frame...

I also have a different problem. I don't reload, yet I pick up my brass at the range and whatever abandoned brass strays into my immediate area. I've got some brass that needs cleaning.

Hopefully it will fit into my motto, "Work smarter, not harder."
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Old 05-13-2012, 01:32 AM
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Very good thread! I've got the full Otis kit with all the scrapers and brushes and whatnot, but that BCG tool looks mighty useful - I'll have to pick one up

Last edited by Gatorade; 05-13-2012 at 01:37 AM.
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:31 AM
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Just got my Talon Field Cleaning kit yesterday - my BCG and lug recess have not been as clean since my rifle was brand new.
Expensive but well worth it in the long run.
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Old 05-13-2012, 09:04 AM
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I discovered yesterday..running the Mobil 1 I didnt have near the carbon build up that I expected to find during an extensive disassemble and what was there cleaned right up pretty effortlessly.
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Old 06-19-2012, 09:51 PM
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WOW impressive



Thanks for the Linky Linky

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Old 07-07-2012, 10:38 PM
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I finally got around to acquiring a Chicago Electric Ultrasonic Cleaner. I purchased it at Harbor Freight Tools. It was on sale, and I stacked a 20% off coupon.

I didn't do any shooting today, so I didn't use it to clean any firearms parts. I did experiment with once fired brass. The brass definitely comes out better than it went in. The brass comes out clean, but not 100% shiny & polished.

At this point, I think it might be good to start to reload but I'm not 100% certain. I'm not a reloader. To get it nice and polished, I'd need to acquire a media tumbler.

I think the ultrasonic cleaner will make quick work of cleaning & degreasing any metal part I put in there. Until I ascertain the differences in cleaning solutions, no aluminum parts go in the cleaner.
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Old 07-08-2012, 02:18 AM
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Please keep us informed on how well it works!
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Old 07-08-2012, 02:43 AM
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I just ordered the talon cleaning kit. It includes the Talon Scraper and the C.A.T. M4 in a little pouch and saves a little money....Finally found them, now I am responsible for the maintenance of 2 it will save me time. Thanks for the reference.
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Old 07-08-2012, 06:38 AM
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Pipe cleaners - gas tube and BCG key
q-tips - trigger group

And lately I've discovered compressed air to blow **** out of the trigger mechanism.
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Old 10-06-2012, 04:46 PM
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It's been a while. I forgot about this thread, then it pooped up as a "notable thread" and got referenced in a few others.

The Chicago Electric ultra sonic cleaner makes quick work of degreasing & cleaning the entire BCG. I strip & clean the BCG with my tools. I then put the parts into the Ultrasonic.

Wow. Grease & oil immediately dissolve off the part into the cleaning solution. The ultrasonic also gets into little areas my tools can't reach.

It works so well that I'm using the ultrasonic for deep cleaning disassembled firearms.
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:43 PM
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yep it "pooped" up...LMAO...it is a great thread!!!
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Old 10-06-2012, 06:01 PM
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JaPes,

You put together a nice list of cleaning tools, should help lots of people.

The carrier scraper tool end of the CAT 4 though, they stole my idea

I've been using my own "carrier scraper" tool for about 25 years, looks a lot like the carrier scraper tool end of the CAT 4. Machined it from a piece of steel myself many years ago. On the opposite end of my own DIY tool is a curved corner that fits the curve in the bolt that performs the same function as the bolt scraper tool end of the CAT 4. Guess i'll drill a hole in mine now for the firing pin

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Old 10-12-2012, 01:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JaPes View Post
It's been a while. I forgot about this thread, then it pooped up as a "notable thread" and got referenced in a few others.

The Chicago Electric ultra sonic cleaner makes quick work of degreasing & cleaning the entire BCG. I strip & clean the BCG with my tools. I then put the parts into the Ultrasonic.

Wow. Grease & oil immediately dissolve off the part into the cleaning solution. The ultrasonic also gets into little areas my tools can't reach.

It works so well that I'm using the ultrasonic for deep cleaning disassembled firearms.
What cleaning agent are you using in the ultrasonic tank?
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:20 PM
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Hello and thanks for the valuable information. You listed tools that I didn't know existed. Like the question from Jim Sebring above me, I'd also like to know what solvent you are using in the ultrasonic tank. Also, how much lube do you use on the BCG? Does it need to be really lubed up or just a little? What about gun grease instead of oil? Thanks again...
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:41 PM
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What cleaning agent are you using in the ultrasonic tank?
Quote:
Originally Posted by panhandle_gunslinger View Post
Hello and thanks for the valuable information. You listed tools that I didn't know existed. Like the question from Jim Sebring above me, I'd also like to know what solvent you are using in the ultrasonic tank. Also, how much lube do you use on the BCG? Does it need to be really lubed up or just a little? What about gun grease instead of oil? Thanks again...
I've been experimenting with combinations of home made ultrasonic brews.
  • Hot water + simple green + dish washing soap.
  • Hot water + simple green + vinegar.
  • Hot water + vinegar + lemon juice.

If I'm using an acidic solution, I neutralize with a dunk in water/baking soda solution. So far, I like the first combo. Works on gun parts & spent cases.

As for lube, I've tried a bunch of different products. I've used light oils, heavier oil, synthetic motor oil, hi-temp bearing grease, copper/graphite grease.

IMO, use whatever lube you want. Just make sure that you lube the BCG real well. Also, pay attention to any witness marks on the charging handle & upper receiver. Lube where you see witness marks.

If I'm storing the rifle, I'll lightly coat the BCG, chamber, & bore with lube for protection. When I'm going to go to the range, I'll spritz the BCG with lube. I'll also swab out the chamber & pull a patch through the bore to remove any excess oil.

NOW FOR PURE OPINION.

There are three lubes that I think do the job.
  • Breakfree CLP
  • Ballistol
  • Mobil 1 Synthetic Motor Oil

Breakfree CLP & Ballistol are available in aerosol cans. If your AR starts running dry at the range, pull the BCG, squirt it down, reinstall. Good to go. I've used both. I've switched to Ballistol. I use it to clean & lube. It saves time. The more I use Ballistol in a bore, the easier it becomes to clean the bore.

Mobil 1 is always good because you can buy a quart for less than the price of a few ounces firearms branded oil.
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Old 10-13-2012, 12:51 AM
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JaPes - PRIME THREAD !! Just made a couple additions to MY shopping list. Don't have a 'black rifle', yet. Reloading is the cheapest way to shoot-a-lot. I've been reloading for an old Hand Ejector for years and have found a couple "pet loads". Load #1 is for target shooting, load #2 is for hunting and 'home defense'. "Back-up" comes in size 9.
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:50 PM
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Excellent thread. I saw a couple things to add to the cleaning kit, too. Something that I have found useful for detail cleaning in general is wooden chop sticks and BBQ skewers, whittled to different point shapes for cleaning different areas, with or without cloth patches. Cheap, disposable and don't scratch anything.
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:50 AM
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So, anyone have any recommendations for the bore snake and how to clean it? Ive had mine for a couple years? Dishwasher, laundry, by hand??
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:38 AM
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Thanks John... some very good stuff in this thread.
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Old 02-24-2013, 03:52 PM
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I used to change hand guards by compressing the delta ring by hand. Changing hand guards by hand, by myself, was time consuming, frustrating, and frustrating. I broke down and bought a $10 hand guard tool.

I shot a video:

AR Delta Ring Compression Tool - YouTube
Okay John, this video was great - but it is also the reason I need a new keyboard. I absolutely lost it when you flipped the handguard off. Chicken soup everywhere man!
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:40 PM
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So, anyone have any recommendations for the bore snake and how to clean it? Ive had mine for a couple years? Dishwasher, laundry, by hand??
Because the Boresnake is most likely contaminated by lead and other contaminants I don't want to spread around, I hand wash it. I wash it in a cheap bucket & in a utility sink.
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Old 02-24-2013, 07:29 PM
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John and All

Thanks for the Great thread!!

Much good information!!
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:59 PM
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I've been using Frog Lube and cleaning the bcg is simply a matter of wiping it off after heating it up with the blow dryer or heat gun. Carbon just melts off.
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Old 09-29-2014, 09:37 PM
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Just a little update. I've been shooting rifles every weekend for the past couple months. Because the rifles are being shot more often, I'm not obsessing about thorough cleanings for longer term storage. I purchased a new Viper Boresnake that has longer brush surface.

So far wet the portion before the bristles with CLP & pull through three times...
  • M&P 15 Melonite Treated Barrel = Gets most of the fouling out. Good enough for weekly trips to the range.
  • CMV non-lined barrel = Gets most of the fouling out. Good enough for weekly trips to the range.
  • IWI Tavor Chrome Lined = Gets the bulk of the fouling out.

This is just me shining a light down the bore and doing a very subjective visual evaluation. The Boresnake doesn't remove all the fouling as the traditional four step cleaning:

1. Push dry patch down bore to dislodge loose fouling.
2. Push solvent wetted patch down bore, let solvent dwell.
3. Push solvent wetted brush down bore from breech to muzzle three times.
4. Push jag and patch down bore until patches come out clean.

The advantage to the Boresnake is that I don't have to take as many fouling shots for poa/poi to stabalize.

As far as the rest:

The chamber gets quickly brushed with a chamber brush.
The upper/lower or single unit receiver gets wiped out
The bolt or gas piston gets wetted down with Hoppes, leave it to dwell, then wiped off.

The standard BCG gets carbon fouling at the usual places. A wipe down doesn't get all the carbon off. What's left doesn't impede operation. Combustion fouling wipes right off the Fail Zero NiBx BCG. I'm running it dry.

I've burned through about 2K rounds over the three rifles. I'll do a complete clean of all three over Thanksgiving.
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Old 09-29-2014, 09:59 PM
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On a side note, a buddy of mine finally pulled the gas piston from his 4 year old FN SCAR 16. I'm not sure how many rounds he shot, but imagine all the fouling that occurs in a DI AR-15's BCG and upper concentrated onto a piston.

Filled a small jar with Seafoam, dropped in the piston and let it sit. 1/2 hour, wipe off the loosened carbon. Drop it back in, repeat. Worked like a charm.
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Old 04-24-2015, 12:49 PM
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I finally got around to acquiring a Chicago Electric Ultrasonic Cleaner. I purchased it at Harbor Freight Tools. It was on sale, and I stacked a 20% off coupon.

I didn't do any shooting today, so I didn't use it to clean any firearms parts. I did experiment with once fired brass. The brass definitely comes out better than it went in. The brass comes out clean, but not 100% shiny & polished.

At this point, I think it might be good to start to reload but I'm not 100% certain. I'm not a reloader. To get it nice and polished, I'd need to acquire a media tumbler.

I think the ultrasonic cleaner will make quick work of cleaning & degreasing any metal part I put in there. Until I ascertain the differences in cleaning solutions, no aluminum parts go in the cleaner.
I just use strait vinegar non diluted in my Ultra Sonic cleaner that I get at Walmart they have a cleaning vinegar thats 6% instead of 5% little stronger same price white or apple same never mind cleans the same, let it run for about 45 minutes and the brass comes out looking like new but you'll need a tumbler too get it nice and shinny.

Paul
PS thanks for all the good advice
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Old 04-24-2015, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
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So, anyone have any recommendations for the bore snake and how to clean it? Ive had mine for a couple years? Dishwasher, laundry, by hand??
I usually either clean my by hand with some Dawn dish soap or I put it in a sock and throw it in the washing machine if I have need to also wash some rags that are dirty, but still have some life left in them.

EDIT: FYI- there are bore guides out there that can be used on multiple rifles that are less money. Might was well buy something that has multiple uses, right?

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Old 04-24-2015, 09:01 PM
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New to AR's?  Here are some tools I use to clean. New to AR's?  Here are some tools I use to clean. New to AR's?  Here are some tools I use to clean. New to AR's?  Here are some tools I use to clean. New to AR's?  Here are some tools I use to clean.  
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If anyone has new cleaning tools not in this thread, post them up!
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