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Old 04-20-2020, 08:04 PM
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Default Question re: Cleaning the Bolt Carrier Group

New M&P-15 Sport II owner here (long-time gun owner, but this is my first long gun of any type). When you are cleaning the BCG, do you take apart the bolt, including taking out the extractor, extractor spring, ejector, etc? Or do you just leave the bolt all together?

Thanks!

Last edited by RockBottom; 04-20-2020 at 10:03 PM. Reason: Clarifying type of rifle
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Old 04-20-2020, 08:28 PM
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If I am doing a quick clean I always remove the bolt from the bolt carrier and then clean them.

If I am doing a regular or deep clean then I remove the extractor. I have never removed the ejector.

There are several good tools from various manufactures for cleaning the bolt and bolt carrier. I really like the tools from CAT outdoors.

CAT Outdoors Products - CAT Outdoors Inc.
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Old 04-20-2020, 08:42 PM
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Carried one a lot with a lot of rounds down range and I run mine wetter than some and have never taken the bolt apart. Rinse with solvent and brush, blow dry and lube. Shoot some more, never had a problem.
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Old 04-20-2020, 08:53 PM
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I take the bolt carrier group apart, but I do not remove the extractor. In my opinion doing so is unnecessary, although many will disagree. I've never experienced any issues from not removing it, and I have put thousands of rounds downrange.
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Old 04-20-2020, 09:07 PM
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I have occasionally removed the extractor, either when I was having extraction issues or once/twice for deep cleaning.

The spring inside the bolt body puts leverage on the extractor. Sometimes that doesn’t work well enough. I have seen extraction become problematic with (1) lots of foreign debris and (2) cheap ammo. For me, it is usually those two things together, such as grit jamming the extractor. I have replaced the extractor spring or added Dfenders on at least two older rifles.

US Army had a prevalence of similar extraction issues in the early fielding of the M4 carbines in the late 90s and early 2000s. Numerous issues came together, but shorter barrel didn’t help. The ORing And Dfenders were used for stopgap solutions until the copper colored Colt spring came out.

In other words, if your bolt is built similar to Milspec in the last 10 years, it should run fine with little to no cleaning. If you start having extraction issues, cleaning shouldn’t hurt.
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Old 04-20-2020, 10:03 PM
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This is a great video. He speaks truth.

YouTube
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Old 04-21-2020, 09:22 AM
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This is a great video. He speaks truth.

YouTube
Interesting he says NOT to lubricate the trigger area at all - I've seen others say you should be doing that.
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Old 04-21-2020, 10:02 AM
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Interesting he says NOT to lubricate the trigger area at all - I've seen others say you should be doing that.
I saw that as well. The instructions for my LaRue MBT triggers have you applying grease. Of course, I forgot that step on one of my installs, and that gun runs just as well as the others where I applied a thin coating of grease. It makes sense that you don't want to attract grit and grime there.
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Old 04-21-2020, 04:22 PM
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I never disassemble a bolt short of parts' replacement / repair.
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Old 04-21-2020, 08:43 PM
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In the USMC we always disassembled the bolt carrier group but never removed the extractor from the bolt. A lot of crud get in the nooks and crannies.
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Old 04-21-2020, 09:01 PM
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Who cleans their AR?
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Old 04-21-2020, 10:34 PM
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Who cleans their AR?
I do! I do!!
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Old 04-22-2020, 12:32 AM
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About a half-century has passed since I had to thoroughly clean a AR-rifle (US M16A1) for turn in, subject to a very thorough inspection.

We used immersion heaters in galvanized steel trash barrels, raising the water temperature to a brisk boil. Strip down the weapon, all the small parts (including bolt, bolt carrier, etc) in a wire basket, and everything dunked into the barrel of boiling water and dish-washing soap. Then into the barrel of boiling clean water.

Coming out of the barrels the metal is too hot to handle, but the water immediately evaporates off leaving the parts completely dry. All the grease, oil, and crud are removed. Normal cleaning with solvent, then a light application of LSA (Lubricant-Small Arms), and your weapon is ready for Staff Sergeant Gilcrest's closest inspection.

I still use boiling water and dish soap when cleaning heavily fouled or seriously neglected used guns that come my way. I have a couple of large kitchen pots that I bought at Goodwill for a buck or two for this use (I don't recommend using my wife's good kitchen stuff). 5 or 10 minutes in boiling water with a bit of Dawn dish soap, then 5 or 10 minutes in clean boiling water, then normal cleaning and light lube.

Sounds extreme, but you probably never met Staff Sergeant Gilcrest.

"Dawn takes grease out of your way".
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Old 04-22-2020, 01:12 AM
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Here is a good article on cleaning and maintaining the AR-15:
S.W.A.T. MAGAZINE – KEEP YOUR CARBINE RUNNING : Slip 2000 Official Blog
The guy who wrote it was a Marine, Cop, Gunsite Instructor and ran training for various .LEO, .MIL and OGA.

To directly answer your question the S&W manual shows you how to remove the extractor for cleaning. I only recommend doing so periodically (not after each firing session) you don't get alot of crud under it and if you lose the spring, buffer or pin, it can be a pain until spare parts can be procured. Also pay attention to the condition of the tip of the extractor. If it cracks or breaks it will no longer extract regularly. I've only seen that issue on high mileage rifles or rifles made with cheap parts. Don't mess with the ejector.

Last edited by cd228; 04-22-2020 at 01:26 AM.
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Old 04-22-2020, 07:54 AM
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Sounds like a hold-over from the corrosive ammo days.
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Originally Posted by LoboGunLeather View Post
About a half-century has passed since I had to thoroughly clean a AR-rifle (US M16A1) for turn in, subject to a very thorough inspection.

We used immersion heaters in galvanized steel trash barrels, raising the water temperature to a brisk boil. Strip down the weapon, all the small parts (including bolt, bolt carrier, etc) in a wire basket, and everything dunked into the barrel of boiling water and dish-washing soap. Then into the barrel of boiling clean water.

Coming out of the barrels the metal is too hot to handle, but the water immediately evaporates off leaving the parts completely dry. All the grease, oil, and crud are removed. Normal cleaning with solvent, then a light application of LSA (Lubricant-Small Arms), and your weapon is ready for Staff Sergeant Gilcrest's closest inspection.

I still use boiling water and dish soap when cleaning heavily fouled or seriously neglected used guns that come my way. I have a couple of large kitchen pots that I bought at Goodwill for a buck or two for this use (I don't recommend using my wife's good kitchen stuff). 5 or 10 minutes in boiling water with a bit of Dawn dish soap, then 5 or 10 minutes in clean boiling water, then normal cleaning and light lube.

Sounds extreme, but you probably never met Staff Sergeant Gilcrest.

"Dawn takes grease out of your way".
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Old 04-22-2020, 08:06 AM
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cd228, great article! Thanks for posting!
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Old 04-22-2020, 09:33 AM
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I too have half century or more with the M16 and removing the extractor is seldom required. The last time i recall it being necessary was not long after the Army started issuing CLP. Seems that CLP had a propensity for destroying the little red silicone inserts in extractor springs. New springs with blue inserts, resistant to CLP, were issued and armorers instructed to not use red inserts.

Now even those have been replaced. PS Magazine - TB 43-PS-670 - Page 12 of 33

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Old 04-22-2020, 01:20 PM
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I too have half century or more with the M16 and removing the extractor is seldom required. The last time i recall it being necessary was not long after the Army started issuing CLP. Seems that CLP had a propensity for destroying the little red silicone inserts in extractor springs. New springs with blue inserts, resistant to CLP, were issued and armorers instructed to not use red inserts.

Now even those have been replaced. PS Magazine - TB 43-PS-670 - Page 12 of 33
I never used "CLP", it was always "LSA".
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Old 04-22-2020, 02:37 PM
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"CLP" stands for cleans, lubricates and protects. There is no brand on the market called CLP. There are many on the market that claim to clean, lube and protect. So, the are a CLP, but that is not the name.

What I believe most people are referring to when the just say CLP is a product called Break-Free CLP, which is a very good product.

Frog Lube is also a CLP, but I suspect that's not what they usually mean.
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Old 04-22-2020, 03:22 PM
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Yep, Break-Free is what I prefer.
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Old 04-22-2020, 03:32 PM
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Anyway, CLP is what we called it. LSA was also known by a less polite name having to do with simians. More or less official, back in the day...

https://www.logsa.army.mil/psmag/arc.../784-36-37.pdf

https://www.logsa.army.mil/psmag/arc...671/671-23.pdf
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Old 04-22-2020, 04:20 PM
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Anyway, CLP is what we called it. LSA was also known by a less polite name having to do with simians. More or less official, back in the day...

https://www.logsa.army.mil/psmag/arc.../784-36-37.pdf

https://www.logsa.army.mil/psmag/arc...671/671-23.pdf
Well, I learned something new. I wasn't in the Army. The military does often make up their own names for things they buy en mass. That may indeed by why so many people refer to it as just CLP.
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Old 04-22-2020, 04:26 PM
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I was taught to use plenty of LSA by an old E7 in Ranger School many years ago . Maybe just lucky but I have never had a problem in a bunch of nasty AO’s but was using rifle length systems which are supposed to be more trouble free.
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Old 04-23-2020, 10:27 AM
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Well, I learned something new. I wasn't in the Army. The military does often make up their own names for things they buy en mass. That may indeed by why so many people refer to it as just CLP.
The 3 letter military symbols for lubricants are often used to refer to a product. Appendix E of TM4-33.31 may be interesting to you, especially the section on Weapons Lubricants.

https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_p...INAL%20WEB.pdf

"NOTE: The M16 family of weapons was originally designed to be cleaned with RBC and lubricated with LSA. Before using them, Soldiers first have to use a dry cleaning solvent (SD-2) to remove any traces of CLP or any other lubricant.

WARNING:
CLP must NOT be mixed with any other lubricant, or it will gum up. It is designed to be the only thing used on a working weapon, when used."
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Old 05-01-2020, 01:09 AM
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AK owners just swish their rifle around in the nearest muddy puddle.
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Old 05-01-2020, 03:02 PM
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If no mud puddles are handy, one can just use one's own liquid waste product.
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Old 05-09-2020, 07:09 PM
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The bolt always comes apart, too much crud in there to leave .... the extractor gets taken out every other time.
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Old 05-09-2020, 08:25 PM
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When you take the BCG down for cleaning, you should have 5 pieces: 1-the carrier/gas key assembly, 2-the firing pin retainer cotter pin, 3-cam pin, 4-firing pin, 5-bolt/extractor/gas rings assembly. No further disassembly should be needed for cleaning.

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Old 05-09-2020, 08:26 PM
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I guess my Janet Reno era AR-15s need a better cleaning.
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Old 05-19-2020, 01:09 PM
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If you keep up on your cleaning and the rifle is running well, there’s no reason to disassemble the bolt.

Just beak the BCG down to the 5 parts, clean and scrape to get rid of the carbon buildup, lube the bolt, and reassemble and lube the BCG.

Worked for me for decades.
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Old 05-31-2020, 08:05 PM
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The CAT M4 tool is worth every penny. For those unfamiliar, it makes cleaning the bolt, firing pin and carrier much, much easier.

While CLPs can be the darling of the supply chain folks and those who have to pack all their gear on their backs, they generally sorta kinda do all three jobs. If you don't fall into either category, separate cleaner and lubricant/protector is a better option.

Back when I smithed, at the end of the competition season, I'd get a few 1911s dropped off because "the trigger needs redone". These folks generally didn't clean their guns thoroughly but used Breakfree generously. What happened was that powder residue would clump up and adversely affect the sear/hammer engagement. A detail strip, cleaning and lubrication would virtually always solve "the trigger problem".

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