Like all firearms, proper maintenance on your AR-15 is key to ensuring it functions safely and effectively. To do so, you’ll need to field strip your AR-15. Luckily, it only takes eight steps and a few minutes.
Field stripping your AR15 requires some basic safety practices and an understanding of the different components. By following our below instructions you’ll be able to more easily clean debris & prolong the lifespan of your firearm.
In this article, we’ll walk you through how to break down your AR-15, reassemble it again, and discuss whether you need to re-zero your scope after field stripping. Enjoy the disassembly!
Table of Contents
How To Break Down An AR-15 [10 Steps]
Below, we listed the eight simple steps to break down your AR-15 rifle.
|1||Ensure Your Gun Is Safe||Before any modification or cleaning, ensure the gun is safe by removing the magazine, clearing the chamber, and keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.|
|2||Gather Equipment & Tools||Collect necessary tools, including a non-marring hammer, punch, and gun cleaning kit, ensuring they are within arm’s reach for a smoother cleaning process.|
|3||Yank The Charging Handle||Pull the charging handle to the rear to open the upper receiver and expose the bolt carrier assembly for further disassembly.|
|4||Take Out Rear Take-down Pin||Press the rear takedown pin to separate the upper and lower receivers, allowing access to the internal components of the AR-15.|
|5||Take Out Bolt Carrier Group (BCG)||Slide out the bolt carrier group from the upper receiver after pulling back the charging handle and removing the rear takedown pin.|
|6||Take Out Charging Handle||Remove the charging handle from the upper receiver by sliding it downward after extracting the bolt carrier group.|
|7||Split Apart Lower & Upper Receiver||Separate the lower and upper receiver by pivoting the upper receiver forward and off the lower receiver, effectively splitting them apart.|
|8||Visually Examine Lower Receiver & BCG||Use a bright light to inspect the lower receiver and bolt carrier group for signs of wear or damage, as any issues can compromise safe operation.|
|9||Take Out Buffer Spring & Buffer||Press down on the buffer detent and carefully remove the buffer and spring from the buffer tube for inspection and cleaning.|
|10||Final Inspection & Cleaning||Thoroughly clean all field-stripped parts, including pins, gas assembly, gas key, and rings. Conduct a final inspection for wear or damage to ensure the rifle’s durability and safe operation.|
1. Ensure Your Gun Is Safe
Safety first! Always make sure your gun is safe before attempting any modification or cleaning of your weapon, including an AR-15 disassembly. Ensure your rifle is unloaded, removing the magazine and clearing the chamber. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction – never directly down; instead, point it at a downward angle.
2. Gather Equipment & Tools
Next, you’ll need to gather your tools. Prepare a non-marring hammer, a punch, and a gun cleaning kit.
Expert Tip: Make sure all your tools are within arm’s reach – it just makes the cleaning process smoother.
3. Yank The Charging Handle
Now for the physical disassembly. Pull the charging handle to the rear to open the upper receiver and expose the bolt carrier assembly.
4. Take Out Rear Take-down Pin
Use your finger or the tip of a bullet and press the rear takedown pin from the left side of the AR-15. This will allow the rear pin to be pulled out from the right. When you remove the take-down pins, you separate the upper and lower receiver.
5. Take Out Bolt Carrier Group (BCG)
Once you’ve pulled the charging handle back and removed the rear takedown pin, you can slide out the bolt carrier group from the upper receiver.
6. Take Out Charging Handle
After removing the BCG, you can easily remove the charging handle from the upper receiver by sliding it downward.
7. Split Apart Lower & Upper Receiver
Next, you need to separate the lower and upper receiver. You can do this by pivoting the upper receiver in a forward position and off the lower receiver, effectively splitting them apart.
8. Visually Examine Lower Receiver & BCG
Use a bright light to check for any signs of wear or damage on the lower receiver or BCG. Remember, wear or damage can compromise safe operation, so be meticulous with this step!
9. Take Out Buffer Spring & Buffer
Press down on the buffer detent and carefully remove the buffer and spring from the buffer tube.
10. Final Inspection & Cleaning
With the AR-15 now field stripped, clean all parts thoroughly, including all the pins, such as the firing pin, cam pin, retaining pin, pivot pin, cotter pin, and bolt cam pin. Also, pay attention to the gas assembly and make sure you properly clean the gas key and gas rings.
After cleaning all the parts, inspect them for any signs of excessive wear or damage. This is why field stripping is so important; it allows you to routinely check the durability and safe operation of your rifle before something bad happens.
Why Is It Important To Field Strip Your AR-15 Correctly?
Field stripping your AR-15 correctly ensures your firearm operates safely and efficiently. When you properly disassemble your AR-15, it allows for detailed cleaning, which removes fouling and debris that could impair function.
Moreover, regular inspections can help identify parts needing replacement or maintenance. I can recall numerous times when I cleaned my AR-15 and spotted a crack on the BCG or a pin that had been damaged. If I hadn’t cleaned my weapon, it could have led to misfires, weapon jams, or worse, rounds exploding in the chamber.
Finally, field stripping your AR-15 correctly ensures that you can reassemble the rifle correctly, which is crucial for safety.
How To Reassemble An AR-15
To reassemble your AR-15, simply follow the steps outlined in this article, but in reverse order. Make sure all parts are clean and in excellent condition before reassembly.
Start by replacing the buffer and buffer spring. Then, reach the upper and lower receivers, ensuring the take-down pins are securely in place.
Finally, replace the charging handle and BCG. When reassembling the AR-15 BCG, ensure the bolt face is rotated so the extractor is in the 10 o’clock position.
Do You Need To Re-Zero Your Scope After Field Stripping?
No, there is no need to re-zero your scope after field stripping your AR-15. You aren’t removing or adjusting the barrel or sights, so it shouldn’t affect the scope’s zero. If you reassemble the rifle correctly, the AR-15 scope should maintain zero. However, it’s always good practice to check your zero after any maintenance before using your AR-15 in the field.
Is It Easy To Damage The Upper Receiver When Reassembling?
As long as you are careful and follow the steps meticulously, it won’t be easy to damage your AR-15 upper when reassembling your AR rig. However, forceful or incorrect reassembly can lead to wear or damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it necessary to unload the AR-15 before taking it apart?
How long does it take to field strip an AR-15?
The Bottom Line
Field stripping and regular maintenance of your AR-15 are crucial for its safe operation and longevity. Always ensure safety first (unloading the weapon), follow instructions, and never force components apart or together. With proper care and routine field stripping, your beloved AR-15 will provide reliable service for years to come.