Lubricating Your AR-15

By CTD Blogger published on in Firearms

The fact that AR-15 rifles need to be cleaned and lubricated regularly is not new to anyone reading this. At least it shouldn’t be. But what parts of the rifle require lubrication, and in what amounts? That is the question we will answer here today.

In general, the bolt assembly is the only component of the AR-15 that needs regular lubrication. There are other parts that should be lightly wiped down with oil, such as the bore and the charging handle, but there is rarely a need to frequently reapply lubrication to these parts.

When cleaning your AR-15, a good quality solvent removes not only carbon fouling but also much of the oil or grease used to lubricate the critical moving parts of the gun. After cleaning, you should always reapply lubricant to these parts.

What lubricant you use is a personal decision. Depending on the environment, some shooters prefer to use a light oil, gun grease, or even a dry lube. Each type has certain advantages and disadvantages. Some light oils can burn off from heat, and some heavy oils and grease can become excessive thick during cold weather. Dry lube is necessary in excessively dry and dusty or sandy situations, but in general, the thin film left by dry lubricants doesn’t reduce friction to the same level as other traditional oils.

While there are advocates of shooting the AR-15 platform “dripping wet,” this method is not necessary. In some cases where the weapon may be exposed to harsh elements, over-lubrication may actually be ill advised as the excess oil will attract and trap dirt and debris. Instead, keep the lubrication to a minimum and apply it only where it is needed.

The bolt itself should completely covered with a light coat of oil or grease. Take care not to apply too much lubrication and wipe off any excess.

The cam pin needs just a little dot of oil or grease just above the firing pin hole. Rub in the lubrication until it is lightly coated and wipe off any excess.

In the past, many shooters would completely coat the bolt carrier with oil or grease. This is not truly necessary. If you look closely at the bolt carrier, you will notice rails along the top and bottom of either side. These bearing surfaces, which appear shiny on bolt carriers that have had a couple of hundred rounds fired through them, are the only parts that need to be frequently lubricated.

Apply a few drops of oil or a dab of grease to each rail and rub it along the rail until it is lightly coated.

When shooting a match, especially with high round counts that may heat up the bolt and carrier assembly significantly, it pays to reapply lubricant to these parts to replace oil that has burned off. Shooting your AR-15 style rifle “dripping wet” is not strictly necessary. Keep bolt, carrier, and cam pin lightly lubricated and you’ll be good to go.

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Do you have an argument for running your AR “dripping wet?” Tell us why in the comment section.

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Comments (51)

  • Kim


    What about White Lithium?? We used gun oil in the military, but, I have heard that White lithium is awesome to use, as long as it is used lightly.


  • Novice AR-15 Build – Black Rifle on a Budget – Part 3 (Finished Build) | The BigBearButt


    […] Are you unsure how to lubricate an AR-15? Again… Youtube. Yes, there are even how to demonstration videos on how to clean your rifle. Well, why not? It’s been two decades for me, a quick refresher never hurt anyone. And I liked the suggestion of adding a little high-temp lithium grease to the more serious wear parts of the bolt carrier rails. But for a quick and dirty reminder of where to lubricate the bolt carrier, this is a nice one page cheatsheet. […]


  • FredNeck


    I have an Anderson AM15, I clean it with Simple Green and water with a bore snake and a gun brush, then rinse with a water hose.
    Then I blow the water out with an air hose, never use lube or solvent.
    It does not get as fouled up with carbon like a none RF85 treated AR.
    All my other guns I use CLP.


    • bubbatime


      Anderson RF85 that doesn’t require lube is a freaking joke. Put some lube on that thing and dont be silly. Having no lube can hurt but having lubricant cannot hurt.


    • FredNeck


      The Anderson Rifle is the only rifle in the world that never requires lubrication.
      An ancillary benefit arises because without an oily film to catch carbon particles, the rifle runs cleaner much longer. A typical lubricated weapon traps the carbon byproducts from explosives. Under the heated conditions found in weapons, the gooey mess turns into tar which bakes into a solid mass and fouls the chamber. The result is life-threatening weapon failure.

      85% Less Friction
      23% Faster Action
      Never Needs Oiling
      Cleans Up with Soap & Water
      Once you understand just how effective this process is, you won’t settle for anything less than an Anderson NO LUBE Rifle.


  • Steven


    I use Fire Clean on many of my firearms, the stuff works great. I get both a cleaner and a lubricant in one. Without ranting off about the product, I just want to say look into it and try it out. I have never had any issues and so little of the product is used to clean and/or lubricate. Those are my two pennies!


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