The AR-style rifle is based on the American military’s sweetheart service rifle, the M16. Anyone that has been in the military can tell you a great many things about the platform and what it will keep it running. One of the biggest things that you will be told is that it needs to stay lubricated. Coming from the military myself, yes in a sense it does need to stay lubricated in certain areas. But not lubricating it for 1000 rounds will hardly make it seize up. The thing you don’t wanna do is make a habit of running it dry and dirty. Other than that, let’s go over how to lubricate the AR-style rifle.
In this article, I am going to refer to the AR platform as the M16/4 platform since AR actually stands for “Armalite Rifle,” and calling every one of these rifles AR’s is like calling every vehicle a Honda. Also, that is what these types of rifles are trying to be, aside from minor petty changes here and there to try to be unique. The M16/4 is one of the easiest rifle platforms to lubricate in the sense that only one part really needs to be lubricated. You don’t really even need to open the rifle up in order to lubricate it. I know when I was in, I wouldn’t open it up to lubricate it, unless I needed to clean it. But this was because I was just lazy, not really for any good reason to speak of at the time. It isn’t bad to not open the gun up to lubricate it, but it isn’t necessary to have it apart to lubricate it. The one part of the gun that actually needs lubricating, and is the key to the entire platform in my opinion, is the bolt carrier group. Now some of you are going to say that it isn’t just one part, but in this case and topic, we are going to consider it as one.
When you look at how the traditional M16/4 direct impingement system works, you are getting a huge volume of gasses and fouling being plunged right into the heart of the bolt carrier. This is actually the part of the design that makes people like me slap their head when they think about how the gun is basically designed to crap on itself with every shot. Imagine if your exhaust system just routed all the exhaust right back into the engine. How well do you think that would go? Probably not that great, right? Now with your newer gas piston systems, lubrication is going to be similar but without the same concerns and concentrations, since you won’t have to be as liberal.
One of the first things I was told about oiling the M16/4 in boot camp that goes across all sister platforms is the fact that the platforms like to run wet. We were told that when in doubt, be liberal with the CLP we were issued. The type of lubricant is another subject entirely, but I recommend a liquid CLP for a couple of reasons. First is the fact that it does everything for you. It will actively prevent fouling and keep the fouling wet, negating the need for a designated cleaner. CLPs typically are designed to condition the metal, making it easier to clean with subsequent cleaning and lubrication cycles. You can also use grease in some parts of the rifle, which I will point out as well. I personally use Slip2000 EWL and EWG for my guns. Their grease is made from their EWL, but with a thickener. This is good because you don’t have to worry about mixing different chemicals, and you can even mix the grease with the EWL liquid to create your desired consistency.