Observations on Weapons Maintenance

Shooters, I have carbine and pistol on the brain this morning and wanted to talk to you about whats on my mind.

Dave Solano

Dave Solano

First, weapons maintenance. In the Recon teams there’s a saying we live by that dictates our priorities of work post op: “Weapon, Gear, Body.” Well, it’s not so much a saying as it is an order for which we conduct business after the mission. What happens when you can’t clean your weapon because the environment does not allow for it? There have been times, utilizing my own weapon system, where I intentionally do not clean my rifle or pistol (and yes, my rifle is gas operated), and have left them to cool off after an intense shooting session.

Glocks, of course, perform in any kind of condition, which is why my instructors carry this pistol (we all prefer the 22 or 23). I have left my Glock, uncleaned for a year, and come home and it fired and performed perfectly. That is my testament to Austrian Precision. It continues to serve me well.

My Carbine is made by Stag Arms, a rifle which I bought bare bones with plastic hand guards and iron sights back in 2007. Since then I have made the following upgrades:

  • Free floating Daniel Defense 15 inch lite rail
  • Adjustable gas block
  • SureFire, LLC 556K muzzlebrake,
  • Geissele Super Dynamic Combat Trigger system, which has a 2.5 pound trigger pull, a hydraulic recoil buffer,
  • DPMS ambidextrous safety lever and
  • Magpul Industries Corp. MBUS
  • CTR Buttstock and pistol grip (which I like due to performance and comfort as well as the fact that a fellow Recon Marine owns that company and I believe in supporting my own kind)
  • Viking Tactics Inc. 2 point sling.

As you can see, my rifle is built in the good ol’ American way, with American parts, but not too much of one breed. Just like all American men and women, we trace our legacy back to several different origins. My rifle is a mutt for sure, and I can say without a doubt that it continues to perform for me because of its true blue American Made parts.

I put it through the test continuously, shooting it and beating it one day, not cleaning it, and then shooting and beating it the next. The one thing about the AR platform I will say is that it was built to take a beating. I have had my malfunctions on the GI version of my rifle, but nothing so severe that I couldn’t fix it in a few seconds and get back in the fight.

When I clean my rifle, I start out by breaking her down shotgun style, and removing the bolt carrier group, which I immediately disassemble. The bolt carrier group is the first thing I clean. As a young Private First Class, I thought that Break Free CLP was the best thing in the world, but as I got older and newer products emerged, I latched onto newer and better things. Rem oil wipes are among my favorite ways to clean my rifle, and used that quite frequently in country. The wipes would not gunk up and gather dirt quite like the CLP would. Since that time, I have been introduced to a product called Seal 1, which is engineered to clean your weapon while its fired. I do not know their secret but it works quite well. As a Scout Sniper I latched on to Hops No. 9 copper solvent, and quickly discovered that I could use that for my barrel in the carbine as well as for my pistol.

After shooting your Carbine on a continuous basis, its important not to forget that hard to reach spot where your bore begins, the place where your bolt face locks into place when it drives a round home in full battery. I have a special wire brush that is bent and small that I can use to get in there and scrape out the carbon. If you cannot get a hold of that tool, try using an allen key and a soft earplug stuck on the end. That will be the right angle to clean the hard to reach spot, and keep that build up from keeping your bolt out of battery when it matters most. Also, be sure to scrape any carbon build up off your bolt while it is disassembled. It doesn’t do any damage at first, but malfunctions are on the horizon when you neglect that part for too long. I get inside the bolt carrier group with a thin rag and a GI green brush to get all the carbon out of there, allowing the bolt to fit smoothly in place, and I use Q-tips for the gas tube seat on the bolt carrier group to get all the grime out of there. I also use Q-tips on the firing pin seat on the bolt itself.

When you finish cleaning and assembling your pistol or rifle, you should always perform a functions check. I don’t mean for you to walk out into your back yard and fire rounds into the dirt. Ensure the weapon is clear, on safe, and point it in a safe direction and attempt to pull the trigger. It should be stiff and there should be no audible click. Place your weapon on fire and pull the trigger. You should then hear the audible click. Hold the trigger to the rear and charge the rifle. Slowly let the trigger reset, so that you hear it reset, which is a small knock noise. Then, pull the trigger and it should make the audible click again. The same functions check applies to your side blaster, Han Solo.

I don’t want any of you shooters to feel like I am insulting your intelligence, but too often we get wrapped around the axle on watching high speed videos and want to get out there and do it just like the guys in Zero Dark Thirty did it. In order to achieve that status, you first have to slow down and realize that brilliance in the basics, from weapons cleaning and handling to dry fire supplementing live fire training, and years of work ups with teams got them to that level. There is still a very real risk associated with the use of these tools, and it is important to first know what makes them tick and respect that fact before you can move on to “Shooting, Moving, And Communicating”.

Get a degree in your basics shooters, and then seek out the professors of the way of the gun to further your education.







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