Avoid Rookie Mistakes With Your AR-15 Rifle
John Boch for TTAG
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Avoid Rookie Mistakes With Your AR-15 Rifle
John Boch for TTAG

A flexible, modular design and decades of robust sales have pushed the AR-15 to the top of long gun heap, making it America’s favorite rifle. But while it may look easy to operate, many novice users make a number of rookie mistakes with their AR.

In competitions, these mistakes can cause embarrassment. If you’re using your AR-15 for self-defense, these kinds of unforced errors can cost you far more than a bruised ego.

John Boch for TTAG

I volunteer as a range officer at an annual zombie shoot every year. I see all manner of skill sets on display ranging from needing lots of improvement to quite competent. Garrett, the 13-year-old pictured in the top photo, captured first place using good fundamentals and avoiding novice mistakes.

How can you avoid unforced errors with your AR-15?

Sight in your rifle

No, not everyone does this very basic step. Use a 50-yard zero which will put you roughly dead-on at ranges from 25 yards out to 300 yards. Using a 50-yard zero, your shot will never impact more than 3 inches high or low at those distances with typical loads and barrel lengths, which is more than enough precision for minute of zombie head shot.

The choice is yours, but whatever you do, sight in your rifle. An un-zero’d rifle may not save your bacon when you really need it. Plus, errant shots can become huge liability issues if you use the rifle in a self-defense situation.

Bringing an unsighted rifle to a competition just wastes everyone’s time, not to mention the shooter’s ammunition (and money). I saw one fellow fire two full magazines and fail to hit a single clay bird at 25 yards. At least we didn’t need to reset targets after that performance.

If you don’t shoot well, seek out training. Project Appleseed provides exceptionally affordable marksmanship and American heritage shooting events across the USA. For less than $100, an Appleseed event will show you how to shoot your rifle well using nothing more than a sling. Can you shoot to the Rifleman’s standard, 4 minutes of angle? Excuses don’t count.

Don’t understand the minute of angle measurement? Just another reason you should attend an Appleseed shoot.

Lubricate your rifle

I didn’t see a single dry rifle successfully complete the course of fire, which required breaking exactly one dozen clay pigeons at 25 yards and a single reload. Next to bringing a rifle unsighted to the line, shooting a bone-dry AR was the most common rookie mistake. While the dry ARs didn’t malfunction much in shooting only 30 to 60 rounds, novices who brought dry guns to the line also tended to bring all manner of other issues which led to poor performance.

An AR-15 rifle requires proper preventative maintenance, and to run reliably, your AR needs lubrication, and lots of it. Just like your car’s engine.

Break the rifle open, pull out the bolt carrier group and spray it until it shines like a freshly glazed donut. Don’t have spray lube? Use any brand of lube you have available. Anything from used motor oil (use the dipstick) to cooking oil to suntan lotion will work if you don’t have gun lube. Pat Rogers’ nearly 20-year-old article “Keep your Carbine Running” should have a place on every AR owner’s required reading list.

Without lubrication, you can expect malfunctions to begin within the first few magazines. And they’ll only get worse and more frequent until you lubricate your rifle.

At the same time, don’t get wrapped around the axle about cleaning your AR-15s every time you shoot. Even a dirty rifle with lubrication will run reliably.

In my Pat Rogers class long ago, he had a sample rifle that had fired well over twenty thousand rounds since its previous cleaning. Every morning and every afternoon, Rogers would break the action open, hose down that bolt carrier group with whatever lube or CLP someone had handy and that rifle ran flawlessly. Rogers did it to show us that proper lubrication was far more critical to an AR’s reliability than cleanliness.

Load your magazines to 28 rounds

Yes, your milspec magazines will hold 30-rounds. You might even manage to shoehorn in 31 in there if you try really hard. But that doesn’t mean you should.

AR-15 magazines
Dan Z. for TTAG

Smart AR users load their mags to 28 rounds which allows for reliable seating against a closed bolt. I saw numerous malfunctions this past weekend, as I always do. Seems like every one of those came from improperly seated magazines.  When loading, insert the magazine loaded with 28 rounds, then strike the mag’s baseplate with your palm to ensure it’s seated properly.

Know your weapon’s manual of arms

Another common problem plaguing novices involved weapon controls. One fellow dumped his magazine trying to release the safety on his AR-15. Other shooters found the trigger wouldn’t work with the safety engaged. Inevitably, these people would always look at the rifle as if to ask, “What’s wrong?” chewing up valuable time. Thank heavens their targets weren’t hungry for human flesh…and didn’t shoot back.

In addition, a surprising number of shooters cycled the bolt on a loaded chamber after reloading, wasting both time and ammo.

shot timer
John Boch for TTAG

The zombie shoot required shooters to engage three “zombies” at each of four stations, while not shooting “uninfected” targets. And they had to perform a reload somewhere along the way.

Thirteen-year-old Garrett won the rifle division with a time of 43.25 seconds (39.25 plus a four-second penalty for two extra shots). He beat dozens of grown men, not by operating operationally, but by using good fundamentals. And not making rookie mistakes.

Unlike a number of the men he was competing against, his rifle and accessories didn’t set his dad back a couple of thousand dollars. He ran a fairly basic setup with a Chinese knock-off optic. But he executed the fundamentals of stance, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control and follow-through…good habits that he’d ingrained through practice.

Garrett performed the basics well enough to win. You can too.

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  1. crawl. walk. jog. run.

    Don’t watch a bunch of videos and go practice shooting and moving just cuz you think you can. If you can’t hit shit standing static, then how are you going to hit shit while moving. I see it all the time in our “group sessions”. Also, help others get on target. I am certainly not the best and I listen to those I know are better than me. Take it all in, and avoid being “that guy” at the range. You accomplish nothing just mag dumping or doing the same shit over and over jumping all over the targets.

  2. Wouldn’t blame his dad for not wanting a frontal picture of him in the post.
    He’d probably get red flagged at school.

  3. If your AR15 is experiencing malfunctions in a couple mags without lubrication. It’s either extremely out of spec are it’s a gamer setup using the least amount of gas possible.

    A AR15 setup like a M4 with a 14.5 to 16 inch barrel running a carbine length gas system should be able to easily shoot 1500 rounds plus without issue.

    And downloading mags is not a requirement. And it’s honestly a sign people are using out of spec mags. Mil spec mags lock in easily on a closed bolt with 30 rounds. If they don’t. Throw them out.

    • Of my multiple mags readied in my “go bag”, the primary has the full 30, while the others have 29 just to be sure to avoid that infamous closed-bolt hangup. But the only people I’ve ever met who actually load to only 28 are LEOs who are simply following their training.

      28 doesn’t hurt, so it’s fine by me and I don’t look down my nose at anyone. At least I know they’re thinking ahead, so TEHO.

    • My thoughts exactly. Purely as an experiment, I once ran my own rifle (a basic mil spec Rock River, purchased pre-betrayal) with no cleaning OR lube purely to see how far I could push it. I got to around 1500 rounds (NOT a typo) of all types of ammo without a single malfunction of any kind before I stopped the experiment. Sure, the AR platform is a bit more finicky about maintenance than the AK-47 it was designed to compete against, but it’s far more robust than people give it credit for. If your AR can’t make it through two magazines dry without a failure it belongs in the dumpster

      • This.

        Part of the problem is cheapo home builds by people who didn’t actually do enough research before engaging in the project. The just figured they could buy any set of anything and throw it together.

        A few years back now, my neighbor built his own 10″ SBR and suppressed it. Worked fine with the can but would cycle for shit without it. He would NOT listen to anyone who had been down this road before. So, it took him months and months to get the gun tuned to the point that it would run reliably suppressed and unsuppressed.

  4. Right, carry a case of motor oil for your AR-15 everywhere. Time out from the fire fight to change oil. Never intend to buy an AR-15 anyway, the experts keep giving me more reasons not to. Thanks.

      • Seans, the pros use an AR platform because that’s what they’re issued. The Russians use an AK because that’s what they’re issued. Very few pros have the luxury of choosing the weapons they carry into harm’s way.

        • lol wut? I think you are confusing “pro’s” with anyone who can pass basic training.

          There is a reason the civilian market worldwide is flooded with AR variants. Now, in 2020 the variants are becoming more adaptable even. Adopting AK style uppers with no need for buffer tubes etc etc.

          The modularity is why PEOPLE buy and use them. Not experience with them or the militaries use of them. Civilians have always supplied and defined what the military, worldwide, utilizes. Not the other way around.

        • lol wut? I think you are confusing “pro’s” with anyone who can pass basic training.

          I don’t think you know what the term “pro” means.

          Grunt who passed basic training but otherwise has no interest in guns, but gets paid to carry one around and shoot/get shot at: Pro.

          Guy who spends all his free time shooting and learning everything he can about shooting and tactics: Amateur.

          Pro doesn’t mean “good.” Amateur doesn’t mean bad.

          Civilians have always supplied and defined what the military, worldwide, utilizes. Not the other way around.

          Absolutely untrue, both the AR and AK like many other guns, were designed first for military use and migrated to the civilian population, both because that’s what vets had become used to in the service and also for patent reasons.

        • don’t be pedantic about the definition. Technically you’re correct, however its pretty obvious he’s referring to the secret squirrel special operator types who can and do get basically anything they ask for including prototypes and other small-arm goodies still in R&D. They almost universally choose an AR style weapon. Its simply an unparalleled weapon configuration when it comes to versatility. High-speed types of the police and military worldwide pick it. You do you, just don’t pretend that the thing in question isn’t good cause you don’t like it.

        • Cloud:

          That’s what I meant about the design. Civilians make things for the militaries. Contracts are bid on and products are made, not by military members, but civilians. Anything the military has, civilians can and do have. The only thing it seems they have a copyright on is nuclear weapons, which again, designed by civilians.

    • I ran my SP1 dry all the time and never had an issue. 4 malfunctions in over 4000 rounds, and all were the primers on the cheap Chinese ammo I was using.

      I only ever used the charging handle to lock the action open. I would then use the bolt release to chamber the first round. If I chambered the first round via the charging handle, the rifle would shoot high for the next 5-7 rounds.

      • I’m not about to tell a stranger on the internet he’s wrong about what his rifle does, but I will say that’s a truly bizarre failure mode. I’m having trouble coming up with any mechanical means by which operating the charging handle to chamber a round would shift POI temporarily, and if it did how would do so for more than one shot. There’s got to be another factor, like maybe you’re bench resting and when you pull the handle the rifle slides far enough back that the barrel instead of the handguard is touching the bags. Or maybe your handguard is not a freefloat and is particularly picky about how it’s held and rested, and when you shift your grip to run the handle it takes you a few tries to get your hand / bag placement where you usually do again.

        I dunno man. Again, not saying it doesn’t do what you say it does, I just can’t even begin to get my mind around how it would, and am wondering if you’ve considered there are other factors in play.

        • I was prone using a sling. The hand guards were the stock triangle profile. I only noticed this in a particular course in a match run by the military where they instructed you to have the bolt forward, insert the magazine, and then cycle the bolt to start the course. I’m not sure what was happening either but the solution was to lock open the bolt, insert magazine, and use the bolt release.

    • About the only system that does pretty well consistently nearly bone dry are the Glocks. But, I still put some lube on the metal rails and barrel hood. There is no reason to not properly lubricate your firearms. You also do not need to Cardi B “WAP” your AR. There are a four raised surfaces on the carrier that ride on the aluminum inside the receiver that need hit with lube. The underside of the carrier, the bolt body and cam pin are good to put a dash on as well. I also put a little moly grease on the trigger. Anything else is just kind of extra. It really is not a big deal whatsoever. The AR platform has more than proven itself over the years. I am actually one of those guys that prefers the SCAR and M1A/M-14 to the M-16/AR family of rifles. But I am not going to take a shit on ARs, they are perfectly fine, I own several. M14 type rifles like to run with a good grease, and I consider them generally more persnickety than most AR15s. But, grease them good and the run like a top. Like any other firearm or machine it’s just about the particular proper maintenance. Anyway, I don’t get this myth that the AR15 is some legendary maintenance whore. It’s frankly BS.

    • “Right, carry a case of motor oil for your AR-15 everywhere.”


      No, just spend $9.95 for a 4 ounce bottle of vegetable cooking oil and call it “Fire Clean”…

      (Did that company crash and burn yet?)

      *snicker* 🙂

        • Yeah, but imagine how cool it would be to try! Picture an AR-15 that wouldn’t cycle after each round, with the bolt only coming back maybe half or a third of the way, huge cloud of smoke coming from both ends, bullets travelling at half their usual speed, and having to manually run the bolt for every shot!

          Then we could do Cordite. Almost pure nitrocellulose, burns incredibly hot, wipes out throats and rifling in a jiffy. . .

    • I think your version of “expert” is the same version the leftists listen to. One person saying something online does not make them an expert.

  5. All good advice no matter which rifle you carry. However, the author did miss the number one mistake that rookies make. They buy an AR-15.

      • Several, but they all cost 4x what an AR-15 does. Ignore Gadsden, he’s still stuck in the 70’s when the disastrous rollout of the rifle (none of which had anything to do with inherent design flaws) during Vietnam got people killed

        • Red, I was finally finished with the AR platform (real full auto M-4s) in April 2014. Began in 1979. So no, I’m not stuck in the ’90s. Just in reality.

      • Ignore Gadsden. He rants all the time about disliking the AR and comes up with zero good reasons other than personal preference, but since he’s a fudd and bootlicker, he’ll never use them anyways. His old school weapons will suit him just fine when the gubberment buys them back.

    • never seen an ar platform rifle blow up at the range
      cant say that about the ak
      and i probably see 50 ars for every ak i see
      never seen an ak at the 300 yard range either

      • The last time I checked ammoseek, the cheapest .223 was 50¢ a round and the cheapest 7.62×39 was 31¢.

        That is a good reason to have an AK. I prefer the AR, but also appreciate the AK. It is nice to have both 😉

    • Learn what you’re getting and get advice on how to operate it.

      I was a very big critic of the AR15 design before I owned one. I could pick flaws from one end to the other. When I owned one I found the flaws weren’t as bad as I thought and the gun itself was more reliable than my SKS (with 30 round AK magazines).

      The advantages of the AR platform are the excellent ergonomics, rapid reload, light weight, and straight line profile. The SP1 sights were the biggest limitation.

      • Those aftermarket SKS magazines don’t have a very good reputation. I think it best to keep an SKS in it’s stock configuration (10 round internal mag).

        Then again, my SKS is my third string defensive carbine after the AR and AK. Still love the old SKS.

        • They were a variant of the SKS sold downunder and possibly New Zealand. They were a SKS factory made to take AK magazines.

        • In that case, my comment does not apply. I was aware that this variant existed, but wrongly assumed you were just talking about a standard SKS with the dorky aftermarket magazine. My apologies

        • No problems mate, I know these SKSs were not very common in the US so I understand where you were coming from.

  6. Honestly, I’ve never seen a problem with milspec STANAG mags other than that some of them don’t want to interface with the mag catch when fully loaded and inserted into a rifle with the BCG forward. In that situation the mag may fall out of the mag well when you remove your hand if you don’t give it a pretty hard whack on the butt to fully seat the mag.

    If this concerns you the simple solution is to replace milspec mags with a better mag designed with the space to hold 31 rounds, such as a PMAG, and load them to the full 30 (as they’re meant to be loaded). Now even topped up to 30 the spring/stack of rounds still has some play even when inserted up against a closed BCG and will engage the mag catch pretty easily.

    Generally such mags are tougher all-around than STANAG’s anyway and as such are a better investment.

  7. “Using a 50-yard zero, your shot will never impact more than 3 inches high or low at those distances”

    I don’t understand this. If I zero my 20″ Colt AR15 to shoot point-of-aim is point-of-impact at 50 yards, a standard NATO M193 55gr FMJ bullet fired from that rifle will land 12.5″ low on a target 300 yards away.

    • A 50 yd zero means the bullet is actually 3” low at the muzzle, and traveling “upwards” as it passes through zero at that 50 yard mark, peaking 3” high at about 150 yards, before beginning to descend again through zero at about 300 yards. It follows a very shallow semi-parabolic arc.

      You are just thinking about basic bullet drop over 300 yards

      • I’m still not getting it. In your example, the bullet only arced 6″. It doesn’t.
        Are you saying that if I make my point of aim as point of impact at 50 yards, it will be only 3″ low on target at 300?

        • Yes. But bullets don’t travel up on their own. The barrel has to be pointed that way.
          I’ve heard people say some version of this 25 or 50 yard zero my whole life and, although I understand a balistic arc, I don’t get this application of it.
          I’ll just go out and shoot it.

        • Fair.

          The way I tend to think about this is that sighting in up close (I use 36 yards usually) sights the rifle in low at close range meaning that when you look down the sight/optic you’re giving the rifle a slight but generally imperceptible rise because in relation to the barrel you’re looking down a few degrees.

          So what you’ve really done is set the sight low in relation to the bore axis which forces you to tip the rifle up to put the sight on the target. But it’s not usually enough that you’d notice it until you pushed the range out fairly far, beyond what most people would shoot an AR at. You can get a pretty good feel for it by cranking the rear sight post up as far as you can on something like an M1A where it’s actually enough of an angle change that you start to notice it in how you align yourself to the rifle. At that point you usually have to change your head position or lower the stock on your shoulder just a touch to be able to line up the rear aperture with the front sight post.

          You don’t really get that kind of feeling from an optic usually because it changes the angle by moving the reticle inside the optic so that your body doesn’t change much in relation to the rifle the way it does with iron sights. Especially if you put something like a 20MOA rail on a really long range gun. At that point the tilt is mainly “baked in” within the sight system itself and you pivot the rifle on a bipod/rest or something while looking through an optic that keeps your cheek weld/body position close to the same in relation to the rifle itself at various ranges.

    • What app are you using to get 12.5 inches low at 300 using a 50 yard zero with a 20inch barrel shooting M193. It should be around 4.5ish inches.

        • I just doubled checked. Hornady is showing a 4.9 below point of aim for a 50 yard zero with M193 from a 20 inch barrel using a .243 bc with a G1 and 2.5 inch optic height and 3240 MZ.

        • It’s probably worth noting that bullet drop is not constant –it’s an acceleration, meaning the longer the bullet stays in the air, the faster is going to drop. In the first increment of flight (we’re talking fractions of a second), the bullet hardly drops at all because it’s downward velocity starts at zero and steadily builds. In the next increment of time, the bullet already has a downward velocity, and it builds from there. Likewise for the third increment, and so on. So the farther out the bullet goes (i.e., the more time in the air), with increments of time all being equal (whatever increment you choose), the more distance it will drop with each succeeding time increment. This might explain what you’re seeing in the numbers.

        • Mr. Taylor,

          First of all, the top of a standard AR-15 sight post is about 2.75 inches (not 1.5 inches as you figured) above the bore axis. That makes a huge difference of course.

          And now for the simple explanation. Imagine that you and your target are on a level surface and the center of your target is at the same height as the sight-line of your sights. When you line up your sights with the center of the target, they are level with and aligned with the center of the target. However, since your bore axis is 2.75 inches below your sights, your bore axis is 2.75 inches below the target. And yet your bore axis is tilted slightly upward (from level) in order for your bullet arc to intersect the sight line of your sights at 50 yards (on its way up) and again at 250 yards (on its way down).

          Here are the actual numbers from Hornady’s ballistic calculator assuming a 55 grain bullet with a ballistic coefficient of 0.243 and a muzzle velocity of 3,200 fps:

          distance trajectory
          0 yds -2.75 inches
          25 yds -1.3 inches
          50 yds 0.0 inches
          100 yds 1.8 inches
          150 yds 2.4 inches
          200 yds 1.8 inches
          250 yds -0.3 inches
          300 yds -4.1 inches

          You can plainly see that the bullet travels up a total of 5.15 inches (5.15 == 2.4 -(-2.75)) and then falls back down a total of 6.5 inches (6.5 == 2.4 -(-4.1)) by the time it is 300 yards away. That is a total rise and fall of about 11.75 inches (11.75 == 5.15 6.5) — which coincides almost perfectly with your determination that the bullet has a total drop of 12 inches out to 300 yards.

          Final comment. If your bore-axis is initially level, your bullet will drop about 12 inches by the time it reaches 300 yards. Your bullet’s path would start 2.75 inches below your sight line and then impact 14.75 inches low at 300 yards. Since your bore axis was not level (but tilted slightly upward) in my previous explanation, that explains why the bullet will impact only 4 inches low at 300 yards rather than 12 inches low.

        • “First of all, the top of a standard AR-15 sight post is about 2.75 inches (not 1.5 inches as you figured) above the bore axis. That makes a huge difference of course.”

          uncommon_sense caught the error. 1.5 inches is pretty common with an optic mounted on a bolt action rifle, but the line of sight on an AR usually begins quite a bit higher, e.g., 2.75 inches. With the same 50 yard zero, that difference at the rifle results in a significant difference out yonder. It appears that Mr. Boch’s numbers apply to a typical AR setup, and they wouldn’t work with a typical bolt rifle, all else being equal.

        • Well I don’t know what I was thinking last night, but every time I did it this morning I ended up with close enough to 4 inches based on my real data and shooting.

      • Seans, when I enlisted we zeroed at 25 meters. This was supposed to give us a zero at 250 meters. I knew that was bullshit. Told my fellow recruits. “But the drill sergeant said…” “You mean the same drill sergeant that said we could shoot 7.62 Russian in our 7.62 NATO weapons?” Of course, he seemed confused when I asked if he meant 7.62X39 or 7.62X54R. Do I need to say that was one of the stupidest things I ever heard? Or, do you mean the drill sergeant that shot himself in the hand trying to clear a malfunction in an M-60? You zero at the range you intend for your zero to be.

        • Gadsden, you’re making me laugh. Your story of 7.62 is bad enough, but while I was in Vietnam one of my hootchmates absolutely refused to believe that the Rooskies hadn’t brilliantly engineered their weapons so that they could fire M16 ammo out of their AKs, but we could not fire AK ammo out of our M16s. I happened to have a few AK mags, so I stripped a 7.62×39 out and laid it on the table, then stripped out a 5.56 and set it alongside. I asked him how either of those rounds could POSSIBLY fire in the other weapon, given every possible measurement is massively different, and his answer was “I don’t care, that’s what I heard and I’m sure it’s true.” To be fair, he was a Lt, but then so was I.

    • With the utmost respect JWT, are you referring to iron sights or a raised optic? All of this advice is based on assumptions of optic height.

      • It won’t matter that much, at least not with a standard M16 site setup, since they are so high. But that wasn’t it. I actually can’t duplicate last night’s results this morning. What can I say, drugs work.

    • Depends on the gun and what I’m doing with it.

      For general use I use Hoppie’s #9 Lubricating Oil most of the time because it’s super easy to find in my area. But I’ll also use CLP/LP from BreakFree or Lucas Oil Extreme Gun Oil depending on what’s on sale. Frog Lube works well too. Really for gun oils it’s all kinda the same.

      For storage or certain environments I’ll use Remington Dri-Lube or the Hoppie’s version which is powdered teflon for a dry lubrication that won’t evaporate. I’ll also use that in conjunction with a grease under certain circumstances, in which case my go-to is just a touch of TW25B.

      • I exclusively use CLP here in the bay area. The climate is so mild that it doesn’t need any more. I’ve never owned an AR but the other semis I;ve owned or own seem to work fine on that diet.

        If we move to Utah after my wife retires I will have to re think my cleaning habits. They get real weather there.

        • Sand and moisture. My guns hate them. I hate them. Probably everyone not at a beach hates them.

          Swamp coolers are the devil too.

      • For very cold environments such as central Canada in winter the RCMP did an extensive test with many lubricants. They determined that stripping all lubricants and shooting it dry was best, except for a light wipe/spray of EEzox. Since that last also is a very good corrosion inhibitor it is what a used in such cold weather. Otherwise almost any oil and a reliable grease seem to work.

    • I recommend ‘FireClean.’ Not only is it an all-natural, environmentally-friendly, non-toxic, and non-oxidizing firearm lubricant, it can be used for routine cooking and frying, works well as a personal lubricant, and is an excellent source of vitamin E and K.. It also can be effective as a decay-preventive dentifrice if used in a proper daily regimen of oral hygiene. And it is mild. Nine out of ten chefs, dentists, couples therapists, and even certain gun gurus speak of it highly.

      • You forgot the bit where it freshens breath and prevents gingivitis both in you and in your firearms while also upping your sex appeal by 50,000%.

        • Now, THAT is simply absurd, and no one would make that claim about FireClean.

          Firearms do not have gums, and are therefore immune from gingivitis.

          However, in the case of older firearms with dry, chapped, cracked, or chafed feed lips, there’s nothing better than a little FireClean to get things moving again.

        • How dare you impune the reputation of FireClean?

          Bacteria can grow anywhere that’s dirty. That’s why it’s important to have good hygiene. Your gun eats ammo and 99,432% of the bacteria that cause gingivitis have been found in the working mechanism of semi-automatic firearms.

          372% of people know this, it’s just that 227% of people deny it because they’re poors who don’t use FireClean and can’t admit to their own shortcomings.

    • Simple:
      Something the store carries that says CLP. I like “Break free”.

      Don’t overcomplicate it. All these solvents and tools are marketing gimmicks.

      CLP, toothbrush, cloth, q-tips, bore brush/snake, pick set = clean.

      • Montana Actual,

        I have even noticed that simple light machine oil (e.g. 3-in-1 brand oil) tends to break-up grime and act like a solvent. Thus I second your comment that just about anything will work.

        • Non-polar solutes dissolve in non-polar solvents. Pick your poison.

          Realistically in terms of lubricants for firearms other properties are what matter given your usage parameters. Smoke point, rate of evaporation and viscosity at various temperatures etc.

          I bet flaxseed oil would lube your gun pretty good right up until it started pouring smoke out the ejection port. Which actually leads me to some devious ideas for pranks…

        • Just be aware that if you use Hoppe’s #9 on a nickel plated gun, make certain you wipe it ALL off, and wipe down with light oil for good measure. #9 will eat the nickel if left for a long period. I have a nickel 8 3/8″ S&W .41 Mag with a dull spot on the barrel from 1983 which taught me that factoid.

        • Yea #9 is copper based. A lot of AR owners, mostly first time buyers and builders, will opt for nickel boron based BCG’s. They are easier to clean and function smoother but if you don’t pay attention to what you clean them with, you will ruin them. I know someone who made that mistake too, you are not alone. Also just to note, it makes a difference if you are using a piston or DI gun, since the latter is subject to much harsher fouling. You can always tell the instagram whores or the noobs who barely shoot by the color of the bolts on those types. If they have put a couple hundred rounds through the rifle even after cleaning it won’t be shiny new. Chromed BCG’s clean up very well too. When in doubt, grab a can of ballistol like grandpa did 😉

        • ‘Tain’t copper-based, ’tis ammonia-based. Ammonia eats copper, which is why it’s in there. The higher the concentration, the faster it eats. Regular Hoppe’s #9 is pretty weak; It CAN work through tiny cracks in copper-nickel plating and eat away at the underlying copper layer, causing the nickel to peel away. Hoppe’s #9 Bore Cleaner will do a MUCH better job at eating off the plating, doing it much faster.

          Which is bad.

          The trick is to NOT use any ammonia-based solvent on older guns, or ones where there MIGHT be a crack or pore; The OTHER trick is not to leave it on for very long–wipe on, wipe off. No soaking.

    • I’ve used Mobil 1 Synthetic 5W/30 for years. It’s high heat and very, very slick. 8 bucks buys a quart which lasts a very long time.

  8. 28 rounds in the mag is a fuddlore myth. The future is now. Next i bet you will be telling us that stopping power is a verifiable metric as to why .45 is gods chosen caliber.

      • Don’t knock rocking chairs, you whippersnapper.

        Honestly, it’s been 50 years since I used an m16 and I’ve never owned an AR. But I swear that in training we were told to short load our mags. The memory is hazy, but its there.

  9. I use wheel bearing grease in my AR15’s and M1A’s. It is high temp. A very light coat with my finger or an old toothbrush. Never had any type of malfunction. Automatic trans fluid also works well, does not burn off and lubes very well. No reason to buy high price gun lubes.

  10. So, at this zombie shoot, were only AR15s allowed? No one with a Ruger 10/22? Or a Ruger Precision Rimfire?
    This might of been a decent article if it focused the mastery of the fundamentals to promote good marksmanship with any firearm, rather than just one platform.

    When shooting NRA High Power, I had a Mechanical Zero. And then my 200, 300 and 600 yrd sights (ball park). Use the right zero for the right yardage in a given competition.

    Shooting High Power rifle, you did not see anyone shooting short barreled ARs IF they wanted to be competitive. 20inch bull barrels. Their 600yrd rounds were using 80 or 90grn VLD bullets, sitting atop compressed charges, their COLs so far out to get all that powder in, the bullets had to loaded into the ejector port as they exceeded magazine length.

    Could Garrett, the young man in the picture above, have taken first place using iron sights and not a optic? Was that an option, i.e. iron sight class, optic class? Were the shooters divided into novice, intermediate or expert classes based off their experience?

  11. This is a good article.

    One necessary add. Where the author said to slap the mag on the bottom to make sure its seated.
    The prudent shooter (once bitten twice shy) will also give the mag a tug to confirm that its seated.

    There’s nothing more embarrassing or deadly , depending on the situation than having the mag drop out after the first shot. Ha.

  12. I won a stage in a pistol match that consisted of 10 plates. 40 shooters. Most better than me. I went slow and methodical and hit each plate on first shot, no make ups. I won the stage. Almost every other shooter went fast and had a make up shot. Fundamentals in deed.

    • In boot camp there were a bunch of country boys like me and some city slickers. Came time to qualify and the best shot in our outfit was a guy from NYC that had never touched a rifle or any gun before this.

      I asked him what his secret to such a performance was and he said “I listened to the instructor during training.”

      I had been shooting since I was a kid. But I had fallen into some bad habits and that affected my shooting. And because I thought I knew better I had doped off in class.

      Fundamentals, indeed.

      • That was me in boot camp.
        I shot a few rifles before boot camp, but nothing formal. No training.
        Shot Expert.

  13. I know this will an unpopular post with gun owners, but neither I nor my wife (old folks with preexisting medical conditions) have been to a range with any of our firearms since the beginning of the pandemic. COVID-19 would likely kill us. And, if I can be frank without rankling others, almost no one at the ranges wears any form of personal protective equipment that would help protect us.

    I told you this crowd would probably not appreciate this post.

    Damned pity and we’re very much looking forward to shooting again…as we’ve done regularly throughout our now 38 year marriage. So, I enjoyed the article.


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