How to lubricate an AR to make it AK reliable! Pic-heavy, dial-up beware.

Discussion in 'AR15 Articles' started by M. Sage, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. M. Sage

    M. Sage TGT Addict

    Jan 21, 2009
    San Antonio
    First, y'all are using the wrong materials. I know, I know... the military uses CLP, yeah yeah yeah. Well, the military is wrong. Sacrilege, I know, but nobody I know that has tried this method has had any malfunctions because of it. I do know several people who had chronic malfunctions before switching to this method who now have none. This is the better way to do it, folks.

    What do I do so different? Well, first off I use grease. Moly brake grease in particular. The moly bonds to metal parts, so if it gets blown out (less likely with a grease), the parts are still lubricated. Heat doesn't affect it, it just bakes the stuff in and it works better. It's a fairly light grease, and best of all I get small range bag-sized packets of the stuff for free at work. Here's what it looks like when Mercedes provides your rifle lube (if only the krauts knew what I was using this stuff for, huh!? :p)


    This packet only holds .1 ounce of grease (by weight - it's 3 grams), but is enough to lube at least four or five ARs. Also works great on pistols, AKs and Garands. That's one of the keys, to apply lightly... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

    Clear your rifle, field strip it and get everything dry and clean. I'm starting with an unfired rifle, so it's already there.

    Note: When I say "lubricate" I mean a thin coat. Always lubricate lightly, as too much is at least as bad as none at all.

    On the bolt, you'll notice that there's a raised "collar". Lubricate it.


    Lubricate the rings (after ensuring that the gaps aren't aligned).


    Lubricate the cam pin, as this is a high-wear area.


    Do not grease the firing pin!! This is not a load-bearing part, so do not lube it. It can actually cause slamfires, and your gun could go kaboom, destroying it and injuring you and/or those around you. Regardless of the lubricant you use on your rifle, do not lubricate the firing pin under any circumstances. If you're worried about rust, lightly oil it and then wipe once to dry. This will leave a very thin coat of oil on it to inhibit rust. Feel free to pack with grease for long-term storage, but be sure to remove all grease from the firing pin and channel before shooting.

    Reassemble the bolt and carrier. Now lube the carrier. You're basically going to lube anything that's shiny, because that's a wear area. I lube the area where the hammer rides. Why not? Just go light on the grease.


    Now we do the important stuff. This is where you're going to see the most improvement. There are four "rails" that contact the upper receiver. Two along either side of the gas key


    two on the bottom of the carrier. Lube them.


    That's all you have to lube on the carrier. My friend likes to lube the lugs on the bolt, but I'm not entirely sure. I'd rather not wind up with grease in my chamber or barrel where it could cause other issues like stuck cases, but it's working for him and on a carbine the bolt lugs do take a beating. So it's up to you. I just did on my M4, but will skip it on the A2. Just remember to use minimal grease. A tiny bit of this stuff goes a looooong way.

    This is a properly lubed carrier (bolt lugs not yet lubed):


    What not to lube: Anything that doesn't touch. And here's a big secret - there is a lot of open space created by non-bearing areas inside an AR. This all gives dirt and dust room to go and get out of the way during operation. If you oil your bolt, these areas are going to get coated with oil, trapping crud in there. Grease stays where you put it, and you use a lot less. Soaking your bolt in CLP is actually counter-productive, as you're not leaving any room for dirt. This is one of the secrets of the AK - there is a ton of room inside the rifle, so dirt doesn't impede it too much. I've actually seen one function with a 7.62x39mm case trapped behind the bolt, that's how much open space helps.

    So don't bother lubing this area, as it doesn't touch anything.


    If it don't shine, don't grease it! You'll be able to see where the bearing surfaces are and aren't.

    The last thing I grease is the sides of the charging handle. These things can wear out pretty fast, especially if you're like me and only grab one side of the handle. It gets worse if you've got an extended charging handle release. Basically, if it shines... grease it! Remember, I haven't even shot this rifle yet. How much more wear would this thing see without grease!?


    Reassemble normally, beware that grease really sticks to hands. Latex gloves might not be a bad idea. I'm used to stained hands since I'm a mechanic, but you might not want that. Be aware that moly grease can cause eye irritation, and if you have sensitive skin any grease can irritate that.

    Cycle the bolt a few times before and after, you should notice a fairly large increase in smoothness with the grease. Wheel bearing grease works fine, but is much thicker so it might be unsuitable for cold weather. I don't have any data on that, and it doesn't seem like it's something that will come up here in Texas anyway.

    Lightly greasing bearing surfaces will help your rifle run better longer. Only clean when you notice accuracy dropping off, with the way grease stays put, you don't have to worry about lubricating it every couple hundred rounds anymore.

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