Field Strip and Reassemble an AR-15 Rifle

an image showing how to field strip an AR-15 rifle

It is extremely important that you keep your firearm clean, be it an AR-15 or otherwise. As you fire a firearm, lead and propellant residues will accumulate inside of it. Such fouling will impact accuracy and may ultimately cause the firearm to malfunction. Whether that firearm is simply a toy or your only means for personal protection, you certainly want it to function correctly.

You failed to maintain your weapon, son.

Harry Brown

“Field stripping” is not a good way to put yourself through college. It is the process of disassembling a rifle so that you can clean its major component groups. Field stripping is faster than detail stripping, which entails totally dismantling a firearm into every one of its component parts. As its name implies, field stripping is the extent of disassembly you’d wish to undertake while you’re out in the field. (You really don’t want to fuss around with screws and other tiny components when you’re not seated at a well-lit workbench.)

You want to field strip your firearm after every time you fire it so you can clean it properly. Of course, you also want to put it back together again after you’ve cleaned it. Fortunately, the AR-15’s simple and practical design means you can easily field strip and reassemble it in a total of five minutes or less. Just follow our simple step-by-step instructions and you’ll have the skills to keep your rifle in full working order!

How to Field Strip an AR-15 Rifle

You don’t need a tool to field strip an AR-15! The tip of a 223 Rem bullet will work fine. You can use a dedicated punch tool if you wish, but you will need a set of punch tools to detail strip an AR-15.

1. Safety first. Before you do anything else, make absolute certain there is no cartridge in your AR-15’s chamber. Keep your finger off the trigger. Remove the magazine. Pull back on the charging handle and inspect the firearm to ensure that it is not loaded and safe to field strip. Also, keep your workplace clean and free of any distractions. When you handle a firearm, you want 100 percent of your attention focused on that firearm.

2. Lay the rifle on its side so the barrel is pointing in a safe direction. Using the tip of a bullet or a punch (which we’ll refer to as a tool moving forward), press inward on the rear takedown pin and then the front pivot pin. Flip the rifle over and use your fingers to pull both pins outward until the upper receiver is detached from the lower receiver.

3. Turn the upper receiver upward. Slowly pull back the charging handle until it stops. Remove the bolt carrier group and then the charging handle from the upper receiver. Set the receiver aside.

Bolt Carrier Group

a photo of a bolt carrier group for an ar-15 rifle
The bolt carrier group is comprised of five main parts: firing pin retaining pin, firing pin, bolt cam pin, bolt, and bolt carrier.

4. The bolt carrier group is comprised of five main parts: firing pin retaining pin (FPRP), firing pin, bolt cam pin, bolt, and bolt carrier. Locate the FPRP on the right-hand side of the bolt carrier. Using a tool, pull straight back to remove the FPRP from the bolt carrier.

5. Pushing forward on the bolt, pull forward with your fingers to remove the firing pin. Next rotate the bolt cam pin 45 degrees counterclockwise. Pull the bolt cam pin back to remove it. You can now freely pull back the bolt to remove it from the bolt carrier. Note that the bolt has a an opening that aligns within the bolt carrier – the bolt cam pin fits inside of it.

6. Your AR-15 is now field stripped. At this point you may properly clean it or begin reassembling it.

How to Reassemble an AR-15 Rifle

1. Insert the bolt into the bolt carrier. Turn the bolt so its ejector roll pin is in the four o’clock position. This will align the opening in the bolt to accept the bolt cam pin. Note that the bolt cam pin can only be fully inserted when the bolt is in the correct four o’clock position, making incorrect reassembly impossible.

2. Rotate the bolt cam pin 45 degrees counterclockwise to allow the firing pin to slide in all the way. With the firing pin in place, insert the FPRP and push until it is fully seated. Push back on the bolt to make certain everything is locked forward. The bolt carrier group is now reassembled.

3. Position the upper receiver so its top is facing upward. Insert the charging handle into the receiver until you feel it begin to slide back into its precut grooves. Holding the charging handle in place, push the bolt carrier group into position. Now slide the charging handle and bolt carrier group forward until you feel both lock securely into place.

4. Align the upper and lower receivers with one another. Push the front pivot pin and then the rear takedown pin inward with a tool until they lock into place. Ensure they are flush with the lower receiver.

5. Stand back and admire your work. Your AR-15 is ready to fire once again!

AR-15 Maintenance

a photo of a man shooting an ar-15 rifle outdoors
Knowing how to field strip an AR-15 rifle is an important part of being a responsible gun owner.

With only a little practice, you can use these steps to field strip and reassemble an AR-15 rifle in five minutes or less. Again, this is the process you’ll want to undertake after every time you fire your AR-15 so you can properly clean it. Don’t let laziness lead to an inconvenient (or life-threatening) malfunction. When you are ready for a reload, be sure to check out the great prices on AR-15 ammunition and accessories on Wideners.com!

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