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AR-15 Breakdown Instructions

by Keith Dooley

The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 rifle that is currently issued to United States military personnel. The AR-15 is an enormously popular sporting rifle that is available in a variety of configurations and is made by several different manufacturers. Field stripping or breaking down an AR-15 is necessary so that the parts of the weapon are accessible for proper cleaning and lubrication following use.

Make the AR-15 safe to handle by pressing the magazine release and pulling the magazine down and out of the magazine well. Pull back on the charging handle to inspect the firing chamber for any live ammunition.

Lay the AR-15 on its side with the left side facing upward. Locate the rear retaining pin just above the top of the grip. Push the pin through the right side of the AR-15. Use a punch and hammer if necessary to push the retaining pin through and out. Rotate the receiver of the AR-15 up and off the lower assembly.

Pull back on the charging handle to remove the bolt from the upper assembly. Pull the charging handle from the upper assembly.

Remove the firing pin retaining pin. Locate the retaining pin just in front of the slot in the carrier bolt. Pull the pin from the bolt with a pair of needle nose pliers. Slide the firing pin and bolt cam out of the carrier bolt. Rotate the cam for removal from the side of the carrier bolt.

Hold the carrier and pull the bolt back out of the end for removal. Locate the small pin in the bolt that holds the extractor in place. Push the pin through the bolt and out then pull the extractor from the end of the bolt. Take care to not lose the small spring on the end of the extractor during removal.

Items you will need

  • Punch
  • Hammer
  • Needle nose pliers

About the Author

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.