How To Disassemble An AR-15

How To Disassemble (Field Strip) An AR-15 Rifle

How To Disassemble An AR-15: Field Stripped disassembled AR 15
Field Stripped, Disassembled Stag Arms AR 15

In this article I am going to show you how to disassemble AR-15 style rifles for cleaning and lubrication. Also known as field stripping an AR 15, knowing how to disassemble an AR-15 rifle is essential in order for you to keep it clean and properly lubricated.

I will be using a Stag Arms Stag 15 AR-15 to demonstrate the disassembly steps.

There are other reasons to Field Strip an AR-15 rifle, such as upgrades and repairs but mostly this will be done on a regular basis for maintenance.

This article will focus on AR-15 disassembly instructions only. If you need instruction on cleaning and lubrication please see this article;

How to Disassemble, Clean & Lubricate an AR-15 Rifle

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Stag Arms, Smith & Wesson, Bushmaster, Daniel Defense AR 15 Disassembly: It’s all the Same

The beauty of an AR-15 platform rifle is that all makes and models are basically the same as far as the main components. This means that no matter what manufacture makes your AR-15, the steps for disassembly and reassembly are the same.

There may be some differences as to the particular accessories that are attached to your rifle such as the hand guard, maybe you have an upgraded grip or a different type of adjustable stock. These are minor differences that do not really come in to play when you are disassembling your rifle for a cleaning purposes.

AR 15 disassembly is not complicated and anyone with basic mechanical skills will be able to do it with no issues. The only part that gets a bit tricky is removing the Ejector from the Bolt. This part is not absolutely necessary when doing regular cleaning unless there is an issue with ejection and the problem lies with the Ejector.

Parts of the AR-15

Below are several diagrams showing the parts of the AR-15 rifle. These do not show every part, just the parts we will be disassembling for the purposes of this article. This article will focus on field stripping the rifle primarily for cleaning purposes.

How to disassemble and AR-15: AR-15 Upper & Lower Receivers
AR-15 Upper & Lower Receivers
How to disassemble an AR-15: Upper Receiver Parts
Upper Receiver Parts
How to disassemble an AR 15: Bolt Carrier components
Bolt Carrier components
How to disassemble an AR-15: Bolt components
Bolt components

Tools Needed to Disassemble an AR-15 Rifle

The AR-15 disassembly process does not require much in the way of tools. The only tools you will need include a few gun punches, a small screwdriver and optionally a bench block such as a Real Avid Smart Bench Block to help disassemble Ejector and Extractor from the AR-15 Bolt.

First I will list the steps we are going to cover and then I will walk you through each process
with pictures and descriptions.

For the most part you will need to do these steps in order but after you are familiar with the disassembly and reassembly steps you will know how it is done and the order will be obvious.

How to Disassemble an AR-15: Steps

1. Verify your rifle is completely unloaded. This is the most important step and must be done every single time you handle your AR-15

2. Separate the upper receiver from the lower receiver.

3. Remove the bolt carrier group and charging handle from the upper receiver.

4. Disassemble the Bolt Carrier Group, Including Extractor & Ejector

5. Disassemble the buffer tube assembly

Those are the Steps to field strip or disassemble an AR 15. Below I will explain and use picture for each step to make the process as simple as possible.

UNLOAD the AR-15.

This is the most important step, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. To verify the AR 15 is completely unloaded and safe to disassemble, first remove the magazine if one is inserted in the gun. alternatively, verify that there is no magazine in the gun.

Verify there is no magazine in the rifle
Verify there is no magazine in the rifle

Pull back the charging handle and look into the chamber to verify that no round is present.

Pull back Charging Handle an verify there is not a round in the chamber.
Pull back Charging Handle an verify there is not a round in the chamber.

Separate the Upper Receiver from the Lower Receiver.

There are 2 take down pins that need to be pulled out. locate the pins on the left side of the rifle and push them in with your finger. Flip the rifle over and pull the pins out from the other side. They will not come out all the way, so pull them until they stop.

How to disassemble an AR-15: Location of the Take down Pins on left side of the rifle.
Location of the Take down Pins on left side of the rifle.
Press on the Front Take Down Pin
Press on the Front Take Down Pin
How to Disassemble an AR-15: Press the Rear Take Down Pin
Press the Rear Take Down Pin
Flip the Rifle over and the Take Down Pins will be slightly raised
Flip the Rifle over and the Take Down Pins will be slightly raised
Pull the rear Take Down Pin all the way up
Pull the rear Take Down Pin all the way up
The Upper Receiver will now pivot as shown, then pull up the front Take down Pin
The Upper Receiver will now pivot as shown, then pull up the front Take down Pin
AR-15 Upper & Lower Receivers can now be separated
AR-15 Upper & Lower Receivers are now separated

Remove the bolt carrier group and charging handle from the upper receiver.

To remove the Charging Handle and the BCG (Bolt Carrier Group) from the Upper Receiver start by disengaging the Charging Handle latch. Pull the charging handle about halfway out of the Upper Receiver and the BCG will come along with it. Stop halfway and grasp the BCG and carefully pull it all the way out. Then you can remove the charging Handle by lifting it up when aligned with the notch.

How to Disassemble an AR-15: Squeeze the Charging Handle latch to release it and pull it halfway out with the BCG
Squeeze the Charging Handle latch to release it and pull it halfway out with the BCG
Grasp the BCG and pull it all the way out of the Upper receiver
Grasp the BCG and pull it all the way out of the Upper receiver
Pull the Charging Handle further until it aligns with the notch in the upper and let it drop down and remove it
Pull the Charging Handle further until it aligns with the notch in the upper and let it drop down and remove it

Disassemble the Bolt Carrier Group, Including Extractor & Ejector

AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group
AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group

Next we will completely disassemble the BCG, including the removal of Ejector & Extractor. First step is to remove the Firing Pin Retainer in order to get the Firing Pin out of the BCG. This is easily done by using a small pointed object to grab the Retainer and pull it out. Once it is removed, the Firing Pin is free to fall out of the bot Carrier Group.

Locate & Remove the Firing Pin Retainer with a small punch or other tool
Locate & Remove the Firing Pin Retainer with a small punch or other tool
how to Disassemble an AR-16: Remove the Firing Pin by letting if fall out of the Bolt Carrier
Remove the Firing Pin by letting if fall out of the Bolt Carrier

Now it is possible to remove the Cam Pin, which is held in place by the Firing Pin. Once the Cam Pin is removed, the Bolt will come out of the Bolt Carrier. Press the bolt into the Carrier as far as it will go. This allows the Cam Pin the proper clearance to be removed. Rotate the Cam Pin 90 degrees and you can then pull it all the way our of the Bolt Carrier.

Press the bolt as far as it will go into the Carrier
Press the bolt as far as it will go into the Carrier
Rotate the Cam Pin 90 degrees as shown.
Rotate the Cam Pin 90 degrees as shown.
Once the Cam Pin is rotated as shown it can be pulled out of the Bolt Carrier.
Once the Cam Pin is rotated as shown it can be pulled out of the Bolt Carrier.
Pull the Cam Pin out of the Carrier
Pull the Cam Pin out of the Carrier

Next, we will remove the Bolt from the Bolt Carrier. With the Cam Pin Removed, the Bolt can be pulled out of the end of the carrier with relative ease.

Pull the Bolt out of the Carrier
Pull the Bolt out of the Carrier

Next we will disassemble the AR-15 Bolt by removing the Extractor and Ejector. See the following article for more details on this process:

How to disassemble an AR-15 BCG (Bolt Carrier Group)

The article will show you in detail how to completely disassemble and reassemble the Bolt.

Disassemble the Buffer Tube assembly

Next we will remove the Buffer and Buffer Spring from the buffer Tube. This is not a critical step and to be honest I rarely ever do this. This part of the AR-15 does not get nearly as dirty as the other parts and will not need cleaning as often. The steps are easy, just locate the retaining pin, depress it with a small screwdriver and allow the spring to push the buffer out enough to grab it. Then carefully pull the spring outward and upward until it is out.

AR-15 Disassembly: Location of Buffer and Buffer Retainer
Location of Buffer and Buffer Retainer
Buffer Retainer
Buffer Retainer
Place a thumb on the Buffer to keep it contained and press down on the buffer Retainer with a punch
Place a thumb on the Buffer to keep it contained and press down on the buffer Retainer with a punch
The Buffer Spring will push the Buffer out slightly
The Buffer Spring will push the Buffer out slightly
Grasp the Buffer & Spring and Remove it from the Buffer Tube.
Grasp the Buffer & Spring and Remove it from the Buffer Tube.

Your AR-15 is now disassembled for cleaning.

Video: How to Disassemble an AR-15

Thanks for reading my article and please feel free to leave a comment or question below!

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