and Basic Maintenance
Of The M-14/M1A Rifle
by Stuart A. Leach a.k.a. "the Colorado Gray Fox"
(This article was written for
members and prospective members of the Colorado State Junior Highpower Rifle
Team. Many of the procedures described apply to the M1 Garand Rifle, grandfather
of the M-14 and M1A, and to other rifles. CAUTION: Bore cleaners and other
products may contain chemicals injurious to human health. Use only in well
ventilated areas, avoid skin contact, and wear eye protection.
The M-14 and M1A rifles are
engineering marvels, able to function well under difficult conditions. However,
your rifle will function best, and help you perform best, if it receives proper
care, cleaning and maintenance. Proper care extends the useful life of the
rifle, and the close examination of parts will identify problems before they
Care means protecting the
rifle- from damage, prying eyes, tampering and theft. Team members take their
rifles home, and good care starts when you get there. Carry the rifle to/from
your vehicle in the gun case. Be discrete about who you show it to- friends
talk, and gossip can grow into wild tales. If possible, keep the rifle locked up
in a vault while at home. At least keep it in a closet or other out of sight
When the rifle is in a
vehicle keep it out of sight. In the car trunk is best; if in the passenger area
lay it on the floor and cover it up. Don't leave the rifle alone in a vehicle
any longer than absolutely necessary.
At matches protect the rifle
from damage or tampering by keeping it in the case as much as possible. Keep the
rifle up off the ground so dirt does not get kicked inside, and keep the rifle
safe from being dropped or falling.
Listed below are tools,
supplies and procedures for every day maintenance, periodic maintenance and
special conditions maintenance. An important concept to keep in mind is that the
rifle should not be disassembled any more than is necessary for the level of
maintenance truly needed. Each time the barrel/action assembly is removed from
the stock the bedding suffers a little damage, so this should not be done any
more often than necessary.
· Cleaning cradle or padded
vise to hold rifle
· Safety block or stripper clip to hold action open
· Cleaning rod- Parker-Hale or Dewey type
· Cleaning rod guide
· Bronze bore brushes- 30 caliber and 45 caliber
· Plastic bore brush or bore mop- 30 caliber
· Patch tip for cleaning rod- spear or wrap around type
· Tooth brush
· Gas cylinder wrench
· Gas plug wrench/combo tool
· Gas system cleaning drills
· Chamber brush
· Pin punch- 1/8"
· Powder solvent- Hoppe's,
Shooter's Choice, etc.
· Copper solvent- Sweet's 7.62, Shooter's Choice, Hoppe's
· Gun grease- Shooter's Choice, Plastilube, Rig, Lubriplate
· Light lubricant- Breakfree, etc.
· Spray carburetor cleaner- Gumout, STP, Gun Scrubber
· Cotton Swabs
Everyday Cleaning and
After every shooting session
perform the following operations:
1. Put the rifle in the
cradle or vise upside down, with muzzle sloping down slightly. This keeps
solvent from draining into the action and affecting the bedding. Open the
action, and block it open with the safety block or clip. This prevents damage to
the cleaning rod and your fingers.
2. Use the rod, guide, patch
holder, patch and powder solvent to push a wet patch through the bore to remove
loose fouling. Slip the guide on the rod, seat and wet the patch with solvent,
push through bore after aligning guide and remove patch at breech. Do this
3. Use rod, guide and brush
to loosen fouling. Wet the brush with powder solvent using a squeeze bottle,
then clean with ten strokes, wiping the rod with a rag each stroke. Let stand
for 4-5 minutes.
While waiting, use the
toothbrush to clean the front and rear sights and bolt face. Use a cotton swab
and a bit of rag to clean out locking lug recesses, op rod hump, rear of barrel
and tracks in action.
Patch the bore dry.
4. Repeat #3, but this time
while waiting clean chamber with chamber brush and patch, and relubricate lugs,
recesses and tracks. Patch the bore dry.
5. Apply copper solvent to
bore with plastic bristle brush or mop. Apply liberally, and allow to soak for
5-10 minutes. While waiting remove trigger assembly and clean hammer and trigger
hooks with cotton swab and rag. Also clean the trough on top of the hammer,
hammer face and safety notch. Relubricate hooks very sparingly with light oil.
Put a little grease in the hammer trough and on the safety notch. Patch the bore
6. Repeat #5, this time
cleaning the gas system. Hold both gas cylinder and lock at the same time with
the special wrench while removing the plug with the combo tool. Shake out the
piston, and clean with the toothbrush. Gently clean the inside of the piston and
plug with the drills. Clean the inside of the cylinder with a few strokes of a
dry 45 caliber brush. Reassemble; the flat side of the piston goes toward the
barrel. Put a small dot of grease on the rear of the piston. Snug the plug up
tight to the register marks, using both wrenches, but don't force.
Repeat cleaning bore with
copper solvent until the first patch comes out clean. Use the waiting time to
check over the stock and sling, repack your shooting stool, etc. Finish with a
patch wet with carb cleaner, cleaning and dry patching the barrel and chamber to
remove copper solvent traces.
After every 7-10 firing
sessions the rifle needs a really good cleaning of the receiver, bolt assembly,
op rod and trigger group. This is to remove built up dirt and grime, and to
allow inspection for wear and damage. This should not be done too often. Take
the rifle apart into the trigger, action/barrel and stock assemblies. Remove the
op rod and bolt, and then really clean the inside of the action with toothbrush
and powder solvent. Flush out with carburetor spray. Do the same to the bolt
assembly, and clean out the inside of the hump on the op rod. Clean and flush
the trigger group. Lubricate and reassemble. Also disassemble and clean your
magazines. This would be a good time to use a very light application of
neatsfoot oil or Glovolium on your sling. If the sling keepers have stretched
and loosened up, run them through the washer and dryer with your jeans, and
order new keepers. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust from inside your gun
If shooting in dusty
conditions (Raton, CRC, etc.) remove as much grease and oil as possible before
firing. Lubricants capture grit, forming a kind of abrasive paste. Keep the
rifle cased when not firing. After firing perform the periodic maintenance
routine, with emphasis on flushing out with solvent. Don't forget to clean out
If the rifle gets rained or
snowed on, tear it down, wipe dry and relubricate. Be sure to elevate and dry
the rear sight assembly, and dry the inside of the stock. If possible, leave
disassembled for a day or so to promote drying. To avoid rusting, store the
rifle outside the case for several days.
Special Instructions Regarding Moly- Coated Bullets
Many shooters are using
bullets coated with molybdenum disulphide lubricant. A different barrel cleaning
regime is required. Patch twice using a penetrating oil such as Kroil or Marvel
Mystery Oil. Brush 10-15 strokes using nylon brush and penetrating oil. Patch
dry. Every 300-400 rounds, clean using special mild abrasive compound cleaners
such as JB, RemClean or IOSSO. Wrap a patch around a worn out bore brush,
saturate with cleaner, work full length 10-15 strokes, with 4-5 extra short
strokes just ahead of the chamber. Clean again with penetrating oil to remove
compound. It will take a few shots to rebuild moly in barrel and return to zero.