Care, Cleaning and Basic Maintenance Of The M-14/M1A Rifle

Care, Cleaning 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 become serious.

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 location.

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.

Tools Needed

· 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″

Supplies Needed

· 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
· Patches
· Cotton Swabs
· Rags

Everyday Cleaning and Maintenance

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 twice.

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 dry.

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.

Periodic Maintenance

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 case.

Special Conditions

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 the magazines.

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.