Proper, reliable function of your AR-15—or any other firearm, for that matter—depends on periodic cleaning and lubrication. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to clean before you even leave the range, especially for lower-round-count sessions. Shown above is a quick video with some pointers on giving your AR-15-style rifle a quick clean at the range.
Products like those available from Real Avid and Hoppe's can make fast work of fouling and accuracy-robbing detritus and don’t take up a lot of room in the range bag. Dedicated workspace items, like a mat and picks, help keep things organized, while task-specific tools like the boresnake make short work of difficult jobs. The easier it is to accomplish your objective, the more likely you’ll be to get to it.
For a more-thorough look at cleaning the AR-15, Rifles Editor Steve Adelmann outlined the steps he takes when cleaning. This is an in-depth look at the various lubrication types and frequencies, wear-points, and other intricacies of the AR-15 platform. Adelmann lists numerous inspection points of note when cleaning your AR-15, in addition to thoughtful gear and tool suggestions.
It’s up to each shooter to determine how often and detailed a cleaning they wish to perform. Some clean thoroughly after every outing, regardless of round count, while others perform minimal maintenance between multiple-thousand-round sessions. There’s clichés on both sides, from the “you’ll wear your barrel out from cleaning too much” to “a clean gun is a more-accurate gun,” and it really boils down to knowing your equipment and how much you can let slide before problems crop up.
As for us? We prefer to err on the side of caution and keep things clean. It gives more opportunity for lubrication and inspection, which can catch little problems and prevent them from turning into larger ones.