by Gary Howes
Guns and Gunsmiths Editor
There is an old saying among some military and police members about the maintenance of AR-15/M4 and similar rifles—”Clean it like your life depends on it!” If you use your rifle to save lives, or to save your own, the last thing you ever need is for it to not operate correctly because you neglected to keep it clean.
On ARs and other guns that use a similar bolt to barrel lockup, the one area that is probably the most difficult to keep clean is the star chamber—that space between the bolt locking lugs and the chamber. If it is not kept clean, it could potentially prevent the bolt from fully locking up to the barrel extension.
There are bristle brushes and other tools available for cleaning this area, but they generally only loosen the crud and turn it into an oily slush, without actually removing it.
Our friends at Swab-its® have come to the rescue with a new product designed just for this task. Their Star Chamber Cleaning Foam Swabs™ are specifically designed to squeeze into the barrel extension forward of the locking lugs, loosen the grime and carbon, and remove it by using the absorption of the specially-shaped foam cleaning head.
Take a look at the shape of the foam pad on these. The long end fits smoothly into the chamber while the two “wings” easily pass through the lugs and expand into the area behind. Combined with the solvent or lubricant of your choice, this not only loosens the build-up, but also removes it in one quick and easy step. And when you are done, you can leave a clean swab in the chamber with the handle acting as an “empty chamber” indicator.
I tried it out on my IWI Tavor SAR (I don’t actually own an AR) which does have only 3 locking lugs instead of the AR’s 8, but still is prone to dirt and carbon in that area. I had shot and cleaned this rifle only a week earlier and thought it was clean, but I was amazed when I saw how much additional crud came out on the Swab-its cleaner.
And, like their other products, all it took was a quick spritz of Simple Green and a rinse under the faucet, and the swab was ready for the next cleaning. Good job Swab-its!
Don’t forget that Swab-its offers a 10% discount on ALL their products by visiting www.bore-tips.com and using the offer code gunsandgunsmiths. There is no expiration date on this offer, so go back and order more whenever you like and still get your Guns and Gunsmiths reader’s discount!