How to Clean and Lube your AK–a Q&A with Mrgunsngear

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by Rob Kay

In case you don’t know him, Mrgunsngear (aka Mike) is a straight shooting firearms savant who has produced over 600 videos. A  graduate of the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Center, Mike has done stints in the USAF as well as the Army.


He’s also become a trusted source when it comes to guns and of course, gear.

He’s not connected to any kind of business venture that conflicts with his video blogging. If Mike finds flaws in a product he’s reviewing, he’ll tell you without worrying about offending the manufacturer. We respect him greatly for that.

Recently I happened upon one of Mike’s videos (see bottom of the page) that discusses how to lubricate and clean an AK. After seeing it again it occurred to me that I should cover this territory in blog. There are a number of first time AK owners who could benefit from this topic, not to mention those of us who can always stand to learn something new.

Below is my conversation with Mike on this subject.


Q: Before you get started on a post-range cleaning session, what items do you need?

A: Either solvent and a lubricant or some type of CLP, gun patches or cut up t-shirts in a pinch, a toothbrush, a cleaning rod (most AKs come with them), and some sort of tool [i.e. pick or equivalent] for working the patches around the receiver and moving parts.

Screenshot 2015-02-18 15.06.34
Got an old toothbrush? It works perfectly to apply your degreaser of your choice. 

Q: Do you recommend a particular cleaning kit?

I really don’t but Otis makes some pretty comprehensive kits. Good news is AK cleaning kits come with a lot of AKs and if your’s didn’t come with one they’re available online for under $10.

(Editor’s Note: We reviewed an Otis cleaning kit in an earlier column.)
Q: What about solvents or degreasers?

A: They certainly work and won’t hurt anything but are really only needed when copper fouling in the barrel starts to impact accuracy.

Q: Do you recommend a clean after every range session?

I always wipe the guns down at minimum if for no other reason than just to inspect the gun but it’s honestly not needed if you just put a few magazines though the gun. Of course, if you use corrosive ammo it is a must after each session.

lubing rails
Don’t forget to lube the rails, the bolt and the trigger engagement surfaces.

Q:  On your video I note that you pretty much just brush off the bolt, bolt carrier, inside the receiver, etc with a tooth brush and some cleaning formula and then wipe it down. Is it necessary to scrape off carbon anywhere?

A: If you wipe down your rifle after each session like I mentioned earlier it won’t be as hardened carbon fouling will generally wipe off if you don’t let it accumulate over multiple range sessions. If you do, then scraping may be required.

Q: Is it necessary to remove the gas tube every time to clean it?

In my opinion, if you’re not shooting corrosive ammo, no.

Q: What kind of lubrication do you recommend for an AK? Oil, grease? I’ve even heard some people use automatic transmission fluid.

A: Any and all of the above. The easy default answer is CLP; it’s proven and it works. But, lithium based greases work well on the AK as well. ATF is also a proven commodity but be careful on which type you use as some may damage your rifle’s finish.

Q: Where do you place the lubricant?

A: On the bolt, and on the rails primarily. Lubricating the trigger engagement surfaces won’t hurt either.

Q: How would you recommend storing the rifle?

A: AKs have a very well deserved reputation for not being to particular about certain things, storage being one. But, keeping it in a cool dry place is always a good idea.

Photos courtesy of  Mr. Gunsngear

Questions?  Comments?  Contact us at

Rob Kay writes about firearms for Hawaii Reporter and is the author of How to Buy an AK-47.

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  1. Unfortunately I do not own such a weapon, but that does not mean I do not want to be aware of how it can be cleaned. I must admit that I am impressed by arms, but I prefer the remote documentation.

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