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MGySgt USMC (ret)
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Discussion Starter #1
Folks, I don't often post on this forum as I'm one of the Instructors who help teach the Armalite Police Armorer's Course. I don't work directly for Armalite, but I am a contract worker for them for this and working AR's, M1 Garands, M14's, M1 Carbines, M 1903's and O3's and other military rifles at Camp Perry. Just want to make that clear before I begin.

OK, quite frankly I'm sick and tired of the CRAP that is put out on the open market about the many gizmo's for cleaning out the insides of gas tubes on AR's and M16's. Those very long pipe cleaners are nothing but an expensive waste of time. Other cleaning devices are even more useless. You do need to keep the outside of the gas tube clean at the rear end so it will form a good seal to the bolt carrier, but cleaning out the inside of the gas tube is virtually hopeless.

First of all, there is between 9,000 and 12,000 Pounds per Square Inch of gas pressure going through the gas tube depending on what length it is. That is going to blow out almost anything stuck or blocking the gas tube on one shot. However, it won't blow out stuck pieces of those long pipe cleaners and I wish I had a dollar for every gas tube I've replaced long before it needed to be done because a piece of those pipe cleaners was stuck in a gas tube.

What usually causes a gas tube to become unserviceable is wear in the area where the gas tube enters the bolt carrier key. When that happens, replace the gas tube as you can't fix it. The other thing that calls for replacement of the gas tube is when the gas tube has had so many rounds fired in the rifle that the tube clogs with carbon residue.

I don't believe anyone has solid figures on how often you should change a gas tube to keep optimum performance in an M16/AR rifle. From my experience, I would GUESS they are good for around 6,000 to 8,000 rounds at optimum performance, depending on how dirty the ammo is that you are using. Some foreign surplus ammo is real dirty and clogs the gas tube faster than G.I. or commercial ammo.

On real M16A1's and M16A2's I've worked on over the years, the gas tubes are usually good for the life of the barrel as long as they don't get worn in the area that goes into the bolt carrier key. On active duty, we replaced them more often for that than for crud inside the gas tubes.

What I recommend is that you have the correct spare gas tube AND gas tube pin for every barreled AR upper receiver you own. Then when the rifle becomes a bit sluggish, you put in the new gas tube and pin. Also, when you put a new barrel in your upper receiver - use a new gas tube and pin for it. Doesn't make sense to use a used gas tube with a new barrel.

Gas tubes aren't very expensive. The normally run under $ 20.00 and are cheap insurance to keep a spare on hand. You will spend much, MUCH more than that on the useless gimmicks to clean out the insides of them.
 

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I have fired over 8000 rounds in my pea shooter without once cleaning the gas tube.GI2
 

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"Death From Above"
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HIIGus its funy you brought this up, just the other day I was asking the question. Even before reading this post I already ordered a spare gas tube. I have a longer than normal gas tube, the barrel I have has the gas port two inches further out on the barrel. I am wondering how common these gas tubes are. Right now I only know one source and that is Krieger. Do you know of any. Thanks for posting this info.
 

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Agreed, I've been shooting the AR platform since '77 and have yet to replace a gas tube due to wear. A drop of oil on the contact point at cleaning and maybe a spritz of brake cleaner into the tube for peace of mind more than any real benefit. I also have seen folks use actual pipe cleaners instead of tube mops. Two different things and the pipe cleaners are much more fragile than the correct mops and tend to come apart in the tubes.
 

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It simply amazes me how many people believe that they absolutely must clean the gas tube on their AR-15! Since everyone makes and/or sells the long pipe cleaners, you must need to use them, right?

When I tell people that the military only wipes down the outside of the gas tube, they often simply don't believe me. They assume that since there are so many aftermarket products designed to clean the inside of the gas tube, that it must be required. Just another way to separate you from your money!
 

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MGySgt USMC (ret)
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Discussion Starter #6
HIIGus its funy you brought this up, just the other day I was asking the question. Even before reading this post I already ordered a spare gas tube. I have a longer than normal gas tube, the barrel I have has the gas port two inches further out on the barrel. I am wondering how common these gas tubes are. Right now I only know one source and that is Krieger. Do you know of any. Thanks for posting this info.
See, the Crystal Ball and Arcane Mysteryes of the Armourer's Arte divined this was a subject worth mentioning.

Actually, it wasn't that or a coincidence, your post was the inspiration for this thread. Grin.

Armalite has a special gas tube for their Target Model Rifles, but I do not know if they will fit your barrel. If Krieger has them for your rifle, I would stick to that until I knew for sure.
 

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MGySgt USMC (ret)
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Discussion Starter #7
It simply amazes me how many people believe that they absolutely must clean the gas tube on their AR-15! Since everyone makes and/or sells the long pipe cleaners, you must need to use them, right?

When I tell people that the military only wipes down the outside of the gas tube, they often simply don't believe me. They assume that since there are so many aftermarket products designed to clean the inside of the gas tube, that it must be required. Just another way to separate you from your money!
Exactly.
 

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"Death From Above"
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The reason I posted that thread was when I was in the service in the 80's we used those silly pipe cleaners. I just was curious what people were up to these days. I always thought it was a waste of time back then because the pipe cleaner would only go into the GT so far.
 

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NSRA
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82d it was a waste of time and effort to clean the inside of a gas tube. The IG's we had could not be told as they were learned men and officers. The Maint. shop changed them out if unserviceable. Can't tell some people nothing I guess.
 

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...First of all, there is between 9,000 and 12,000 Pounds per Square Inch of gas pressure going through the gas tube depending on what length it is. That is going to blow out almost anything stuck or blocking the gas tube on one shot...
Am I correct in thinking, then, that using foaming bore cleaner, such as Wipe-Out, which works very well in my M1A's, will not be a problem when it inevitably gets into the gas tube, because the gas pressure will blow it right out?
 

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Little bit of carb cleaner and my airbrush compressor is all I've ever used. Probably not needed, but makes me feel better.
 

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I always herd to use pipe cleaners but never from an expert. Well every one at the range with an AR is an expert nowadays. Never bothered to clean the inside of one. Just figured I would buy a new one if I had any problems.
 

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MGySgt USMC (ret)
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Discussion Starter #13
Am I correct in thinking, then, that using foaming bore cleaner, such as Wipe-Out, which works very well in my M1A's, will not be a problem when it inevitably gets into the gas tube, because the gas pressure will blow it right out?
I don't know if Wipe Out contains ammonia or something else that may eat into the metal if you don't get it properly neutralized. I would just hold my thumb over the hole and never spray anything into the gas tube, just to be safe about what could damage the metal in the gas tube.
 

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MGySgt USMC (ret)
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Discussion Starter #14
82d it was a waste of time and effort to clean the inside of a gas tube. The IG's we had could not be told as they were learned men and officers. The Maint. shop changed them out if unserviceable. Can't tell some people nothing I guess.
Agreed. Don't even get me started on the 10 plus year argument against using Q tips and rubbing them on M16 receivers to see if they were "dirty." We Armorers kept telling those idiots they were rubbing off the surface finish, not dirt or crud. But, oh no, they didn't listen until we had to refinish over 60 percent of the M16's in the Corps because people were "cleaning" them until you couldn't rub any finish off with a Q tip.
 

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I have a package of really long pipe cleaners I purchased at a gun show years ago to clean my gas tube. I tried to clean the gas tube on my Colt one time and after a while felt I was wasting my time. Only time I ever tried it.

I would not want to waste anything, so I had to find a use for the long pipe cleaners. If you fold the long pipe cleaner in two, you can use the loop to clean between the gas tube and upper receiver. I would not clean the inside of the gas tube with them though.

I guess I could always buy a really long pipe, but I don't smoke........
 

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I had the bright idea to use the long pipe cleaners, so I do. On my pipes.
 
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