CRKT/Ruger AR Cleaning Tool, by Pat Cascio

I do a lot of AR-15 shooting these days, either testing guns for articles, or just for my own shooting pleasure. One thing that I don’t especially enjoy, and never have, is AR cleaning. Because they use a gas tube rather than a gas piston, they require frequent cleaning. And they aren’t one of the easiest rifles to clean. Today, we’re looking at the AR cleaning tool, from CRKT and Ruger. Several years ago, Ruger commissioned CRKT to produce some cutlery for them – under the Ruger name, and it has been a great relationship.

The first time I handled an AR-15 type of rifle, was in October 1969, and it was the then US military combat rifle, in the form of the M16. I remember how happy I was to be issued this light-weight rifle, compared to the big and heavy  M14 I carried in Basic Combat Training, and the recoil was nothing compared to that of the M14 with its 7.62 NATO round that kicked a bit hard for a scrawny 17 year old kid. And, to this day, I still remember the white glove inspections, when it came time to turn-in our M16s to the unit armorer, after we thought we had thoroughly cleaned those rifles. No matter how clean we thought we cleaned those M16s, the armorer always found something that needed more attention. I wised up to their inspections. I was more than content with my cleaning jobs, and I’d go to turn in my cleaned M16, only to be told it was still dirty. Well, I’d wait until much later, when the armorer wanted to close up for the day – and I’d then return my “re-cleaned” M16 – and guess what? Yep, it passed the inspection, without me cleaning it again.

I don’t think I owned my first civilian AR-15 until sometime in the early 1980s if my memory serves me correctly. However, since that first AR, I’ve probably had hundreds of various types and brands of ARs pass though my hands – always being a habitual gun trader, ‘cause I can’t afford all the guns I’d like to have, I’ve traded off more than a few AR-type of rifles and pistols over the years. Some ARs are better made than others, no doubt about it.

Many AR makers claim that their ARs are made to military specifications (mil-spec) and that’s not exactly true. It is more than a little misleading. While some ARs might be made out of materials that are made to mil-spec, they still are not made to full military specifications in all regards. One is the length of the barrel – mil-spec M4s have a 14.5-inch barrel – civilian AR rifles have a barrel that is at least 16-inches long. These days, some use a 14.5-inch barrel with a permanently pinned flash hider, to meet that requirement, and to get that mil-spec look. Some ARs are made partially out of mil-spec parts, and some for the parts are made to the specs of the gun manufacturer. It’s a mix of mil-spec and civilian parts. I have no problem with that. They just need be honest about it.

Today: A Buyer’s Market

These days, you can find a lot of entry-level ARs for under $500 – however, don’t expect these prices to stay low much longer. This is just a hunch, that things are going to go crazy when it comes to private gun ownership in this country, and prices will go crazy once again.

Here’s an example: After the Sandy Hook school shootings, and a lot of talk about banning “assault rifles” – whatever they might be – but I know I don’t own one – prices and demand went through the roof on ARs (and AKs). By coincidence, I had just bought a well-used Olympic Arms AR carbine – its Parkerizing was scratched up and in need of care. So I spray painted the entire gun in camouflage colors, and it actually turned out quite well. The next day, the Sandy Hook School shootings happened, and everyone was scrambling to get an AR, before they were banned. I bought this OlyArms for $350. I returned to the gun shop and offered it to them for $1,100 – they told me I was “taking advantage of them” and I told them they didn’t have to buy it – still, they did. Before I had even left the shop, they resold it at a decent profit – and it was almost a fight between two customers. One told the other, “if you put it down, I’m buying it…” needless to say, the first customer bought it – even though he didn’t care for the camo paint job – but he didn’t put it back down on the counter, until he said he wanted to buy it.

So, I expect the prices on ARs to go through the roof once again, very soon – with all this talk about banning these types of rifles. Here in Oregon, it will be next to impossible to own just about any type of firearms if the Democrat gun grabbers have their way with the anti-gun bills they are going to vote on very soon. They want to limit any guns to 5 rounds, and that to even include revolvers! And, if you have magazines that hold more than 5 rounds, you’ll have to destroy them or removed them from Oregon. And no nasty “assault rifles” will be allowed–count on it! Look at Washington State – and how difficult they are making it to even purchase an “assault weapon” of any kind, as an example to what is coming to all of us – like it or not.

Back to the AR Tool

Okay, I got off the subject of this article and into politics – sorry about that. The tool I tested for this article is called the AR Tool – and it is made by CRKT for Ruger – and it is a dandy little tool for cleaning the AR bolt and bolt carrier – one of the hardest areas to keep clean on an AR. There is a lot of work involved, in cleaning the AR bolt and bolt carrier, if you expect your AR to keep running. I’ve seen a lot of guys who simply wipe these parts down with an oily rag and ram ‘em back into their ARs. Yeah, the guns keep working – for a time. But they eventually get to a point where you can’t even clean these parts the way they should be cleaned, and and you have to replace them. And replacing a mil-spec AR bolt can cost up to $75. Its just lazy to not clean your bolt and bolt carrier properly, and Ruger is making it easy to do now.

CRKT- Ruger AR ToolThe AR Tool was designed by Joe Wu, who knows there is a world of difference between recreational shooters and one who has honed their skills over the years, and is a serious shooter. To properly maintain your AR, you have a useful blade on the AR Tool, that is a slip joint, as well as another blade that has a nine-in-one scraper tool, built to clean 12 critical surfaces on the bolt and bolt carrier.

CRKT- Ruger AR ToolIt’s important to scrape certain areas to properly clean these areas, if not, your gun will stop working, and in a survival or combat situation, you don’t want your gun stopping on you. A few of the areas that you need to keep clean are the bolt, firing pin, carrier, and cam pin – the tail of the bolt really gets a lot of carbon built-up on it, and most people totally neglect this part – and the carbon builds up to a point where it can no longer be cleaned off.

Check out the CRKT website for more information and specs on this tool – its nice and small, and easily carried in your pants pocket, or your range bag, or in your AR carrying bag/case so you always have it with you. And, you can see how small this handy tool is, and it drops into your pants pocket and you’ll forget its there – until you need it.  These tools are compact and fairly light weight, so there is no excuse to not carry one in your AR-15 cleaning kit.

I’m always one of these “Gee, why didn’t I think of that” sort of guys – the AR Tool is handy-dandy, and retail is only $29.99. If you own an AR, then you need this cleaning tool!  They are available at, and through many AR parts and accessory dealers, as well as many knife dealers, on on the Internet.

Speaking of ARs, I have two that need cleaning right now…


  1. You got the unit armor part exactly right. I was one. Everything changed toward the end of the day except when we had a big inspection coming up. Good memories. Smiled when I read it.

  2. Pat: The liberal anti-2nd amendment idiots in Salem are going to be surprised when NON-COMPLIANCE is the order of the day! Law enforcement will not comply with UNCONSTITUTIONAL laws !!!!!! Just ask your local sheriff! How about CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY IN OREGON!!!!!!

  3. Alaska doesn’t have the idiotic liberal problems of the outside …(lower 48) … sometimes I dream about moving back to the Idaho area … and I love that area of northern Idaho … but to leave a country where any citizen can carry concealed or open carry with out any permit needed …. argggg … it pains me to read about the death of the Republic. Of course one has to remember that for the most part, we’re at the bottom of the food chain up here …. 🙂

    1. If you are interested in moving to Alaska, how can you move a substantial collection of guns and ammo from the lower 48 to mainland (Anchorage) Alaska? Can not go through Canada. The Marine Highway is not practical. Forget mailing to FFL, too expensive. Container? Moving van on a barge with household goods? Any suggestions. Do not want to sell what I have. Could never replace it.

  4. You nailed one of the reasons I love my SIG gas piston ARs 😉 Oh, and the amazing match trigger group.

    LtMike, what about the Alaska clause which states you must declare your concealed carry to LEOs? That always seemed odd to me – but I don’t live in AK.


  5. cooked frog – Canada has (or at least had) a process by which firearms could be moved over land through Canada. The firearms would be officially sealed by a border agent and had to remained sealed until after departing crown land. As you can imagine, very severe penalties would result should the firearms be unsealed in transit.


  6. Theoretically one could load a conex owned by the individual and ship it up by TOTE Inc. barge out of Tacoma to Anchorage … you have to declare weight at the time of shipping since the cost us determined by weight. The owner must securely lock the container before loading it [aboard ship]. I shipped my pick up 3/4 ton Chevy diesel with camper on it … and several of my personal firearms stored. I was never asked about my possessions … just weight and damage inspection before and after transfer.
    Yes, if you carry concealed in Alaska, and are either stopped by LEO that is clearly LEO, or identifies them selves as LEO you must inform them you are armed, in vehicle or out of vehicle.
    If you open carry then it is not required.

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