Do you Oil a Charging Handle?

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New gun owners often struggle with determining the right way of taking care of their firearms. Many don’t have a clue that even the best charging handles need maintenance. One of the questions that inevitably comes up is, “do you oil charging handle?”

The answer is quite straightforward.

Do You Oil a Charging Handle?

Yes, you’re supposed to oil both the inside and outside the charging handle. It’s critical to ensure that all the friction points have some lubrication on them. Ideally, you want to put a little bead of oil and rub it in with your fingers. Excess lubrication is not necessary, but there’s no harm in running your weapon wet.

In fact, using a lot of gun oil is recommended for those deployed in the desert. The only potential downside to running your weapon wet is that the excess oil will trap more gunk when the weapon is fired. You will have a little more difficulty cleaning your firearm later.

Man oiling AR15 parts including the charging handle

What Is the Right Way to Lubricate the Bolt?

The locking lugs, the cocking ramp, and the extraction cam need to be lubricated to ensure the weapon’s longevity. Here’s how you do it:

  • Tackle Locking Lugs: Most bolts have two lugs, but there are bolts with three or even four lugs. Wipe them clean with a paper towel, dab some grease on a screwdriver, and spread it on the lugs. Ideally, you must apply a coat of grease just thin enough to cover the metal.
  • Oil the Cocking Piece: You will find the cocking ramp on the back of the bolt. It needs to be lubricated since the firing pin rides up the ramp when the bolt is opened. Begin by wiping off the old lubrication and any debris with a paper towel or rag. Next, apply a coat of oil using a screwdriver. You will need to remove the shroud to lubricate the bolt appropriately in some actions and make sure to properly put the pieces back in.
  • Lube the Extraction Cam: The cocking cam is present at the root of the bolt handle. The cam creates a rearward movement of the bolt on the receiver when the bolt is rotated open. There is friction in this part, and hence wear and tear. The camming surface is on the bolt handle for some weapons and on the receiver on others. Those are the spots you need to lubricate. If you find a shiny spot on the cam, the timing of the extraction cam is not perfect on the action. If the timing is extremely bad, it will make extraction difficult. However, this is often not the case. There is slight resistance at the top of the opening stroke in mild cases.


Oiling the charging handle is a necessary part of gun maintenance. You want to oil all the areas of the charging handle that deal with friction, to avoid the handles to be stuck. A bead of oil spread in the right parts should be enough. But there’s nothing wrong with using more oil if you like running your weapons wet.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.