As industry professionals, we are constantly in the market for innovative products. Lucky for the broader market, these amazing cleaning and disassembly mats are available for the AR-15, but, they work well for any firearm that needs work.
The benefit of using these mats for an AR-15 is that the diagrams that are (dye sublimation) printed onto the oil resistant surface of the mat. Because of this dye-sub process, it’ll be hard to wear out that surface detailing and it keeps you honest the next time you disassemble a gun and forget the name of the tiny spring or pin that is clearly broken/missing. The printing can take a beating and is very unlikely to ever wear off.
When you’re disassembling, cleaning or otherwise working on a firearm, and particularly rifles or carbines, it is a best practice to try to keep the finish on the gun from getting messed up by adding a mat or towel underneath. While a towel might be fine for some there are many reasons why a towel doesn’t make sense for the mainstream. For a few dollars more, you can get a sophisticated, high quality, gun cleaning mat that either has a blowup technical cutaway drawing of the most common configuration of the beloved AR-15 rifle, of you can get the component parts breakdown that focuses on the assemblies contained within the entire firearm. Each has its benefits (they will be highlighted below).
The legitimate argument for having something like this: it is first and foremost, thin, slip resistant, oil resistant and covers the parts that need to be covered, without upsetting your better half by throwing a nasty oil ridden towel into the laundry. You get a full-length mat that has a bit of padding in case you need to lay the gun down or use a punch or hammer for disassembly or repair. The surface has very good wear characteristics too; it’s not bulletproof, but it resists scratches and gouges well. The size of the mat helps a lot with protecting your guns.
For enthusiasts of the guns, and especially for those new to the platform, the diagrams on each of the two mats that are offered by TekMat help with identification and the standardized naming of the parts is included. It strikes at the heart of what we like to call “modular gunsmithing”. We feel like the practice of customization and parts replacement that was once the domain of the trained armorer or gunsmith, is largely in the public domain now. It’s led to a renaissance in the gun industry and a push for high quality, high availability of parts and upgrade components. It’s helped to make this industry more widespread and connected.
Now, anyone who desires to learn can easily find information and work through problem-solving and troubleshooting the AR platform. Not all problems will be able to be fixed by all enthusiasts, but many concerns will become apparent as they see wear characteristics on the Bolt carrier assembly or the trigger assembly as they disassemble their firearms. Having the TekMat there to help them with the reference points makes more informed, better-experienced gun owners.
Let’s face it, the modular products are popular because everyone likes to mess around with customization and building something uniquely theirs. That’s why we like the TekMat so much: it’s built with that consumer in mind, but it’s also got the high-end professional-grade attributes that until recently, were only available in the trade to those who were in the know and could source the products. It’s nice to see professional quality gear available to the masses.
The mat is expertly detailed and finished and offers a striking appearance for those who might invite someone into their workspace occasionally. We all do it to show off our latest toys, so we might as well have something impressive as a cornerstone piece of décor there. The TekMat, for all its inexpensive, unassuming attitude, presents very well as a desktop/benchtop focal point. It’ll look good for a long time and the quality shows you take your guns seriously. Forget about using a cheap neoprene mouse pad that only covers a small footprint. You want something big enough to protect the entire rifle. The thermoplastic facing, and the stitched edges make this a well-finished product that shines in comparison to the cheap older mats that were only available to professionals, and then, only at an inflated rate.
Two very well thought out cleaning mats for the AR-15
There are two AR-15 mats that make sense from the TekMat corporation:
The AR-15 Cutaway Ultra-Premium Gun Cleaning Mat runs $29.99 and features a colorful fully assembled, but cutaway view of the components working in harmony during the normal mechanical action of the firearm. You get the schematic feel with the labeled parts and the close interactivity of the parts playing out, so you can be aware of things you might have otherwise overlooked. It helps tremendously for those novices that are just diving into the AR-15 game and are looking at manuals or gun guides on breaking down and servicing their rifles step by step. To have that standardized parts list and the relationship it has to other parts in front of you, can help you to retain a lot on the first several times you perform the tear-down or cleaning operations.
The other mat is the AR-15 Ultra-Premium Gun Cleaning Mat by TekMat. It’s priced similarly to the first at $29.99. The difference is a personal preference for the reference data contained on the dye sublimation printed thermoplastic face material.
This mat is better for those who have been doing AR-15 stuff for a while but want something that speaks to their AR-15 from a design perspective. It is a little more low-key and talks mostly about the harmony between independent groups of parts that show the assemblies and how they work independently. It can help to systematically refine how you think about servicing parts and checking for wear or other concerns as you work on your rifle or carbine.
Having the two mats will give even more insight to the new user that hasn’t fixed a thousand AR-15’s but it’s equally helpful in cutting out the monotony of professionals who already know the gun like the back of their hand. Sometimes we overlook things. Having a schematic in our faces keeps us in check.
A single improvement that we could find
There is a single caveat with these mats if we had to search hard to find something that could be improved and we’re hesitant to say it even; because it’s just a nitpicky thing.
Because most of the parts in an AR are black or some “phosphated”, “oxided”, “parkerized” variant of black or deep blue/olive green or another color. It’d be nice to have an option with a white background and maybe dark grey lettering and pictures because then we could lay parts out and see them as we work on the bench. For now, the parts of the AR-15 don’t necessitate many problems with the black backgrounds though, so maybe we’re just being odd about it.
We guarantee we, not the only well-experienced industry professionals (some of us have more than 20 years of professional work in the field) that find these mats helpful if for the very least, the generous dimensions and top-quality build and materials.
If you want something to proudly display your affection for the AR-15, this is a fantastic functional component part that every great workbench needs if you plan on servicing, playing with, customizing or just admiring your AR-15’s. We feel like everyone who is working on the AR should have at least one. Or get one for a friend – especially that one shooter in the group who everyone knows is more enthusiastic than knowledgeable about the firearm. Help your brother or sister out.