Ok, so I have a confession to make: I am normally pretty particular about my firearms and make it a point to completely strip, clean and reassemble anything new (or new to me) before I use it - that way I have a good understanding of how it works and I know that all is good (as long as I put it back together properly)... then I bought a new Norinco AR-15 M4 clone, designated a CQA, for a ridiculously low sum from a well-known Canadian dealer.
I pulled out the piece of gauze from the end of the barrel, opened it up to make sure there weren't any more inside, wiped over the outside and... used it - for about 500 rounds over a couple of sessions using only cheap and dirty Norinco surplus ammo. I didn't clean it. At all. And I didn't feel guilty - it's an AR-15, so it's meant to be used, right? All was good, apart from one 10 round pistol mag that occasionally seated itself a little too deeply in the mag well. But over the last 50 rounds or so, I was getting a few stoppages - failures to feed and failures to fully eject.
I guess I need to clean it - and maybe while it's in pieces I'll swap some of them... before then, this is what it looks like stock and what it weighs - 6.85 lb or 6 lb 13.5 oz., as Colonel Mustard would prefer (I did say I was particular).
...to be continued.