AR Stories

It’s been an interesting day.

My friend was shooting a Colt .22 LR AR at a fun match earlier this month.  Shooting steel from around barrels, open windows and while on the move can be a lot of fun as well as challenging.  You can get a lot of blasting from a brick of .22 LR.  Who would deny the fun aspect of banging and clanging with steel?  

Between the shooting sessions she noticed two things.  One, the rifle’s bolt locked open only with an empty mag in place.  Once the bolt was locked open, you could remove the magazine and the bolt stayed open.  That’s not unusual.  The other thing was that the bolt release on the rifle’s frame moved up and down, but didn’t do anything.

That’s unusual.  You would expect the bolt release on an AR to move in and out, not up and down.  But considering the gun was set up for .22 LR maybe that’s not too unusual.  That fact it moved and didn’t do anything was suspicious but you could pull the charging handle and release the bolt.  A broken minor part that didn’t seem to affect the gun’s safety - it has happened to all of us at some time.

We pushed, tugged, slid and scratched our heads over the bolt carrier release.

Before she took it into the shop she found the manual.  The bolt release on the rifle’s frame is strictly non-functional and is a decoration!  The rifle is functioning exactly as it should; all is well and who would have guessed it?  Pays to read the book.

I also ran into someone at the range wanting to know how to use a "broken shell extractor."  I’ve never seen a broken shell stuck in a chamber.  I don’t know anyone who has had a broken shell stuck in a chamber, but as a reloader I know such things are possible.  A broken shell on a plinking Saturday is a minor inconvenience, but travel to a match and an out-of-commission weapon can ruin your weekend.  I have one and if you’re smart you’ll see it a cheap shooting insurance.

I’m not an expert on ARs.  If you want to know what twist you need for a hand-cast 59 gr bullet or what’s the drop at 100 yard zero with 27 gr of Unique powder, I’m not your man.  But I’m willing to share my limited knowledge and I’ll tell you when we’re out of the shallow end of the pool. 

I was trying to explain my understanding of the way a shell extractor works and it was clear we were not communicating.  Time to get images or models and not just my hand movements.

“You got one?”  I asked.  “Why don’t you bring it out and I can stop making hand gestures.”

“I've  got two.  I’ll get one.”

I admit that puzzled me.  Sure, I’m one-is-none-two-is-one kind of guy, but two shell extractors?  Of course, two different calibers, what a dummy I am….

What was brought out was an AR.  I started explaining how you lock the bolt back and slip the edge of broken shell extractor under the bolt extractor….

“No no no…This!’  He pointed to the little pushy thing behind the ejection port.

“That?  That’s the forward assist.”

The forward assist is circled in red.

This shaggy dog story has been off the leash too long.  The shaved down story is someone who thought they knew more than they did gave him some bad information.  I explained what a forward assist is and what it’s for and everything was fine!

Read the books, find the people who have seen the elephant and get the straight dope.  Good tactics call for knowledge and its application applied to the situation at hand.


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