How often have you had discussions with other gun enthusiasts that turn into vehement debates over which firearm is the easiest to shoot with precision, which is best for home defense/hunting/etc., or devolved into a general debate about which firearm is the best on the market? So often when these discussions happen, it’s easy to jump to the overblown stories heard from a friend of a friend who “saw it happen” as a means of supporting an argument. We get it, we’re all passionate about our firearms, and that passion can lead to some heated debates.
When it comes to the wide range of firearm options available today, the AR 15 is considered one of the more reliable options on the market. And that’s saying nothing about how it compares to the firearm options through history (hand cannon, anyone?). However, we do recognize that, as with any modern firearm, malfunctions and stoppages can happen. Below are some of the most common issues and what causes them.
As with so many things, a good portion of AR 15 malfunctions and stoppages are nothing more than operator error (even though we don’t necessarily want to admit it). Something as simple as the magazine not being seated correctly can lead to the firearm not firing at all or, potentially, firing but failing to fully eject the casing (i.e. a “stovepipe” or “smokestack” malfunction). In addition to simple human error being at the root of an issue, defective rounds can also play a big role in an AR jamming. The best place to begin, when trying to sort out the root cause of the malfunction, is to start simply: check the magazine. A great deal of stoppages can be solved by ensuring the magazine is fully seated by giving it a tug or tap; as with any time you aren’t preparing to actively fire your firearm, be sure you’re taking your finger off the trigger before you work to clear the stoppage or fix the malfunction. If the magazine is fully seated, pull the charging handle back swiftly and release cleanly. A majority of the time, this will be enough to clear stoppages; however, if the same problem keeps happening, try swapping out a different magazine. If that doesn’t clear up the issue, it may be a more complex problem.
If you’re concerned that one of your custom AR parts is causing your firearm to experience issues, the next step should be to take apart your upper receiver and give everything a thorough cleaning. As you scrub everything clean, take the time to check over everything from the bolt carrier group to the muzzle and check for signs of irregular wear. These can be visual signals that perhaps a custom AR part doesn’t fit quite correctly or a component needs replacing. If neither cleaning nor checking the magazine remedy the issue, check this handy guide from WingTactical.com for a more extensive list of problems and solutions.
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