New AR15, Possible Bolt Carrier Woes


May 12, 2003, 02:01 PM
Hey all!

I was out at the range yesterday, working out my new AR15. I put about 250 rounds through it. All was well until about halfway through (about 120ish rounds), I had a stovepipe. For the record, I am using Winchester Q3131A ball. Anyway, the spent brass stuck with the case mouth out and the rim jammed between the bolt-carrier and the charging handle, while the new round was halfway into the chamber.

I couldn't use the charging handle to clear it, so I did what is recommended in the Kuleck and Duff "AR15 Owners Guide", and pressed the bolt catch, while sharply rapping the butt of the rifle on the floor.

It took 3 smacks, but the spent brass worked out enough to get the charging handle into action and then it was simply a matter of grabbing the brass and pulling it out.

(Wait, my story gets better)

I proceed to shoot the rest of my ammo and noted that there was nothing wrong with the rifle. It was accurate and reliable.

When I got home and began cleaning it, I noticed something weird. When I reinserted the cleaned and oiled bolt carrier into the upper, it had some play in it. It used to drop into the upper and be solid, like a rock. Now, if I insert my finger into the back of it, I can get it to wiggle up and down a little bit. I can see the bolt actually moving slightly in the locking lugs as well. This worries me.

Is this normal? Does this happen as the rifle gets broken in? When I smacked it on the floor to clear the stoppage, did I hurt it or cause this problem? I continued shooting after the jam and didn't experience a problem, so I'm not sure if that was it.

AR15 owners, what should I do? Should I have it looked at or just keep shooting it?

Before anybody recommeneds it, I'm going to post this at ARFCOM eventually, but I'm not sure how they treat newbies, and I'd rather bring it here first.

Thank you for any help.

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Badger Arms
May 12, 2003, 04:22 PM
Nothing wrong with your gun, it's just breaking in. There SHOULD be play in the bolt and carrier. The two things I'd check would be the carrier key for tightness and the gas rings. To check the carrier key, simply grab the carrier assembly in one hand and try to wiggle the key with the other. It should be rock-solid. To check the rings, it's important to know what type you have. If you look at standard gas rings, they should have three visible gaps. Ensure that these aren't lined up and then insert the bolt into the carrier. The bolt should be held to the carrier by this tension. If you turn the bolt carrier so the bolt is facing the ground, nothing should happen. If the bolt falls out, replace the rings. With a one-piece ring where you won't see any gaps, your bolt will probably have more play.

Back to your question, there should indeed be play in the bolt carrier assembly and the receiver. There should also be play in the bolt itself and it's locking recess. Excessive play is a different thing but it should not be tight. If it is tight, this usually means that you've got some interference that will hurt reliability. Within the first 200 rounds or so, you'll have problems like you describe that might be attributed to normal break-in. I seriously doubt that your method of clearing the malfunction did anything to the gun.

May 12, 2003, 05:47 PM
Thanks Badger! :D

I figured it was probably just breakin in and not to worry, but sometimes, you never know.

My bolt does have the 3 separate rings in it, an I've staggered the gaps as close to 120 degrees apart as I can. The carrier key is on there solid and the screws are staked very well. It ain't going anyplace.

I feel much better. Thank you very much for your quick reply. :cool:

May 12, 2003, 10:21 PM
Agreed, a little play is not a bad thing. You will be fine :) Dont sweat it over at, I am WTR over there as well and everyone will always help a new guy. THR is hands down the best for a variety of topics, but if you have a specific AR question you will receive consistenly sound advice there, usually from an authority like John Holliger, gasgunner, or Tippie, Lew Tippie.

Good shooting!!!!

May 13, 2003, 12:32 AM
Sounds like a Type 3 Malfunction.

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