Ar-15, what is the soldier doing?


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38snapcaps
October 1, 2006, 05:43 PM
I have an AR so I pay close attention to the rifles shown in the newscasts from Iraq. I saw one the other day that stumped me and I still can't figure it out:

The soldier has the mag in the rifle and you see him pull the charging handle twice. He then bops the bottom of the mag. You can clearly see he then pushes the bolt release button because the rifle jumps forward a little. He then commences firing.

If the loaded mag is in place pulling the charging handle the first time would have chambered a cartridge, the second time would have ejected the round and inserted another. But what kept the bolt back where he needed to release it? How could the bolt be locked back in the first place with an inserted full magazine? Why did he push up on the mag, if it wasn't all the way in, it surely would have fallen out while he was working the action.

This has been driving me nuts for four days now!

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RNB65
October 1, 2006, 05:50 PM
Sounds like he was having problems getting it to strip the first round out of the mag and into the chamber. I occasionally have a problem with new 30rd mags getting the first round to chamber. I have to lock the bolt back, hit the bottom of the mag with my hand, then release the bolt. Never had that problem with a 20rd mag.

El Tejon
October 1, 2006, 05:53 PM
I would speculate:

1. smokestack;

2. He overloaded a magazine, putting 30 rounds instead of 28, and the weapon FTF the first round which he observed.

erict
October 1, 2006, 05:54 PM
Sounds weird????

I can get a mag to hang in my AR's without being fully inserted "IF" they aren't full. If they have all 30 rounds in them the mag should fall out.

Oldnamvet
October 1, 2006, 05:55 PM
I don't have any idea but your comment about "bumping" the bottom of the mag reminded me of my time in RVN. We always used to either rap the bottom of the mag on our helmet to loosen up the rounds and the spring to be sure we didn't have a jam or push them down and let them snap back up (only loaded 18 in the 20 rd mags) a couple of times for the same purpose. Of course this was before we loaded our weapons.

erict
October 1, 2006, 05:58 PM
WOW, I've owned AR's for 3 years now and never knew 28 rounds were actually supposed to go into a 30 rounder, thanks ET.

This actually makes perfect sense because I usually have to grab the heck out of the charging handle and pull hard, then let it snap forward pretty good to get the first round to feed when loaded to 30 rounds.

mljdeckard
October 1, 2006, 06:07 PM
I've never had a problem filling any mag with 30, but I ALWAYS tap on a hard surface before I load, this might be why.

ny32182
October 1, 2006, 06:32 PM
Sounds to me like his mag just wasn't seated all the way in. That would explain the lack of a round chambering on the first time or two cycling the charging handle. Then, he would manually lock the bolt open, tap the bottom of the mag to get it seated all the way, then hit the bolt catch to chamber a round.

MatthewVanitas
October 1, 2006, 06:51 PM
We always used to either rap the bottom of the mag on our helmet to loosen up the rounds and the spring to be sure we didn't have a jam or push them down and let them snap back up (only loaded 18 in the 20 rd mags) a couple of times for the same purpose.

A lot of folks (myself included) would do that in Iraq, though I think usually knocking the backside of the mag against the helmet.

I've never seen that taught in a military schoolhouse, and I always wondered if it was a word-of-mouth good idea, or just something that kids (myself included) saw in Vietnam movies and thought seemed a good idea.

-MV

DougW
October 1, 2006, 07:39 PM
The only problem I have ever had was with the SA80 steel mags. The follower was a tad too tall, and I used the old dremmel and shortened them a little. They all load and work with 30 rounds now. I would throw a 28 round mag away, or figure out why it will not function with 30 rounds.

My son is in the sand box now, and he has never said anything about downloading his mags. He has his personal CAR15 in my gun safe while deployed, and I know it functions with 30 round mags loaded with 30 rounds.

As for the soldier in the news, he probably didn't have the mag fully seated in the first place. Just my opinion though.

Byron
October 1, 2006, 08:06 PM
My tour in Nam was 68-69 and we loaded 18 rounds to the 20 round mag as OldNamVet said. Field conditions was very dirty and anything to make sure the round chambered. I hit the forward assist each time as habit. I never had a jam. Byron

Fosbery
October 1, 2006, 08:06 PM
It always cacks me up when I see US servicemen banging magazines on their heads. I gave SA80 mags a little tap on my leg or the side of my rifle before loading them - never felt the need to bash in my own skull though :rolleyes:

I was taught that if magazines were left loaded for any long period of time, the rounds and gubbins inside would start to settle and get comfortable, like sand moving to the bottom of a jar of pebbles. Tapping the magazine would shift things around and make them easier to move. This was proper training, not a rumour or some such.

Nightcrawler
October 1, 2006, 08:11 PM
never felt the need to bash in my own skull though

Well, if you do it on your helmet like we always did, it presents less of a problem. Heh.

I fail to see why no one can apparently design an M16 magazine that'll function with the number of rounds that fit into it. This "download by two" mantra is nonsense. Surely the engineering challenge of making a magazine that will work when loaded to capacity can be overcome?

After all, AK-47, FAL, G3, Galil, etc. magazines all seem to work when loaded to capacity.

Gun Wielding Maniac
October 1, 2006, 08:27 PM
The soldier has the mag in the rifle and you see him pull the charging handle twice. He then bops the bottom of the mag. You can clearly see he then pushes the bolt release button because the rifle jumps forward a little. He then commences firing.


You couldnt see if the bolt was open or closed when he charged the gun. It could be that he placed a loaded magazine in the rifle initially with the bolt locked open, but failed to hit the bolt release. This is fairly common to see when a person is under a little stress and has to do an emergency reload. Now, if he were to pull back the charging handle only partially with the bolt open, the bolt would not go forward. A person would realize that the bolt was open after he felt no tension against the charging handle, thus he would hit the release.

On the 28 vs. 30 round issue in magazines... Its been my understanding that loading a magazine with 28 rounds was not to reduce the number of malfunctions from the magazine... But because it is harder to insert a fully loaded magazine into the magazine well with the bolt closed. When you are doing reloads which require a certain amount of manual dexterity under stress, IE tactical reloads, repeatedly slamming the bottom of the magazine to seat it is undesirable.

ocabj
October 1, 2006, 08:49 PM
http://www.ammo-oracle.com/body.htm#downloading

Q. Shouldn't I be loading my mags with a few less rounds? If I load them to capacity doesn't that cause reliability problems?

There are three stories about how this got started:

1. If a 20 round magazine was disassembled and reassembled with the spring connected to the follower backwards, it wouldn't feed reliably when fully loaded due to the spring binding in the mag. Downloading the magazine to 18 became a habit in some circles "just in case," though eventually this problem was discovered, and solders were instructed never to separate the follower from the spring, which virtually eliminated this problem.

2. Many magazines can be loaded without obviously excessive force to 21 rounds, and because ammo was issued loose in boxes during the early Vietnam era, this happened frequently. The result was often that the first round wouldn't chamber because it was held too tightly in the magazine. This is not a good thing in a firefight, so early in the history of the M16 it became habit to teach shooters to load 18 in a 20 rounder just to be safe. Again, the root cause was eventually addressed, and ammo began to be issued on stripper clips, which eliminated the need to count individual rounds when loading mags.

3. Some tactical squads download their back-up magazines by one round to make a tactical reload (which is done with a round chambered and the bolt forward) easier. This is because of the reduced upward pressure on the rounds.

#3 is probably the only real reason to consider downloading your magazines, though it is generally not necessary.

hksw
October 1, 2006, 09:09 PM
Which network was this on?

It sounds (to me) as if the mag in the rifle was either not fully inserted or the follower was bound slightly. First pull of the bolt didn't result in chambering a round, second pull confirms (no round ejected). I'm thinking that it might have been possible that you missed him activating the bolt stop during the second pull to lock it back after which he raps the mag then releases the bolt.

38snapcaps
October 1, 2006, 09:55 PM
HKSW-Hmmmm, you might be right, he could have done that with his left hand. I'm not sure where I saw it, I think Fox News. It's the scene where several of our guys are shooting over a wall, and this GI turns to his left, toward the camera.

Onmilo
October 2, 2006, 09:08 AM
Sounds like he had some of that wonderful sand packed into the bolt lock recess and it was causing the bolt catch to engage each time the weapon cycled.
The rifle misfed the first round and from what I understand, new soldiers are now taught to NOT use the forward assist to force the cartridge into the chamber.
They are now taught to tap-rack-bang
Tap the magazine to ensure it is fully seated.
Rack the action to clear the offending cartridge.
Bang, if all is well this is the sound the weapon makes.
If all is not well, drop that magazine, insert a fresh one and repeat the procedure.

GratefulOne
October 2, 2006, 01:48 PM
This was the standard way to clear malfunction when I was in. It was taught in basic training. It is called SPORTS:

Slap the magazine

Pull back the charging handle

Observe the round clearing the chamber

Release the charging handle

Tap the forward assist

Squeeze the trigger

Fosbery
October 2, 2006, 01:52 PM
You shouldn't be slamming magazines in Die Hard style. A firm push is all that is needed, and won't damage the magazine or the gun.

carlrodd
October 2, 2006, 02:04 PM
in basic our drill sergeants always screamed at us about the hollywood evil of banging mags on helmets prior to loading...how it helped nothing, and was only hard on the magazine. i bought it, until i got to iraq and had to use every measure to ensure that the microscopic silt of the fertile crescent didn't get me killed.....banging magazines, forward assist every time, salt over the shoulder etc.

Fosbery
October 2, 2006, 03:54 PM
But why the helmet? Surely it's quicker to tap it on your weapon or your leg or chest, and dosn't shake your view or give you a headache.

AJAX22
October 2, 2006, 04:11 PM
But why the helmet? Surely it's quicker to tap it on your weapon or your leg or chest, and dosn't shake your view or give you a headache.

because the force on the magazine is almost unimportant when you're trying to get it to unbind, what you need is the sharp jaring effect of a metal on metal contact to get the spring/follower/rounds to unbind.

the object is not to force it in harder, or simply wack it hard on something, too much force will dent the mag, all you need is the rapid transfer of a small amount of force to unseat any grit, corrosion, or gremlins your mag may have developed since the last time you checked it.

If you're hitting your mag hard enough on your head to give yourself a headache or shake your vision up, then you are putting WAY to much force on that poor piece of aluminum.

648E
October 2, 2006, 05:09 PM
He overloaded a magazine, putting 30 rounds instead of 28

Ha, not to pick on you but...

They ARE called 30 rd magazines for a reason. :)

lurkersince03
October 2, 2006, 05:51 PM
My HK mags work flawlessly, even fully loaded. Yeah, they're pricey compared to the standard AR mags, but I got a (better than gun shop) deal on them at a gun show for $40 a mag (gun shops were selling them for $65).

HorseSoldier
October 2, 2006, 08:09 PM
When we first got HK mags in my unit, everyone thought they were the best thing since sliced bread.

The first failures to feed occurred within about three days, and opinions of them went downhill from there. A lot of guys went back to the USGI aluminums after CONUS range time or time downrange with them.

MechAg94
October 2, 2006, 10:30 PM
I have never had much issue with 30 round mags. However, I can still go to one of the larger gun shops and hear guys telling new customers not to keep mags loaded, or change out loaded mags, or download them. I still think most of that is hearsay and BS. At least it is not something I am worried about here in the States.

Prince Yamato
October 2, 2006, 10:54 PM
If the 30 rnd. mags were only meant to be loaded to 28 rounds, wouldn't companies be making 32 rnd. mags? I suspect the soldier just had a mag that had sand in it or had a junky follower. Magazines aren't exactly works of science. They're a metal box with a spring- be it HK, Beretta, or Colt.

MisterPX
October 2, 2006, 11:17 PM
You download to 28 (or 27 or 29) to help facilitate a tac load. If you're not going to tac load, then use the full 30.

Thin Black Line
October 3, 2006, 08:41 AM
I fail to see why no one can apparently design an M16 magazine that'll function with the number of rounds that fit into it. This "download by two" mantra is nonsense. Surely the engineering challenge of making a magazine that will work when loaded to capacity can be overcome?

I'm not an engineer, but have always wondered if this has something to
do with the dimensions of the 5.56 cartridge itself. I just never have these
issues with AK47 mags unless they're just plain worn out/junked. In
that case you have a different shaped cartridge and a completely different
shaped mag as a result.

Teufelhunden
October 3, 2006, 06:40 PM
As far as banging mags on objects go, I found it useful for the aforementioned reason of jarring loose any grit that had set up, but I also found it useful for ensuring all of the rounds were all the way back in the mag. This was less important for the rounds IN the mag than for the top round. If the top round slid foward due to some ofther jarring motion such as dropping to the ground, it could stick just far enough foward to prevent you from reloading.

I always did it with my M16A2 reloads, and the habit has carried over into my pistol shooting now. When I load a mag with rounds, I'll tap the back of it on the heel of my hand to set them in...don't know if it's as relevant with a pistol mag.

-Teuf

'Card
October 3, 2006, 07:29 PM
...but I also found it useful for ensuring all of the rounds were all the way back in the mag.
That's exactly what I was thinking. It wasn't because of sand or grit in there... seems like we all did it to make sure each cartridge was fully seated to the rear of the magazine.

I remember doing it. Seems like I remember everyone I served with doing it. I don't remember anyone training us to do it, or training us not to, for that matter. I also remember that when you weren't wearing a helmet (like in some of the... warmer, extraordinarily humid climates) you'd just tap it against your leg, or the heel of your hand, or whatever was handy.

Now that I think about it... it may have been something we started doing in training when we were using blanks. It seems like those were just crimped cartridges that were shorter than the standard 5.56 ball, so they wouldn't feed correctly if they weren't seated all the way back. Of course, all that was 20+ years ago, so it may not apply at all today.


You have to remember that soldiers (all soldiers) in a combat situation are extremely superstitious. Some things you do just because it's a ritual that worked last time.

rangerruck
October 4, 2006, 03:36 AM
force of habit, you tap and pull a couple of times, you get used to it, you take a quick glance and you know you got a round chambered. I'm sure all the hommies over there, wanna make sure they dont get a 'click' when they have a spit second to live or die.

shep854
October 4, 2006, 09:02 AM
When I was at Marine Corps OCS, back in the '70's, we were told that downloading was to reduce tension on the mag springs, preventing weakening of said spring. As mentioned above, tapping the back of the mag on bootheel or helmet was taught to settle rounds in the mag for proper feeding.

As far as the difficulty of loading a fully loaded mag with the bolt closed goes, I had never noticed a problem since I loaded with the bolt open. However, when I had a very hard time loading my M1A with full mag/bolt closed, I thought I had bad mags at first. Finally I figured out that it was the pressure from fully-loaded mags that was the problem.

madmike
October 4, 2006, 12:03 PM
2. He overloaded a magazine, putting 30 rounds instead of 28, and the weapon FTF the first round which he observed.

I've been putting 30 rounds in for 22 years. The manual I teach from says their capacity is 30. My instructors also said 30. This is all incorrect?;)

They are now taught to tap-rack-bang
Tap the magazine to ensure it is fully seated.
Rack the action to clear the offending cartridge.

My unit was not taught this in Afghanistan and it is not in the manual we teach from.

Actually, an AR will usually blow sand (ESPECIALLY Arabian sand) out on the first shot. Something about that horrible direct gas sytem filling the receiver with gases.:)

When I was at Marine Corps OCS, back in the '70's, we were told that downloading was to reduce tension on the mag springs, preventing weakening of said spring.

Which actually leads to more cycles of the spring, which is what wears the springs out in the first place--metal fatigue from repeated motion.

I've got a few of the Brit Sterling steel mags. Great bodies. Followers nosedive and the springs suck. I replaced the springs and followers and they work okay.

Rapping the mag sets the first round back to prevent it dragging, binding and hindering mag seating. It could also dislodge dust, or, in a DAMAGED mag, could loosen a stuck follower. You shouldn't be hitting it hard enough to damage the mag, just to get a clacking sound.

madmike
October 4, 2006, 12:07 PM
You download to 28 (or 27 or 29) to help facilitate a tac load. If you're not going to tac load, then use the full 30.

:confused: I'm assuming by "tactical" reload you mean replacing your partial mags with full ones during breaks in the action to keep the weapon topped off? You have trouble with that with a full mag?

I'm not being facetious. I've had that problem with a .45 with 8 round Chip mags. I've never had it with an AR. Stick it in and listen for the click. What mag and platform combo are you using?

mistabud
October 4, 2006, 11:41 PM
i got out of Marine boot about 7 months ago and we were taught tap, rack, bang as well. then, if the rifle did not fire after the tap, rack, bang method, SPORTS was implied.

swampgator
October 5, 2006, 12:16 AM
This was the standard way to clear malfunction when I was in. It was taught in basic training. It is called SPORTS:

Slap the magazine

Pull back the charging handle

Observe the round clearing the chamber

Release the charging handle

Tap the forward assist

Squeeze the trigger

Wondered how long it take for the GI answer to appear.

You download to 28 (or 27 or 29) to help facilitate a tac load. If you're not going to tac load, then use the full 30.
Is this 'tac load' something new? I carried a -16 for almost daily for 3 years (92-95) and this a term I've never heard. We pretty much just loaded the 30 round magazine with (surprise) 30 rounds. Shot one til it emptied then reloaded.

madmike
October 5, 2006, 12:16 AM
mistabud: well, it's not a bad idea, and if it's being taught, I stand corrected.

Lots of stuff starts one place and trickles through, or changes from time to time.

mistabud
October 5, 2006, 03:38 PM
never heard of using less than i full mag. i would call that a waste of space.

jjohnson
October 5, 2006, 03:50 PM
Okay....

Yeah, likely the soldier didn't hear or more importantly FEEL the round chamber, and went through the sequence to eject and load (and properly chamber) the next round.

Packing, racking and stacking - first, you load your mags with all they're supposed to hold (usually minus two, because manufacturers believe in best case scenarios :fire: ) so figure 28 in a 30 round mag so it doesn't bind. If 30 rounds actually works in your mags 100 percent of the time, more power to you. Murphy's Laws of Combat always followed me, though.

Next, you rack your mags - smack each one smartly against a boot or something else solid (but not hard like a rock, so you don't damage the mag) in order to get all the rounds to rack solidly against the rear of the magazine. Having the nose of a bullet drag on the front of the mag can cause failure to feed malfunctions.

Finally, you stack your mags - put them all in place with bullets oriented in the same way, according to your own preference, but always the same way so you know which end goes into your mag well.

Anyway, if you ever hear somebody talk about "pack rack and stack" that's what it is, and the most important part is the racking procedure - getting all the rounds where they need to be oriented in the mag. This also knocks loose mags that have a "bind" in them and can knock crud loose. :D

I dunno about you guys, but I can always tell, even when excited, if my bolt (or slide) has slammed shut with a chamber empty, regardless WHY it's done it. My guess is the soldier in question didn't like the feel of what was happening, and let nature and training take its course. May have saved his life, never know.

stillamarine
October 5, 2006, 04:26 PM
Is this 'tac load' something new? I carried a -16 for almost daily for 3 years (92-95) and this a term I've never heard. We pretty much just loaded the 30 round magazine with (surprise) 30 rounds. Shot one til it emptied then reloaded.

nope nothing new, been around for a long time...A tactical reload is when you have a pause or break in active fighting, you want a full mag incase something pops up instead of having 2 or 3 or maybe no rounds in your mag

You know that you have a round in the chamber because your bolt is still forward, but do you know you have any in the mag?? pop it out throw a fresh one in and keep hoppin and poppin. when it's all over then you worry about the partial mag.

madmike
October 5, 2006, 05:02 PM
Yup, I figured that's what it was. We always called it "topping off." And I've never had a problem doing it with a full mag.

Correia
October 5, 2006, 05:49 PM
The reason behind 28 in a 30 is ease of loading on a closed bolt. For either topping off or a tactical load, or whatever you want to call it.

Try this. Close the bolt of your rifle. Insert a mag with 30 rounds. Insert a mag with 28. Notice how much effort either takes.

I've also noticed that this varies from gun to gun, and even with individual magazines.

Anybody who has ever SOed a 3gun match has watched an AR shooter slap a magazine in, take off running, and drop the magazine on thier foot. :)

JShirley
October 5, 2006, 06:02 PM
Yeah- there really IS a reason to jam that mag in there, unlike "rocker" style mags...

madmike
October 5, 2006, 06:41 PM
Just tried with some full mags. It seems to be a problem with new ones with stiff springs. My older mags and 20s don't do it. The Beta C-Mag definitely DOES have trouble going in.

MisterPX
October 5, 2006, 08:21 PM
Madmike, Correia pretty much explains what I mean with the 28-29.

Swampgator, after a lull, wouldn't you rather resume a firefight with a fresh mag instead of one that's nearly expended?

swampgator
October 7, 2006, 12:09 AM
Swampgator, after a lull, wouldn't you rather resume a firefight with a fresh mag instead of one that's nearly expended?

Who wouldn't?

However that being said: when did everything shooting related go "tactical"?

We always called it "topping off." And I've never had a problem doing it with a full mag.

So did we. I guess we weren't "tactical"?

All this talk about jamming when fully loaded is a bunch of crap. The only jam I ever had with an M-16A2 (want the serial #, still remember it) was using 30 round magazines loaded with 20 rounds. So I guessing we weren't stressing the spring too much, no?

madmike
October 7, 2006, 01:48 AM
I remember getting a tactical velcro and nylon strap (think seat belt) watch band...when I was 15...from US Cav...for $5...

Had a cover to protect the watch and eliminate glare. I soon cut it off because the velcro gunked up and ripped. And I sweated bad under it until it itched and stank.

I went back to a regular watchband.

EDIT: Sorry, was getting this mixed up with the hostility toward tacticool thread:-P

swampgator
October 7, 2006, 11:32 AM
I just think the word should be retired.

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