New AR15 Owner, With a Question


August 3, 2012, 10:54 PM
Hi all, I've been a lurker for a few months and found the site helpful; the shotgun subforum was very useful to me when I was searching for my first (ended up with a Mossberg 590... sweet!)

My newest "first" is a AR15 style rifle. I've been wanting one for a little while now, watching Hickok45 videos and reading forum threads, and I finally got around to taking the plunge today.

My local gun store had a Colt "HBAR" Match Target, 20" barrel. I like the old-school AR appearance rather than the newer M4 carbine types, so this one was right up my alley. It's got the A2 (I think) handguard and fixed stock. It was on the "used" rack, and the sticker price was about $950. That's a lot more than I'm used to paying for firearms, but I'd already decided that day that if I ran across something I liked, and it was under a 1000, then I was gonna go for it. The rifle looked practically brand new and appeared to have hardly any visible wear that I could see. I took a deep breath and handed over the credit card! :D

Anyway, in regards to my question: At home with the rifle today, I had locked back the bolt, and returned the charge handle (no mag inserted btw). Then after confirming clear chamber, I went to pull the charge handle out again so that I could manually ease the bolt closed. But when I first started to pull the handle out, the bolt released and snapped closed on its own. I thought maybe I had just bumped something to drop the bolt but I wasn't sure. Anyway, I went through a few cycles of opening the bolt, locking it back, then manually easing it forward, and it was working as I intended (it makes me think of locking open the slide on an auto pistol, then pulling the slide back a little to release the slide lock, then easing the slide forward).

But then I got the unexpected bolt release once more, again when I first pulled the charge handle back. So, I figured I'd come here and ask if anyone knew what might be going on. I'm brand new to the AR platform and know almost nothing about them, other than watching a few short youtube videos.

I did figure that the bolt slamming closed on an empty chamber is probably something to be avoided if possible! :eek:

So, any thoughts? Is it possible to bump or jar something, besides the bolt release lever, that would drop the bolt?


I'll see if I can get some pics up as soon as I can find my camera... I think I may have left it at work. Doh!

EDIT: Pics are in post #14

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August 3, 2012, 11:17 PM
You didn't accidentally bump the bolt release or something? If you know how to takedown an AR, do it and look for protrusions or something on the CH. Or something on the bolt carrier.

Also, welcome to THR! :D

August 3, 2012, 11:20 PM
If it was used, do you have any idea of how used it was? The bolt stop could be, for one reason or the other, worn.

August 3, 2012, 11:20 PM
Nice rifle. Is the charging handle contacting the bolt carrier before the bolt carrier closes? Are you unknowingly pushing the bolt catch and releasing it? You need to let someone physically show you how to operate the rifle.

August 3, 2012, 11:25 PM
If you are performing your operation with the magazine out of the rifle, the bolt could release when you withdraw the charging handle. If the charging handle drags on the bolt or key, it could release the pressure on the bolt lock allowing the bolt lock to retract and releasing the bolt.

A contributing effect for this is the bolt lock is not fully engaging at all times.

I suspect this should not happen with an empty magazine. The magazine follower should hot the bolt lock in position. Unless, of course, the magazine has issues. Get some extra magazines.

I let my bolt snap close. It does not sit well with me but I cannot say I have read or heard that it is a problem.

August 3, 2012, 11:36 PM
Maybe the used bolt stop is worn out a bit, so it only takes a gentle nudge to drop the bolt home.

When you lock the bolt back, look inside the ejection port. Is the bolt stop in front of the bolt or behind the bolt? It occurred to me that the bolt can be "locked back" but not back all the way. So the bolt stop is actually resting against the bolt carrier. When this happens, the slightest breeze can almost allow the bolt to slam forward. It will be pretty obvious when looking in the ejection port because the bolt will be more visible, taking up about a third of the visible space of the port.

I tried doing that, and although I couldn't replicate your results exactly, I was able to use the charging handle alone to release the bolt. By pulling the charging handle back about 3", it engages the bolt, and that tiny bit of pressure relieves the camming action off the bolt stop, bolt stop drops, bolt flies forward. This will happen even if the bolt IS all the way back, but it takes much more pressure and doesn't happen as soon or unexpectedly.

August 3, 2012, 11:40 PM
If the bolt is locked open without a mag.
And you pull the charge handle back all the way.
The bolt should be released.

If there is an empty mag in the rifle, no amount of cussing & fussing should allow the bolt to close.

If you don't want it to release, hold finger pressure on the pointy end of the bolt release on the left side of the receiver.
If you want it to release, push the finger pad on the top of it.

Slamming shut won't hurt it.
If it did, the U.S. Army and Marine Corp would be plum out of M-16/M4 rifles, and the Taliban would be setting in the White House now.

If a U.S. GI can figuree out a way to break it, all of whatever they are, would already be broke.

So far after 50 years it seems, the AR/M16 platform is pretty GI-Proof.


August 3, 2012, 11:48 PM
I have the same problem with my Colt HBAR, can't even set it down without the bolt releasing. I guess the old Colts weren't made as good as the new ones.:rolleyes:

August 4, 2012, 12:11 AM
If the bolt is locked open without a mag.
And you pull the charge handle back all the way.
The bolt should be released.

Right if it is all the way back locked back, you have to pull the charging handle all the way back, and it actually takes a fair bit of pressure (on mine at least) to release the bolt.

If it is locked back halfway as I described earlier, where the bolt catch is bearing against the bolt carrier and not the bolt, then you only have to pull the handle about 2/3 of the way back, and the slightest touch releases the bolt.

August 4, 2012, 01:26 AM
Thanks for the replies! I plan to have my brother look at the rifle before I shoot it for the first time. He's had a DPMS for a while now so he knows the platform. It'd be good to have him help me dial in the sights too. The rear sight has been cranked over pretty far to the right... don't know if the previous owner was trying to compensate for something or what. Maybe that's why the rifle showed so little use, the guy couldn't hit anything and sold it! I'm not that good a shot but my brother is, so we should be able to determine if the accuracy is reasonable.

The trigger feels surprisingly good at least. His DPMS had a pretty bad trigger from the factory, but he installed an aftermarket trigger that was a big improvement.

Anyway, it looked like the bolt stop had good engagement on the bolt face(?), but I'll fool around with it a little more. If it's not a hazard or anything, then I'm not going to worry about it. I'll just know not to leave it with the bolt locked back with a loaded mag inserted. (I don't do that kind of thing anyway; for example, on my auto pistols, I keep them on hand at home with the action closed on an empty chamber, loaded mag inserted).

Slamming shut won't hurt it.
If it did, the U.S. Army and Marine Corp would be plum out of M-16/M4 rifles, and the Taliban would be setting in the White House now.


LOL! :)

August 4, 2012, 01:36 AM
I'll just know not to leave it with the bolt locked back with a loaded mag inserted.Ohhhh!
Don't never do that!!

You can bump any AR-15/M16/M4 butt on the ground setting it down hard and it will be a loaded rifle pointing at your face.

If you want to leave the bolt open, leave the big rectangle hole in the bottom empty.

Otherwise, cycle the bolt, close the dust cover, and put the safety on.
Then & only then, insert a loaded mag in the rectangle hole.

If you need it in a hurry?

A quick jerk on the charge handle will leave you cocked & locked & ready to rock!


August 4, 2012, 02:35 AM
Heh, I just found that out through experimenting just now (empty rifle of course!)

I figured if anything, thumping the butt on the ground would release the bolt. So I tried it and it sure 'nuff did! It didn't even take much of a thump, and that was on carpet too.

I have read before how people end up shooting themselves with a rifle or shotgun when the butt strikes against the ground or something else. Knowing that, it just kills me when I see someone standing with the butt against the ground and holding the gun with their hand over the muzzle. I even saw that guy from the Gunblast website do it in a recent shotgun video.

August 4, 2012, 06:38 AM
Congrats on the Colt AR!

As already mentioned do not worry about letting the bolt slide forward on its own. If the bolt carrier group (BCG) is locked to the rear, a quick tap of the bolt release/stop should let it lock forward -- no need to pull the charging handle back like you would on a pistol slide.

Have fun shooting and post some pics!

August 4, 2012, 09:33 PM
Let me see if I can get some photos posted here...

The magazine looks like one that the gunshop just pulled out of their stash. It says "FUSIL USA" on it, which I haven't heard of. It's pretty beat up looking so I think I could use that for quick reload drills since I wouldn't mind dumping this mag on the ground ;)

Close up view.

The bolt carrier has some dried brownish gunk that looks like leftover grease or oil of some sort.

To follow up on my earlier question, here's a close up of the bolt and bolt stop (It looks like there's good engagement there).

August 4, 2012, 09:41 PM
USGI mags are pretty tough, the metal AR mags can take the drops onto the ground.. I wouldn't do it with PMAGS though.

October 14, 2012, 09:23 PM
Well I wanted to update this thread and I just haven't gotten around to it till now, so here goes.

I did finally get to take the Colt out and shoot it a couple of weeks ago, and everything went well. I was shooting at paper targets at about 20-25 yards to see where the sights were. The rounds were in fact hitting way to the right (remember where I mentioned that the rear peep sight was cranked way right?)

I kept turning the adjustment knob a few clicks at a time and trying about 3 rounds at a time, and was still hitting far right for a while. I was starting to think something was wrong. But if finally started making a noticeable difference.

Then I got three hits centered around my aim point on the target and I knew I was getting somewhere! :D The rifle was pretty much dead on after that. It was good enough to hit a clay disk on the 100 yard berm, so I'd say that'll do.

After that I just kind of plinked around with it, both free standing and sitting at the bench with my elbows on the table. I'm not the best shot out there but my groups were pretty consistent at least. I had been worried about the peep sights at first because I'd never used any before. I didn't know if I'd be any good with them or not, but I found it worked pretty well for me. I guess the military knew what they were doing all those years with these sights on their rifles! :D

I do need to paint the front sight post though, because some of the black has worn off and in some lighting it's hard to see. I may try painting it orange or red or something other than black. Other than that I'm happy with it as-is.

As far as taking it down and cleaning it, I admit that the AR platform was always kind of intimidating to me from what I'd seen in videos or magazines. I had never really seen a good step by step explanation or anything like that. But, before taking mine apart, I watched Hickok45's video a couple of times, read some online manuals, and studied an exploded view from a Midway catalog.

When I finally worked up the nerve to do it, I found it wasn't that bad after all. Everything disassembles pretty easy with no tricks. I did realize I need some more specific cleaning tools (brushes, etc). The only thing that tripped me up for a few minutes was when I went to slide the bolt carrier and charging handle back in. The carrier would go all the way in but the handle would stop when it was still a few inches out. I fiddled with it a while then took everything back out, and put the handle in by itself to see if I could see how it was supposed to go in there. That was when I realized that the tip of the handle was supposed to go over the bolt key (gas key?) tube. Whoops, so that's why there's a hole in the end of handle rod! :o I had the handle too far back, in the open slot area of the carrier. Oops, glad there was no one around to see that!!

Anyway, it slides nice and slick now with everything well lubed, and I'm looking forward to taking it back out and shooting it and getting it all dirty again! These things are really cool aren't they? :D

PS: At the range I asked my dad if he wanted to shoot it and he basically said "no thanks, I spent enough time with one of those already!" LOL. He was drafted back in the day, but fortunately didn't see combat.

October 15, 2012, 05:01 PM
Stress Test, thanks for the update. Once you've taken them apart a few dozen times, you really get an appreciation for the design (considering it is like 60 years old) and also knowing how the inner-workings work is helpful for if you have any problems down the road. It always helps to know how something functions to diagnose a problem!

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