Forward assist question


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Blackstone
April 16, 2013, 08:01 AM
I have a question about the use of the forward assist on an AR-15 platform. I understand it's used to help put the rifle into battery. Couldn't you tap the charging handle for a similar effect?

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Urban_Redneck
April 16, 2013, 08:22 AM
Not especially when needed for the situation for which it was designed- fouled chamber.

The charging handle more or less "floats" during forward movement of the carrier only being truly engaged when drawing the bolt carrier to the rear.

ID-shooting
April 16, 2013, 08:22 AM
No, the charging handle only actuates the bolt to the rear. The spring is what provides forward movement.

Many of us were taught to use the charging handle to pull the bolt back, lock it open then push charging handle back into home position. Insert the mag then release the bolt to load the first round.

In the home position, the hole in the front of the charging handle goes all the way forward and around the gas tube. As the bolt lockss into place and into battery, just the tip of the gas port meets it.

madcratebuilder
April 16, 2013, 08:22 AM
No, the charging handle only pulls back. Bolt relies on the buffer spring for forward movement.

Using the forward assist to lock the bolt is a last resort. I only use it if I'm quietly closing the bolt while hunting.

The forward assist was added after the initial design at the request of the ordnance department. They felt there should be a positive means of closing the bolt.

briansmithwins
April 16, 2013, 11:42 AM
The alternative to the mechanical forward assist is to push the bolt carrier forward thru the ejection port opening. The FA does give you better leverage.

BSW

MachIVshooter
April 16, 2013, 02:43 PM
Using the forward assist to lock the bolt is a last resort. I only use it if I'm quietly closing the bolt while hunting.

Same here. I have never used it for the purpose it was conceived, as it seems a good way to turn a minor malfunction into a major one:

(language warning)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oh1lyMyejpI

If your firearm misfires, take a moment to figure out why, rather then just chambering another round and/or using the FA or charging handle to ram the bolt home.

TexAg
April 16, 2013, 03:16 PM
Or you can just bang away on the FA! Haha! Man, he whacked that thing a lot.

HOOfan_1
April 16, 2013, 03:20 PM
Same here. I have never used it for the purpose it was conceived, as it seems a good way to turn a minor malfunction into a major one:

(language warning)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oh1lyMyejpI

If your firearm misfires, take a moment to figure out why, rather then just chambering another round and/or using the FA or charging handle to ram the bolt home.

hmmm...squib round is my guess. Although I didn't hear a squib in that video

I had a similar problem the other day. But I had a live round stuck in the chamber..I couldn't extract it. I could push the bolt into battery...but I knew enough not to try and fire it after I had a malfunction like that.

My problem eneded up being a dirty chamber or a round that wasn't sized enough

mljdeckard
April 16, 2013, 03:30 PM
Never once, in 22 years in and out of the army, have I ever actually used a forward assist to make the rifle function. I think of it this way: If there is something in the process that is making it stick....WHY IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO JAM IT IN THERE HARDER?

MachIVshooter
April 16, 2013, 04:23 PM
hmmm...squib round is my guess. Although I didn't hear a squib in that video

I'm thinking a bullet that was seated too long, got stuck in the throat, was pulled from the case when he extracted and prevented chambering of the next round........and the next.......and the next, until our super-smart shooter managed to ram the bullet far enough into the bore (or push the bullet back into the case of the new round).

offthepaper
April 16, 2013, 09:19 PM
I hear ya Mach

He was really showing that rifles who's boss.

The-Reaver
April 16, 2013, 09:27 PM
Lol, when I was deployed we went to a range prior to actually taking on missions thank Odin.
Well while at said range my rifle had a double feed, I cleared it reinserted the magazine released the bolt. It didn't seat all the way, I smacked the forward assist pretty forcefully like one's supposed to. Well, turns out going to the lowest bidder isn't that great of an idea the knights armament bolt carrier and bolt bent. The weapon fired one round and didn't cycle. Range master took it off the range. Armorer looked at it and declared it deadlined for bent bolt and carrier. Needless to say I don't use the forward assist EVER.

firesky101
April 16, 2013, 10:39 PM
I have never used the FA for its intended purpose, but I do use it for chamber checks (use CH to pull bolt back slightly to verify round in chamber, then FA to ensure bolt closes). Also it can cut the noise of putting a round in the chamber down quite a bit by allowing you to manually leverage it into the chamber vs. letting the bcg fly forward.

Tomcat47
April 16, 2013, 11:01 PM
I grabbed a DPMS Sportical (No F/A) first week of Dec. last year for $569.00 +/tax at Walmart.

It was lacking forward assist, but my thought was I had never used one anyway?

It is a great Rifle in my book and my only regret is not buying two!

just on gunbroker last night I stopped bidding at $700 for a sportical! :confused:
reserve not met....Im guessing $1000.00 ???

Things sure have changed. Also got a Wyndham at the same time for I believe $769.00 It had F/A

Blackstone
April 18, 2013, 07:35 AM
I guess it's designed for use in theatre where dirt and lack of maintenance might cause a failure to battery?

oldpapps
April 18, 2013, 08:43 AM
I always figured that the 'forward assist' was the results of some bureau crapes answer to a nonexistent problem. And only add to any problem when clearing the chamber.

Only actual benefit I can see is to get the extractor over the rim... But why wouldn't the buffer spring get that done?

As stated above several times, the operating handle just opens. It sits, floating at all other times.

Loc n Load
April 18, 2013, 09:25 AM
Having shot the M-16 since 69 and instructed the M-16A2 professionally since 1991 I will offer this, in my experience with hundreds of training rifles and thousands of shooter's and millions of rounds down range, the F/A is an asset when the bolt get's "gummed up" in the carrier or you have a really fouled chamber or both....and it will not go completely into battery.....this means that the rifle needs to be detailed and cleaned properly.....the F/A was incorporated into the M16 platform for those "Oh ----" situations in combat when you really really need the rifle to go into battery and to go "bang"..This device came about as part of the "learning curve" when the M-16 was deployed to Vietnam..and yes, if you force the bolt into battery, then you may worsen the problem....the F/A is not intended to replace proper maintainence of the rifle.....I have worked almost exclusively with Colt products for decades and have not observed any component failures such as bent F/A's or any bolt carriers as a result of F/A useage....but few things are soldier or Marine proof. If the M-16 / Ar is kept clean and maintained properly the F/A rarely needs to be used.

benEzra
April 18, 2013, 10:11 AM
Only actual benefit I can see is to get the extractor over the rim... But why wouldn't the buffer spring get that done?
The buffer spring will suffice if the bolt carrier starts out well to the rear, such as when chambering a round from the magazine.

AR owners who never load the chamber through the ejection port, and who always use indirect methods to verify a loaded chamber, will likely never need to push the bolt carrier closed. However, if you've single-loaded a round into the chamber by hand, you don't necessarily want to drop the bolt on it from all the way back, since that's hard on the extractor and also creates the possibility of a slamfire (however unlikely) in case of debris in the receiver or out-of-spec ammo. And if you do a press-check of the chamber (which you may do occasionally with an HD gun), the bolt carrier sometimes needs a little help relocking the bolt, and the forward assist provides a convenient way to do that without getting oil or grime on your thumb.

In a military context, where one never loads through the ejection port and the chamber is never loaded until the rifle is getting ready to be used (hence no need to press-check to verify status), the forward assist is rarely or ever going to be necessary unless the rifle is so badly fouled that the bolt carrier doesn't go all the forward when released---and if that happens, you have underlying problems that a forward assist won't fix. I find it pretty useful in a civilian context though.

FWIW, I used to shoot an AK and a mini-14, and both of those sometimes need help closing the bolt after a press-check or single-load also. The difference is that the AK and mini charging handles are fixed to the bolt carrier, so you just push the handle forward to ensure the bolt is fully seated.

W.E.G.
April 18, 2013, 10:51 AM
+1 on usefulness for "press-check."

Also useful for QUIETLY charging the rifle from the magazine, by riding the charging handle forward, and thin using the assist to ensure that bolt is fully forward.

oldpapps
April 18, 2013, 11:42 AM
I will yield to the expertise of Loc n Load.

I fired my first '16 in May 1968 and was not impressed, maybe even soured. When I got into the field (so to speak) I was issued a M2 Carbine, well actually a card with the serial number of the one I qualified with that was locked in a rack at/near the main door to the block house. Again, I was not impressed. Guess I was spoiled by my Rem 700ADL in .222 Rem and the ragged one hole at a hundred yards. Later, as a Deputy and City Cop, the preferred long arm was the hump backed 12 auto loader, later the 870 and various levers in 30-30 and 32-20. When I went on the road, I got an AR-180.

Well, 40 years have passed and I shoot for fun and have a new (for me) respect for the AR.

Most likely a carry over from auto loader hand guns, I load from a magazine. Thus my view that the buffer spring should fully chamber and the forward assist is all but pointless.

I see the potential tactile function for the forward assist.

Quentin
April 18, 2013, 02:38 PM
Well since there are a few oldtimers here I'll join in. I first fired the M16 February 1968 (Vietnam). I liked it much better than the M14 we had in basic training. Like oldpapps, I drifted away from the platform after discharge then got interested again after 40 years. I started a long slow build in 2009 due to the election panic buying spree. I've rarely needed the FA but all three of my ARs have one.

Sambo82
April 18, 2013, 03:10 PM
the F/A is an asset when the bolt get's "gummed up" in the carrier or you have a really fouled chamber or both

Loc n Load nailed it here. I have been in positions where my M16 was so fouled that the forward assist was necessary. Also, on some rifles (maybe it's a worn buffer characteristic), with a fully loaded mag the bolt might not ride all the way home due to the pressure on the bottom of the bolt, so I've had to use it occasionally until that mag is broken in.

It's better to have it and not need it than vice versa I suppose.

GCBurner
April 18, 2013, 03:31 PM
As long as the chamber is clean, and the ammo is clean and dry, you should never have to use the Forward Assist.

Zoogster
April 18, 2013, 03:42 PM
The charging handle is not attached to the bolt or carrier group. When you pull it rearwards the forward portion of the charging handle engages. However once you lock the bolt back if you push forward on the charging handle there is no resistance. It just slides freely.
Well the same thing would happen if the bolt was only back a hair as well. The charging handle would be engaging nothing on its forward travel.

If the charging handle was attached to the bolt then it would cycle with the bolt, and with its location that would be very bad.


The forward assist essentially compensates for this. Since you cannot operate the charging handle in the opposite direction or move it back and forth to clear anything, meaning you have no way to put forward pressure on the bolt besides pulling it back and letting it go again relying on spring pressure, you get a little button that does it.

When the chamber is dirty enough sometimes it won't go all the way into battery, at which time a forward assist could be useful.
However if it is really that dirty that letting the spring slam it forward won't overcome it, then there is a good chance it won't cycle either, making the forward assist just something to help you with a single shot rifle.


The other thing a forward assist is useful for, and really more likely in a well maintained rifle, is silently chambering ammunition. If you ease the charging handle forward slowly to chamber a round the effort required to strip a round from a full magazine under spring pressure, chamber it, and turn and lock the lugs, and overcome any fouling, may be too much and the action may not close all the way without the momentum of the bolt flying forward from its rearward position. At which point with a forward assist you simply push it all the way home gently. Viola other than the noise of the spring in the buffer tube (which you can reduce in other ways) you can eliminate nearly all other noise with good technique.
While without a forward assist you need to try and push forward on the bolt itself through the ejection port, or pull back on the charging handle and try again, potentially wasting a round or getting a double feed, or yank it back ejecting the partially loaded round and then let it fly forward and give up your stealthy loading.
I like weapons that at least provide a means to deploy silently without clicks, snaps, and pops and other obvious mechanical noises.
You may never use that method, but still have it available.

mljdeckard
April 18, 2013, 03:52 PM
One afternoon I cranked 500 rounds of Wolf straight through a Bushmaster M-4gery. I slopped some more CLP on the bolt about halfway through. Was it disgustingly hot and dirty? Yes. Did it fail to lock? Never. An AR can take as much hot fire and still function as any other rifle design.

holdencm9
April 18, 2013, 04:29 PM
Never needed to use the FA. Still nice to have, just in case you can't let the bolt slam home. You should never allow the bolt to close slowly as it chambers a round, but if you need to do a brass check and pull it back a little way, and release forward, the FA is just a bit of peace of mind that it is all the way in battery.

As others have stated, the charging handle can only pull, it can't push.

Dr.Zubrato
April 18, 2013, 05:08 PM
Seriously guys? I've tried to use the FA to chamber a round, but it is not silent, and it leaves a nice target shape on my hand, takes some force to close that sucker.
When I do get it closed, it makes a hearty CLUNK! I almost think it would be quieter to ride the bolt home on a round, then use the FA for insurance purposes.

osprey176
April 18, 2013, 07:59 PM
Great explanations by people with much more AR experience than me.I can only add a footnote in that Eugene Stoner HATED the whole forward assist concept. He only added it at the demand of the military,who insisted. This comes from a close friend who's late father worked on the AR project from the beginning.

Shifty
April 18, 2013, 08:30 PM
A buddy of mine said it like this.... When you are shooting alot, ALOT, of ammo downrange, and your sh*t is hot, dirty, and maybe your springs are worn...... Those locking lug get fouled and your chamber is messy, and you rifle slows down. Your lube has burnt off. Your rifle fails to go into battery..... That's the moment the FA was made for. To buy a little time until you can get the weapon back to full working order. When the bullets aren't coming at you.

But wait, guns don't need cleaning and maintenance....:rolleyes:

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