I'm an idiot. Someone help me fix my AR, please.


April 13, 2004, 08:41 PM
Ok, I'm officially a dumba$$. After 8 years of professionally carrying M-16's/M-4's, I managed to mess up my new AR.

I took apart my new Oly Arms AR and found that the firing pin retaining pin wouldn't go back in properly. So, I removed the retaining pin and firing pin in order to replace the retaining pin. However, I forgot that the cam pin would rotate without the firing pin there to hold it steady. So, the cam pin is now turned, causing the bolt to get stuck, not allowing me to disassemble the rifle to replace the retaining pin and firing pin.

So, what can I do, short of taking it to a 'smith, to remedy the problem?


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April 13, 2004, 09:13 PM
I knew I had read about this somewhere and I found it in my copy of The AR-15 Complete Owner's Guide. Unfortunately it doesn't tell you how you might fix it. It just reads -

"In addition to the admonition to never attempt to fire an AR-15 without the bolt cam pin, you should never attempt to close the bolt via the bolt carrier without the firing pin installed! You might be tempted to do so when, for example, checking headspace with a stripped bolt. You could very likely get an unpleasant surprise: a jammed bolt carrier. The bolt will be closed and locked, with no way to get it out. If the cam pin rotates (and it will!) there is no space in the receiver for an angled cam pin to pass. The bolt carrier will wedge in place. You have been warned. Always insert the firing pin and firing pin retainer even if you're just checking headspace."

I see you've already asked over on AR-15.com, and a few quick Google searches didn't turn anything up. I'm reminded of a conversation I had once with one of my users:

Me: "There's a technical term for your situation."
Him: "Really, what?"
Me: "You're screwed."

Yeah Frank, I know: not helpful. *sigh* Good luck.

April 13, 2004, 09:29 PM
I wonder if unscrewing the barrel nut and doing the wiggle-wiggle-wiggle routine would allow something to turn enough to separate the two?

A shot in the dark

April 13, 2004, 09:39 PM
Personally, I think you need one of these...


April 13, 2004, 09:42 PM
Don't have too much to add to this, but on the off chance that the cam pin isn't completel rotated by 90 degrees, try using something thinner than a firing pin (like a paper clip) to get into the hole to try to rotate the cam pin back to the proper orientation.

4v50 Gary
April 13, 2004, 10:17 PM
It's been years since I've assembled an AR.

What about separating the barrel from the receiver? Sure you'll have a bolt assembly (bolt, bolt carrier, cam pin) sticking out of the barrel, but you won't have the receiver in the way of working on it.

April 13, 2004, 10:18 PM
It's going to be very hard to fix this problem without gouging your upper reciever. Even a gunsmith cannot reach through solid metal, and the cam pin recess can't be accessed from the bottom or back.

If you get really lucky you might be able to open the ejection port cover, pull the bolt back until it stops, move it forward slightly, and with a thin piece of wire reach up under the gas key and turn the cam pin. This is the only thing I can think of that won't leave a mark.

The other thing you could try is reaching through the little slots around the gas tube where it goes through the front of the reciever, but this will be difficult because of the delta ring...pulling the handguards off might give you enough room to try it though.

Pulling the barrel would be very difficult because you can't remove the gas tube, you'd have to cut it off and get another one. Then the cam pin could be rotated from the front fairly easily, but you would still be buying a gas tube.

That might be your only way out if the other methods don't pan out. At least they aren't expensive...:(

April 13, 2004, 10:33 PM
Maybe the MFR would be willing to talk it out with you - even if you're not a "customer"... (good relations?). Anyway, I'd ask before your tear it up. Somewhere in their process they've probably experienced this (Tests?/Repairs?).

Last chance motel, but might be worth a try.

April 13, 2004, 11:23 PM

O.k. I don't have an AR in front of me so my mental video may lose tracking but what about this:

1. Prepare a coat hanger wire or large gauge copper wire by insuring that several inches are straight at one end.

2. Separate the upper and lower receiver.

3. Insert the straight end of the wire under the charging handle and into the rear of the bolt carrier.

4. Wiggle and jiggle the wire until it catches on the partially rotated bolt cam pin.

5. Continue to push and wiggle until the wire passes through the hole in the cam pin causing it to rotate into proper alignment. (the wire is acting as the firing pin.)

6. After (hopefully not hours of) jiggling, pull the bolt carrier and charging handle out as usual.

Let me know how it works or if my mental picture is fuzzy.

Good Luck,

p.s. Just had a thought that a cleaning rod with slotted tip might be small enough to work instead of the wire.

April 14, 2004, 07:32 AM
Remove the gas tube and barrel nut, use a 1/16" roll pin through the gas tube "cloverleaf" to manipulate the head of the cam pin.

April 14, 2004, 12:55 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone. (Even the sarcastic ones.) I took it in to the 'smith this morning. He should have it ready for me to pick up Friday, after I put about $150 into his pocket. Dang, I feel like a brand-new, cherry-a$$ed Private, fresh off the bus at Basic Training. What a stupid mistake. I should smoke myself for this one.

Steve Smith
April 14, 2004, 01:08 PM
Pretty good one, man!

Remember, if for some reason you can't get the barrel nut off, and can't wiggle the bolt lugs, then work on the cheapest part. The receiver is $75 and aluminum, and the bolt/bolt carrier is $100 and steel.

Harry Tuttle
April 14, 2004, 01:36 PM
Kinda surprising that there isn't a procedure for this in the -23

ya know its been done before

April 15, 2004, 06:16 AM
Simplest way is to cut the gas tube, remove the barrel, and tap on the bolt-face to back it out. Likely what the smith will do...150 bucks seems a little stiff, but it's a lesson that won't be forgotten anytime soon.:uhoh:



April 19, 2004, 01:38 PM
I usually remove the Gas Tube with the front sight assy, and reinstall it the same way. The reason being is carbon binds the tube in the Front sight, so it's just as easy to leave it there. No point in damaging the fragile gas tube.

Just beware, the front sight assy is held on with tapered pins, they only remove one way. You should be able to see which end is smaller and that's the end you beat on, some are really tight.


Harry Tuttle
April 26, 2004, 04:24 PM
so are you back in the saddle again?

Denny Hansen
April 26, 2004, 07:05 PM
Anyone ever notice that little rectangle on the left side of the AR receiver? That's where the cam pin goes when the bolt rotates.

The easiest way would be to remove the barrel. Without blocks to hold the receiver in a vise you probably would have had to go to the smith anyway unless you wanted to pay fifty buck and have them for later use. BTW, the taper pins on the front sight assembly drift out from left to right.


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