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Rookie question on AR-15 basics...

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by bos19, Sep 6, 2020.

  1. bos19

    bos19 Member

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    So I was at the range yesterday with my AR and tried chambering a round by pulling back on the charging handle and letting it snap forward after taking my gun out of the bag and putting a fresh magazine in, but when I pulled the trigger, I just heard a click. The safety wasn't on, the magazine was 100% in the rifle (I did the push-pull thing like you're supposed to) and am not 100% sure how I fixed the issue (I might have just hit the bolt release), but every time after that, all I had to do was insert a new magazine, hit the bolt release, and I was in business. I didn't have to use the charging handle after that. Do I have to pull back the charging handle AND slap the bolt release when I am shooting the gun for the first time, or what? I thought I should be able to just pull back the charging handle and be all set.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
  2. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    Sounds like a cartridge may not have chambered on the first try. Not sure though, as I wasn't in person to see it.
     
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  3. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    If that happens again, you might want to try pulling back on the charging handle just a tad to open the chamber a crack and check to see if there's actually a round in there. Handgun shooters call this a "press-check" but obviously that term doesn't apply to an AR-15, hah hah. PS - to answer your question, just hit the bolt release.
     
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  4. Ramone

    Ramone Member

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    It sounds like you short stroked the charging handle on the first pass, and did actually chamber a round.

    Normally, the bolt will lock back on an empty magazine, allowing one to simply hit the bolt release after removing the empty and inserting a loaded magazine.

    If the bolt is closed, one has to use the charging handle to chamber a round by pulling it fully to the rear and releasing it.

    The charging handle is also used to clear an unfired round from the chamber by FIRST dropping the magazine, and then pulling the charging handle fully to the rear, and using the bolt release to lock the bolt to the rear,to allow inspection of the chamber to confirm that it is empty.
     
  5. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    Ya, sorry, my answer was for assuming the bolt was locked open, the above post by Ramone is more correct and complete.
     
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  6. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    IF all is well it should "slingshot" fine with a fully seated magazine.

    This is a standard way to get a gun in action that's kept in condition 3 (Loaded mag, no chambered rd.). IF the gun won't "slingshot" there's an issue.

    Could be multiple reasons why that one round didn't fire. Maybe the charging handle got caught, or the extra friction of carrying the handle forward slowed the bolt enough to stop it from fully chambering, could have just been that round. IF it failed just that once, I would definitely try it again and get it sorted out.
     
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  7. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Member

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    You should be able to charge the rifle by just using the CH. as mentioned above the most common errors when using the CH are not pulling it all the way back and riding the CH down.

    The first will leave you without a round in the chamber, the second can cause a stoppage.

    Get some dummy rounds and practice. AR15s require practice loading, unloading, and reloading as some of the steps are non-intuitive and getting muscle memory will help.

    BSW
     
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  8. Rexster

    Rexster Member

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    With “rookie” in your title, I am thinking that you short-stroked when you first attempted to chamber a round. IOW, you did not pull the charging handle ALL the way to the rear, before letting it go. The charging handle may have reached a point at which it was in a bind, providing a false indication that it was all the way to the rear.

    To be clear, short-stroking can happen to experienced shooters, too, which is why it is a best practice to verify that a round has been chambered AFTER dropping the bolt, or running the charging handle.

    Plus, “rookie” is not a shameful title. We all start as rookies, when learning a new weapon system, and I know that I can revert to rookie status, with the AR15/M4 system, if I do not train regularly, as several aspects of the AR15/M4 system are NOT intuitive, to me. I first learned how to use an AR15 at 40 years of age, whereas I learned pump shotguns in my teens, and several handgun systems in my early twenties.

    1. Starting with rifle empty, hold the loaded magazine in support hand, and look to see whether the top-most cartridge is to the right or left side of the mag, then, Proceed to Step 2.

    2, Insert magazine, until it clicks into place. Pull on mag, to provide an indication that it is properly retained.

    3. Drop bolt, or, run the charging handle, depending upon how you started the process*.

    4. Then, one option is to remove the mag, and see if the top-most cartridge is now on the opposite side of the mag. This will indicate that the original top-most cartridge has chambered.

    4a. An alternative to #4, above, is the mis-named “press-check,” to verify that a round is chambered, but then, one must be SURE to close the bolt COMPLETELY. (“Press-check” does make literal sense when applied to the old-school method of verifying that a 1911 pistol is in a properly-chambered state**.)

    5. If one has performed #4, rather than #4a, re-insert mag, and when it clicks into place, pull downward, to verify proper seating. The Forward-Assist can be helpful, to ensure the bolt is closed.

    Either 4 or 4a are valid procedures, during administrative handling. One nice thing about #4 is that it can work in total darkness, with only the support hand being moved from its place on the weapon.

    *If the weapon is for serious purposes, it is best to be familiar with both, as a defensive incident, or intense competition, could result in one finding the bolt carrier group in either position, at reload time.

    **The old-school 1911 Press-Check was so-named because one placed the support-hand thumb inside the forward inside surface of the trigger guard, and the index or middle finger of the support hand on the forward portion of the recoil spring retaining cap. It is no longer considered a best practice to do this, as there are FAR SAFER ways to verify the condition of the chamber. The thumb being inside the trigger guard is no longer consider properly safe, and, unless the pistol has an extended barrel, placing any body part on the far end of the recoil spring assembly area places it just too darn close to the path of the bullet.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
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  9. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    I'm thinking you short stroked the charging handle, if everything ran as designed afterwards.
     
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  10. JJFitch

    JJFitch Member

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    Good advice in above posts!

    From the OP!

    "taking my gun out of the bag and putting a fresh magazine in"

    The best practice is to start with the "Actions Opened"! AR's should be "locked open"!

    Many ranges require an ECI prior benching a firearm and any time the range is declared "Cold"! (ECI= Empty Chamber Indicator)

    Step one in the "manual of arms" for safe gun handling is to start with an unloaded gun, "action" open and verified unloaded!

    Smiles,
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
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  11. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    There are a few ways to load an AR, but I'll share what I do

    -AR has a closed bolt and no mag in the well. Usually it's in this condition when it's in the rifle case first arriving at the range.
    1) Place stock against my right thigh, left hand supporting the mag well, the thumb pressing the bolt hold open device (BHO).
    2) Rack the charging handle with the left hand until the bolt carrier group (BCG) locks back. Lift thumb from BHO.
    3) Use the edge of the left hand to lock charging handle forward. Set selector to SAFE.
    4) Check to make sure action & chamber are clear.
    5) Insert mag. Push/Pull to make sure it's locked.
    6) Press BHO to release carrier & chamber round.
    7) Verify round chambered correctly.

    -AR is locked back on empty mag
    1) Remove empty mag.
    2) Insert loaded mag with left hand. Push/Pull.
    3) Using thumb of left hand, press BHO to release BCG.
    4) Continue shooting.
    OR Set selector to SAFE. Verify round chambered correctly.

    Some like to slap the BHO to release the BCG. If you're not paying attention, you could cup your hand and not hit it hard enough. It's more positive to use the thumb after Push/Pull.

    -Changing out a partial mag for full mag, BCG closed
    1) Set selector to SAFE. Remove mag from well.
    2) Insert fresh mag in well. Push/Pull. Push/Pull again. (Inserting a mag on a closed BCG is when the mag is most likely to not lock in place.) If the mag refuses to lock in place, the top two rounds are out of alignment. Realign the top two rounds and try again.

    Some guys like to slap the bottom of an AR mag. Before getting into that habit, try an experiment. Take a loaded mag and hold it vertically in one hand and give the bottom a good slap with the other. Two or three rounds will bounce out of the mag. You dont want that to happen while loading on a locked back BCG.

    Slapping the mag drives it too far into the mag well. Some mags don't have a positive stop and can get jammed in the well and lock up the action. Slapping the mag on a closed BCG squashes down the ammo stack, can damage fed lips and put excessive pressure on the mag plate.

    These are the basics. Give them a try and find what works best for you. Malfunction clearing is another skill you should learn but I think that's a topic best discussed in its own thread.
     
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  12. daniel craig

    daniel craig Member

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    Lots of god advice here! Just wanted to say that I’ve never heard of the “push pull” method for loading an AR mag.
     
  13. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    It’s common. “Push” the mag into the well, and attempt to “pull” it back out, ensuring that it is locked.

    Not saying it’s correct, just acknowledging the fact it’s commonly taught. I’m not averse to the idea of pulling on the magazine to ensure proper seating, at least outside of competition format, but I’ve seen relatively common issues caused by pulling on mags which weren’t properly tuned, but also not quite out of spec to cause regular issues. Such I feel if someone wants to confirm seating by pulling, then it needs to be “push, pull, push” or maybe “slam, pull, slap,” meaning the last movement should be reseating the mag into the action. Otherwise, make sure all of your mags will function 100% reliably with extensive and frequent confirmation they’ll operate both with pressure and tension on the mag.
     
  14. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    Push and pull is commonsense good technique for any detachable mag on any semi-auto firearm using such mags. The pull is just a positive and tactile check on proper mag lock. I don't know if there's any common use term for the technique, though, so it's not unusual any shooter may not have heard of it.
     
  15. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    Ya, that. Best yet.
     
  16. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    With the "push, pull" you only need to pull lightly to make sure the magazines is seated and locked in. No need to pull hard like you are trying rip the magazine out. I have always inserted the magazine, give a tap on bottom and a light tug to make sure it is seated/locked in.

    I have to agree that the OP probably short stroked the charging handle if his rifle functioned fine afterwards.
     
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  17. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    My first rookie mistake was running an AR with zero lubrication through 400 rounds my first range session. It functioned fine but I have had others, in a haste to try out a new pistol or rifle that needed a bit of lube to get things going.

    Last time we had a discussion here on how to properly lube a BCG there were a good number of people with much claimed experience with a dubious understanding of what needs addressed. It doesn’t take much but location location location matters.

    As we cannot say with certainty what caused the issue, bear this in mind and learn what needs to be done.

    Next time you get a click instead of boom; count to 30, drop the magazine, eject the round, and inspect the primer for a strike.
     
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  18. daniel craig

    daniel craig Member

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    I’m not sure it’s common sense. Good idea? Maybe. Can’t see it being any more useful than seating a mag with a firm smack to the bottom. I‘be done a lot of shooting with an AR and with pistols and never had a problem seating a mag that made me want to add a pull to ensure seating.
     
  19. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    I have several pistols I should let you shoot to get the experience. I even have one that has had a bad habit of losing the floor plate on one of its mags and flinging its contents all over the shooting station. (Until I finally fixed that bad boy mag, of course). It's all in being familiar with the way the machine operates, I guess. Some need a little more attention than others. Many of my "machines" qualify for C&R, so I forgive them for being a little crotchety, and give them the extra attention they need (and deserve).
     
  20. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    Push/Pull is a commonly taught method by various trainers. The pull ensures the mag is correctly seated. If you can pull the mag out, it wasn't seated. If you can't, it's seated. Too many times I've seen people (including...uhm...a real good friend of mine) slap the bottom of the mag and not seat it. I've also seen slapped mags fountain the ammo and jam the AR.

    I wouldn't argue against the extra insurance of Push/Pull/Push. I think I do that anyway when sliding my thumb up the mag to hit the bolt release (also called the BHO) after Push/Pull. I just never thought about it.

    Take some time with a couple mags and practice mag swaps. (For dry fire practice, put a penny under the feed lips of an empty mag. It'll hold the follower down so you can rack the action without the BCG locking back.)
     
  21. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    The reason we used the push pull method in the military is because you sure don't want the magazine to drop while in a bad situation. Plus it only takes half a second to do.
     
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  22. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    I also have a couple of other pistols where the "smack" technique jars the slide stop loose and the pistol chambers a round and goes into battery, which I suppose is harmless, but I don't like it when a pistol does something on its own and uncommanded by positive user action of releasing the slide stop.
     
  23. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    They call that "auto forward". Most guys I know recommend against using "auto forward" as it's not a reliable way to chamber a round.
     
  24. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

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    Ya, especially when it's not supposed to happen and you're not expecting it.
     
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