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Unsafe to fire a AR 15 without a Magazine?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by FIVETWOSEVEN, Aug 19, 2010.

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    Aug 28, 2009
    I heard that the speed of the bolt is regulated by it running over another round or the follower of the magazine and without it, its much faster and can damage the gun.
  2. Mags

    Mags Member

    Apr 8, 2009
    The speed of the bolt is regulated by the buffer. You are good to go, to fire without a mag.
  3. matrem

    matrem Member

    Jul 8, 2008
    Central Ohio
    The forward speed of the bolt is slowed by picking up another round, but I can't imagine "full speed" damaging the gun.
    Letting that happen with a round chambered, however, is far more likely to cause a slam fire.
  4. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

    Mar 28, 2009
    Yakutsk, Sakha Republic
    What's the point?
  5. PT1911

    PT1911 Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    so, are we to assume you are wanting to shoot it in "single shot mode?" If so, I believe there is some sort of a block available for that.
  6. boricua9mm

    boricua9mm Member

    Jul 28, 2005
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Personally, I try to avoid letting a bolt slam home on an empty chamber. I take the same stance with my pistols. Semi-auto firearms were designed to have the forward momentum of the bolt slowed by picking up a round, or to have the cycling process brought to an abrupt stop (where momentum is at a minimum) by the follower engaging the bolt stop or slide release. From what I understand, the process of easing the slide down originated with match tuned 1911s, as the barrel lugs are sacred and somewhat sensitive, but it makes sense for other firearms as well. Sure, doing it 50 times, or even a hundred might not cause any damage whatsoever, but get into the habit of letting everything slam home all the time and you may have one helluva surprise waiting for you one day.
  7. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    Oct 23, 2004
    i don't have any data, but offhand, i would think it's not nearly as big a deal as the difference in shooting a rifle-length gas vs a carbine-length gas. one beats up the gun a good bit worse than the other, and is more likely to have bolts break, for instance.

    still... if you are going to shoot the 5000 to 10000 rnds it would take to 'damage' the gun, you will probably consider the whole gun a 'wear item' anyway, incl replacing the barrel 3-4 times, and the springs, etc.
  8. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Member

    Feb 15, 2005
    A "Bob sled" was the original and you can get a similar replacement follower that's used w/o a mag spring for single loading. Just a piece of plastic you lay the shell on in a mag like body that will lock the bolt back on each shot.

    I've never had a problem with just laying the cartridge on top of a mag or, to ensure alignment, tipping the barrel down so it's halfway into the chamber before dropping the bolt.
  9. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

    Feb 16, 2003
    Ft. Worth
    Bob Sled is what you want, or a similar product. They are really designed for handloaded ammo that is too long to fit into a standard magazine, and to allow for loading of single rounds through the ejection port. They also lock the bolt open after each shot.

    If you intend to shoot "single shot" in any real quantity you will want one, they make loading SO much easier.

    Whether it will damage the rifle or not seems to me to be a moot point, you'd have to do it a LOT before it would matter.
  10. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

    May 19, 2008
    This. I don't believe the gun would be damaged, certainly not to any measurable extent, but slam fires are something to avoid. I definitely wouldn't be loading the chamber with .223 Rem or handloaded ammo with standard rifle primers (not the thicker military-style primers, which are available for handloading if you want them) due to the increased risk of a slamfire.
  11. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    The only slam fire I have personally had was from loading a cartridge into the chamber and letting the bolt drop. The closing bolt fired the cartridge and scared the poop outta me.

    Fortunately, I was at the range and the rifle was pointed down range and I wasn't covering the muzzle with anything important. Weapon was a chicom SKS and yes, the bolt had been stripped and was spotless. Ammo was Russian manufacture.

  12. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 19, 2002
    Pressure from the cartridge which is being pushed up by magazine floorplate and magazine spring does slow down the bolt, but not be to the extent that it impairs the reliability of the firearm. Can the gun be damaged without that pressure? No and if it can, it's either very poor engineering or poor materials. All armies expect guns to be cycled emptied as part of the training. For a gun to be damaged, it has to be work-hardened such that the metal becomes brittle. For normal use including cycling of the action without a magazine, it's not likely to happen.
  13. Tirod

    Tirod Member

    May 24, 2008
    SW MO
    Personally, I try to avoid letting a bolt slam home on an empty chamber.

    This is exactly what the operator's manual requires for the M16. It rarely if ever causes a slam fire, and that situation often involves soft primers designated for bolt or lever guns. Semi autos use hard primers and are specified, the operator is supposed to know to do so.

    Lock the BCG back, insert mag, push button, chamber cartridge. Millions of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have done that for 45 years every time they get on the firing line. It's Standard Operating Procedure. Anything less causes failures to feed.

    It's been the standard since the M1. Military weapons aren't built lightly, and the stress of combat will cause a soldier to bang them around. It's not granpa's heirloom pre 64 Model 70, it's a combat rifle. Buttstroking and bayoneting are also part and parcel of the design, it won't fall apart.

    The military has even requested and uses a open bolt variation, that fires the first shot every time in that mode like a submachine gun. About all that was changed was a new disconnector in the trigger group. The bolt and BCG weren't radically changed because they were designed to take it from day one.
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