Running an AR takes a lot more work then running a handgun. Most people think if they can run a handgun, they can run an AR. There are a bunch of unique issues the AR has that no other weapon does. Here are a couple common AR malfunctions that are caused mostly by operator error.
AR’s generally come with 30 round magazines, so like your handgun you want to fill it all the way, but 30 rounds doesn’t always work in a 30 round magazine. When you fill the magazine to the top the spring gets so tough that two problems occur. First when you try to reload the rifle on a closed bolt it doesn’t always work. There isn’t enough room to push the top round down a little to allow the magazine catch to grab the hole in the magazine. Most of the time what happens one the range with students is that they shove a magazine in and go back to firing and when the rifle recoils from the round in the chamber the magazine falls out of the rifle.
Second problem, a buffer spring in an AR really isn’t that strong. The buffer spring drives the bolt back into battery and causes the bolt to pick up a new round off the top of the magazine. When you jam your mags with 30 rounds sometimes the buffer spring isn’t strong enough to push the top round into the chamber and you get a round half out of the magazine. The bolt isn’t forward enough to use the forward assist on the rifle but sometimes far enough forward so when you cycle the rifle it tries to pick up a second round before the first one is even out of the magazine all the way. This causes a nasty double feed, which takes a lot of time (and sometimes a tool if you are really unlucky) to clear.
Yes I know there are exceptions to the rule, and some magazine and rifle combos will do 30 rounds, but if you load 28 rounds in every magazine it will work every time. I don’t even think about putting more then 28 rounds in a mag. Next time you are at the range experiment with it if you don’t believe me. I’ve even had P-Mags have this issue.
The next problem I have with students in classes is that they bring a mixed bag of ammo. It works for a while, but it doesn’t work when you are trying to zero your rifle or make a precision long range shot. Different ammo is loaded to different velocities. Those velocities cause the bullet to take different amounts of time to reach the target. Since everything drops at 9.8 meters per second squared the bullet will impact the target at different heights. Also because the difference in velocity the bullet will leave the barrel spinning at a different rate. This will affect the bullet drift and make the round impact left or right of the last one. You’ll never shoot a good group if you are using mixed ammo. Choose an ammo type and stick with it. You’ll be amazed at the accuracy you can get.
The last thing I’ll share today is people don’t put slings on right. They fall off and rifles hit the ground. You need to double-check your sling every chance you get. Not only can you mess up your rifle and expensive optics, it’s really embarrassing.
Slings and keepers need to be doubled up. The webbing from the sling should go through the buckle and then back again (see pictures below).
Metal buckles need to be inspected almost daily for wear, damage or movement of the sling through it. The attachment point on your rifle needs to be looked at to make sure it didn’t come lose. If anything looks or feels lose you need to fix it immediately, don’t put it off.
Bonus tip: Tap-Tug. When you insert a magazine into your rifle, tap it in place and then tug to make sure it’s held in place by the mag catch. This is an art. If you hit your magazine in too hard it will catch every time, but you can also hit it hard enough to pop rounds out the top and to move the rounds around inside the magazine and cause malfunctions later. Tap-Tug every time.
P.S. If you really want to know how to run a rifle, take a class. I’m teaching one in October in San Antonio, Register Here.