February 26th, 2014

TECH TIP: Take-Down Procedure for AR Bolt Assembly

Accurate, modular, and supremely versatile, the AR15 is America’s favorite semi-auto rifle. But let’s face it, the AR is a maintenance hog. The AR’s gas tube blows carbon and soot right into the middle of the bolt assembly where it cakes on to the metal. The AR bolt also has many tiny parts, and small recesses, which must be cleaned regularly. This author has seen numerous ARs fail simply because there was gunk (dried lube, carbon, brass shavings) in the ejector slot or extractor spring recess.

AR15 Bolt Disassembly

A Clean AR is a Happy AR — Whether You Run ‘Wet’ or ‘Dry’
There are various schools of thought when it comes to maintaining an AR. Some folks prefer to run their AR “dry” with minimal lube on the lugs and friction surfaces. Other shooters prefer to run their ARs “wet”, with lots of lube. But whatever your preference, you need to clean your AR regularly. And nothing is more important than the AR’s bolt/carrier assembly. Because it is involved in feeding, firing, and extracting, the AR-15 bolt/carrier assembly can be considered the most critical portion of the AR-15 from a maintenance standpoint.

Bolt Take-Down Guide on Top Quark Blog
The editor of the Top Quark Blog has created an excellent illustrated AR15 Bolt Take-Down Guide that shows how to disassemble an AR15 bolt and carrier for regular cleaning. Even if you’re an experienced AR15 shooter, you can learn something from this page (sample at right), and you may want to bookmark it for future reference. The photos are large and clear and there are helpful hints for each step of the process.

The author knows his stuff and offers some important insights. For example, he notes that “Extractor springs in most AR15 bolt assemblies are fairly weak, and this can lead to various extraction-related failures. One of the few high points about Colt assemblies is their usage of higher-strength extractor springs. You can tell the difference by looking at the inner plastic insert. ‘Normal’ springs feature a blue plastic insert, Colt strong springs have a black insert.”

There is one notable oversight on this page — the author doesn’t cover disassembly and cleaning of the ejector assembly. This is actually quite important. A few small brass shavings, combined with carbon and lube in the ejector slot, WILL cause malfunctions. In fact, when this editor is called to diagnose problem ARs, the first things I look at (after swapping magazines) are the ejector recess and the slot for the extractor. Clogged ejectors are responsible for fail-to-ejects and other jams. It is essential that you keep the ejector hole clean. Old, gooey lube residues mixed with carbon and tiny brass shavings in the ejector recess will create all sorts of problems. As shown in the diagram below, it is simple to remove the ejector (#6) and ejector spring (#5), by drifting the ejector retaining pin (#4).

AR15 Bolt Assembly Diagram

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February 26th, 2014

Hot Deal: Plano All-Weather, Heavy-Duty Rifle Case

Looking for a tough, heavy-duty gun case for under $100? Check out this Plano All-Weather Rifle Case for $72.15. It shares many features of a much more expensive Pelican case at a fraction of the price. An O-Ring runs all around the lid, providing dust protection and a watertight seal. The bottom-level foam is pre-configured into little cubes, so you can easily customize the case for your rifle (no “hot-knife” work required). The interior size is 43″ x 13″ x 5″. That’s big enough for most tactical rifles. For long-barreled competition rifles, you will want to detach the barreled action from the stock — and then place them in two different slots (one for the stock, one for the barreled action.) We’ve transported long-barreled F-Open rifles in cases like this — just separate the rifle into two parts first.

Plano Tactical Gun Case foam O-ring Pelican
Click Photo to Zoom

This Plano All-Weather Case offers a lot of value for the money. A similar, 44″-long Pelican model 1720 case retails for about $200.00. The Plano offers most of the same capabilities of the Pelican, for about one-third the price. Both cases are watertight (with O-Ring seal), both cases have pressure release valves, and both cases have strong “gorilla-proof” outer shells. Note: For just $63.15 Plano also offers a smaller All-Weather Tactical Case with a 40″x16″x5.5″ interior. (Plano gun case prices are subject to change and do not include shipping.)

Plano Tactical Gun Case foam O-ring Pelican
Here are comments from actual owners/purchasers of the Plano Tactical case:

This gun case is everything I expected. Latches very securely and is durable enough to handle laying in the bed of my truck bouncing down a dirt road. The foam is nice because it allows for almost exact shaping to your rifle and accessories. I plan on ordering 3 more. You can’t beat this price. — Coach

The absolute best without busting my wallet. NOTHING wrong with this case….nothing. Clamps are solid and do not slip open when bumped. Key locks are ordinary but if someone wants in, they will find a way….we all know this. I padlock where any hole is available. I own three for different rifles and I will order more if needed. You will not go wrong with owning this model/price gun case. Satisfied! — SF67n2

I was looking for a case for my Sig 556 Patrol SWAT and was considering Pelican cases. I found this on Amazon and thought I would take a chance. It is absolutely incredible. It has the pressure relief valve and a quality latching system- not difficult to open, but not weak either. I laid out my gear and pulled the foam and could not be happier. Considering I paid $76 w/free 2-day shipping there is absolutely no way to have made a better choice. The newer version has Yellow or Red trim, but I love the Blackout Tactical look of this case — grab them while you can. – SigFreak

Plano All-Weather Tactical Rifle Case Features

  • 43″X13″X5″ Interior
  • Watertight Seal
  • Draw-Down Latches
  • Key-Locks on Latches
  • Pressure Relief Valve
  • “Pluckable” Foam
    Allows Easy Customizing


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