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Old 03-28-2011, 05:50 AM
MasterLocked MasterLocked is offline
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Exclamation AR-15 problem (bolt catch not catching)



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As the title suggests there's an issue with an AR-15 I recently acquired. When pulling the bolt back and pushing in the bolt catch, it doesn't catch. In fact it would appear that the bolt is about 1-2 mm too long.

This would be my first AR-15 and for the record it was traded in for an old junker of a car a friend needed. It shoots reliably and the mag has to be punched in (seems like a tight fit) but there's not much of a concern there.

I've pulled some info from the web and can't find anything about it to help. Bit of a rifle noob here. Any help would be appreciated.
Old 03-28-2011, 05:57 AM
billt460 billt460 is offline
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What brand of rifle is it? Bill T.
Old 03-28-2011, 06:52 AM
Tank56 Tank56 is offline
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Put an empty mag in the rifle, pull back the charging handle. If the catch does not work with an empty mag, I suspect the part of the catch that stops the bolt is broken off. The main cause of this is dry firing without the bolt and carrier in place.
If this is the problem, the fix is fairly cheap and simple. A new catch is less than $10, if you like tactical mods now would be the time to get an ambi-latch or large button style.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:18 AM
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with no mag in the rifle you need to pull on the bolt release not push to secure the bolt. do this after you pull the charge handle all the way back to avoid marring up your bolt and or catch. if that dont work the catch is probably bent from dry firing (when broken down) as previously stated. the bolt does not go all the way into the buffer tube that is normal. as long as the bolt clears the back of the mag it should be ok. it is also normal to have to slam the mag when full. do you have more than 1 mag to try?
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:28 AM
FFM109 FFM109 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jagernaut View Post
with no mag in the rifle you need to pull on the bolt release not push to secure the bolt. do this after you pull the charge handle all the way back to avoid marring up your bolt and or catch. if that dont work the catch is probably bent from dry firing (when broken down) as previously stated. the bolt does not go all the way into the buffer tube that is normal. as long as the bolt clears the back of the mag it should be ok. it is also normal to have to slam the mag when full. do you have more than 1 mag to try?
You probably never noticed but, actually, with no mag, you push the lower portion of the bolt release, the portion that feels like a small button just below the pad that you hit to release the bolt. Pushing this in with no mag will lock the bolt to the rear. Try it.
Old 03-28-2011, 07:41 AM
Uncle Bob Uncle Bob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterLocked View Post
As the title suggests there's an issue with an AR-15 I recently acquired. When pulling the bolt back and pushing in the bolt catch, it doesn't catch. In fact it would appear that the bolt is about 1-2 mm too long.

This would be my first AR-15 and for the record it was traded in for an old junker of a car a friend needed. It shoots reliably and the mag has to be punched in (seems like a tight fit) but there's not much of a concern there.

I've pulled some info from the web and can't find anything about it to help. Bit of a rifle noob here. Any help would be appreciated.
The bolt catch is spring loaded and automaticly catches with a empty magazine. When you push in on it it rotates down and releases the carrier assy.

Try and pull out on the button and pull the charging handle.
You could have dirt in the spring area of the bolt catch stopping it from moving enough.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:56 AM
MasterLocked MasterLocked is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billt460 View Post
What brand of rifle is it? Bill T.
Aero Precision

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tank56 View Post
Put an empty mag in the rifle, pull back the charging handle. If the catch does not work with an empty mag, I suspect the part of the catch that stops the bolt is broken off. The main cause of this is dry firing without the bolt and carrier in place.
If this is the problem, the fix is fairly cheap and simple. A new catch is less than $10, if you like tactical mods now would be the time to get an ambi-latch or large button style.
Tried this and it doesn't work. As far as I know it's only been dry fired once by myself and maybe a couple times by the previous owner. It doesn't look like anything is broken off but here's a pic of it.



I'll probably bring it to an AR armorer for his assessment if I can't figure it out and anything tactical or not to replace it so it works will be just fine. (I don't know the difference between tactical and non tactical just yet)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jagernaut View Post
with no mag in the rifle you need to pull on the bolt release not push to secure the bolt. do this after you pull the charge handle all the way back to avoid marring up your bolt and or catch. if that dont work the catch is probably bent from dry firing (when broken down) as previously stated. the bolt does not go all the way into the buffer tube that is normal. as long as the bolt clears the back of the mag it should be ok. it is also normal to have to slam the mag when full. do you have more than 1 mag to try?
Where the blue tip of the pen points is where you can push in for the bolt catch to "catch" the bolt w/o a mag in it.



Quote:
Originally Posted by FFM109 View Post
You probably never noticed but, actually, with no mag, you push the lower portion of the bolt release, the portion that feels like a small button just below the pad that you hit to release the bolt. Pushing this in with no mag will lock the bolt to the rear. Try it.
This is how I've done it on other AR-15s.


Here is the image of the bolt pulled back and the bolt catch with an empty mag.



Hopefully the image isn't too difficult to inspect. Forgive me, it's difficult to juggle the AR a flashlight and the camera to get a proper image.

Thanks again.
Old 03-28-2011, 08:53 AM
3rdman 3rdman is offline
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Is this a parts gun or is it factory made? Not all parts are made to mil spec even though they advertise so.
Old 03-28-2011, 09:11 AM
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I would try more than one empty magazine to test the bolt holdopen lever. You said your magazine fits tight in the magwell so make sure it's all the way in and clicks in place. Slap the bottom hard then pull it hard to make sure it's all the way in. If you're using plastic mags, try a good USGI aluminum mag since they're less likely to bind in a tight magwell. And as others have said you can manually push in the bottom of the catch while fully pulling back the charging handle to activate a properly functioning BHO.

As has been mentioned dry fire with the upper receiver in place. If you dry fire with it removed you MUST catch the hammer with your thumb. If the hammer is allowed to slam against the BHO repeatedly by dry firing, damage will be done to the lever and/or lower receiver.
Old 03-28-2011, 09:26 AM
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so its not catching w/o a mag in it and pulling back on the bolt release? if it works while pulling on top of release rather than pushing on bottom its probably just dirty. im assuming you reached up in mag well with your finger to get the bolt to stay locked back? or will the mag do it? sorry but im just a lil confused. every thing works on the range but not at the bench? really hard to tell from pic but looks like bolt is clearing the mag. load a snap cap in your mag and see if it clears. if the gun has been cycling fine and has not had a failure to feed, then the bolt sticking out a few mm wouldent be anything to worry too much about. it is ok to dry fire a ar15 in most if not all cases. if im not mistaken the military will not issue a gun if it cannot be dry fired but it is best to see if it applys to your rifle brand as well. if it is dry fired when taken down (upper and lower not connected) it will bend the catch at the least, if not cause other damage.

i never thought of pushing on the bottom of the catch release (sounds much more efficient in gloves than pulling, gonna keep this in mind) i have always pulled back on it just the way i was taught, learn something new every day :D
Old 03-28-2011, 08:34 PM
charlesg charlesg is offline
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I bet it has a collapsible stock right? If so, it probably has a buffer spring made for a fixed stock. I had the exact same problem with an AR I pieced together. Ran like a charm, but the bolt wouldn't hold open. Found out I bought a buffer spring for a fixed stock rifle. I took out my linesman pliers and cut off two loops of the spring and now all is well. Still fires perfectly and bolt will stay open when I depress the bolt catch and on empty mags. Hope this helps.
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:02 PM
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nunrush nunrush is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlesg View Post
I bet it has a collapsible stock right? If so, it probably has a buffer spring made for a fixed stock. I had the exact same problem with an AR I pieced together. Ran like a charm, but the bolt wouldn't hold open. Found out I bought a buffer spring for a fixed stock rifle. I took out my linesman pliers and cut off two loops of the spring and now all is well. Still fires perfectly and bolt will stay open when I depress the bolt catch and on empty mags. Hope this helps.
Bingo, thats what I was thinking. I also think the OP should take it to a reliable armorer and have it looked over just to be safe.
Old 03-28-2011, 11:42 PM
MasterLocked MasterLocked is offline
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Bingo, thats what I was thinking. I also think the OP should take it to a reliable armorer and have it looked over just to be safe.
I've decided to do just that and will let you all know what the deal was.
Old 03-30-2011, 01:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jagernaut View Post
i never thought of pushing on the bottom of the catch release (sounds much more efficient in gloves than pulling, gonna keep this in mind) i have always pulled back on it just the way i was taught, learn something new every day :D
Im just curious where you learned that. . .

- G
Old 03-30-2011, 07:00 AM
FFM109 FFM109 is offline
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Quote:
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Im just curious where you learned that. . .

- G
US Military. It should be in the manual as well. The pushing method that is.
Old 03-30-2011, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by FFM109 View Post
US Military. It should be in the manual as well. The pushing method that is.
Well (lol) I know about the pushing method. I was curious about the pulling the bolt catch that Jager spoke of!

- G
Old 03-31-2011, 06:27 PM
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sorry been away, playing in the woods lol :D i learned to pull on bolt release from my father years ago. ill ask where he picked that up next time i see him.

still curious what was wrong with your rifle. didnt think of buffer spring being wrong spring, good call that really sounds like your problem. gl with your rifle and keep us posted ^^
Old 04-04-2011, 10:48 AM
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sorry been away, playing in the woods lol :D i learned to pull on bolt release from my father years ago. ill ask where he picked that up next time i see him.
cool, thanks!

- G
Old 04-04-2011, 10:59 AM
RazorCityDen RazorCityDen is offline
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I've decided to do just that and will let you all know what the deal was.
Good choice!

The problem is likely a cumulation of small issues caused by manufacturing tolerances. The tight mag well is a big indicater to me that things are a little goofy.

Any AR that is in-spec will drop mags loose. The good news is AR's really do want to run and a good armour should be able to massage this one to life.

Not to be a bonehead, but I would get it running and sell it, out of spec issues will cause long term reliability/wear issues. The mag well, not to mension the fuctioning problem is just the tip of the quality iceberg with this carbine.

Take care,
Old 04-09-2011, 06:09 PM
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My room mate just got his upper today. His bolt wasnt catching. Upon inspection, it appeared that the bolt itself was about 1mm too long. I swapped my bolt in and it worked flawlessly. Needless to say hes on his way back as I type this to exchange the bolt.
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