Owning an AR-15 -15 is a dream come true for many gun enthusiasts. From purchasing the right AR-15 for your needs to identifying and buying the required AR-15 accessories to create a complete and satisfactory package is a challenging yet gratifying task. Once all that is accomplished successfully, it is necessary to ensure that your AR-15 is perfectly functional at all times. Regular and constant maintenance, cleaning and monitoring will aid in extracting the best performance from your rifle. Though it does take some practice, ensuring that your AR-15 does not malfunction is not a rocket science that takes ages to master or eternity to accomplish. It is a pretty simple and straightforward task that can be achieved in less than a minute’s time. Here is how you can do that.
Hammer and Trigger pins: Ensure that the hammer and trigger pins are not dangling out and are at level with the receiver sides. Any trigger pin that hangs out indicates that the hammer spring has not been installed and fit correctly to dent it to the right position. An incorrectly or imperfectly installed hammer spring and the resulting trigger pin problem will further cause intermittent or incessant misfires, burst fire and eventual shutdown. The hammer pin hangs out if it is not pushed fAR-15 enough. The J springs that are attached into the hammer generally do not fail and hold the hammer pins in place.
Hammer Spring: To check if a hammer spring is rightly installed, see to it that both the legs are horizontal and spread against the internal wall of the receiver. It should lie on the trigger pin on its outboard groove which serves to keep it in place. If the hammer spring is installed backwards, it will give a light primer strike that results in misfires though it appears to be on the trigger pin putting it in place. An improperly installed hammer spring will result in the trigger pin hanging out which causes the misfires or burst fires or even a complete failure to fire. Even if the hammer springs are not installed backwards, it does not mean they are properly installed. Problems can still arise from the legs being located under the trigger pin or on the floor of the receiver or its wall without actually resting on the trigger pin’s detention groove. Both backward installation and improper placement of hammer spring legs will cause misfires, burst fires as the eventual blow to the firing pin is significantly diminished. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the hammer spring is correctly installed in its place and performs its trigger pin detention function perfectly.
Carrier Key: Another problem that could result in malfunction of your AR-15 is a loose Carrier key. To check if the carrier key is loose, hold the carrier in one hand and try twisting the key out of its position with your other hand. As many experienced shooters will indicate, a loose carrier key is one of the primary causes for an AR-15 to malfunction. A loose carrier key results in escape of gas between the carrier and the key which would in turn reduce the amount of gas required to operate the bolt properly. If you are on the field, a speedy and quick fix solution would be to tighten up the screw with a 9/64 or 1/8 Allen wrench. If you are off the field, a much sensible and long term solution will be to detach the screws, clean and dry them out post which a coat of red Loctite can be applied before tightening them into place. Staking the screws in should be done at the factory level by the rifle manufacturers. Yet a majority of them overlook or evade this procedure or do it extremely badly. When blessed with enough time, you can carry out this task to ensure a long term and effective solution to the carrier key problem.
Though this is a long term solution, there have been instances of staked keys coming loose by lifting the key off the carrier. The best way to avoid this would be to counter stake them. By doing so, you prevent the screw from turning and even if it tries to, the counter stakes will prevent further movement.
Cotter Pin: One other problem that can result in AR-15 malfunctions is the retaining pin / cotter pin failing to block the firing pin. To check all you need to do is slap the carrier’s back end to your palm and see if the pin comes out. Press the firing pin forward when the bolt is pushed to the carrier to see if it protrudes from the bolt face. These two steps will ensure that the firing pin is capable of moving forward freely and its tip is present. It is a rare occurrence for one to break.
All gadgets and equipments are prone to malfunctions and an AR-15 is no different. Yet, these simple steps can ensure that your rifle is primed to perform its best at all times with little or no hindrance. All you need is practice to get this check-list done under a minute.