Does Your AR15 Really Need A Dust Cover And Forward Assist?

Project ar15 Nov 03, 2023
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Ar15 Dust Cover and Forward Assist

Understanding AR-15 Dust Covers and Forward Assists: Do You Need Them?



The AR-15 platform has become an iconic and versatile firearm, with countless variations and configurations available to suit the needs of different shooters. Two components that often raise questions among AR-15 enthusiasts are dust covers and forward assists. In this article, we will explore the purposes of these features, why some AR-15s lack them, and considerations for deciding whether they are necessary for your particular AR-15.


What Are AR-15 Dust Covers and Forward Assists?


Dust covers, also known as ejection port covers, are hinged flaps typically located on the upper receiver of an AR-15. These covers serve a specific purpose—to keep debris, dirt, and foreign objects out of the ejection port while the firearm is not in use. They help maintain the rifle's reliability by preventing contaminants from entering the action, potentially causing malfunctions.


The Forward assist is a small button or paddle located on the right side of the AR-15's upper receiver. Their purpose is to assist in closing the bolt when it doesn't fully chamber a round due to fouling or other issues. In situations where a cartridge fails to seat properly, the forward assist can be used to push the bolt forward to ensure the rifle is ready to fire.


Why Some AR-15s Lack These Features


While dust covers and forward assists are common on many AR-15 rifles, you might come across models that do not have them. The decision to omit these features can be attributed to several factors:


• Simplified Design: Some shooters prefer minimalist AR-15s for specific purposes, such as competitive shooting or lightweight builds. Omitting the dust cover and forward assist reduces weight and simplifies the rifle's design.


• Cost Reduction: Manufacturers may choose to exclude these components to produce more budget-friendly firearms. For entry-level shooters, this can be an attractive option.


• Personal Preference: Experienced AR-15 enthusiasts might find that they rarely need the dust cover or forward assist in their shooting scenarios. For them, these features become unnecessary.


Considerations for Your AR-15


Whether or not your AR-15 should have dust covers and forward assists largely depends on your specific needs and preferences. Here are some considerations:


Consider how you plan to use your AR-15. If it's primarily for target shooting at the range, these features may be less important. However, for tactical or hunting applications where reliability is crucial, having them can be beneficial. If you anticipate using your AR-15 in dusty, sandy, or muddy environments, a dust cover becomes more valuable to prevent debris from entering the action. Your familiarity with the AR-15 platform and troubleshooting issues can also be a factor. If you're less experienced, having a forward assist can help you address minor malfunctions more easily. Also take weight into consideration. If you prioritize a lightweight and streamlined rifle or simply prefer the aesthetics of a simpler design, you may choose an AR-15 without these features.



In the world of AR-15s, the presence or absence of dust covers and forward assists is not an arbitrary choice. It comes down to your specific requirements and intended use. Evaluating your shooting scenarios, environment, and personal preferences will guide your decision on whether your AR-15 should include these features. Ultimately, the beauty of the AR-15 platform lies in its adaptability, allowing you to configure it to best suit your needs.