Malfunctions and How to Clear Them

Project ar15 Sep 09, 2023
12 People Read
Ar15 guide to malfunctions and Clearing

Clearing Ar15 malfunctions and addressing their cause. 

The Ar15 is renowned for its reliability, and ease of use for a wide range of shooters. But like any mechanical device, it can experience malfunctions that may impede its performance. These stoppages in functionality can be detrimental. Whether in sport or casual target shooting, hunting or self-defense: a malfunction can range anywhere from an inconvenience to life threatening. Completely eliminating the possibility of a malfunction is impossible, so our focus will be to reduce these occurrences as much as possible with regular cleaning and inspection of parts and using quality parts in the construction of your AR-15. We will cover the most common AR-15 malfunctions, including failure to feed, failure to extract, gas system issues, and ammunition-related problems, as well as the steps to clear them effectively. In doing so you will gain greater insight into how each part of the AR-15 relies on and affects the other. In this article we will go over the different types of malfunctions, their possible causes and how to deal with malfunctions when they occur so you can develop a remedial system and muscle memory to get your Ar15 back in the fight!...or fun.

Failure to feed (FTF)

Failure to feed occurs when a round does not properly enter the chamber during the feeding process. This malfunction can be caused by several factors, such as:

Broken or Worn-Out Magazines

Damaged or worn-out magazines can lead to misalignment or improper feeding of ammunition. This is the most common cause of malfunction.

Improperly Sized Ammunition

Using incorrect ammunition or ammunition that is out of spec can result in feeding issues.

Weak Magazine Springs

Over time, magazine springs can lose tension, leading to feeding problems.

Failure to Extract/Eject (FTE)

Failure to extract happens when the spent casing remains in the chamber after firing. Several reasons can contribute to this malfunction:

Dirty or Worn Extractor

A dirty or worn extractor may fail to grip the spent casing properly, preventing its extraction.

Extractor Spring Issues

Weak or damaged extractor springs can cause extraction problems.

Corroded or Dirty Chamber

A dirty or corroded chamber may prevent smooth extraction of spent casings.

Ar15 Gas System Issues

The AR-15 operates on a gas-operated system, where gas from the fired round cycles the action. Several gas system-related malfunctions can occur:

Improper Gas Block Alignment

A misaligned gas block can restrict gas flow, affecting the cycling of the rifle.

Ar15 Bolt Carrier Tilt

As we've discussed in our article Get Buffed! Enhance Your Ar15 ( Carrier tilt can be caused by misalignment or improper installation of the gas key or the by the "jumping" of the bolt carrier into the buffer tube during operation. 

Gas Port Obstructions

Though rare, debris or carbon buildup in the gas port can disrupt the gas flow, impacting the rifle's cycling.

Ammunition Related Malfunctions

Issues with the ammunition can cause various malfunctions:

Warped Casings

Bent or warped casings can cause failures to extract or eject properly.

Improperly Seated Projectiles

Bullets not seated correctly can lead to feeding problems.

Clearing Techniques

Failure to Feed (FTF) and Failure to Extract (FTE)

To address FTF or FTE malfunctions, follow these steps:

Drop the magazine.

Remove the magazine to clear any feeding issues caused by magazine-related problems.

Pull the charging handle.

After dropping the magazine, pull the charging handle back to manually eject the faulty round or spent casing.

Inspect the chamber and barrel.

Visually inspect the chamber and barrel for any obstructions or debris that may be causing the malfunction.

Ar15 Gas System Issues

If your AR-15 experiences cycling issues due to gas system problems:

Check that the gas block is aligned correctly with the gas port. If carrier tilt is suspected, closely inspect the bolt carrier grout and its path within the upper receiver. Don't hesitate to consult a professional gunsmith to diagnose and rectify the issue if it persists. 

Understand failures and practice clearing malfunctions

Being knowledgeable about AR-15 malfunctions and their causes is crucial for firearm owners and shooters. Regular maintenance, proper ammunition selection, and careful inspection can prevent many malfunctions. However, in the event of a malfunction, understanding how to clear it safely and efficiently is essential to ensure the continued reliable performance of your AR-15. Responsible firearm ownership involves ongoing education and practice to ensure safe handling and shooting experiences.