Commonly known as ‘America’s rifle’, the AR 15 bolt hold open hasn’t earned that title by accident. It has an excellent reputation for ease of use, reliability, and endurance.
Those who love them love them fiercely. It’s no wonder that there are approximately 2.5 -3.7 million of these rifles enjoyed countrywide! However popular they are, the AR-15 rifles are not infallible. They do have problems and they do break down on occasion. Happily, you don’t need to rush off and spend hundreds of dollars on repairs.
One of the many good qualities of these rifles is how easily they can be repaired without the help of expensive professional gunsmiths.
This is certainly the case when it comes to one of the rifle’s most common issues – a faulty bolt cap. Many owners have difficulty with the bolt refusing to stay open after the last round is fired. They blame themselves for insufficient cleaning, strip the weapon, and dutifully tend to its needs.
However, once they’ve reassembled it, the exact same thing occurs. It’s not the type of magazine, it’s not bad gun tending – quite simply, it’s a fault in the manufacturing.
Oftentimes times an Ar-15 can come off the assembly line with some slight malformations on the bolt lever that cause it to function incorrectly.
They can be too thick, too thin, or slightly bent making it incapable of opening and working with the magazine. Stop yourself before you ship it back to the manufacturer and demand a refund!
It is a relatively simple issue to fix and can be done by almost everyone given the right instructions and tools.
AR 15 Bolt Hold Open Quick and Easy Repair
1. Remove the AR-15 lower. Locate the bolt hold the open lever and examine it thoroughly.
If it is working correctly, it should move freely when manipulated and easily lock into place in order to hold the bolt in the open position. If it doesn’t, you know you are on the right track and can feel free to get to work.
2. Remove the bolt lever and examine it to see where you’ll need to alter it.
3. Using a lubricated grinding block, handgrind the malformations to better fit into the bolt assembly. Take your time! Keep in mind that you can always take it away but you just won’t be able to put it back!
4. Fit the bolt lever back into place. This can be a difficult task and one that can end up scratching the body of your rifle.
One way to preserve the finish is to use a pair of vice grips, wrapped with electrician tape to eliminate scratching. Simply grip the lever and slide it back into place carefully.
5. Reassemble your weapon and test the bolt by loading the magazine. If the bolt stays up, you can safely call yourself an Ar-15 repair master!
There is nothing more satisfying than a surprisingly easy fix for a common problem. Although you may be tempted to rush your rifle off to the experts in order to ensure that things are done ‘right’, there is really no need.
These rifles are designed to be relatively user-friendly. Taking the time to do it yourself will not only save you money in the long run but will increase your overall knowledge of the inner workings of your firearm. You already respect your weapon and use it wisely, so why not add DIY expertise to that list?
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 10, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.