Tag Archives: AR15

A rare failure, the broken AR15 forward assist.

Broken AR15 Forward Assist

Pictured above is the broken forward assist from my Colt 6933.

I’ve see a few forward assists break. Every time it has come as a surprise to the shooter. Usually what happens is a shot is fired, and the action ends up locked closed, and no one is able to open it using normal clearing techniques. In my case the action locked open after ejecting a shell.

It can be hard to diagnose a jam caused by a broken extractor simply because you can’t see that is what is preventing the bolt carrier from moving.

The best procedure we have found to free up a stuck bolt carrier from a broken forward assist is to:
1. Remove magazine, keep muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
2. Hold rifle with the ejection port down, barrel parallel to the ground.
3. Shake rifle while attempting to move bolt carrier.

Then usually it wont take much to get the action moving again. Immediately clear the chamber and remove the bolt carrier group from the action and remove any loose parts(like the forward assist pawl shown above).

Over the years, I have come to believe that the forward assist should be reserved for emergencies. In practice or on the range if a round does not chamber discard the round or inspect the firearm. I have met many(most former Army) that hit the forward assist after every reload. If your rifle isn’t chambering the round under its own power, there is something wrong with either the rifle or the ammo. Forward assists very rarely fail, but there is no point in slapping it around unless it is an emergency.

Designated Marskman Instructor Comments on the AR15 at 1,000 yard Article

This is from the comment section from the article about shooting the AR15 at 1,000 yards. The commenter offered some insight into the Army’s marksmanship levels and attitude.  I have offered the commenter a chance to elaborate and post more on the subject.  hopefully this will be expanded and he will come back to share his thoughts and experience in greater detail in more posts.   Below is the original post from Jose

Original post Jose was speaking about here


Good on you Shawn. I’ve coached the last three consecutive All Army Small Arms champions. Before that I taught SDM for s number of years, still conduct the occasional course.
I’m not a distinguished rifleman (yet) but I’ve produced a number of them.
The M16A4 and M4 are woefully misunderstood by nearly all Soldiers. There are less than 200 Soldiers in the Army that I would consider “Riflemen” even the “multiple tours, combat arms NCO” is not a guarantee of any real skill at arms AT ALL. Soldiers are universally poorly skilled with their rifles. It’s appalling. But for such Soldiers, first you’d have to admit you have a problem. If they “qualify expert” they believe *that* somehow equals skill. I’d call that “familiarity.” 40/40 is easy, nothing to brag about, and is a ridiculously low standard. Most Soldiers never achieve even that embarrassingly low standard. If an NCO can’t get all of his squad to shoot “expert” he’s untrained.
My point is that most (but I’d wager closer to all) the criticism you may have received from Soldiers ought to be dismissed out of hand. They really are overconfident amateurs. Even in “Special Forces” units, that’s no guarantee of skill at arms.
That about sums it up. If I offended someone, good. Outshoot me.
The thing is that the M16/M4 is an EXCELLENT weapon and there are excellent 5.56mm cartridges. A Soldier doesn’t have to be a superhero to shoot really well with it either. We trained many female Soldiers that had no problem striking a steel silhouette target, 14″ wide and 40″ tall, at 760 meters, with iron sights on her M16A2. I can drop names, ranks, class dates. With the M4 and ACOG, SDM Students routinely hit the same target at 800 to 830 meters – 1st round hits.
In our SDM classes, we spent so much time at 500 and 600 on the KD range, that 300 was a welcomed and easy target engagement for them. Yet in units many Soldiers will not engage the 3 exposures of the 300 meter target, preferring to save those three rounds for the closer targets when they miss the first shot, so they can re-engage the ‘easy’ targets. They’re all easy!
I want to share a couple of things, there’s somebody out there reading this that will heed this advice, I promise it can make you a dramatically better shooter.
When shooting for precision with rack grade Army M16’s or M4’s there is one method that works. DO NOT EVER USE A SLING OF ANY KIND TO “LOCK IN” “SNAP IN” OR OTHERWISE PULL ON THE SLING SWIVEL. The AR in a rack grade condition does not have a free floating barrel. The upper receiver is made of a zinc and aluminium alloy, the barrel is hard steel. Pulling on the sling is like making a giant torque wrench, moving the strike if the round several inches just at 100 yards! Any weight or pressure on the handguards moves the barrel.
Don’t touch the handguards or use a sling if you want the most out of a rack grade rifle.
Use the magazine, preferably a 30 rounder, as a monpod. Place the palm of your non firing hand (not your fingers) on the flat front face of the magwell. Spread your elbows and get nice and low and stable. The non firing palm exerts firm rearward pressure on the rifle.
There’s more to it, but that’s the biggest challenge you’re having now. Great job on the test

Samson flip to side Aimpoint 3X magnifier mount

Samsun FTS Aimpoint

I pickup an Aimpoint 3X mangifer in a Samson Flip To Side mount to play around with.

Samsum FTS Aimpoint

The Samson FTS mount has a cross bolt so you screw it onto your rail. A lever is on the left side to flip the magnifier over.

I had to swap out the Matech rear sight I was using with a KAC 300m rear sight. The Samson mount did not have enough height to clear the Matech sight.

Samson FTS Aimpoint

The spring in the mount quickly pushes the magnifier out of the way. It also hold the magnifier off on the side pretty well. If you violently shake the rifle, the magnifier will move, but it stays out of the way pretty well.

Samson FTS Aimpoint

After playing with this mount a bit, I don’t like it. It appears to be well made, but it isn’t right for me. Flip to side mounts like the LaRue can be used by either hand while this one has its lever on the left side. I also don’t like how it screws to the gun, I would prefer to be able to take the magnifier off quickly. For me, this mount isn’t right, but I would recommend it to someone who wants a dedicated FTS mount.

Training with ‘The Beard’.

Article Submitted by Mark Hatfield.

Chris Costa aka ‘The Beard’, has got quite a reputation, knowing, doing, teaching. When I learned that he would be teaching a class only fifty minutes from my home I couldn’t pass that up. What a deal, big name trainer, no long drive, no hotels. I signed up and paid in full, then it was canceled.

The cancelation had nothing to do with Costa, it was due to problems at the facility, caused by the owners. I was impressed by the effort of Costa Ludus (his organization) to make things right. They used more than one means to assure that I received the word including calling me at home to be certain. They also offered a complete refund or if I chose to let them hold my money towards a different class they added to it and increased the amount in my account, not just by ten or twenty bucks either. I let my money ride with them. It was some months later when I signed up for Vehicle Elements Theory, a three day class to be held in a location about three hours away.

Fighting from inside a car or starting from in or near a vehicle, usually in groups of two or four, this was a hoot, and ammo intensive. I had done some of this type of training previously but not firing from inside the vehicle nor as physically vigorous, such as crawling out from a vehicle. The old knees were troublesome and I was not yet recovered from a problem with the ribcage. Only two days before the start of the class I could again hold a handgun in the Isosceles position but not without some awkwardness and pain. Two days before that I could not do that position at all. Moving from positions such as standing to kneeling was painful so in all, that made the class a bit more challenging.

Firing from inside vehicles, using vehicles as cover or concealment, exiting vehicles, working in pairs or teams of four, coordinating with others (an important thing), and putting out lots of firepower, that’s pretty much what we did. It had been recommended to bring at least eight hundred each of carbine and handgun rounds. I estimated that I fired seven hundred of one and nine hundred of the other. We did not work from moving vehicles but The Beard did discuss with us the complexities of that. He did relay that some organizations spend two weeks doing these drills and those more complex.

When under fire and crawling out of a vehicle to the opposite side what do you do with your gun? If in a passenger car seated in the rear behind the driver and have a holstered handgun on your right side, how do you draw and fire out the window to your left without having your muzzle sweep the driver or some part of yourself? These are some of the problems we faced and practiced repeatedly.

A side note was the discussion of a particular hand position with the handgun and some variations of this position. The position is well known and laughed at by serious shooters. It was explained that there actually are some situations where this position can be of value, further, that there are certain scenarios where certain personnel are taught to use this position and he gave the reasons why. Agree with it or not, there actually may be some justification for it in some specific situations. So controversial is it though, that he chooses to not be photographed demonstrating it to avoid hassles or be thought of as an advocate of it’s use.

It was interesting that he explained he made no distinction in teaching whether for the military, law enforcement, or private citizens, he believed in giving each the same material.

There was a period in the first day where I felt like ‘That Guy’ as some say, meaning that I was the problem person, or the one who ‘just didn’t get it’ or get up to speed. I had become accustomed to using always the same guns and gear in such classes and was going to try some variants on this occasion. Also, rather frustrating, when packing, I could not find my usual holsters. In my hotel room the night before the class I discovered that guns and holsters I intended to use were not compatible so on the first day I used a holster which I had rarely worn. Because of this, on that first day of class when reholstering I discovered that because of only a slight difference in my holster, my hand could not slip the gun in automatically as I had for so many years, I had to search for and find the opening of the holster for the muzzle to enter. During our warm-up and assessment drills that really slowed me down. I had decided to not wear web gear for the rifle mags but just to place extra mags in my pants pockets. I had done this some before however I did not realize what a huge difference there would be between different pairs of pants in how difficult it might be to remove those mags.

Also in that period on the first day we did some rifle drills which I know about but don’t practice and he was pushing for speed. There was one skill drill which I essentially gave up as we had to immediately prepare the gun for the next repetition but then later also had to be ready for a possible variation. If you stayed ready for the possible variation then then he might only call for the main drill for which your gun was not ready and could not be made ready in time. If you made ready for the main drill then it was not possible to do the variation if called. I honestly wondered if he forgot what drills he was having us do. It seemed that others may have been having the same problem. Or maybe it was just me. There were no other such complications throughout the class.

People who are not military, Secret Service or such tend not to realize how much of their life involves the car or other vehicle. What was taught and practiced in this class is not just for those special guys but can apply to everyone. Some of the more physical stuff I was tempted to opt out and sit those out but I am very glad that I did not. What most of the other students would have done in some of the vehicle drills was not possible for me and I’m glad to have found what I could do while under supervision and in a controlled environment. Never think that ‘it’ can’t happen to you. As I learned also in the military, even a small amount of rehearsal can make a big improvement in your response when something happens ‘for real’. I’m glad I went.

Colt 6933

Colt 6933 ACOG

This is a Colt 6933 (well actually a 6945 lower with a 6933 upper). The factory trigger was replaced with a Geissele SSA trigger. A KAC M4 RAS was added to provide a quad rail and add some weight to the front of the gun. The carry handle was removed and replaced with a Matech rear sight. The TA31F ACOG scope was installed because I tried to sell it but no one wanted a $500 beat up ACOG.

It is not as light and handy as a stock 6933, but it is a fun little setup.