Tag Archives: FAIL

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.

Keyholes and cloverleafs



One of the above pictures show a keyhole, another one shows a cloverleaf.

While I was in the Marine Corps, the terminology had at some point gotten mixed up. Our instructors in boot camp would call cloverleafs keyholes. I forgot about that till much later.

About two years later, one of my peers, was reading a book on aircraft maintenance. It stated that to check the barrels on the machineguns on the aircraft, you set up a plywood board and fire at it. If more than half the rounds keyholed, you would replace the barrel. This guy was astonished. He came to me and asked me why would you replace a barrel when half the rounds are going into the same hole? So I had to explain what a keyhole really is.

A keyhole is when a bullet strike the target sideways. Usually because it is unstabilized and tumbling. The top picture shows two 75 grain .223 match bullets fired out of a M16A1 barrel at 25 yards. Notice that both struck the target sideways. However both struck very close to point of aim.

A cloverleaf is where you have multiple touching impacts. The bottom target shows five 9mm rounds fired at 7 yards. The bottom cluster of three shots would be called a cloverleaf.

Guns in the media

From Amazing Super Powers Comic.


Video has been released of Canadian SWAT storming an airplane.  CNN has some video here.  It is interesting to see their entry and their lack of hesitation to point the muzzles of their rifles at the passengers.

In the news there was a bit about ATF firearms training.  The writer of the article states, “The M4 is a firearm with quite a bit of kick.”  Gee whiz, I didn’t know that.  They got to practice with an M4 (HK416), AK, MP5, and an Uzi because those are “all guns that ATF agents encounter on the streets.”


AR15.com forums had a post with a cute comic about gun control:

Broken AR15 gas ring.

A while back I picked up a used old Colt AR15 upper.  After I received it, when I first cleaned it I considered replacing the gas rings and extractor spring due to the clear fact that this upper had been used a good deal.  I talked to Shawn about this, and he suggested since it wasn’t going to be my go to gun, leaving it and seeing what happens.

Well a broken gas ring happened.  The upper functioned fine, and I have no idea where the broken section of gas ring went, but when I went to clean the upper yesterday I found one of the rings had failed.  So all the gas rings got replaced and a new extractor spring was dropped in.

Broken AR15 gas ring

So while this parts failure didn’t stop the gun from running, it is a good example of why we need to do preventive maintenance on anything our lives depend on.

Brass over bolt in a Tavor and a broken Perazzi shotgun spring.

I was helping out on the range when one of the Range Officers asked me to help clear a jammed Tavor.  The owner was attempting to use a Surefire 60 round mag and had a brass over bolt malfunction and could not clear it.

Tavor malfunction

Tavor malfunction

What surprised me is when I easily cleared the visible jammed round the action wouldn’t cycle.  Turns out there was a second live round jammed up in there.  The follow bound in the Surefire 60 round mag allowing multiple rounds up into the action.  How they got up and back in the action I don’t know.   For any one who reads this who has used a Tavor and Surefire mags, how well has it worked for you?


A friend of mine showed me this broken spring from his Perazzi shotgun.

Perazzi shotgun broken spring

Perazzi shotgun broken spring

This spring for the lower barrel of a Perazzi shotgun reached the end of its service life and was replaced.  Fortunately this particular shotgun came with two spares of this spring so the owner can keep it ready for competition.  It is good to have spare parts for firearms you depend on. Often it is even better to have a complete working spare firearm.

A “safe” pistol the Ruger LC9.

I went to the range today.  One of the other shooters was having an issue with a LC9 so I got the chance to look at it.

This Ruger LC9 would not fire.  New out of the box, the owner could chamber a round, but he could not make it fire.  He was asked if it had a key lock the owner said no.  So the owner was told to contact the company and if necessary send it back.

I went and took a look at the Ruger web site and they they note that this pistol has a key lock.  My best guess is that at some point the key lock was used on this pistol rendering it inert.  Fortunately this owner choose to test his firearm before relying on it.

Moral of the story:  Test your gear, avoid unnecessary extra safety locks.

A couple of observations from the range.

Wolf Ammo oiledIt is not a very good idea to oil your ammo with penetrating oil.

Recently I have seen a few scopes come off rifles under recoil.   Buy good mounts, and make sure that they are installed correctly and you can often avoid the problem.  In the picture below the mount came with the wrong screws which were too short.  The scope came off giving the owner of the rifle a nasty cut.

TC Encore scope mount

I saw a new bipod called the “Flex Bipods”.  While it is not a “Tactical” bipod, it is an interesting rest.  First it is rather light for its size, lighter then a comparable Sinclair F-Class bipod.  Second is that it is designed to flex, for pre-loading the rifle.  And lastly is that the feet on it(adjustable for height) are very gripy and grab the ground, carpet, and even the concrete shooting bench well.

Flex BipodThis Flex Bipod is about 20oz, breaks down small and flat for storage, has swivel and height adjustment.  Price is around $200 dollars which makes it competitively priced with its competition.  It would not be right for people who don’t use bipod pre-load.  I think it is nifity and might be good for some F-class shooters but it would not be the right bipod for me.