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Oooph, that’s a tough one!


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  1. For times when you need to quietly bring the BCG forward, and then tap it in.
    And sometimes it helps when you’ve got sand in the chamber. But just as often it doesn’t.
    That’s all I got.

    • Funny you should say that. One of my buddies liked the M14a for the very same reason on sliding a cartridge in, hated the m16. ” Well when you go bashing someone in the head with them, they kinda come apart.”
      All I know is , their light and need cleaned alot.

      • I always did hate the way the bolt carrier bounces around when you hit things with the stock. Sounds like a kids toy.

        • DD, I don’t see why the BCG couldn’t bounce around (unlock!) when hitting things with the butt. Inertia could unlock it.

  2. That’s a funny memme.
    Well just because it is.
    The guy looks korean to me, and his facial expression looks as if he lives in North Korea.
    I doubt a North Korean would have a weapon that used a built in forward assist.
    BTW are there any other military small arms besides the AR that have forward assist, like a plunger to push ? I cant think of any. I guess them other gunms are junk?

  3. I never had to use a forward assist. My preferred method of clearing an AR malfunction was to strike a nearby tree vigorously and often with the offending weapon.

      • Gotta older S&W Sport. No FA. Haven’t missed it. Yet. I already know I can push the chamber forward. No plan to hunt. Honestly if a round won’t chamber I want it out. Did freed Kyle know that before you anoint a 17year old as an all knowing exert?!? I ain’t in Falujah…

  4. I had a slab side lower with a slick side upper. So no FA. Never needed it. 5.56 NATO chamber would swallow any .223 or 5.56 I put into it.

    If it needs force to go in, it most certainly isn’t going to come out easily.

    • My first build was a slick side AR-15. And the second a slick side AR-10. When there was an issue with the former I took it to the shop where it was discovered that the chamber hadn’t been drilled deep enough by a small amount. Haven’t had an issue since that was fixed.

    • Well it is one more place for gas to escape and blind you when shooting suppressed. It just wouldn’t be shooting without a tear or two.

      • Wait- suppressor raises pressure??
        I thought the idea was to break up the exit pulse not constrain the bullet. Unless you mean that thing about sabot catching?
        But still I get you – a case head rupture would bring gas there.

  5. I guess I’m a unicorn, because I’ve found it useful a few times.

    Don’t run steel-case ammo through a dry AR, folks.

    • I remember shooting blanks with M-16 and needing forward assist. I have little live fire practice with the AR but can’t recall needing it with live ammo. So I’m wondering what Kyle’s chances were that the action had failed to feed vs failed to close? How close was he to losing that bet? I’m curious to ask AR guys.

      • I am not the AR-iest of guys, but that’s a really good question. It looks to me like Huber had his hand over the ejection port, which I think makes a stovepipe or other failure to feed equally as likely as a simple out of battery.

        Perhaps the real feature that saved Rittenhouse’s life was the Bolt Carrier vents that forced the hand away from the ejection port?

        So a +1 for Stoner after all, but it’s a “direct impingement” vs “gas piston” and the forward assist was just a red herring.

        • Now I want to do a full on experiment replicating the firearm attitude, ammo, location of hands or other at the last cycle, and see what’s what.
          Things are never simple.
          Right now I’m thinking if there is anything near the ejection at time of firing the case can easily fail to eject or, it can foul the pickup of fresh round or foul the closing. This could be good science. Do we have AR people willing to (with full safety so using mannequin hands not a human hand) to watch frame by frame and replicate with the exact same gun? It may not be possible to find out if the action was lubricated or which type of ammo but still. I bet an AR guy would do better science than plain police lab.

  6. Pretty sure the gunfight between Rittenhouse and Grosskrutz ended this debate. One had a forward assist on their rifle and still has a bicep, one does not.

    • The 0.1 seconds against Grosskreutz very well may have made a difference. But in my mind the biggest assist was a matter of 20 to life when the forward assist stumped the prosecution. Sometimes is pays to be different.

  7. It’s good for that time when silence is golden or as close as possible when slowly retracting and resetting the bolt into battery. Not very often but you just never know.

  8. it was supposedly used for those times in combat when “KERCHUNK” would be too loud and give you away if the BCG slammed forward, or for feeding issues, or when spring tension does not push the BCG all the way forward. Its overall created justification of the times was for cases where debris had entered the chamber preventing the bolt from going all the way forward. Overall its to push the rifle’s BCG closed that last little bit when it is not all the way forward from normal function of the rifle. Some people justify it as a way to complete a “stealth/quiet” chamber check. But overall, its real usefulness is mostly that of “creative usefulness justification” because its not been shown to have a deterministic function that’s needed as a normal part of the rifle function.

    when the normal spring pressure on the BCG doesn’t successfully chamber a round and lock the bolt into position via normal weapon function, the forward assist can be used to manually force the BCG forward that last little bit to lock it into place. But if you need to do this, you should check the rifle because there could be something wrong (e.g. debris in the chamber that needs to be cleared, a weak buffer spring…), because normal expected operation is that the spring tension should be enough to make the BCG go all the way forward (unless you ride it forward).

    Eugene Stoner did not originally design what later became the M16 with an external forward assist because he saw no need for it. After many types of testing programs, Stoner said “I never saw an instance where it would have done any good … under sand and mud and every type of firing conditions in the world. … when you get a cartridge that won’t seat in a rifle and you deliberately drive it in (to the chamber), usually you are buying yourself more trouble.” – and he is correct, the rifle should be checked and cleared of debris manually rather than relying on a forward assist.

    There could be that story, as someone somewhere will tell the tale like “…there I was with a P-38 can opener and my M-16 facing down a whole battalion of the enemy and the rifle got sand in the chamber and I could not chamber a round until I used the forward assist to chamber the last round I had and I took out the rest with the P-38” … so ya never know. There have been random reports over the years of desert warfare in the middle east where troops have reported occasionally using the forward assist. I’ve used it a few times to demonstrate the BCG operation for people new to the AR-15.

    Colt added the ‘forward assist’ to the M-16 because the Army mandated it. Even though the Army mandated a forward assist for the M16, they admitted it more a psychological matter than a mechanical one. The Army said “The frequency or infrequency of the type of malfunction correctable by a manual bolt closure capability is immaterial. The knowledge among troops that such as malfunction is merely possible would lower confidence in a weapon lacking such a device.”

    Yeah, your gonna find people who say its an absolute necessity and those that say its useless. In reality though, it doesn’t hurt to have it if you do so don’t run out and buy all new lowers without it, and heck there may be that one time when you use it for some purpose – and if you don’t have a forward assist you really aren’t missing anything unless you just really wanna have one.

    • “Yeah, your gonna find people…”

      should have been … “Yeah, you’re gonna find people …”

      ” .. they admitted it more a psychological matter…”

      should have been ” … they admitted it’s more a psychological matter …”

      “I’ve used it a few times to demonstrate the BCG operation for people new to the AR-15.”

      should have been

      “I’ve used it a few times to demonstrate the BCG operation for people new to the AR-15, it wasn’t really necessary to use it but did help demonstrate what could happen if debris got in the chamber.”

    • .40 cal, the words “there I was” should never be uttered unless directly followed by “no shit”. It is a rule, and must be obeyed. You have been warned. For the AF, it is expected (but not required) to be followed by “upside down”, as well.

  9. A couple years ago I was at the range with my son’s video gamer gang…LOL they had some second rate ammo…so they loaded a round, pulled the trigger…CLICK…..cycled a round…click…so I get the rifle..cycle a…calmly reached forward (immediate action drill) hit the forward assist…Bang…about every other round (cheap aluminum casing) had to be assisted…but it taught them the drill…lol

  10. Because they did away with a side-cocker in favor of that ergonomically sinful charging handle and they needed something to balance the look of the receiver?

  11. Don’t want it don’t have it. Why is that hard? Too many options on receivers out there.
    It ain’t difficult. It’s just y’all that are

  12. I’m going with Eugene Stoner on this one and I don’t see a real purpose for the forward assist. For my present AR builds, I purposely buy stripped uppers without this “feature”.

  13. All my ARs have a forward assist. Never used it on any of them. Used it once in the jungle back many years ago because of some of the crappy ammo we were issued. Just didn’t have the time at that moment to strip and clean the weapon.

    • I read in M-16 history the original ammo was loaded with a powder that left heavy and tough deposits. I wonder if the chambers got a layer of stuff so added friction when closing. Same book said after powder was improved the fault was fixed. I wonder if there ‘a an old military ammo Qual report declassified that explains. Sorry I’m a total nerd and get into these technical trivia.

      • My understanding, back in the day, of the original reason for the addition of the forward assist was powder residue fouling the action and preventing the bolt from locking. And my trainers emphasized that *using* the assist was really stupid, unless survival depended on it. Otherwise, strip and clean, then try it again.

    • all my AR’s I’ve built have ‘forward assist’ because I got all the lowers as presents over time. Birthday’s and Christmas yields a lot of gun stuff from various family & friends. But of all the gun and other stuff I can pretty much count on at least a couple of lowers when they find out I’m thinking about building another one, and they always have forward assist. No muss no fuss, they know I’m gonna like it and it takes the guess work out of it for them. I’ve got four right now that are still in their packaging and I’ve never opened them. I’m not going to complain about ‘forward assist’ being on the lowers.

      I’ve tried to train them to get me uppers too 😊 but its not working out as well as the lowers did, but I do have a few uppers I have gotten and I’m in the process of building some AR’s for Christmas presents. One of them will be for our local recently converted anti-gun gal to welcome her into the world of clarity, its almost done just gotta put the hand guard on.

      • I thought it was the upper that had the FA? Now in two posts you intimate that your lower receiver is the controlling factor. I’ve never sourced the bare parts to assemble one myself, is there some interaction between lower and upper that constrains your choice that I don’t know about?

        • I mean the uppers, sorry bout that. I got this weird thing going on with a software package my wife uses for her journalism, that happens when I type here in the comments section. She does some gun articles for various sites under different names and for different authors and she uses it to prepare and publish them and it structures and corrects her articles for that in their style of writing, but here in the comments section it goes nuts with its inference stuff and changes things around when I hit the post button. Sometimes its still running in the background when I comment here and I forget to shut it down. This is the home computer she uses mostly, I usually use my laptop.

        • Well, .40, you do have an AR, right? FIX the damn thing with it. Shouldn’t need more than a couple shots.

  14. A properly engineered rifle has no need for a forward assist. The original M16 and M4 designs are dinky and the assist made up for it’s reliability short comings. But with modern advancements to the platform and products on the market such has piston drives, adjustable gas blocks, low friction coatings, and enhanced bolt geometry the forward assist is a thing of the past. That is unless you are buying a “Mil-spec” rifle.

    • What do you think about my reply to Richard K. above? Ignoring the Forward Assist vs Charging Handle question, do you think the BCG exhaust vents made any difference in moving Huber’s hand away from the ejection port, possibly averting a stovepipe?

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