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drew661 05-22-2013 11:58 PM

Spare bolt
Good evening all,
I have a few rifles and am trying to stock up on spare parts. I have pretty much every price part in multiples with the exception of bolts.
I have always heard that a bolt is pretty much joined to a barrel extension at birth. That it is not a good idea to just change bolts. Will putting a new bolt in a older rifle hurt anything if the original bolt fails? Thanks in advance.

bluez 05-23-2013 12:04 AM

I also stock spare bolts (as well as firing pins etc) but I will let a more knowledgeable member answer.

HockaLouis 05-23-2013 12:14 AM

Bolt as in "bolt action"? You are asking about stocking parts including such a spare bolt!?

mattieb 05-23-2013 12:30 AM

Are you talking about ar15 bolts if so it won't hurt to put a new one in I have several they are a great thing to have extra of if you can find them

drew661 05-23-2013 12:33 AM

Yes talking ar bolt.

One more question, is 158 steel not preferred in a bolt as it is in carriers?

Sniper03 05-23-2013 12:37 AM


You just can not exchange bolts unless the spare has the same head space as the original. Even though a lot of people buy a bolt for an AR upper, even at that it is not always a sure thing. The moral of the story anytime a bolt is purchased separately for an upper or in the case of switching bolts in a bolt action or any semi-auto rifle. The weapon should be checked for head space before firing. The failure to check for proper head space can result in what in the industry calls a catastrophic event! "BLOW UP"! Even in the AR Rifles/M-4/M-16 rifles there is mil-spec tolerance differences. For example in the Chamber and the Bolt dimensions. The single part by it self would fall within the mil-spec tolerance but put the two parts together there could be a serious problem. If one is on the high range of being over tolerance and for example the bolt would be on the side of being under tolerance. You would have a problem. Problem with buying spare bolts for the bolt actions they are fit to the gun as far as head space. And you would have to have a professional attempt to match the two bolts with the barrel set.


HockaLouis 05-23-2013 12:39 AM

Ah. AR bolt. If you own a few AR's and shoot them all much I'd still say a spare bolt is pretty extreme. Still makes some sense compared to a whole BCG.

drew661 05-23-2013 12:43 AM

That makes sense, even within mil spec tolerance a interference fit is possible and could mean loosing my face.
So if buying a spare bolt have the headspace checked by someone qualified before firing, correct? Even have it checked before storing for future use, and purchase and check a spare for each rifle, and check each with that rifle, don't assume one will work in all of them.
Am I thinking right? Thanks

drew661 05-23-2013 12:49 AM

Yeah, hope its never needed. Just thinking if parts are hard to come by someday I would hate to have a useless rifle because I didn't buy some relatively low dollar parts. I plan on giving everything to my kids someday.

kbd512 05-23-2013 07:51 PM

A spare bolt and firing pin for your AR is still a good idea.

It's not that difficult to check the headspace of your AR. The headspace gauges will cost you a few bucks, but peace of mind and not blowing up a 1K+ carbine are worth the money. Performing a headspace check isn't rocket science.

Altering headspace if your AR or bolt are not within tolerances may require the services of a gunsmith.

If at all possible, purchase parts from the manufacturer of your AR.

Brownells has a video that demonstrates how to check headspace with a gauge and what the headspace measurement is actually measuring.

There are plenty of other technical resources available online and in print if you want dimensional specifications and so forth.

Lastly, it's never a good idea to just throw together a random bolt and barrel and hope that the manufacturer(s) produced the components within specifications. While an in-spec bolt and barrel combination should function properly, that is not a guarantee and not something you want to risk your hands and eyes over.

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