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Assists the bolt going forward.

If the chamber is dirty, or a slightly out of spec case, or if one rides the charging handle forward, one uses it to push the bolt into battery.
 

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forward assist

The heel of your hand should never contact the forward assist on an AR. It is a forward "assist" not forward force. It is a thumb button only. If you have a dirty chamber, clean it. If you have an out of spec case, get rid of it. I have never allowed any of my AR's to get dirty enough to cause a stoppage. I can shoot 500 or more rounds w/o cleaning and have no probs.

For modern techniques, the FA is best used to lock the bolt closed after a chamber check.
 

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I've found it very useful for silently chambering a round. Comes in handy when we get in and out of vehicles while predator calling, etc...
 
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