Very bad first experience with my AR - Need some help

Discussion in 'AR-15 Discussion' started by cyberpunk, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. cyberpunk

    cyberpunk New Member

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    Yesterday I took my "new to me" AR to the range for some tests, sighting in, and just target practice.

    Bear in mind when reading/replying that I'm very new to this and this is the first time I've shot a rifle like this.

    I had HORRIBLE jams, every second or third round was jammed. The rangemaster came over and told me my gun just needed oil and he oiled the heck out of the bolt area and worked it in well.
    Same exact result.

    He then told me it was my aftermarket mag. Used three different mags, including the factory mag
    Same result

    He then told me it was because of the cheap Brown Bear that I was shooting.

    Loaded up with good quality Remingtons in 2 different mags.
    You guessed it, same result.

    He said the cheap ammo caused it until I informed him the first two mags were both high quality brass.
    At this point he admitted he was stumped. He seemed like a very knowledegable and helpful guy and he gave up.


    So, we ended up shooting my friends M1A1, some trap and some .22 plinking but I have a very sour taste in my mouth about my gun to the point that I want to sell it.

    It's a Century lower with a full Colt upper. Fixed carry handle, stock butt, etc. Basically a very entry level AR, but with good enough core parts that I shouldn't be having these problems.


    So, what do you guys suggest I do first? I'm planning on stripping and cleaning it tonight, but I won't be able to test fire it again until later this week. Is this common?

    Thanks
    Jim
     
  2. ChuckD

    ChuckD New Member

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    That is unforunate Jim. I would say this is not common, so far I've had no problems with my store bought AR or the one I put together. Check the feed ramps on the upper to see if there is something going on there and maybe check to see if there is excessive play between the upper and lower. Hopefully some experts will chime in.

    Bump to the top.

    Chuck
     

  3. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    I really need more information about the "jams" to help. Was it failures to feed, fire, extract or eject?

    Always look at the cheapest part first, the magazine. Just because it was a "factory" magazine does not mean it was worth a damn. "Century" is the first clue to the problem. They have made some dreadful rifles in years past. Was the upper a used part? Just because it says "Colt" does not mean it is good. If a defective, used upper was pawned off, it could be part of the problem.

    Brown Bear ammo is some of the cheapest, dirtiest ammo available. The coating (to prevent rust on the steel case) can gum up the works on an AR. Laquer/Polymer coated ammo works fine in AK's because they were designed for it. The AK ammo has a pronounced body taper that helps to contribute to the reliability with this type of ammo. The relatively straight body of the 5.56/.223 case responds differently. IF you built up some fouling with the Brown Bear ammo and then switched to higher quality ammo, you would still experience the same problems. A good cleaning of the chamber may help.

    Please post more info on the exact nature of the "jams" so I can give some better advice.
     
  4. RL357Mag

    RL357Mag New Member

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    There is a break-in period with some guns. The DPMS .308 cal. AR I bought for my son experienced FTE almost every round up until 100 rds. were fired. This was not a problem since we cleaned the barrel after every round fired up to the first 100 rds. I have the same gun also and it FTE every 5th round until 25 rds. were fired. He also bought the wrong ammo. Winchester 7.62 x 51 milspec ammo did not feed or eject until the gun was broken in. After the break in period we shot my reloads without any problems, and the reliability and accuracy were phenomenal. Apparently the applied finish needed to wear off of the internal parts. Century arms is not a manufacturer - they assemble guns from used and new parts, and from various manufacturers - this is a recipe for failure!
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
  5. cyberpunk

    cyberpunk New Member

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    After doing some reading it looks like i'm having a failure to eject. I would fire one to two rounds then get a click. I would pull the magazine and pull back the charging handle and could see 2 rounds jammed together. Typically holding the gun upright and giving it the handle a good yank or two would dislodge the ammo, some of it was quite bent.

    Last night I completely stripped the gun, cleaned the bore, BCG and firing pin thoroughly and reassembled. It's solidly back together.

    I may drive out to the country tonight and put a few rounds in a ditch just to see if it continues to jam.

    I'm not sure what I'm looking for when I examine the BCG, it looked free of all major deposits, but my rag and swabs came back dirty for quite awhile. I wish I had an "optimal" BCG to compare mine to visually.
     
  6. RL357Mag

    RL357Mag New Member

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    Try a different brand of ammo - what you are describing is exactly what I experienced during the break-in period. Do your instructions mention a barrel break-in? How about a warning against using steel cased ammo?
     
  7. indy_kid

    indy_kid New Member

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    Suggestions...

    FTE suggests a bad ejector or a weak ejector spring. Disassembling the bolt can be hairy, but I'd inspect both the ejector spring closely (magnifying glass or jeweler's loupe). Invest a few $ in a "D" ring to increase the ejector grip.

    If your upper is new, get some Brasso (or Pearl Drops Tooth Polish - a light abrasive that's really too much for your teeth!), put some on you fingertip, and lightly polish the feed ramps. A new upper WILL have tiny horns and other protrusions on the ramp that can snag a casing if the ejector is weak.

    Fire single shots until you get consistent ejections. No need to damage other ammo or mags with FTEs or FTFs getting all jammed in there.

    Yeah, Century has a bad rep, and rightly so. It's really hit or miss with them. You might see if a friend will loan you a known good lower to see if your upper is the problem. Try a known good upper on your lower as well.

    Swap a known good BCG for yours. If the swapped BCG works, then you know your bolt is the problem, and thus either a bad (poorly made) ejector or bad ejector spring.

    Use an Accu-Wedge to get a tight fit between lower and upper. Too much play can cause problems.

    Good luck!
     
  8. cyberpunk

    cyberpunk New Member

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    When completely reassembled should there be light shining through the area where the upper and lower meet? I have the pins in tight and there is a thin sliver of light there.

    I will take pictures of stuff tonight after some test rounds as well.

    As for the "break in" I'm the second owner so I have no idea what the first guy did.

    I had the gun stripped yesterday, what is the ejector spring? I did not disassemble the lower, is it in there?
     
  9. TXnorton

    TXnorton New Member

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    Does the Colt upper have the same size pins as the lower? I have read that the Colts have a larger pin diameter than the other manufacurers. I have seen pin size adaptors for sale in various catalogs to accomodate this issue. I have both an old Colt SP-1 and a new RRA, but I have never tried to swap uppers between them.

    My brother's Bushmaster carbine would not fully cycle Wolf (polymer) ammo that shoots just fine in both of my ARs. I suspect that his Bushy has a stronger recoil (??) spring and that the Wolf ammo was not generating enough gas pressure to fully push the BCG all the way back against the spring in order to eject the fired round.

    But I am no expert here.

    TXnorton
     
  10. BillM

    BillM Active Member Supporter

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    Check the carrier key and make sure it's not coming loose. Carrier key is
    the lump on top of the bolt toward the front end, held on by two allen head
    cap screws. There should be NO play in that joint, and the screws should be
    heavily staked in place.

    Also check the piston rings, make sure they aren't worn out and that the
    end gaps are staggered.

    You did say "new to you"---so I'm assuming this is a used gun. Really
    not that much magic to an AR, but it can be frustrating as heck when
    it doesn't work. Take a deep breath, sit down with the rifle and figure out
    what does what. LOTS of internet resources on the AR, you will get it
    figured out.
     
  11. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    Failure to eject is most commly an extraction problem. If the case is not held firmly by the extractor, the ejector cannot do its job. Don't use any of the aftermarket O-rings or D-rings. Get a good extractor spring from Wolf or Specialized Armament Warehouse.

    Check that the ejector is working freely by depressing it repeatedly with the firing pin tip. It should move smoothly but under tension.

    A sliver of light between the upper and lower is no concern. Movement between these parts is a concern. Do not use an accu-wedge. They are designed to lighten your wallet, that is all. If you have excessive play between the upper and lower, cut a small piece of pipe cleaner and place it between the receiver halves under the chamber area to tighten things up.

    Staggering gas rings is a Military Myth. Test the gas rings by stripping the BCG of all parts except the complete bolt and carrier. Hang the carrier by the bolt. The gas rings should hold the carrier on their own. If the carrier falls off the bolt, then it is time for new set of rings.

    The carrier key (gas key) on top of the carrier is torqued to 40 INCH POUNDS. Do not over tighten them as they will break. They should be firmly staked.

    Check the carrier for a "C" stamped on it indicating it is a real Colt part. The bolt should also be stamped with a "C".
     
  12. cyberpunk

    cyberpunk New Member

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    All right, had a much better night last night. After the complete cleaning I drove out to the middle of nowhere, dropped in a mag and fired away at will, nice smooth semi-auto action like I expected.

    I guess Something either wasn't aligned right or was super dirty. Needless to say, the problem SEEMS to be fixed. More extensive testing will be this weekend, I'll report back.

    Also, I saw no C on the bolt or the barrel, does this probably mean I don't have a Colt upper? If so, is it worth my hassle to confront the selling shop about it? It was a pawn shop with a large gun selection, one of the only places in town to get a firearm.

    Last question, my upper is all one piece, meaning my handle is not removable. Is this less than desirable? Does it limit my options for optics and other accessories? In hindsight I would not have picked this gun, but they were so hard to find for a time I snatched one up thinking prices would continue to skyrocket.
     
  13. Jo da Plumbr

    Jo da Plumbr New Member

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    They have optic mounts for the handle or the rail.

    Glad to hear the rifle is working better now.
     
  14. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    A Colt bolt, carrier and barrel will be stamped with a "C". The barrel should be stamped on top just behind the muzzle "C MP Chrome" indicating it was made by Colt, has been magnetic particle tested (magnafluxed) and is Chrome lined. The bolt should be stamped with a "C". It may or may not be stamped "MP". All Colt bolts are magnetic particle tested , but not all are stamped "MP". The carrier, too, should be stamped with a "C"

    If they sold it as a Colt upper and it is not a Colt upper, I would consider taking it back. You likely paid a premium for the Colt name. I would at least expect a partial refund.

    Glad to hear it is running better.
     
  15. cyberpunk

    cyberpunk New Member

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    Well, I'm pretty pissed because it's not. I thought it was, but it's not.

    Tonight I took it to a friends house in the woods to confirm for once that it was fixed. Not only did I have more jams, but I got a new symptom.

    Bear in mind this was in a completely cleaned and oiled gun. Not overly oiled, what I've been told is the correct amount.

    I loaded up and fired off 6 shots then get the dreaded click. 6 consecutive shots is the longest it's went without a jam so I thought it might be a one off problem.

    Cleared the jam and then after 2 more it jams again. This time I got a new symptom. I couldn't flip the switch to the Safe position. I dropped the magazine, cleared the gam and then I was able to move it to Safe. This is the first time that happened. It happened two other times, once after 2 shots and once after 4.

    At that point I was so disgusted I packed up and left.

    The ironic thing is I think I'm getting it nearly sighted in, it shot a nice tight group, at least for a beginner like me.
     
  16. greenr19

    greenr19 New Member

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    I don't believe the fact that the gun wouldn't go on safe is that big of an issue. I think that can be a bigger clue to the fte issue. I don't know the technical term, but I'm sure someone will come along and explain it. In the military we had to "rack safe" our guns after shooting on the range. Take your gun and clear it out and ensure nothing is in the chamber. Put the safety selector on fire. Pull the trigger. Try to put it on safe. It shouldn't go. What I believe happened is when you fired the bolt did not go back far enough to lock the hammer to the rear. Someone will probably be along to fill in the missing pieces.
     
  17. 753X0

    753X0 New Member

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    green19's right, they will not go to safe if the hammer isn't cocked. It didn't cock for the same reason that it's failing to extract.
    It needs a good cleaning, using an M-16 chamber brush.
    Disassemble the BCG clean it inside, also get a handgun rod or a section of rod and clean the internal part of BCG where the bolts rings seal up. Push out the pin that holds the extractor and remove the extractor then clean and inspect these parts also. Make sure the extractor is sharp and see if it will grab the base of a round. Look at the spring, see if it's broke.
    Clean the inside of the upper receiver, clean out that divot towards the front. This is where the BCG's key fits into when you chamber a round, if it's gunked up then it could bind the gun too. Clean the bolt's locking lugs. Put some lube on the BCG where it contacts the inside of the upper, there are contact rails on the four corners of the carrier. Put it together and see if it cycles, pull the charging handle back and let the spring push the bolt back forward then repeat, see if it's moving freely.
     
  18. cyberpunk

    cyberpunk New Member

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    I went to Cabela's yesterday to talk to their gunsmith, he was not available but I got a salesperson who is an avid AR owner. I explained what was going on and he said it's almost definitely a magazine issue that's he seen and heard about before. I bough a new Pro-Mag and 2 boxes of good quality brass. I'm going to strip, clean and test fire those this weekend.

    I'm also going to put some pics up of the pieces so you can guys can tell me if they look clean or not. I don't have much to compare them to.

    Thx for all the help/suggestions.
     
  19. JDLJeff1959

    JDLJeff1959 New Member

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    I know it sounds silly....

    ...but
    I've got an almost-new AR15 chambered in 6.5 and I took a buddy out to shoot it. He just got back from the sandbox and, suffice it to say, he's no slouch when it comes to guns. He laid down and started firing and pretty much had the same experience you had. I laid down behind it and emptied a mag...no problem.
    He laid down...problems...jams and ejection failures EVERY time he shot.
    We stripped and reassembled it a couple times.
    I shot it again...perfect!
    He shot it again....more jams and ejection failures. I started to worry.
    I was beginning to wonder if there was some sort of freak ergonomic thing going on....he's almost 6' 6" and he's got arms like a freakin' gibbon. So I laid down next to him and immediately noticed that he wasn't tucking the rifle snugly into his shoulder pocket. I pointed this out and asked him why; he explained that being almost 6' 6", and speed being king, his shooting position and grip had just evolved that way....you do whatever works when your ass in on the line.
    In a nutshell, I told him to tuck it in tight. He did, and voila! No more problems! (and it only cost me about a hundred bucks and a night of handloading.)
    Sometimes, Cyberpunk, when all the usual (technical ) suspects turn out to be innocent, it's time to look at fundamentals. The AR15/M16 is meant to be stable and stationary so that the action can function correctly. There are dozens of potential malfunctions that are due solely to incorrect grip and/or position.
    Good luck,
    Lappy
     
  20. RL357Mag

    RL357Mag New Member

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    Also, are you allowing the weight of the rifle to rest on the magazine when shooting from a bench? This can cause FTF. I only use 20 rd. mags when shooting from a bench because of this.