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Old 05-27-2018, 10:18 PM
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Default Bolt catch/release questions

Iím new here and new to ARs. I, actually, havenít even shot mine yet. But I do have a couple questions.

Unloaded AR. You insert an empty magazine. You pull the charging handle back, and the bolt stays open due to the follower pushing up on the bolt catch.

If you hit the bolt release, does it hurt anything? Does it hurt the magazine?
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Old 05-27-2018, 10:53 PM
adrianolsen adrianolsen is offline
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Hurts nothing. Gun is designed to do that
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Old 05-27-2018, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by adrianolsen View Post
Hurts nothing. Gun is designed to do that


Thought so, just wanted confirmation. Thanks.

I guess when I first did it, it was so much harder to release the bolt with an empty mag in vs no mag in. But I guess thatís because instead of pushing against air, itís pushing against the mag follower when you hit the bolt release.
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Old 05-28-2018, 03:24 PM
WR Moore WR Moore is offline
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It's a whole lot easier on the bolt catch to drop the mag before using bolt catch to release the bolt. The bolt catch is reasonably robust, but they're a pain to replace due to the retaining/pivot pin location.
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Old 05-30-2018, 12:37 AM
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I guess when I first did it, it was so much harder to release the bolt with an empty mag in vs no mag in. But I guess thatís because instead of pushing against air, itís pushing against the mag follower when you hit the bolt release.
Exactly right.

The thing with the bolt catch, everything on the AR really, is to just whack it. Get in the habit of striking it to release the bolt. You want to be serious about it. That's how it was intended to be used. If you do that, you won't notice the difference.

However, there's no need to release the bolt with an empty mag inserted.
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:35 AM
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However, there's no need to release the bolt with an empty mag inserted.
Exactly. If I have the bolt closed and a mag in, my rifle is loaded and ready to shoot. I'll have either/or of the 2 things happening at a time, but not both unless locked and loaded.
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Old 05-31-2018, 03:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Rastoff View Post
Get in the habit of striking it to release the bolt.
A more reliable method is to push the release with your thumb. Insert mag with thumb up, push/pull mag, press bolt release with thumb.

Quote:
However, there's no need to release the bolt with an empty mag inserted.
There is when practicing mag changes without ammo.
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Old 05-31-2018, 07:29 AM
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A more reliable method is to push the release with your thumb. Insert mag with thumb up, push/pull mag, press bolt release with thumb.





There is when practicing mag changes without ammo.


Good points. I bought the Magpul BAD lever for my first AR, so Iím gonna go that route for now. Iím right handed, so Iíll hold the gun grip in my right hand, insert the new mag with my left hand, and then drop the bolt with my right pointer finger using the BAD lever.

As for dropping the bolt with an empty mag during practice... what about using dummy rounds? That way it would be functioning similar to live fire, not putting extra, undue stress on the bolt catch spring?
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Old 05-31-2018, 08:36 AM
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A more reliable method is to push the release with your thumb. Insert mag with thumb up, push/pull mag, press bolt release with thumb.


There is when practicing mag changes without ammo.
With the bolt closed, you can always drop the mag, insert a new mag, and then slap the bolt release... Sure, the bolt doesn't go forward, but the gun didn't go bang when you pulled the trigger and the bolt didn't fly back on it's own either...
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Old 05-31-2018, 11:10 AM
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With the bolt closed, you can always drop the mag, insert a new mag, and then slap the bolt release... Sure, the bolt doesn't go forward, but the gun didn't go bang when you pulled the trigger and the bolt didn't fly back on it's own either...


Will you elaborate on your post here? Iím a little confused at the point you are trying to make...
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Old 05-31-2018, 02:26 PM
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Will you elaborate on your post here? Iím a little confused at the point you are trying to make...
It's in response to MistWolf stating that you need to close the bolt on an empty mag when practicing mag changes.

I agree with Rastoff that there is no need to close the bolt on an empty magazine.
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Old 05-31-2018, 02:29 PM
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what about using dummy rounds?
Policing up the dummies and reloading them in the mag gets to be a drag after a few repetitions.

There isn't much (if any) extra wear & tear on the bolt catch when practicing with an empty mag. None that I've noticed.
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Old 05-31-2018, 02:45 PM
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With the bolt closed, you can always drop the mag, insert a new mag, and then slap the bolt release... Sure, the bolt doesn't go forward, but the gun didn't go bang when you pulled the trigger and the bolt didn't fly back on it's own either...
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Originally Posted by cyphertext View Post
It's in response to MistWolf stating that you need to close the bolt on an empty mag when practicing mag changes.

I agree with Rastoff that there is no need to close the bolt on an empty magazine.
It's your rifle, it's your training.

However, practicing mag changes with the bolt locked back ensures you practice pressing the the bolt release enough to release the bolt every time. The problem with slapping the bolt release is that it's easy to cup your hand over the release and not hit it hard enough to release the bolt. Perhaps with more repetitions, you'll get down to where you don't cup your hand. But pressing it with your thumb takes fewer reps and doesn't fall apart as much when you're fatigued or cold or using your AR in inclement weather. It ensures your hand is positively indexed to make it easier to find the mag release in the dark or while your eyes are scanning down range.

Whichever method you use, actually locking the bolt back and releasing it during practice ensures you're getting it right.
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Old 05-31-2018, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MistWolf View Post
It's your rifle, it's your training.

However, practicing mag changes with the bolt locked back ensures you practice pressing the the bolt release enough to release the bolt every time. The problem with slapping the bolt release is that it's easy to cup your hand over the release and not hit it hard enough to release the bolt. Perhaps with more repetitions, you'll get down to where you don't cup your hand. But pressing it with your thumb takes fewer reps and doesn't fall apart as much when you're fatigued or cold or using your AR in inclement weather. It ensures your hand is positively indexed to make it easier to find the mag release in the dark or while your eyes are scanning down range.

Whichever method you use, actually locking the bolt back and releasing it during practice ensures you're getting it right.
Well, since the military trained me to slap the bolt release, that is what I am going to stick with.
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Old 05-31-2018, 05:56 PM
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Thanks guys this is what makes ARs and guns in general so fun. There are multiple ways to do a lot of things. Itís nice hearing the different options.
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Old 06-01-2018, 08:26 AM
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As @Cyphertext said, it's all training. However you want to do things, train that way and all should be fine.

I personally use a BAD type (Phase 5 Tactical) lever and train that way. Drop mag with pointer finger on right hand, keep right hand on pistol grip, insert new mag with left hand, pull to insure proper seating of mag, use pointer finger to engage BAD type bolt release, left hand back up to handguard.
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Old 06-01-2018, 01:05 PM
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Quote:
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A more reliable method is to push the release with your thumb. Insert mag with thumb up, push/pull mag, press bolt release with thumb.
You make a good point. Alas, as a lefty, this isn't really an option for me.

About "cupping" the hand, yes, that could cause you to miss the bolt release. I've probably even done that, but I don't remember it. If I did, I've only done it once. Now, I hit the bolt release with the base of my palm. Yes, as a lefty I'm slower, but fast enough.

When you slap the bolt release, do it with a fist, not a flat hand. This gives a larger surface area than just the thumb. But the thumb works, just doesn't have as much force.

In the end what I'm getting at with all this is to not be gentle. Don't abuse your gun, but be serious with all the controls. It was made to take stern handling.
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Old 06-01-2018, 08:38 PM
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Pressing the bolt release with the thumb is a technique I picked up from a well known trainer I had the pleasure of spending some one on one time with. When using a standard, non-ambidextrous lower, it's decidedly for right handers.
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Old 06-01-2018, 09:07 PM
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Pressing the bolt release with the thumb is a technique I picked up from a well known trainer I had the pleasure of spending some one on one time with. When using a standard, non-ambidextrous lower, it's decidedly for right handers.
And certainly not wrong. I hope you didn't think I was trying to say that it shouldn't be done. There are many ways to skin this particular cat.
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Old 06-04-2018, 03:23 AM
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Not at all. It was an admission that I didn't take left handed operations into consideration.
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Old 06-21-2018, 08:34 PM
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A lot of military training varies with the trainer. In the Marine Corps, I was trained to use the left thumb to release the bolt carrier. That is the method illustrated in the ‘Guidebook For Marines’.
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Old 06-21-2018, 10:20 PM
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A lot of military training varies with the trainer. In the Marine Corps, I was trained to use the left thumb to release the bolt carrier. That is the method illustrated in the ĎGuidebook For Marinesí.
Actually the pictures in the referenced book show using the right thumb by reaching over the top. It's a mystery to me why they would pick this pic to show that. The narrative doesn't specify any particular way. It just says to press the bolt release after inserting the magazine. I don't think I would ever use this method, but like I said, there are many ways to do this.
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Old 06-22-2018, 12:25 AM
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Good catch, Rastoff! �� I looked at my ‘97 edition and that is indeed an awkward way to do it. I’m looking for my early ‘70s copy to see what it illustrated.
The left thumb was definitely used both to lock the bolt back and release it during Inspection Arms—FWIW... ��
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:05 AM
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Depending on my position, I either slap the side of the rifle or wrap my hand around the mag well and use my thumb. As Rastoff said, either way is acceptable. It just depends on your training.
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