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Thread: Current Need for a Forward Assist?

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    Current Need for a Forward Assist?

    Before I get into my question let me give some background information. I am a member of the military; I have been to a couple week long shooting courses so I’m not a complete noob at this. Yes, I know SPORTS is immediate action for a malfunction and I teach it to my soldiers because the army tells me to, but I do realize it is out dated.
    So I recently purchased a M&P 15 Sport, as most of us know this is a introduction rifle into the AR15 platform and it does not have a forward assist (Please note this is not a buyer’s remorse thread). While doing some research before I made my purchase I found this article http://www.defensereview.com/m4m4a1-...yre-our-fault/ by Mike Pannone. In the article the author states that he found replacing a few basic parts greatly increase the reliability of the M4.
    My question is, would make the prescribed upgrades of the heavier buffer, super duty buffer spring, five coil extractor spring, and o-ring mitigate(not necessarily eliminate) the lack of forward assist? Additionally, does the use of a forward assist only address the symptom of a bolt not closing in the case of a malfunction, and not address the root cause? A forward assist seems to only power jam the problem. I do understand the lack of a forward assist would make it more difficult to quietly close the bolt, but this is a non-issue for me. Please do not turn this into a xyz model of AR15 are crap, go spend more money on a expensive gun discussion.

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    Before making any changes to your rifle, make sure they are needed. Shoot your rifle. Get to know it. Then you'll know what, if any, needs upgrading. You may not need to change a thing.

    Welcome to M4Carbine and thank you for your service to our country
    Last edited by MistWolf; 11-19-11 at 07:43.
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    I think you are asking two different questions.

    First, do you need a forward assist? No, not really. The only use for this part is after doing a press check, to make sure the bolt is locked.

    Since there are better ways to do a press check, the forward assist is REALLY not needed IMHO.


    Your M&P is over gassed. It also has the lightest buffer available. So if it was my gun, I would install an H2 buffer and a Tactical SpringCo BLUE buffer spring. Then, after 3,000rds, I would change out the extractor spring, extractor insert and add a Crane O-Ring. BCM makes and excellent bolt upgrade kit.



    C4

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    If you tap the F/A on a round that is otherwise preventing the bolt from going fully into battery, it is likely that you will have a failure to extract after taking the shot. For this reason, you should just rack the charging handle and load a new round.

    The F/A makes itself most useful in extreme cold and snow. In most other cases, it's not going to do anything for you.

    As Grant said, people use the F/A to do admin loads, but there is a better way as he pointed out:

    After chambering a round, simply drop the magazine to ensure a round was loaded by looking at what side the top round is on...then re-insert the magazine. This is a more fail-safe way of doing an admin load.

    So, in summary, no I don't think you "need" a F/A

    I like having one for snow but that's about it:



    I don't think adding a heavier buffer / extra power spring will serve any meaningful purpose as it relates to the lack of a F/A, but it will help mitigate the negative effects of an overgassed rifle. So it's probably a good idea for you.
    Last edited by a0cake; 11-19-11 at 13:37.

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    There is another view on the forward assist which is worthy of consideration. In response to my question here on how he conducts a press check, Paul Howe responded:

    Submariner,

    I use my right hand to pull back on the charging handle to see/feel brass. If I want to feel, slide my left/non-firing hand around under the weapon and touch the case. I release and then palm strike my forward assist. Finally I close my dust cover with my non-firing hand. The reason I use my right hand on the charging handle is because it must come off the grip to use the forward assist after I do my brass check.

    I know the other technique used is to pull your magazine and then check to see that a round has stripped off. This came from using the MP-5 as best as I can tell. The problem I have with this technique is that you are unseating the life blood of your weapon. I see more problems with students not seating magazines correctly than forward assists breaking. I personally don't want them to pull the mag out once they put it in correctly.

    I also use this technique on an M-1 Carbine, Grand, M1A, AK, etc.

    Both systems work, I just prefer the way I teach.

    Paul
    Last edited by Submariner; 11-19-11 at 14:20.
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    Have and not need concerning the forward assist.

    I am usually against pulling the magazine in any circumstance except in reloads, tac reloads, malfunction clearing, or unloading and showing clear. A press check is a better way of seeing if a cartridge made it into the chamber instead of pulling the magazine. Murphy's law would dictate the one time you load 27 rounds into a magazine, chamber a round, and then check the magazine to see if a cartridge made it into the gun is the one time you need your rifle to go bang.
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    Quote Originally Posted by C4IGrant View Post
    I think you are asking two different questions.

    First, do you need a forward assist? No, not really. The only use for this part is after doing a press check, to make sure the bolt is locked.

    Since there are better ways to do a press check, the forward assist is REALLY not needed IMHO.


    Your M&P is over gassed. It also has the lightest buffer available. So if it was my gun, I would install an H2 buffer and a Tactical SpringCo BLUE buffer spring. Then, after 3,000rds, I would change out the extractor spring, extractor insert and add a Crane O-Ring. BCM makes and excellent bolt upgrade kit.



    C4
    I did this exact thing to my M&P and it has slowed down noticeably and runs somewhat smoother. I personally did not change anything on the bolt, I just bought a complete BCM BCG. What Grant is recommending is VERY cost effective (You won't see any difference from buying the complete BCG). I highly recommend taking advice from him
    Last edited by Brennan; 11-20-11 at 08:18.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nimdabew View Post
    Have and not need concerning the forward assist.

    I am usually against pulling the magazine in any circumstance except in reloads, tac reloads, malfunction clearing, or unloading and showing clear. A press check is a better way of seeing if a cartridge made it into the chamber instead of pulling the magazine. Murphy's law would dictate the one time you load 27 rounds into a magazine, chamber a round, and then check the magazine to see if a cartridge made it into the gun is the one time you need your rifle to go bang.
    I drop the magazine because not all AR based weapons that I carry have a F/A. Example, M110. It allows commonality across the board. It just makes sense to use the same method for every weapons system. Whether it's an M4, an M110, or an M14, dropping the mag to ensure a round was stripped will work. Press checking will not.

    Also, I've been using this method for years. The "one time" as you said that I needed my rifle to go bang has actually been hundreds of times, and Murphy has not one time had a say in it. I don't see how a person qualified to carry a weapon could possibly screw up looking at what side of a magazine a round is on, then re-inserting it until it fully seats.

    Much respect to Paul Howe and other accomplished instructors that teach the Press Check w/ FA method, but for the reason above I don't use it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by a0cake View Post
    I drop the magazine because not all AR based weapons that I carry have a F/A. Example, M110. It allows commonality across the board. It just makes sense to use the same method for every weapons system. Whether it's an M4, an M110, or an M14, dropping the mag to ensure a round was stripped will work. Press checking will not.

    Also, I've been using this method for years. The "one time" as you said that I needed my rifle to go bang has actually been hundreds of times, and Murphy has not one time had a say in it. I don't see how a person qualified to carry a weapon could possibly screw up looking at what side of a magazine a round is on, then re-inserting it until it fully seats.

    Much respect to Paul Howe and other accomplished instructors that teach the Press Check w/ FA method, but for the reason above I don't use it.
    Different TTPs. At least you have a reason for doing what you do instead of parroting what other people say on the internet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nimdabew View Post
    Murphy's law would dictate...
    I am just as worried about not closing the bolt all the way with the FA as forgetting the pull step of seating a mag. If I was going to do a press check I would close the bolt with my finger so I could feel the carrier go forward.

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    Thanks for all the good advise, Ill do the upgrade.

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    For the AR/M4/M16 I teach both the press check and removing the magazine. I also use various methods with various weapons. I also shoot many different handguns, rifles etc and have several ways of doing things, so yes I am a bit different as far as the commonality thing goes, but there is definitely a lot to be said for commonality in general.

    Having said that as far as this platform I will just add an observation over many years of training many people. This is definitely user failure, however I see many more issues from those who use the magazine removal method, especially with those who like to completely top off a magazine, yes including Pmags. One shot, click and / or mag falls out. Again this is user error but this method does provide the opportunity for the shooter to eff themselves up. I see far far less issues with a press check and a tap of the forward assist. You really don't see failures to go into battery with this method, but if / when you do see an issue it is generally because someone pulls the charging handle too far to the rear ejecting the round or causing a hangup. However from my observations over many years, this is much less of an occurrence than the mag removal related method.

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    I prefer to press check myself and that's what I use on the AR. It's a direct verification of a loaded chamber and not dependent on memory work. Either the cartridge is in the chamber or it isn't.

    When pulling the mag, it requires memory work. Which side of the mag is the follower bump? Was this magazine loaded "odd" or "even"? Was this a partially loaded mag and how many shots were fired from it when I swapped it out?

    Not all weapons will tell you anything by pulling the mag. A visual check of single stack magazines, double stacks that taper to feed from the center and rotary magazines will not tell you if a round was stripped out.

    I do realize not all weapons are easy to press check. The roller locked HK comes to mind here and the FAL doesn't have a forward assist. It all comes down to personal preference and what weapon you're using
    Last edited by MistWolf; 11-20-11 at 16:26.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfclin073 View Post
    Before I get into my question let me give some background information. I am a member of the military; I have been to a couple week long shooting courses so I’m not a complete noob at this. Yes, I know SPORTS is immediate action for a malfunction and I teach it to my soldiers because the army tells me to, but I do realize it is out dated.
    SPORTS is REMEDIAL action masquerading as IMMEDIATE action, made so by having to OBSERVE the breech.

    In truth, its a taint. It really taint a Tap-Rack-Bang which is the preferred immediate action and it taint a Rip Drill which is remedial action where you lock the bolt to the rear and remove the magazine to assist clearing the action of the stoppage.

    It is a way big Army gets out of teaching both TRB and the RD and how and when to use both. It is a mashed-up mess of half of both of the above dumbed-down for the lowest common demoniator.

    Mistwolf,

    Pulling a mag is a tactile thing that works well in the dark.

    Last thing I want to do with the action is monkey-**** around the ejection port feeling for brass and hoping I don't dick it up in the dark.
    Last edited by Heavy Metal; 11-20-11 at 18:22.
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    Press checking will never go away. You may not have loaded the gun you pick up to use, or it may have been long enough ago that you used a specific AR to recall whether it's chambered or not.

    So far most responses are going off the notion that you've just immediately chambered a round to put the gun in action. In that instance I normally pull the mag and look at the orientation of the top round if I feel the need to do so.

    That said when I load the initial round into the chamber I can tell the difference in the feel in the two uppers I run primarily when the bolt goes forward on a magazine and strips a round forward. I have also gotten pretty good at feeling the difference in the recoil when the last round fires and the bolt stops back.

    But I don't really rely on the feel of the first round chambering. I do prefer to visually inspect the round positioning in the mag.

    Overall I would always want the option of a forward assist on my AR's.
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    Better to have it.....

    Most of the schools I have been to since I left the military have left the use of the F/A out of training, and I understand what the thought process is on that. However, I like to be able to pull the bolt to the rear and actually see or physically touch a round that is chambered. I dont find it to be inconvenient, a waste of time or anything else that people seem to think it is - and to me it certainly is not unnecessary. I dont like the guesswork that goes with the other method primarily being discussed - especially when under stress. I dont know for sure that a round did not fall out of the mag, or that I accidentally loaded 29 instead of 30. I would rather just SEE or FEEL the round in the chamber. The forward assist helps with that process if I have been out shooting all day or I am in inclimate weather of some sort. I know and understand both ways of doing it, and personally just prefer the press check - I like having the F/A and wont have purchase a battle rifle with out it.

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    Wow. I hit the "QUOTE" button instead of "EDIT". There went went what little credibility I had left, right down the drain
    Last edited by MistWolf; 11-20-11 at 23:07.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heavy Metal View Post
    Mistwolf,

    Pulling a mag is a tactile thing that works well in the dark.

    Last thing I want to do with the action is monkey-**** around the ejection port feeling for brass and hoping I don't dick it up in the dark.
    I'm aware of that and it's a very good point. I prefer a press check, but I know it's not always the best way to verify a loaded chamber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Preliator View Post
    ...especially when under stress.
    Is this taught? I always viewed a press check/mag check as an admin process, not something I would ever do under stress.

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    Some of you (Mistwolf, Surf, and a few others) argued against doing the magazine drop using logic, so I can respect that. Single stack magazine weapons was a great point MW. I don't use any firearms that have single stack magazines, so it doesn't apply to me. If you do, and want to keep commonality, then a standard press check then F/A might be a good idea for you. For me, I routinely use firearms that you cannot or should not do a standard press check on (M110, M14, etc). So I drop the magazine across the board. Sometimes there is no "right answer." Looking at a colorful world through a black and white lens almost never leads to clear comprehension.


    HOWEVER....

    Some of these arguments against the magazine drop method are shit.

    - "Under stress?" We're talking about admin loads, not tactical reloads. Admin loads are done at the Line Of Departure, not when in contact (unless time / circumstances permit).

    - "What if there's 27, 28, or 29 rounds and I don't remember." It doesn't matter. Can you remember the difference between left and right? That's all that matters. There could be 234898 rounds in the magazine, and as long as the top round is now on the other side, you're good to go.

    - "What if a round falls out of the mag?" What?

    -"What if you don't correctly re-seat the magazine?" Counter - what if you forget to hit the F/A? Equally possible. I don't know any competent person who carries an AR for a living that doesn't give their magazine a good tug to ensure it's fully seated immediately after loading, and then subconsciously at various intervals as a matter of habit. I also don't know anyone who randomly taps their F/A. Think about it.
    Last edited by a0cake; 11-20-11 at 23:13.

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