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Thread: Basic Troubleshooting 101

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    AZ-Waging jihad against crappy AR's.
    Feedback Score
    104 (100%)

    Basic Troubleshooting 101

    The previous version of this was somehow lost so I am going to recreate this as best as possible. Though this will be AR centric, it could apply to other weapons as well. This will be amended as necessary and any constructive input will be incorporated.

    In order to help us, help you in troubleshooting issues that may occur, please provide as much detailed information as possible in your initial post. This helps a lot as sometimes it could be something very simple that is picked up right away.

    1. Make and Model of Weapon in question as well as configuration. For example- Windham Weaponry 16" midlength carbine with standard carbine buffer, standard FSB, Semi-auto BCG, USGI charging handle, etc....

    2. Modifications that may or may not have been made. Includes swapping of drop-in standard components.

    3. Type of Ammunition used (if applicable) i.e. Federal XM193 55gr. FMJ, Prvi Partizan 69gr. BTHP, etc...

    4. Type of Magazines used (if applicable).

    5. Was weapon purchased new or used?

    Please be as articulate as possible. Pictures are always a good idea. Using correct terminology and parts nomenclatures will also greatly aid us in helping you.

    Troubleshooting Advice

    If you are attempting to troubleshoot components, you need to isolate the problem. I generally start by testing the entire upper or lower receiver half first. From there I will go to the next major component/group first. Having spare parts on hand is going to greatly assist. If you have a 2nd AR that is known to be 100% correct and functional that is always a plus.


    When shooting your AR, the trigger does not properly reset. Having a second trigger that works could be swapped in and then re-tested. If the issue persists, having a 2nd lower receiver will help in that you can put the original trigger in that lower and re-test. If is passes, it's a good possibility lower receiver No.1 has an issue.

    This same methodology can be used with the BCG, etc... The benefits of having a spare carbine/rifle as well as some parts cannot be stated enough.

    Ammunition- it is highly recommended to use only known quality factory ammunition. Regardless of how good you think your reloads are, they could be bad. In my ammo stash, I always have ammo that I know works 100% and that would be the go to ammo for any test firing that needs to be done.

    Magazines- Having some good magazines (you only need 1 or 2) that are used as control mags is also smart. It's highly recommended to use vetted and recognized mags. Using a 4.00 gun show special, probably isn't the smartest choice.

    Lubricant- Using a quality lubricant and making sure your weapon is properly lubed cannot be overstated.

    Pre Fire Checks

    Prior to shooting for the first time, take an opportunity to inspect your carbine/rifle. ideally this is done before you purchase the said weapon and walk out of the store.

    Break the weapon down into basic components (separate upper and lower receiver, remove the BCG and break it down). Check the extractor and ejector for correct assembly and function. Check the carrier key for correct stakings and movement. Apply some lubricant to the components (including charging handle) and re-assemble.

    Ensure that everything goes together smoothly upon re-assembly.

    Inspect your lower receiver. Take the time to check your castle nut/end plate stakings. Though this will have little impact initially, over time it's going to show its' ugly face.

    Hand Cycling Rounds- Hand cycling does very little and does not replicate the same action as if the weapon were being fired. If you insist on hand cycling (use dummy rounds and not live ammunition). Dummy rounds are cheap, a negligent discharge in your house into your wife, TV, dog or neighbor can be costly. Additionally it's a good idea to cycle the dummy rounds in such a way that it mimics the basic functions.


    Lock the bolt to the rear, insert magazine into the lower receiver, release the bolt with the bolt catch, and allow the dummy round to chamber normally. Pull charging handle to the rear, and allow the round to extract and eject (without attempting to catch it). Cycle all rounds through the weapon and if necessary do it several times.

    Understanding Your Gas System-

    Understanding your gas system will go a long way in helping to diagnose any gas related issues. Gas starts with the ammunition which means that shitty or underpowered ammunition is going to have an impact on the function.

    Things that can impact the gas system-

    1. Gas Port Size

    2. Gas Block/FSB Alignment on the Barrel

    3. Gas Tube Fitment into Block or FSB

    4. Gas Tube Fitment to the Bolt Carrier Key

    5. Gas Rings Wear

    Owner/Instructor at Semper Paratus Arms


    Semper Paratus Arms AR15 Armorer Course

    M4C Misc. Training and Course Announcements-

    Master Armorer/R&D at SIONICS Weapon Systems-

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Feedback Score
    1 (100%)
    Good idea. Very smart. Eliminates a lot of time getting down to the nitty gritty. I find this same "model" used in computer and and a couple of automotive forums. Very useful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Cradle of the Confederacy
    Feedback Score
    While testing at Aberdeen we engraved a number on each mag and if there was a stoppage it was identified as to type, its location ( say 7th shot in mag) and recorded. All magazines were run through all weapons. If that mag gave same stoppage in same or other rifles it was removed and crushed.

    It is critical in a defensive application to know your rig is reliable.

    If you have high round mags examine the back of the mag for cracks at angle where feed lips interface with back of mag.


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