noyes: No buffer pad and the recoil spring seems to operate fine without a round. Moderate force -- more than I believe the spring could apply -- won't rotate/lock the bolt closed when there is a round in the chamber.
rbernie: The gun has Bulgarian parts built around a NODAK Spud receiver. I bought the gun used. Whoever made it had it running flawlessly, at least for the first 500 rounds I shot. There is nothing in the chamber that I can see using bright light or feel with a probe. Rounds slide right into the chamber when I do it by hand. It may be possible there is an issue just inside the bore where it meets the chamber. Although I can't see anything there, I can't see there well enough to be 100% sure there isn't a marred surface.
Frustrating -- it probably needs to go visit a gunsmith.