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Old October 5, 2013, 04:57 PM   #1
Swampman1
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AR issue

OK guys, after shooting over 400 reloads with my Colt AR-15, I have a bit of a problem. Went to the shooting range today, and after firing off about 50 rounds, I pull the trigger and...nothing. I remove the magazine and I try pulling the charging handle to eject the cartridge and it won't budge, and the rifle is locked in the "fire" position. Needless to say, I became a bit nervous. I'm not sure if there is a live round or a fired round stuck...or maybe nothing stuck. What can I do at this point?
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Old October 5, 2013, 05:38 PM   #2
Hartblood
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Are you trimming the cases before reloading? Sounds like a live round stuck to me.
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Old October 5, 2013, 05:57 PM   #3
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Yeah I check/trim all cases before loading. COL is always within limits. Although clearly there must have been something wrong with this particular cartridge.

Last edited by Swampman1; October 5, 2013 at 06:27 PM.
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Old October 5, 2013, 07:07 PM   #4
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Many of us have had that happen. The way to clear is to bump the butt on the ground as hard as you can while pulling the charging handle. The inertia will usually eject the cartridge. Naturally do this in a safe place with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Yes, I know that "up" is not especially safe.
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Old October 5, 2013, 07:36 PM   #5
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I have hit the charging handle with a rubber mallet as well.
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Old October 5, 2013, 08:38 PM   #6
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Sounds like you need to adjust your Sizing die to bump the shoulder back.
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Old October 5, 2013, 10:04 PM   #7
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Colt chambers are known for having a forgiving throat dimension.
I would be surprised if case neck length was the issue.
Keep us posted.
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Old October 5, 2013, 10:05 PM   #8
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Oh, oh, oh....i got this one guys! First hand experience with this issue. First of all, everyone is correct. Seperate upper and lower and give the upper a nice firm bang on the butt end of the charging handle. Charging handles are cheap to replace if you happen to scratch it up. Now, on to WHY it happened. When you seated your bullet, you did whats called "camming it over". This means your die is not set up properly and when you seat your bullet, the last part of the downward stroke of your press handle is pushing the bullet AND the case neck down at the same time. Take a known good round and compare it to the stuck round. Ill bet youll see a slight buldge at the base of the case shoulder. That slight buldge allows the bolt to load the round and lock the lugs but does not allow it to fire when you pull the trigger. Simply reread the instructions and reset your die properly and this issue will be avoided. Also, its a pain, but youll need to go back through your reloads and.inspect for more of these buldged rounds so as not to lock up the rifle again. As for the defective round, pull it, reuse the powder and bullet but i would not recommend trying to resize and reuse the case.
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Old October 6, 2013, 05:26 AM   #9
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Only safe thing to do is force that charging handle back. With the web of your thumb on the charging handle thump the butt of your rifle (if you have a collapsible buttstock you need to collapse it) until the bolt comes back.

There are "unsafe" options as well. I don't recommend them.

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Old October 6, 2013, 07:01 AM   #10
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In my case, it seemed to be a slight bulge at the base.

I ended up banging it against a wooden pole. This allowed me good muzzle control.
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Old October 6, 2013, 08:30 AM   #11
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OK thanks for the replies guys. Hopefully sometime today, I'll go out to a more secluded area, and get that charging handle back. I'll keep you posted.
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Old October 6, 2013, 08:39 AM   #12
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After you get it open and the live round out of the chamber, go back to square one to determine the problem.

Take some fired brass and size them. Check to see if this sized brass(no bullet) chambers and extracts with ease. If so, then your issue will most likely be with the seating die. If not, screw the sizing die into the press a little at a time until they do chamber. You should have your sizing set up to touch the shell holder plus about 1/4 turn more.


Make sure you have the seating die set up correctly.
Back the seating die way way out of the press.
Place a sized case in the shell holder.
Screw the seating die into the press until you feel it make contact with the sized case.
Back the seating die out of the press at least one full turn and lock it down.

Good luck!

No, you cannot seat a bullet long enough to contact the lands in an AR chamber and still have the round fit the Mag. To long OAL is not your problem.
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Old October 6, 2013, 10:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Oh, oh, oh....i got this one guys! First hand experience with this issue. First of all, everyone is correct. Seperate upper and lower and give the upper a nice firm bang on the butt end of the charging handle. Charging handles are cheap to replace if you happen to scratch it up. Now, on to WHY it happened. When you seated your bullet, you did whats called "camming it over". This means your die is not set up properly and when you seat your bullet, the last part of the downward stroke of your press handle is pushing the bullet AND the case neck down at the same time. Take a known good round and compare it to the stuck round. Ill bet youll see a slight buldge at the base of the case shoulder. That slight buldge allows the bolt to load the round and lock the lugs but does not allow it to fire when you pull the trigger. Simply reread the instructions and reset your die properly and this issue will be avoided. Also, its a pain, but youll need to go back through your reloads and.inspect for more of these buldged rounds so as not to lock up the rifle again. As for the defective round, pull it, reuse the powder and bullet but i would not recommend trying to resize and reuse the case.
+1. That's what I was thinking too.
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Old October 6, 2013, 05:42 PM   #14
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Update

OK guys, an update. My son and I went out to try releasing the charging handle this morning. It was all very simple. While in a seated position, he placed the butt of the rifle against his chest and pulled the charging handle with both hands and back comes the charging handle, and out comes the unfired cartridge. So that problem is solved. Now although I haven't yet tried the suggestions posted, I did drop that same "stuck" cartridge into the open chamber afterwards, and it had a great little "plink" sound. I tilted the rifle upwards, and the cartridge slipped out of battery just fine. So as Steve suggested, I will try resetting my seating die and see what effect that will have.
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Old October 6, 2013, 06:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
So as Steve suggested, I will try resetting my seating die and see what effect that will have.
Sorry, I suggested you re-set your Sizing die first, then your seating die. Do not forget to check the sizing die.
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Old October 6, 2013, 06:14 PM   #16
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A Wilson cartridge gage can be very helpful in setting your sizing die properly for headspace, checking if your cases need to be trimmed and checking your loaded ammo.

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Old October 6, 2013, 06:20 PM   #17
WhyteP38
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Quote:
While in a seated position, he placed the butt of the rifle against his chest and pulled the charging handle with both hands and back comes the charging handle, and out comes the unfired cartridge. So that problem is solved. Now although I haven't yet tried the suggestions posted, I did drop that same "stuck" cartridge into the open chamber afterwards, and it had a great little "plink" sound. I tilted the rifle upwards, and the cartridge slipped out of battery just fine.
How much force did he need to pull the charging handle back? Typical force, such as normally used for ejecting a live round? Extra force? If extra force, the round was jammed into the chamber.

Which leads me to your dropping of the round into the chamber. Did you simply drop it in, or did you try to close the bolt with the forward assist? I once had a round that loaded into the chamber, but the bolt couldn't close. After removing it the way you did, I dropped the round into the chamber. It seemed to go in just fine, but I couldn't close the bolt with the forward assist. Turned out, it was slightly bulged.

Also, when you originally said you pulled the trigger and nothing happened, did you mean the hammer didn't fall, or the hammer fell but the round didn't fire? What's the primer look like on the round you removed? Tiny dent from the floating firing pin? Or a big dent? A tiny dent could mean the round didn't chamber fully, indicating a case problem. A big dent could mean a bad primer.
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Old October 6, 2013, 06:25 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyteP38
Which leads me to your dropping of the round into the chamber. Did you simply drop it in, or did you try to close the bolt with the forward assist? I once had a round that loaded into the chamber, but the bolt couldn't close. After removing it the way you did, I dropped the round into the chamber. It seemed to go in just fine, but I couldn't close the bolt with the forward assist. Turned out, it was slightly bulged.
Good catch! If he did not chamber the case and let the action close completely he did not check much of anything.
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Old October 6, 2013, 08:08 PM   #19
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In the future, check to see if the lugs locked. That is an indicator of a buldged case. Also, if those lugs lock, you WILL NOT be able to simply pull back on the handle, you will need to seperate the upper and lower and firmly bang the charging handle to then pull the handle and bolt out. Also, if you cycle a round in any AR, even without a problem, youll have a small dent in the primer because the firings pin makes contact on every cycle, regardless of firinging
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Old October 7, 2013, 08:39 AM   #20
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Jeff2131, you are correct. I was writing in the context of the OP perhaps thinking the tiny dent meant the hammer fell on a dead primer, but I left out too much.

It's my understanding that the extended unlocked bolt and carrier are longer then the firing pin, so the firing pin cannot possibly contact the primer until it is collapsed and the bolt is locked.
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Old October 7, 2013, 10:03 AM   #21
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Whyte- "How much force did he need to pull the charging handle back? Typical force, such as normally used for ejecting a live round? Extra force? If extra force, the round was jammed into the chamber."

Not sure just how much force he used, but obviously it took more than normal.


"Which leads me to your dropping of the round into the chamber. Did you simply drop it in, or did you try to close the bolt with the forward assist?"

No I just dropped it in. At the time I was thinking bulged case. But I guess that didn't prove much. When I go back out, I will let the bolt actually chamber the round and see what happens.

Also the stuck cartridge shows absolutely no signs of a dent in the primer.
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Old October 7, 2013, 10:05 AM   #22
Swampman1
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Jeff- "In the future, check to see if the lugs locked."

Sorry I'm very new to all this. How do I go about checking this exactly?
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Old October 7, 2013, 10:47 AM   #23
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Swampman1, since there's no dent in the primer, I'm pretty sure you have a bulged round. I'm thinking your bolt did not fully close on it, which kept the floating firing pin from an inertial hit.

I would not let the bolt try to chamber it again. You'll likely have it jammed again. Instead, lay the edge of the case against a flat surface. You should see a gap where there is a bulge.

If you insist on chamber-testing it - while observing ALL safety measures - drop the round into the chamber, pull the charging handle back, and slowly let the bolt slide forward by holding the charging handle all the way. Then, using the forward assist, see if you can close the bolt on the round. DO NOT force it! To properly close, the bolt will require just a little bit of force. It's hard to describe, but if you chamber-test a known good factory round this way, you'll get a good idea. And again, observe ALL safety measures!
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Old October 7, 2013, 11:09 AM   #24
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Two ways, either simply look at the front of.the.bolt through the extractor opening on the side of the rifle or seperate the upper and lower and you have almost full view of the entire bolt.
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Old October 8, 2013, 09:24 AM   #25
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OK thanks for the input guys. One more question, when checking headspace on the cases, the majority of them do not fall into the "flush" or just below flush on the headspace gage. Some are just "a hair" above. NowI did talk to a local reloader about this(reloading for 40 years), and he said he doesn't pay much attention to that. He says "as long as his case length and COL are good he's not concerned." However, if I can, I would refer getting it at least flush. When I screw down on my resizing die about 1/4 turn it becomes very resistant. Is that normal?
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