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Posted: 11/27/2002 5:44:19 PM EDT
I was shooting this past weekend when my AR started have case ejection problems. It was working fine at first but after about 20 rounds the cases would not eject completely from the upper. The don't appear to be be getting stuck in the chamber. The are getting pulled out of the chamber but end up laying freely in the bolt area. If I chamber a round and extract it with the charging handle it seem to extract ok. It's only when I actually fire a round that the case does not come completely out of the gun.

Since I'm still new to working on the AR I was looking for any information before I take anything apart.

Jonathan Craig
Link Posted: 11/27/2002 5:57:27 PM EDT
First thing I would do is a function check.

1.  Insert an empty mag, pull the charging handle all the way to the rear, and ensure the bolt carrier stay back, on the bolt catch.

2.  Load one round in the mag, charge, fire the weapon.  Did the bolt lock back?  If not, you are short stroking, and have either a gas problem, or something is rubbing.

Since it was working fine, and now it is not.... the first suspect would be a loose carrier key, and this is common (just happened to one of mine)  Remove your bolt carrier from the upper, and get an allen wrench of the appropriate size, and see if the bolts are loose.  You can wiggle the key as well, but on mine, the key "appeared" snug, but when I put a wrench on the bolts, they were loose as a goose.  Clean thoroughly (I used brake parts cleaner) and dry, and then use a little loctite on the bolts, and snug them up.

If this is not you problem, pull the charging handle fully rearward, without a mag, and ensure there is no binding.  You should feel a few "bumps" as you pass over the hammer, and as the buffer spring coils up, but nothing serious.

Let us know.
Link Posted: 11/27/2002 6:10:18 PM EDT
Thanks for the response. Yes to question 1 and 2. I shot about 10 rounds with just one round in the mag. They shot fine and the bolt would stay open after the shot, just the case would not eject out the ejection port. It would still be laying loose on the top of the mag. I would rotate my gun and the case would just roll out the ejection port.

I have not looked to see if the carrier key is loose. I will check it first chance. The gun is still new, less than a 1000 round through it.

Thanks again...
Link Posted: 11/28/2002 8:00:00 PM EDT
I had the same problem as you. Mine ended up being a fouled up ejector.

I don't want to blame SA ammo, but I didn't have a problem until I started using it.

I removed/cleaned the ejector and switched to Q3131A. I have been running a grunge test since the cleaning/switch. Made it to 1034 rounds fired without cleaning in three trips to the range over three weeks.

When I had the problem with the SA I only put two mags thru it before I had problems.

Link Posted: 11/28/2002 8:58:58 PM EDT
It seems like your rifle is extracting, but not ejecting. I would suspect brass flakes binding the ejector pin.
Link Posted: 11/28/2002 9:33:11 PM EDT
I agree, it's probably a problem related directly to the ejector system.

Field strip the bolt.  Remove the ejector, clean the hell out of it (the bolt, too!), (don't lose the little blue smurf and spring on the ejector!)
and reassemble it. Stick a fired case into the bolt face, engaging the ejector to the case head, and rock it against the ejector button on the other side of the bolt face. The button is spring loaded and is what actually kicks the case out.  it should be lubricated and operate smoothly, and with moderately strong spring pressure.  (Don't try to remove it.  That's not normally done or necessary.)  You should be able to hold the case to the bolt face with your thumb, flip your thumb off the case, and see the case fly a couple of feet if the ejector spring is OK.


Link Posted: 11/29/2002 5:10:14 AM EDT
Thanks for all the information.  I love this website.  I will work on it this weekend.  Will post back if I fix it or not.

Thanks again
Link Posted: 11/29/2002 2:43:36 PM EDT
I don't have one of the little blue smurf things (I think you are talking about a D-Fender). I'm sure they help. Anyone suggest against using one?

Link Posted: 11/29/2002 4:09:45 PM EDT
I was under the impression that the smurf (little rubber insert in the extractor spring) is standard equipment.  It is clearly mentioned in my Army issue M16A2 operator's manual, so I presume that it is in fact supposed to be there.

If you don't have one, get it.  Presumably it's there for a reason.  

Oh...the rubber insert may not be blue. I've seen orange ones, too.  I don't know what the difference is besides the color.


Link Posted: 11/30/2002 7:25:27 AM EDT
I'm sure you are correct, since I have not taken one apart yet. I will make sure it is present.

Then does a D-Fender replace this piece or does it complement it? Anyone?


Thanks again...
Link Posted: 11/30/2002 12:19:08 PM EDT
I took the bolt apart and cleaned everything. I removed and clean everything except the ejector cartridge. I did see the blue smurf thing. I went and shot today and still had the same problem. The cases are getting extracted from the chamber but not ejected out of the ejection port. It is not a 100% failure; about 1 out of 4 will actually make it out of the rifle.

I will remove the ejector cartridge next and see if it looks okay. Any other suggestions are welcome.

Link Posted: 11/30/2002 2:17:57 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/30/2002 2:38:55 PM EDT by coyote3]
Did you try testing the ejector as mentioned earlier?
If it doesn't function normally, you may have to remove the ejector to clear any brass chips that may be caught under it.
Here's a neat, little [url=www.sinclairintl.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?category=search&item=14-950&type=store]tool[/url] that makes the job easy.
This might sound dumb, but make sure that your extractor is on the ejection port side. In some cases, it is possible to install the bolt with the extractor facing the wrong way.
Link Posted: 12/1/2002 1:44:32 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/1/2002 1:47:00 PM EDT by JCraig]
In my haste to get to the range and my superb ability to not follow directions (just ask my wife), I did not test the ejector. But when I returned home (disappointed) I did try the test, and the case did fly a few feet. The ejector spring looks good. After taking the bolt apart again I did notice some carbon build up under the lip of the extractor. You can tell I did not do a good job the first time. Actually this was the first time I have strip the bolt and cleaned it. I did not realize how easy it was to do. I have not made it to the range to test again but will post when I do.

I did go ahead and order some spare parts for the bolt (just in case) and "The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide" from Fulton Armory.

Thanks many times for all the input,
Link Posted: 12/9/2002 6:12:48 AM EDT
OK, I went to the range yesterday and shot some more rounds.  Worked good through the first 40 rounds, then the ejection problems came back. Maybe the ejector is just dirty enough that the problem shows when the gun heats up.  I will take the ejector apart and check, I got replacement parts if needed.  Will post again if I fix it or not.

Thanks again for all the input.
Link Posted: 12/10/2002 4:18:51 AM EDT
I'll put in my vote to NOT use the little blue smurf thing.  A milspec AR doe snot require this part to function properly.  I have never had one and I have never experienced any related problems.  A part that does not contribute is not a desirable part.  
CMJOHNSON, is that Army M16A2 manual printed by THE ARMY?  or Fulton Armory?  Just curious.
JC, take apat your bolt and move the ejector in & out of its hole and try to feel if there is a roughness that may be causing the ejector to catch.  I would just thoroughly clean the ejectot, the ejector hole(with a q-tip and plenty of sovent) then roll up a small piece of sandpaper, around a 280 or 300 grit and twirl it in the ejector hole a bit just to polish, then put a new, MILSPEC ejector spring in, and go back to the range.  I am willing to bet your problems will be over.

Also, JC, did you ever mention what ammo YOU are using?  And what lubrication are you using on your parts after you clean?
And did you throroughy clean and lube the entire gun, including chamber, before you started shooting?
Link Posted: 12/10/2002 5:44:39 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/10/2002 6:34:05 AM EDT by cmjohnson]
Originally Posted By royce:

CMJOHNSON, is that Army M16A2 manual printed by THE ARMY?  or Fulton Armory?  Just curious.
View Quote

Yes, it's the authentic U.S. Army issue small (but relatively thick) pocket sized booklet with the camouflaged cover, of mid 80's vintage, for the M16A2.

Specifically, it's called:

Operator's manual w/components list

Rifle, 5.56-MM, M16A2 W/E
August 1986

U.S. Marine Corps TM 05588C-10/1A
U.S. Army TM9-1805-319-10

The extractor spring with rubber insert is
shown on page 35.


Link Posted: 12/10/2002 7:19:30 AM EDT
Thanks for the input. I will clean the ejector hole well. How to do it would have been my next question. I did get a new spring and ejector in case I need them.

The ammo I was using is USA Winchester (Wally World) and SA surplus. It does appear that the SA stuff has a tacky film on it that does not just wipe off. I will start on new post on how to properly clean and repackage it.

I have been using CLP for all my lubricating.

"Rubber insert and spring are an assembly... Do not remove the rubber Insert from the extractor spring assembly".  From page 2-26 and 2-27 of [url]old.ar15.com/books/TM9-1005-319-23.pdf[/url]. Are you refering to this or to adding a D-Fender from Fulton Armory?

Thanks again,
Link Posted: 12/11/2002 4:11:09 AM EDT
Thanks for the info, CM.  I never used one of these rubber thingees...didn't see the need...still don't.  I guess I'm just old-fashioned.  I would like to know the history behind the change, if there is any actual history to warrant such a change.  I still have not come across a situation that could not be completely corrected with swapping out the offending part with a good milspec version, or swapping out the gun owner!
Link Posted: 12/15/2002 4:34:00 AM EDT
I have used a small O-ring (Viton) which I put around the extractor spring (I left the original small rubber insert). This O-ring cost pennies (certainly nothing as compared to the D-Fender)and helped ejecting. This was passed on to me by  this site a year or so ago. If you want to try, e-mail me your address & I'll mail you a few (free of course.
Link Posted: 12/15/2002 10:51:07 AM EDT
JCraig, It seems that this problem has not been solved yet, and there is information that needs to be answered.

1. The spring insert (blue smurf) is to keep the spring from colasping, it's mil-spec.  The D-fender is added around the spring to add tension to the spring. It's a great band-aid, but masks the real problem, which may be engagement.

Your problem is from two areas. The first is that the chamber is a little rough and once it becomes dirty, the walls start to grab the cases.  The fact that the case is still ejected from the chamber is due to the extractor starting the case out, and then is stripped off the rim, and the gases (barrel pressure) finishing the ejection of the case out of the chamber.  The bolt is bouncing the case out the ejection port on it's way forward.  Time to clean/polish the chamber.

The second area that you are having problems with is the extractor. Start off by cleaning burs from the extractor lip and channel, then move on to the bolt channel and check for burs. The reason that you want to check the bolt is that the extractor must be able to move freely in the channel to allow it to work. If the extractor is tight in the channel (no side movement or pin binding), the slightest fouling is going to bind it.  

Also, have you check the extractor for engagement. The extractor/bolt channel rest pad may have been milled oversize and not allowing the extractor to fully grab the rim of the cartrige. Again, check for burs on both, and if needed, straight file the extractor at the bolt pad contact area to allow the extractor to move inward to fully engage the rim, and the bearing sides if the extractor is binding on the channel walls.

Note: The use of a D-fender will apply more pressure to the extractor, and band-aid the extractor by making the extractor grab stronger with more pressure on the limited engagement, but will not last long, due to the extractor only grabbing the rim with a small portion of the lip and cause faster lip edge wear. Instead of a D-fender, a stronger spring can be installed, but if the spring is too strong, the rim of the case will be dented by the extractor lip not gliding over the rim, but by bending the rim to allow the extractor to pass by/threw.

Granted that you could just replace the extractor/bolt. But by cleaning up any imperfections and fitting them, you will not need to replace them, nor wait the 5 days for the parts to arrive.  

P.S. One of these days I need to do a Royce and compile a web page on the complete build and fitting of parts. Granted that the repair manual is great for an overview, but due to the different receivers and part manufactures, building an AR-15 is a little more complicated than just dropping in parts. Some times the parts need to be fitted to make then function correctly.  This is unless you have bins of the parts that can be tried, and tried, and tried, until the piece/parts are in spec.

Hope this novel helps.

Link Posted: 12/16/2002 11:02:28 AM EDT
 Thanks for the detailed information. I was at the Charlotte, NC gun show this past weekend so I did not get a chance to look at it.  I will (this coming weekend) check for the things you have detailed.  I do have a new Bushmaster barrel on it so the chamber grabbing could be the problem. Since the cases where extracting I did not suspect the chamber.  I will report back when I get to it.

Thanks again for the info,
Link Posted: 12/18/2002 2:25:09 PM EDT
The bolt locks back with a single round?  So it is not short stroking.  But it may be a timing problem.

If the buffer spring is weak, the carrier group may be going back too fast.  Then it will bounce off the back of the buffer tube, come forward, and begin to close before the extracted brass has time to clear the port.

One thing that should be a hint... is the apparent recoil excessive?  Or have you shot enough other AR's to compare?

Even with a good stock spring you may still have a problem for some reason (excessive port size).  If this is the problem, a Wolff Action Spring may be a solution.  This spring is stronger than stock, will reduce rearward bolt carrier velocity.
Link Posted: 12/18/2002 3:55:20 PM EDT

A bad buffer would cause the same problem that you are referring to on ejection.  The point would be that even if the spring is bad, or the buffer is not acting like a dead blow hammer, what would change would be the direction of the spent casings flight path, and not the distance that the cases are ejected.  Had he stated that the flight path was towards the front, with the cases being ejected cleanly, then the solution would be to check the buffer.

Since his casings are only being ejected a few feet, then the case is not intact with the bolt on buffer contact with the rear of the extension tube. This is a sign that the extractor is not retaining the case, and would be caused by either a rough chamber, or a faulty extractor. Since his rifle is not a SBR, then the 16" barrel will still be within spec for even a weak buffer spring to function in the rifle.

Although I have installed a few Wolf spring in rifles, The stronger buffer spring is more of a band-aid in regards to SBR rifles only.  If you use this trick in a full auto(short barrel with a very high pressure spike rate), then the cycle rate goes up, and you start to have problems with bolt bounce.

But, you may be on the right track regarding Wolf extra power springs if, in fact, his extractor lip is starting to go south.  It's a great band-aid in the field to keep the rifle going until you get a chance to replace the extractor it's self. Then again, so is the D-fender or a piece of rubber tubing.

Link Posted: 12/27/2002 4:53:06 AM EDT
 I finally got to work on my AR and make it to the range.

 After repeated testing of the ejector, I came to the conclusion that the ejector was working properly. I lubricated it well and left it alone. I did compare the extractor and spring with the new ones I bought. The extractor looked good, no signs of wear and the lip looked sharp. The spring though was noticeably weaker that the new one. So I replace the spring and insert. I also added the D-Fender since I bought the thing. (WSAR15 thanks for offering the O-Rings.)

 I shoot about 250 rounds at the range. Some Wally World Winchester, some SA, and some 68 gn. BTHP rounds from Georgia Arms. It all shoot well and ejected perfectly. I will keep an eye on it and let you know if anymore problems arise.

Thanks guys for all your input. It was very helpful and insightful.

Thanks again,
Link Posted: 1/9/2003 10:22:03 PM EDT
Don't be fooled.  That D-fender is a good piece of gear.  Use it and never have your problems again.  It will never wear out like the springs do.
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