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Fixing AR-15 Extraction Problems
by Roy Seifert

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Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.

I recently had the opportunity to purchase an AR-15 at a really good price; much below fair market value.  The seller told me the gun never worked right and he just wanted to get rid of it.  When I asked why it wasn’t working, he told me it frequently jammed, and he was tired of fooling with it.

I decided to purchase it from him since it was a great deal.  When I got it home I broke it down and found the rifle to be very clean.  At least he attempted to keep it well maintained.

I took it out to the range, and sure enough, it would consistently jam after only three rounds.  Eventually it would jam after every round.  The jam was caused by the empty case not being ejected.  Typically this is caused by a faulty extractor; a problem I have seen before.

When I removed the bolt from the bolt carrier, I immediately saw the problem.  As can be seen in the photo, the rear of the extractor was raised above the bolt body causing it to rub inside the bolt carrier.  This should lay flush with the bolt body as can be seen on the front bolt in the photo.  

Because the rear of the extractor was contacting the wall of the bolt carrier, the extractor was depressed just enough so it did not make full contact with the case causing erratic ejection.  I compared this extractor and bolt to the bolt of another AR-15 I own, and I even swapped extractors; the problem was definitely the extractor.  In fact, I couldn’t even reassemble the bolt into the bolt carrier without depressing the rear of the extractor.

$15.00 later I was back in business.  I installed a new extractor and made sure the rear sat flush in the bolt body.  Another trip to the range proved that the rifle was now functioning perfectly.  I have no idea how that bad extractor was installed or passed quality control.  All I know is I now have a functioning AR-15 for my collection.



   © Copyright 2008 Roy Seifert.