ARP 081 - When MSR's Fail


Welcome to Episode #081 of the AR15 Podcast. I’m your host Reed Snyder and with me today is my co-host, Anthony Hardy.  This is the podcast about your favorite black rifle!  This show is for you; whether you're building your first AR or you’ve been building ARs for years. There is something we can all do to take our black rifle to the next level.  

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Main Topic:

When your Modern Sporting Rifle fails - what does it mean.

Operating Failures

  • Running Dirty
  • Running Dry

Ammunition Failure

  • Steel Case Ammo
  • Squib Loads/Double Charge
  • Questionable Reloads
  • .223/5.56 issues

Catastrophic Failure    

  • Barrel Bulge
  • Chamber/Barrel Extension Failure
  • Extractor Failures
  • Bolt Failures
    • Cracks at Cam Pin
    • Cracks across the bolt face
    • Firing Out of Battery

What our FRN Hosts Have Seen:

Robbie Lee Rea: The only failure I have ever had was an ejector on a S&W 15-22. It broke off and I took it back to a local distributor. They shipped it off to S&W and they shipped it back fixed with absolutely no charge whatsoever.

TJ Gauthier: I had a friend build a carbine and it hated certain steel ammo. It would leave a groove in the side of the case that looked like the bolt had been scraped across the top and not load a fresh round into the chamber. It was only with the lacquered steel ammo, so he didn't investigate it and just stopped using it, but I wonder if you guys could know what the problem was


Aaron Krieger: I was shooting one day and my rifle locked up, could not figure out what the %$# was the problem. I drop the mag and clear the gun, I keep pushing the forward  assist, try to take it apart but the bolt is jammed back into the buffer tube. I pull the pins but it is still locked together. Long story short the tooth of the forward assist broke and jammed in the rifle holding the bold jammed in place. Enough hits loosened it. Boom fixed, my rifle now has no forward assist.

PowerFactor Show: Remember not to use pistol powder in a .223. Saw a friend kaboom two rifles in one 3gun stage. His primary and a friend's backup. Ouch.

J.W. Ramp: Couple weeks ago I saw a firing pin retaining pin that had sheared into three pieces and was floating around in its channel, causing the BCG to lock up.

Have seen plenty of malfunctions that were due to guys running their new ARs bone-dry. No bueno.

Ryan Michad: Black rifles fail?! No way. I had an MP5SD shear off a casehead one time; it's black, and it's a rifle :) (sort of)

Gene Carangal: The only AR15 failure I have is the failure to convince my wife that I need to get an AR15.

Ryan Cross: I had a gas tube shear right at the port inside the gas block, didn't know until I could slide the tube back and forth about an inch.

Another time I had fire out of battery which damaged and jammed up the lugs into the barrel sleeve, had to beat it like it was late to dinner just to free the bolt, and cracked the chamber in the process.  Why I shoot bolt action now!

Devin FIP: One time I accidentally loaded 9mm laser ammo cartridge in it and it got stuck. About 20min later, a torn apart rifle, and a bunch of tools, my brother and I decide to shove a cleaning rod down an beat it(because we already tried pushing and tapping) out. A couple sharp blows and it popped out. No damage to the rifle but the laser ammo was jammed shut. My brother and dad got it fixed and they've both live happily ever after.  I talk about it a bit in the review I did for the laser ammo. Here's a link to it if you want it:

Jeremy P: Buddy stuck a 5.56mm in an old .223 chambered AR and blew the side out of the upper. Said it split like a tomato can.

Michael Cap: My failures:

Falling out of a  HUMVEE in a very expeditious manner:  Double feed on an M4 - got one round off and the rifle jammed: The magazine bent when I fell on the rifle.  Full weight of me, IBA and the rest of my gear was a little too much for it.  Get to cover, rip out the magazine, rack a couple of time, insert new magazine, good to go.  (I then got 10 new P-Mags)  surprisingly the CQ/T survived the fail.

Other than that jams due to lack of lubrication or bad magazine in competition. (which is my fault)  I just had one last weekend at a hi-power match.  Jammed on a 300 yard rapid fire.  Shot an alibi relay and jammed again.  Dropped the magazine lost three rounds onto the mat (I was at the 300 yard prone) fired 4 rounds from the magazine, then had to hand load 3 rounds from the ground.  10 rounds total in 70 seconds at 300 yards.  Shot a 95-2X.

Worst failure I saw was an idiot who didn't check his magazines before loading blanks.  He loaded his blanks on top of a live round.  Everything was fine for about 27 rounds then the bullet from the live round hit the BFA - KABOOM.  Luckily he was wearing ballistic goggles, helmet and gloves.

Funniest failure was some poor shmuck who built an AR-15 space gun on a colt lower.  The heavy 26 inch bull barrel and the rest of the crap that goes on them was too much for the cheap aluminum.  The guy was shooting standing, fired a round and then the front of the rifle tipped to the side when he took it down.  The front pivot pin cracked (There is a reason why colts weight less and why no one builds a match rifle around a colt lower).

And then off course the idiot who thought he got a deal on his ammunition - .222.  Round went off and case stuck in chamber.

And then there is builder error.  A buddy thought he could build an AR without seeking assistance and bought the cheapest parts possible.  Put it together and test fired it.  It wouldn't cycle.  He finally asked me to look at it, and it looked OK and spec'd out fine.  We took it to the range and it wouldn't shoot.  So back at my house we took it apart.  No gas hole in the barrel.  I told him to send it back as drilling a gas hole is beyond my level of expertise.  He said he got it from a guy for $50.  Moral of the story - if its a REALLY good deal - ITS NOT!

Overall the M-16/AR-15 I have fired have been reliable.  If I did my part, they did their part.

Doug Hartley: At the USPSA Multigun Nationals this year I used some 5.56 ammo instead of my regular .223 ammo in my competition gun.  Its a JP upper with JP LMOS (lightened bolt carrier) JP low mass buffer (the red one) and has a 20" barrel and adjustable gas block.  Gun runs perfect with .223 ammo, but during the match I tried to run the 5.56 , Winchester 5.56 Q3131, and the gun would frequently not pick up the next round.  One stage I really cratered because it was bolt action most of the stage.  Later in the match I borrowed some .223 from another shooter and gun ran fine.  You can see video of my malfunctions on YouTube.


Ian K:  Hi Reed,  This week you talked about trends in rifle and ammunition pricing. I wanted to pass along to you a good series that The Firearm Blog has been doing on a regular basis.   They’ve been charting ammunition prices and trends monthly, high, low and average pricing for 500 rds and 1000rds in nine popular calibers. Nice to see everything getting back to pre ’12 levels. Next, I know we all like to shoot the heavier stuff in 5.56, but it’s still rather spendy. Well IMI (Isreal Military Industries Ltd.) has released a true Mk 262 clone at a pretty good price.

Take care, and we’ll talk soon.

Myles:  Listening to your most recent episode I heard you talking about your lack of information on the new colt 223 caliber ammo being brought into this country.

I have shot it, I love it, it's the only steel case ammo I trust (somewhat) for practice. The zinc coating appears to be a much better than that horrible lacquer or polymer used by brown bear and wolf respectively. The powder doesn't seem to leave as much carbon and other crap in the gun as most other varieties of steel case ammo and I have never had a malfunction of any kind with it. Which is more than I can say about every other flavor of steel case ammo I have used including hornady.

It's also 62 grain ammo, not 55 grain, so my most recent build that uses a PSA 1/7 twist pencil barrel it shoots better than any practice ammo I have on hand. Haven't shot groups with it yet at long range but at 50 feet I would say it groups about 1/5-2 MOA and I can hit a bowling ball sized target at 100 yards without really trying.

P.S. in relation to Mark’s question and the use of 9MM in short barrels. Ever think of doing an episode, or an episode segment about the sig brace? I have a century arms version of said implement on a Zastava PAP AK pistol and after a couple of minor modifications it turns it from a ridiculous toy to an awesome weapon.

However since poor Mark is in New York if he were to be seen using one at a range he would probably have a swat team swinging through his windows like Tarzan. I don't know if New York State, or any state has outlawed the brace yet, but I am not optimistic.

Jesse:  Hey Reed, I have a question about this weeks show.   If I am installing an A1 front sight on a rifle that has a flat top upper but I am going to put a Colt removable handle with a rear sight built into it.   I was thinking that I would be able to use the standard A1 front sight post, I thought the extended post was to make up for the rear sight sitting so much lower on the flat top upper?   Is my thinking on track?

FYI, I am building this rifle for my wife and she wanted an A1 stock and handguard so I decided to go with the pencil thin barrel and A1 front sight base.  I got a Spikes Combat Trigger and all I need to get now is the barrel and brake! The upper and lower will be more modern but I think it will still look pretty good!  Gunstruction helped a lot because I was able to show different styles to my wife and got her feedback before I bought parts.

I learn a lot listening to you guys!   Thanks and keep up the great work!


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