AR-15 Podcast - Builders Series - Finishing the Build

Welcome to another episode of the AR-15 Podcast. On this episode, by popular request, we continue our newest builders series. This week we focus on assembling the finishing out the build.

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Finishing the Build

  1. Function and Safety Checks

    1. Let the bolt go forward.

    2. Insert a mag and lock it into the mag well.

    3. Pull back smartly on the charging handle. The bolt should lock to the rear. If it does not, check the orientation of the magazine springs. Unlike most pistol magazines, the spring in most AR-15 mil-spec mags is attached to the follower and is difficult to orient backward. But, if it is humanly possible…

    4. Push the charging handle forward into the locked position.

    5. Push the magazine release button. The magazine should fall free under its own weight. If it does not, it could be due to either a bent magazine tube OR the magazine release catch has been screwed too far into the mag well. If you have the same problem with all of your mags, try backing off the catch arm one full turn and repeat the test.

    6. Slap the bolt release. The bolt should fly forward sharply and lock up into the rear of the barrel.

    7. Point the muzzle in a safe direction and put the safety on “Safe”. Pull the trigger, hard. Nothing should happen.

    8. Put the safety on “Fire”. Press the trigger. You should have a normal trigger press and hammer fall. Keep the trigger depressed.

    9. Rack the charging handle.

    10. Let the trigger go forward slowly until you hear and feel the very loud disconnector reset.

    11. Press the trigger again.

    12. Attempt to put the safety on “Safe”. With the hammer down on an AR-15 and variants, the safety cannot be put on safe.


  1. Accessorizing

    1. Aiming

      1. Iron Sights

      2. Optics

      3. Lasers

      4. Lights

      5. Cheek riser

      6. Offset rails/sights

    2. Slings

      1. Rail QD Connections

      2. Slings

      3. Endplates

    3. Manipulation

      1. Controls:

        1. BAD

        2. Ambi

        3. Push button safety

      2. Foregrip/handstop

      3. Bipod/Monopod

      4. Magazine pulls



  1. Hitting the range

    1. Zeroing the rifle



    1. Assessing accuracy

    2. Troubleshooting: Wing Tactical Link

      1. Failure to Feed / Chamber

        1. Magazine problems: Most common malfunction source stemming from improperly seated magazines, spring issues, & follower issues.

        2. Buffer spring problems: Spring problems or improper buffer weight issues.

        3. Defective rounds/ammunition borne malfunction: set back, stubbed rounds, bad primers, ammunition stuck.

      2. Brass Over Bolt (Bolt Override)

      3. Failure to Feed b/c Dirt, Debris, and Fouling: Short Stroke

      4. Failure to Fire: look to the firing pin

      5. Failure to Extract

        1. Short Recoil – see the section above on short stroke due to dirt, debris, and fouling.

        2. Fouled or Corroded Chamber – Inspect and clean, then determine if the chamber is damaged or safe to return to service. If it is damaged, the barrel will need to be replaced.

        3. Weak or Broken Extractor Spring – replace spring that is no longer serviceable.

      6. Failure to Eject - Most of the time this malfunction is caused by:

        1. Short stroking (we covered short recoil earlier); or

        2. Fouling or corrosion of the chamber which causes friction on extraction throwing off extraction and ejection functions.


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