The AR-15 is the most popular firearm in the country for many reasons. There are millions of these firearms in the hands of regular citizens who build, buy, sell, and shoot these guns every single day. But like any other firearm, with extended use comes the possibility of wearing out, breaking, and having to replace parts.
An AR-15 is subject to these problems as well, although modern rifle designs have ensured that this platform with many other rifles are much more reliable as well as mechanically sound. This will keep them running properly for longer periods of time, although that still doesn’t mean that you will not get some wear and tear after some use. In fact, by the nature of their use and function, guns will get worn out faster than many other tools.
Which Parts Will Fail
Like we mentioned, today’s technology has made it possible to produce rifles that will very rarely experience any kind of failure in any of the parts. Of course, most shooters will never shoot their rifles enough times to truly wear out a rifle part. For those who always find themselves at the range or in competitions, this extra stress can cause a rare part failure.
For these reasons, many AR-15 parts and accessories will have what is known as “wear durability”. This simply refers to how fast a part or accessory will wear out with extended use. This wear durability will differ from part to part, as well as from manufacturer to manufacturer. Of course, no part is indestructible. Every single part will have some sort of wear durability to consider. The breakdown of these parts will lead to issues with the firearm, such as accuracy problems, jams, misfeeds, etc.
When it comes to the parts that wear out the fastest, the internal parts that are essential to the function of the rifle are those that tend to wear out first. Let’s go over the four parts that are most likely to fail on you!
The gas tube is often overlooked by most shooters, probably because this part is hard to get to and unseen in most cases. A gas tube is one of the most essential parts of the rifle to keep it functioning properly. There are small roll pins that keep your gas tube connected to your block. On occasion, these things have been known to fall out, break, or even fail. While this is very rare, it’s always a good idea to keep a few extra pins so that you can replace them whenever you need to.
The gas tube also has a flared end that helps to create an air-tight seal between the tube and the key, however this flare can eventually go flat with extended use. If this happens, the air-tight seal is broken and will allow gas to escape. This often causes cycling issues. This can result in jams or misfeeds.
The bolt is essential to an accurate rifle and is one of the parts that takes the most use and abuse. Don’t stress though, as this is what the bolt was designed to do! Of course, if you are shooting thousands of rounds on a frequent basis, your bolt will tend to wear out faster than you might expect. Bolts that break are usually done in one of two places. They will tend to split near the cam pin holes or the locking lugs break. A failure in either one of these places will stop the functioning of your AR-15 unless you can replace the bolt.
A small crack, especially near the cam pin holes, is often hard to spot or notice. But this small crack can easily and quickly spread through the entire bolt. This can even cause this part to split into two pieces. By keeping a spare bolt or two around, you can ensure that you can keep shooting even on the off chance that your bolt wears out.
Related: Choosing Bolt Carrier Groups
The extractor is one of the most common parts that wear out on any firearm, not just rifles like the AR-15. Extractors will either wear out super fast or take a long time depending on the build quality from the manufacturer. Common wear problems with the extractor include chips, cracks, or even breaks depending on its quality and the type of ammo that you are using. Steel cased ammo can quickly wear on your AR extractor, and once this part is worn, it is unable to grab onto the rim of your spent casing. For those that shoot a lot, you should also be prepared to replace this part as needed so that you can keep your AR-15 functioning properly.
The entire bolt carrier group is one of the parts most prone to wear and tear due to the nature of the firearm. An essential part of the bolt carrier group is the firing pin that actually fires each round. This small part can break with extended use and time. Depending on the ammo that you are using, this can accelerate the time it takes to do so. Of course, this time will always vary depending on a variety of factors.
A firing pin will slowly lose its shape with enough use and time. The tip of the pin can even be chipped or bent, preventing the pin from properly hitting the primer of the next round. This, in turn, will cause things like hang fires or cycling issues. A quick switch of firing pins can solve the problem. This will get you back to shooting in no time.
No AR-15 is indestructible. While worn out or broken parts are not very common, they do happen. But by keeping an eye on these four different parts and having a few spares, you can spend more time shooting and avoid a broken gun!