View Full Version : why do some AR's have forward assist?

05-07-2007, 2:21 PM
I searched but didnt see anything. I've noticed some do but some don't. My bushy c-15 does not. Is it something special or does it help at all?

Technical Ted
05-07-2007, 2:24 PM
It was a requirement of the US Army back in the 1960's. Some of the old school ordinance officers were trying to kill the M16/AR15 project in favor of the M14. According to them, every US military long arm preceding the M16 had the capability of forward assist.

E Pluribus Unum
05-07-2007, 2:35 PM
Forward assist was added because of the nature of the design.

In battle, if a little bit of grime got in the action or the charging handle was not pulled all the way back the bolt carrier would not fully advance forward and the round would not be fully chambered. When this happened the rifle would not shoot.

The forward assist is there so that if you notice that the round has not fully chambered you can smack that forward assist and it will force the round to chamber properly. In the entirety of shooting ARs I have only seen it twice. We tend to keep our weapons cleaner than battlefield conditions will allow.

Technical Ted
05-07-2007, 2:46 PM
The Forward Assist was added at the Army's insistence...or insisted upon by a faction of US Army Ordnance Corps that wanted to kill M16 development.

From page 126 of "The Black Rifle: M16 Retrospective", by R. Blake Stevens and Edward C. Ezell, published by Collector Grade Publications:

The Army's Bolt Closure Device

One thing the Army had held on to since the days of the '03 Springfield was a positive way for the soldier to close the bolt of his rifle, should the need arise. The M1 had this feature, as did the Carbine and the M14. One of the main US Ordnance criticisms of the FN FAL back in the fifties was that it had no such provision. In any case, the Army would not back down on the need for a manual bolt closure on the AR-15, and stated it's case with eloquence and determination in this official "position paper":

..The AR-15 is to be issued to Combat Infantrymen who are expected to use the weapon under the worst possible conditions of dust, dirt mud and foreign matter affecting both weapon and cartridges. If the mechanical spring fails to close the bolt the soldier must have the capability of immediately correcting the situation without disassembling the rifle...Any chance, no matter how slight, of malfunction in combat due to the inability to manually close the bolt is unacceptable..

The frequency or infrequency of the type of malfunction correctable by a manual bolt closure capability is immaterial. The knowledge among troops that such a malfunction is merely possible would lower confidence in a weapon lacking [such] a.. device.

The ability to close the bolt manually on any semi-automatic rifle is considered necessary as an emergency measure. Neither the M1 or the M14 Field Manual recommends forcible closure of the bolt under normal conditions. However, FM 23-5 (US Rifle Calber .30 M1) states..that in loading a full clip, "you may strike the forward on the operating handle with the heel of the right hand when necessary to fully close and lock the bolt."

An important side benefit..would be the ability to silently chamber a round. This is impossible if the bolt must always be slammed home under pressure of the operating spring.There's about four more pages of photos and text covering the addition of the forward assist assembly.

Technical Ted
05-07-2007, 2:55 PM
Funny thing is (as quoted in The Black Rifle), Eugene Stoner felt the same way: that forcing a round into the chamber was the last thing he'd want to do. But as the section I quoted states, under normal circumstances it isn't recommended, but in extraordinary situations it may be required.

As for quietly chambering a round....if you ride the charging handle, rather than release the bolt catch or pulling back on the charging handle and releasing it to let the recoil spring drive the BCG home, it's a lot quieter. However, the bolt may not go all the way into battery. Thus the need for a device to push forward on the bolt carrier.

05-07-2007, 3:02 PM
Just to second what Tech Ted just said, I think I also read in the AR-15 Owner's Guide that it was their opinion that the forward assist only really made sense for a soldier in combat, when he has everything to gain from trying to force a round to chamber and absolutely nothing to lose.