Having AR issues? I do too. Fortunately, troubleshooting issues on my AR-15s is something I enjoy. I am fond of it for two reasons: I get to learn from the experience, and then, more often than not, I’m ultimately able resolve the issue. On my most recent AR-15 building endeavor, I ran into a setback with my 10.5″ pistol/SBR (it is a pistol for now until I get my tax stamp back on my form 1, which will allow me to pop on a buttstock and make it a legal short barreled rifle). In this case, when I fired my freshly built AR-15, I noticed that my fired brass was getting stuck in the receiver, instead of cleanly ejecting.
When I edited this video, I slowed down certain portions so I could better witness what was happening inside the receiver after I fired a round. The error I discovered is referred to as a “dropped extraction.” My bolt’s extractor was losing its grip on the spent casing and neglecting to eject it out of the ejection port, and because of it, the following round was getting stuck within the receiver. “How do I fix this?” I asked myself. I didn’t understand why my FailZero BCG functioned almost flawlessly in my 16in mid-length AR-15 yet experienced hangups in my 10.5″.
After I took an electronic dive into the Google ocean, my interpretation of everything I read led me to three possible issues that could all potentially be solved with a single fix—a new (and stronger) extractor spring. Because of the increased gas pressure from the carbine gas system–compared to that of the mid-length gas system on my other AR-15–my bolt’s extractor spring did not have enough tension strength to keep a grip on the spent case. Hence, it was remaining inside the receiver, which then prevented the new round that was stripped from the magazine from properly feeding into the chamber.
I journeyed to the BCM website and ordered a 3 pack of their upgraded extractor springs (a single unit costs less than $5). I wanted more than one because I figured, while I was at it, I may as well replace the springs in my other bolts, too. My total cost, after shipping, was under $20 and my new BCM extractor spring kits arrived roughly two days later (I am only one state away in MN—thank you for choosing WI as your home, BCM).
In the video above, you will find my tutorial showing how to install one of these kits. I found it to be simple, and, fortunately, easy. The entire process took me about 5 minutes, if that, including my camera manipulations for the video. Here’s a run down of the procedure:
- Remove extractor retaining pin and extractor from the bolt.
- Remove the old extractor spring and insert.
- Install the new insert into new extractor spring and replace the spring into the extractor.
- Install the o-ring over the new extractor spring.
- Place the extractor into position on the bolt and compress the extractor/spring enough to insert the retaining pin.
- Install the extractor retaining pin and make sure it is even on both sides.
BCM states on their instructional insert, included with the kit, that the o-ring is optional; their upgraded extractor spring still quite strong without it.
Considering that this upgrade was affordable, effortless, and wasn’t time consuming, I’m glad I gave it a shot. My smoothly functioning ARs seem to agree. What trouble shooting issues have you faced with your AR-15s?