AR 15 Bolt Not Closing All the Way- What Can You Do?

Even the simplest gun problems can be life-threatening. Like there are hundreds of stories out there that are related to mechanical gun problems. 

Now let’s tone down a bit. Even if gun bolt problems aren’t life-threatening, they might still get frustrating. Moreover, with different suggestions out there, it gets super confusing. 

So, what to do if you find a AR 15 Bolt Not Closing All the Way?”

You can remove the o-ring, change the buffer spring, or check your magazine to lock in the bolt.  That’s because a AR 15 bolt doesn’t lock in for a few reasons. They include an overloaded magazine, charging handle pushed down, buffer spring is worn out, etc. 

Well, that was just the overview of the problems and solutions. We’ve discussed them in detail in our article. Now, let’s hit right into the details-

AR 15 Bolt Not Closing: Is it okay?

AR 15 rifles are prone to a number of issues including trigger problems. And bolt not closing all the way is a major one among them. 

If the bolt is not going all the way in, this is definitely a problem. That’s because you won’t be able to shoot any rounds if it doesn’t lock-in.

Before knowing why know that a bolt not closing all the way is not okay. It’s important to know how the AR-15 bolt catch works?

The bolt is contained in the BCG(Bolt Carrier Group). Here there’s the bolt, firing pin, and a couple of other small pins. The bolt is reverse pulled by pulling the charging handle. And then the bolt goes forward on its own to push the cartridge. Finally, the bullet is fired from the cartridge.

So if your bolt is not going all the way in, there’s nothing left to give that push to the cartridge. For this, your rifle simply won’t fire.

Easy Fixes

Okay so whenever people hear about fixes related to guns, they’re scared as hell! They automatically assume it’s gonna be complicated and time-consuming.

But here in the AR 15 bolt closing problem, we’ve come up with some easy fixes. These won’t take much time and are neither that time-consuming. Let’s have a look-

Check if your magazine is overloaded

It’s a very common mistake people make when loading up a magazine. They simply overload it. If you put 31 rounds in a 30 round magazine, it’s obviously not gonna do it. Overloading can hinder your bolt from going all the way forward to push that cartridge. And thus, making it stuck there.

It’s a common question among new users what is the AR 15 magazine round number?

AR 15 comes with a 30 round magazine. However, it’s possible to set it up with a 100 round drum magazine too. It’ll fire just fine. But you have to buy it separately of course.

If you see your bolt not closing, the first thing to check is your magazine. Most of the  AR 15 rifles come with a 30 round magazine. However, you can also buy a 100 round magazine additionally. But do make sure that you have not put extra rounds to it. You should also be careful to preserve your ammo the right way when they’re not loaded.

Remove Excess Packing Lube from The Barrel

Our next problem in the bolt being stuck is not your fault. In fact, it’s caused by the manufacturer’s end. Often, it’s seen that most AR 15s are loaded up with an excess amount of lube. It makes the bolt not go all the way in.

So what you can do is disassemble the barrel. After that, see for yourself if it’s loaded with a huge amount of grease/lube. Simply use a clean piece of cloth to clean the BCG and the barrel. If the problem is caused by excess lube, then cleaning the BCG can make the bolt go all the way in.

Don’t Push The Charging Handle 

AR 15s are military-type semi-automatic rifles. The charging handles are not designed to be pushed down after reverse pulling. However, most new users make this mistake. They pull the charging handle but don’t let it go forward on its own. Rather, they try to push it forward. 

So what does the charging handle do on an AR-15?

The charging handle on a AR 15 when pulled back, clears the shell fired from the previous round. It makes sure nothing is creating an obstruction in the barrel. So, the bolt has free space to go all the way forward into the battery. Additionally, it acts as a forward assist to the bolt.

The problem that arises when it’s pushed down is, it makes the spaces around it rough. For that, the charging handle gets stuck. And it doesn’t let the bolt go forward. So, let go of that charging handle after pulling it back. It’ll go forward on its own.

Didn’t Work? Do These Instead

The easy fixes we mentioned should’ve helped you already. But, some of you might be facing a  different issue that requires a little more effort to fix. Fret not, we’ve come up with the possible problems and their solutions too. So, follow these below-

Method 1: Change Your Buffer Spring

Buffer is what pushes the bolt carrier group into the cartridge. Which in turn fires the bullet. So there’s a direct relationship between the buffer and the bolt. 

If your bolt is stuck and you’ve shot more than 1000 rounds, the culprit might be your buffer spring. It has worn out and you need to replace the spring. But don’t you worry! We’ve come up with what you can do to replace your worn-out spring.


Here’s a list of things you’re gonna need-

  • Vise
  • New Buffer Spring


Step  1- Mount the rifle on a vise. A vise is an instrument on which you can fix the rifle. It gives you a good grip on the gun. After you’ve mounted the vise, remove the bolt carrier group and barrel of the gun. Now only the buffer remains.

If you’re confused about which vise to buy, here’s a list of our recommendations-

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These are some of the best rifle vices out there! Check their reviews for more!

Step  2- Press the little detent present below the buffer. 

Step 3- Pull out the buffer which is inside the worn-out spring.

Step 4- Put the buffer into the new spring and put them in. They will settle once pushed on their own. For this reason, knowing the buffer weight is important. You can use the buffer that has already been used in your rifle.

Method 2: Remove The O Ring from The Extractor Pin

Removing the o-ring from the extractor pin is quick troubleshooting for bolt issues. The extractor pin can be found inside the bolt. Attached to the extractor pin is this small rubber ring called the o-ring.

So how do you know if your extractor pin is the problem? When your bolt doesn’t go all the way in, check your casings. If there are chunks of casing worn out from the rim, there’s just too much tension acting on the extractor ring. In order to remove that extra tension, the o-ring is taken out.


Here’s a list of things you will need-

  • A 0.1-0.3 inch(diameter) pin


Step 1- Remove the rear takedown pin behind the BCG. This’ll allow the frame in front of the buffer to come apart.

Step 2- Simply pull out the BCG

Step 3 – Pull out the cotter pin

Step 4- Pulling out the cotter pin will free the firing pin. Pull that one too.

Step 5- Removing the firing pin 

Step 6- On the bolt, there’s a thick square-shaped pin behind the tube-like structure. Pull that out.

Step 7- Now the bolt is free. Push the front pin of the bolt with the cotter pin and you’ll see the extractor come off.

Step 8- On the upper side of the extractor, there’s the o-ring present. Simply pull the o-ring out. After that, assemble everything the way you pulled them out.

Now, once you fire your rifle without the o-ring of the extractor pin, the bolt will go all the way in. Fire a couple of hundred rounds without the extractor o-ring. After that, put the o-ring back in. The bolt will now go all the way in too since the tension has been settled.

Method 3: Use The Correct Cartridge 

The AR 15s are generally chambered with 5.56×45 mm or .223 Remington. Many say that you can use a 5.56×45 in a .223 chamber. But, when it comes to an AR15, we disagree. So what are the ar-15 cartridge problems?

If you put 5.56 mm in a .223 chambered barrel, the bolt won’t move all the way in. Also, it’ll cause an accident even if it goes in. But it’s okay if you put .223 in 5.56 mm chambered ar 15.

This happens because 5.56 mm has more space in its chamber. So the rounds are put in with wider spaces. On the other hand, .223 is a bit congested. Another thing to consider is the weight of the .223 bullets. Also, 5.56 uses more gun powder than .223. This results in higher pressure. 

You can check the top of the barrel near the muzzle. There it’s written if your AR 15 is equipped with .556 or .223 chambers.

Don’t Let That Bolt Close In The Future

Now we’ve mentioned all the possible solutions to the bolt closing problems. But so that you don’t face this problem again, here are a few preventive measures. Let’s have a look.

  • Clean your rifle after every 250 rounds fired.
  • Always check the barrel compatibility before loading your cartridge.
  • Switch buffers to heavier ones if your rifle is showing hiccups. 

If you keep them in mind, we hope you won’t come across this problem again. 


Question: Can an AR-15 fire if you drop it?

If the safety mode is on, then there’s nothing to worry about. However, if AR 15 falls greater than 7-8 feet without safety mode on, it can actually fire.

Question: The Best Way to Store an AR-15?

You can store AR 15 mounting it on your vehicle. You can also mount it on the wall or any mounting device.


We hope we’ve been able to solve your “AR 15 bolt not closing all the way in” problem. We tried to explain all terms as simply as possible. If you followed all of the solutions we provided, your bolt should be locking now. 

Thank you for staying with us. If you have any further queries, let us know in the comments.