The $5 Part that Saved My AR-15!
Ok so maybe this is a little bit of an exaggeration, but the part definitely helped. So as many people know AR-15s have very tight tolerances compared to something like an AK47. This seems to help immensely with accuracy, but it seems to make problems with jamming and requires these guns to be cleaned quite often. My dad had a MAK90(AK47 variant) that could fire thousands of rounds with no cleaning (but also not very accurately) and no problem, but if you are to get an AR-15 just know that these require a bit more upkeep or they become temperamental. The AR-15 I have is also by no means an expensive one. I have the Bushmaster Carbon 15 $600 special so this may have something to do with it.
So what was the problem I was having. Like many people you want to find the cheapest price on ammo at least for target practice. This was my first problem. Steel ammo is the cheapest ammo you can get, but many AR-15s don’t seem to like to eject it very well. This is a great article from Lucky Gunner about the differences in brass vs steel ammo that everyone that has an AR-15 needs to read. Originally I had gotten Wolf Steel ammo and it was cheap, but I didn’t have much problem these. I had a couple jams, but I now believe that was the junky 42 round pro mag that seem to have a problem feeding. So I shot through about 200 or so rounds like I said no real problems. I stupidly just put it back in the safe and didn’t clean it. After this I had started stocking up on steel Tulammo because it was about 25 cents each. So first mistake not cleaning the gun, second mistake getting a cheapie mag that didn’t work, and the third mistake was buying Tulammo.
The reason steel ammo can have problems in ARs is because of the metal that expands differently then brass. It does not fully expand allowing a gap that allows powder residue to build up. (Some also say the if it is a hot day they will be worse because of the coating that can possibly build up, but the main and only real substantiated claim that I can find is the problem I listed.) Over time this build up will cause the gun to malfunction. So I went to the range and the first shot with Tulammo I had the casing not eject and get stuck in the chamber. This was a pain in the butt as I didn’t have a rod with me, but one of the range officers had one and let me use it to get the casing unstuck. I tried to shoot one more time and the same thing. When the casing was pounded out with the rod the lip that the extractor holds onto was sheered off.
So I stupidly chalked this up to a hot day as this is what the range officer said. So I decided to go out another day that was much less cooler, but just went out to some cinder pits where many people shoot. I also did a thorough cleaning before I went as I thought this must have been the problem. I didn’t bring a rod this time either and both my dad and me had the same problem and couldn’t shoot anymore. As this was getting quite frustrating I decided to do some research. What I found is many of the cheap AR-15s have cheap extractor springs, who woulda thought?
What I found is an extractor spring that can stand up to the pressure of the Steel ammo especially Tulammo. The part is called the BCM Extractor Spring Upgrade Kit and it is only $4.95 plus $7 shipping though(they also have a 3 pack for $11.95 so that is the better deal). All it consists of is a small spring, small O-ring and a tiny rubber extractor insert. One of the great things about AR-15s is that they are so easy to take apart. I was able to get this fix done quite quickly. Below is a video of the easy install and the differences in the spring (I already had it in so I will just show you how to get to it). Just putting this little piece inside my gun has made it work a million times better. It extracts correctly and I don’t have casings getting stuck as I did before. Though I would still recommend getting better ammunition especially like brass Remington at least I now have the option to use some of the cheaper ammunition for target shooting. If there is no other upgrade you get for your AR15 get the Extractor spring upgrade as it is the best bang for your buck and may help you be able to shoot cheaper ammo with less to no malfunctions.